Why Earn a Master’s in Health Science?
Graduate degrees are gaining more and more importance in the United States. Our healthcare industry is no exception. While many clinical fields, such as occupational therapy or physical therapy, have long required master's or doctoral degrees, nowadays even administrators are expected to achieve advanced degrees. Luckily, as graduate degrees in general become more common, online learning and hybrid learning (which includes online and in-person components) also become more common.
Whether you are a clinical practitioner seeking your necessary credentials or an administrator who is seeking to rise up the administrative ladder, this is for you. Here is your blueprint for academic and professional success.Read More
A graduate health science degree program does not only grant access to a single career path. Health sciences, as an academic division, can open up a myriad of supportive clinical or health-related roles. Some departments also feature degrees that concentrate on non-clinical aspects of healthcare, such as information technology, management, or education.
In the clinical realm and for healthcare administration, you will need to achieve a master's for many positions. This degree will qualify you to sit for licensure examinations so that you can legally practice your profession. Non-clinical healthcare workers, the healthcare management professionals who see that everything runs properly, may also need graduate degrees. Online or traditional degrees focused on health science can keep your options open in all of these fields.
To rise into upper management or health services administration, many organizations require that you achieve a master's. It's practically unheard of to reach any business management position or the C-suites without an advanced degree, even for healthcare professionals. Even if you don't aspire to such heights on the corporate ladder, your degree is sure to help you garner a higher annual salary.
As for a health science degree program (MHS program), there are some things you can expect to learn during your core courses, which will build on the foundational knowledge learned in your bachelor's degree and practical experience you've earned during your career in health services. The subjects covered in a health sciences program might include some or all of the following and students will move on after completing their university curriculum to become health educators or other health professionals with a wide variety of health-related career goals.
- Health Education and Promotion
- Infectious Disease Prevention
- Environmental Health
- Public Health Education
- Public Health Policy
- Clinical Research Methods
- Health and Human Services
- Health Informatics
- Allied Health and Bussiness Management
- Health Law
- Leadership Skills
- And More
One of the chief reasons someone might return to a university as a graduate student is the fact that most healthcare professionals with advanced degrees receive higher salaries, as do all professionals according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This includes degrees earned onine as how you earned you degree matters less than the fact that you made the effort to earn one. On top of the salary consideration, your extra time in an online, private, or public or state university will instill into students more knowledge and skills that will enhance their ability to create better patient outcomes and health policy. Further, this degree can mean that clinicians have access to state licensure and it means that administrative workers can achieve certain certifications to help them meet their professional goals.
Advanced health science degrees also open up the possibility for you to teach new prospective students at the college or university level. Many retirees apply their academic and professional experience to college or university instructorships. You might even decide to earn a Ph.D. and turn to a life of research or education and health promotion.
While a Master's health science degree program is usually seen as an uncontested positive advance for any career, there can be downsides to pursuing one. Chief among these is the possibility that you will decide that you are no longer interested in pursuing the career. You might also find that the investment does not pay off as you would like.
To offset these possible negative outcomes, be sure to do some deep introspection to determine that the degree is what you want, apart from any exterior reward. That is, make sure you are pursuing it for its own sake and for the sake of improving your professional experience. You can also strive to enroll in the very best, most competitive programs, which tend to produce graduates at the upper end of any applicable salary scale, though this will likely increase your need for financial aid.
Overview of a Master's in Health Science
What Health Science Master’s Degrees are Available Online?
- Online Master of Science in Health Sciences:
An MS in Health Science is likely to be the most common degree type that you will see. This degree typically indicates that your coursework was focused on analytical and/or scientific topics. However, there are plenty of students who focus on management and still graduate with an MS. Many of these can be found with online components if not fully online.
- Online Master of Arts in Health Sciences:
An MA in Health Sciences can cover the same topics as an MS degree but is less likely to be found from programs that focus on clinical practices. Rather, your MA is more likely to be in concentration areas such as health education, administration, and even community health, among others.
- Online Master of Health Administration:
This degree is focused squarely on health administration, as the name implies. This degree is the healthcare equivalent of an MBA. However, note that there are also MBA programs that concentrate on health administration.
- Online Master of Applied Arts in Health Sciences:
An applied degree program is typically focused primarily on occupational information and outcomes rather than scholarly research. This means that many applied degrees aren't as embraced in academia as other degrees. However, at the graduate level, students are less likely to desire an even higher degree, so it could be a good option for you. Arts degrees are often even easier to complete online because there are less hands-on learning requirements.
- Online Master of Applied Science in Health Sciences:
Your applied science degree will surely serve you well in the workplace and job market. However, applied science degrees are less focused on scholarly research and thus carry less weight elsewhere in academia.
Graduate school admissions are not easy. You must submit your undergraduate transcripts, an entrance essay, letters of recommendation, and perhaps your professional resume. Each program will differ, but a good rule of thumb is to expect graduate schools to require a minimum graduating GPA of 2.5 from your undergraduate program. The program may also require that certain courses be part of your transcript. This will depend largely on the specific degree you're pursuing. Online students must complete all of the admission requirements that a school needs, just like a student who plans to attend in person.
How long does it take to earn a Health Science Master’s Online?
Graduate programs take anywhere between one and three years, typically. However, you should strive to make time for your schoolwork, so that you won't have to defer even a single semester. Focus on finding ways to cover your professional and familial obligations so that you can do your best work in school. After all, your academic work will be a very large part of your career going forward.
Potential Careers in Health Science with a Master’s
- Occupational Therapist:
Occupational therapists work in a wide range of settings, helping a diverse group of patients. From geriatric people who suffer from dementia to adolescents learning to navigate life on the autism spectrum, OTs help people deal with problems and live their best lives. The average pay for OTs is $66,600.
- Recreational Therapist:
Recreational therapists help people recover from injury and disease through recreation. That might mean helping a newly paraplegic patient learn to play basketball to helping a stroke victim play a simple board game. To succeed in this profession, you will need a great deal of creativity and compassion. The average salary for recreational therapists is $41,300.
- Healthcare Consultant:
Healthcare consultants work with healthcare systems to streamline their operations and maximize their daily operations. Your specialty might be accounting, information technology, management, or even corporate finance. You might have to do a lot of traveling to visit far-flung clients who need your expertise, but the payday will make it all worthwhile. The average salary for this diversified job description is $78,200.
- Healthcare Administration:
Healthcare administrators can be found managing hospital departments or running doctors' offices. Their knowledge of both managerial techniques, healthcare policies, and regulations, as well as the strengths of their clinical teams, helps them succeed and their organizations thrive. Average pay for healthcare administrators is $66,000.
- Program Director:
This occupation will be quite demanding, but once you have your master's degree it will fit like a glove. In this position, you will oversee a department or hospital ward. The position will involve training junior staff, ensuring departmental compliance to state and federal regulations, and more. The average salary for this position is $81,200.
Options to Advance
When you have an Online Master's Degree in Health Sciences you will surely be able to advance within your chosen field. With an advanced degree you can pursue a state license for clinical occupations, such as occupational therapy, or receive a promotion to program director if you are on the administrative side.
Graduate degrees will help you on the job market as well. Once you complete a graduate degree, your current employer is sure to see that your value just rose significantly and should try to keep you involved in their business through larger bonuses, promotions, and salary hikes. On the other hand, you might decide to seek new challenges and opportunities. When your resume and profile shows that you have an MS in Health Science, recruiters are sure to start buzzing around and you'll start receiving calls shortly after submitting your resume to jobs.
Best Master of Science in Health Science (MHS) Programs
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins is one of the preeminent medical schools in the nation. Their overall academic standing is unimpeachable in nearly every field. Their Health Sciences programs span a range from Epidemiology to International Health. Your Johns Hopkins degree will groom you for continued excellence both in the field and in academia.
- Master of Health Science
University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, CO
UCCS offers several health sciences degrees including Health Promotion, Athletic Training, Sports Medicine, and Sport Nutrition, to name a few. These clinical, practical focus areas will prepare you to succeed as a working professional, while also providing the academic background for teaching if you desire that later.
- Master of Science in Athletic Training
- Master of Science in Sport Nutrition
- Master of Science in Sports Medicine
Goddard College's three-pronged approach to the general notion of health is comprised of: personal health, community health, and the health of the natural world. This program is indeed outside the box, in that it takes a bigger-picture, systems science approach to health rather than a reductionist view.
- Master of Arts in Health Arts and Sciences
Dobbs Ferry, NY & Online
Whether you choose to take your MS in Health Services online or at the Dobbs Ferry campus, Mercy College will prepare you for a stellar career. This degree is focused squarely on administration, so your degree will groom you for a director position that will lead the way to great things.
- Master of Public Administration -- Health Services Management – M.P.A.
- Master of Science in Health Services Management – M.S.
West Virginia University
West Virginia University offers a one-year, non-thesis master's degree in Health Sciences. The required courses reflect a strong science focus that includes epidemiology, biostatistics, and biochemistry. The program seeks to integrate public health and biomedical disciplines to instill deeper insight and knowledge of the healthcare field.
- Master of Science in Health Sciences
Traditional Schools Offering a MS in Health Science
Nova Southeastern University
Online – Fort Lauderdale, FL
NSU offers a Master of Health Science program. One of their stated goals is to create lifelong learners in the field of healthcare, so that the field can continue to mature and evolve. If you thrive in their graduate program, you can fulfill the lifelong learner goal by pursuing Health Science at the PhD level.
- Master of Health Science
NorthCentral takes a multi-disciplinary approach to Health Sciences, which is appropriate. This philosophy of teamwork will provide you with an overarching, systems approach to healthcare rather than the approach that has dominated much of academia for decades. Once you complete your Master's degree at NCU, they can also offer a PhD program in Health Administration.
- Master of Health Administration
- Master of Science in Nursing
University of Central Arkansas
Conway, AR – Online
A Health Sciences degree from University of Central Arkansas will prepare you to oversee, plan, assess, and otherwise administer health systems. This is a competitive program that requires a minimum 2.7 GPA to gain admission, as well as GRE scores that demonstrate outstanding writing skill.
- Master of Science in Health Science
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Teaneck, NJ – Online
Fairleigh Dickinson University offers a comprehensive, online graduate degree in Health Science. Your coursework will include topics such as medical research, technical writing, scientific terminology, and medical ethics, among other topics. If you work hard, you can complete FDU's Health Sciences graduate degree program in a single year.
- Master of Health Science
- Master of Public Health
University of Phoenix
Phoenix, AZ – Online
University of Phoenix is one of the longest-standing, predominantly online universities. While they do offer some courses in classrooms throughout the nation, their primary facilities are accessed online. If you want to earn a graduate degree in health science, they have several to choose from. Your degree can encompass health information systems, administration, or lifespan management, among other areas.
- Master of Health Administration – Informatics
- Master of Health Administration / Master of Business Administration
Frequently Asked Questions
What specializations will I have access to in a health science master’s degree?
There are plenty of options for specializations in all kinds of master’s degrees, and health sciences is no exception to that rule. Indeed, there are specializations that will prepare you for further medical roles, administrative positions, and more.
Here are just some of the options you might be able to find in either local or online programs.
- Community Health Education
- Health Services Administration
- Pre-Occupational Therapy
- Pre-Physical Therapy
- Recreation Management
- And More
What changes are expected in the coming years in health science?
The field of health science is constantly evolving, and new advancements are being made all the time. Some changes that are expected in the coming years include an increased emphasis on personalized medicine, perhaps even medication which tailors treatments to the unique genetic makeup of each patient. There will likely also be a continued growth in the use of telemedicine and remote monitoring to improve access to healthcare in remote or underserved areas. There have been and continue to be advancements in genomics and genetic research, leading to new treatments and cures. There may also be a widespread use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare in the future. Many health workers are looking to create an increased focus on preventative care and lifestyle medicine as a means of preventing and managing chronic conditions. There have also been signs that there might be advancements in regenerative medicine and stem cell research that could lead to new therapies for conditions such as spinal cord injuries and degenerative diseases. There has also been and continues to be more focus on mental health and the integration of mental and physical healthcare. These are just some of the changes that may continue to affect health science in the coming years.