The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 20% increase in demand for medical and health services managers by 2026. These professionals ensure that healthcare facilities run smoothly by keeping them up-to-date with government regulations, the newest technology, and patient concerns. This increased demand comes in part because of the aging baby boomer population and longer human life expectancy.
The BLS projects a 20% increase in demand for medical and health services managers by 2026.
Many administrators work their way up to supervisory positions through commitment and education. A master’s degree in healthcare administration makes a working professional more attractive to employers and increases earning potential. If you currently work in the healthcare field, obtaining your master’s degree will help you advance through the industry toward placement at prestigious facilities. As a healthcare administrator, you can find work in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient care centers, residential care facilities, and private offices.
Should I Get a Master's in Healthcare Administration?
The ideal master’s in healthcare administration (MHA) student holds prior experience in healthcare and should aspire to a leadership role. Administrators take a more holistic approach to healthcare, working with the facility to follow procedures, implement reforms, and create innovative processes to improve patient care. Some positions require you interact directly with clients. In other positions, managers work with personnel to monitor and store patient information. An MHA prepares students to work in any capacity at the management level. Concentrations teach students critical skills in areas that affect healthcare the most.
While in an MHA program, students should take advantage of the networking opportunities and mentorship from advisers and course instructors. Advisers make sure students stay on track to graduate by offering enrollment and registration advice. Course instructors hold years of experience as working or retired healthcare professionals. Instructors introduce students to important contacts for employment and internships. Most schools also operate a career services center to help students with job placement through resume writing and interview workshops. Programs also encourage student engagement through online cohort groups and projects. Instructors encourage innovation, especially as it relates to healthcare reform and technology. The focus remains on providing the best patient care possible.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Healthcare Administration?
A graduate degree in healthcare administration prepares students to lead healthcare facilities and operations. Students work at various levels to keep facilities in line with healthcare compliance rules and regulations, or they may prefer working in IT, managing patients’ health information through health informatics. Others choose to work with a specific population to create preventative care initiatives. Professionals can help facilities integrate new medical technologies and advancements. Some administrators manage staff and supervise facility operations.
- Medical and Health Services Manager
This term describes the various administrators and executives that manage a facility on a daily basis. These managers work in many different capacities, assisting with patient care, record keeping, accounting, and marketing. All managers must ensure facilities comply with government rules and regulations.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Director of Managed Care
Directors work at rehabilitation centers, clinics, and outpatient/inpatient facilities, coordinating tasks and projects between staff and administration. These professionals negotiate contracts between healthcare providers, hospitals, insurance companies, and the facility.
Median Annual Salary: $107,230
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Clinical Managers
Clinical managers supervise a specific department at a healthcare facility, such as physical therapy. Typically, these industry experts train and direct other departmental staff members while creating policies and meeting team goals.
Median Annual Salary: $89,910
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Nursing Home Administrator
Administrators supervise nursing home staff, client admissions processes, finances, and overall upkeep of the nursing facility. Many administrators start out as nurses and work their way up to supervisory roles. To operate a facility, the administrator must obtain a license from the state department.
Median Annual Salary: $82,950
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Health Information Manager
These managers oversee the storage and collection of patient information and organize data into clinical databases for easy access by healthcare personnel and insurance companies. Health information managers also keep up-to-date records of patient services to help with medical billing. Technicians manage paper and electronic health records.
Median Annual Salary: $39,180
Projected Growth Rate: 13%
How to Choose a Master's in Healthcare Administration Program
Choosing the right MHA program takes both research and commitment. Most schools design their master’s programs for students with prior work experience and an undergraduate degree.
Many working professionals enroll as part-time students and finish in two years. At the master’s level, some instructors expect students to show an advanced understanding of course material through a thesis or capstone project. Programs generally range from 36-53 credits. Schools create the curriculum based on core courses, electives, concentration courses, and capstone/thesis requirements.
Most schools design their master’s programs for students with prior work experience and an undergraduate degree.
Another important consideration for students often includes cost. Some schools charge students a flat tuition rate per semester/quarter, while others charge per credit hour or course. Many online programs use credit hours and individual courses to determine costs. This eliminates additional fees, such as health insurance and on-campus charges. Often, students enroll in online programs to save money and complete coursework at their own pace.
Some schools also offer a hybrid option that requires a few on-campus meetings per semester. For some students, hybrid options work better than fully online or on-campus course formats. When selecting an online program, students should check that the program holds accreditation from a regional accrediting body. Accreditation gives online programs validity, allowing students to easily transfer credits and receive financial aid.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master’s in Healthcare Administration Programs
Regional, national, and programmatic accreditation make up the main forms of college accreditation. Regional accreditation gives schools access to federal funding and distributes student financial aid. Most public universities in the U.S. boast regional accreditation from one of six regional accrediting bodies. National accreditation usually goes to trade or technical schools. These schools may offer certificate programs in certain professions like medical assisting or paralegal studies. National accreditation holds no set qualifications, creating their own academic standards for education. Programmatic accreditation involves evaluating specific programs, such as nursing or engineering. These accrediting bodies ensure program instructors lead rigorous courses that prepare students to work in the industry.
Regional and national accreditation remain more common than programmatic accreditation, but programmatic accreditation can set programs apart from others. The Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education grants programmatic evaluation for master’s in healthcare administration degrees.
Master's in Healthcare Administration Program Admissions
For both on-campus and online admissions, the process begins with an application. Students pay a fee and fill out the electronic or paper application. Students must submit test scores, high school/college transcripts, a resume, and letters of recommendation. For master’s students, schools evaluate GRE test scores and undergraduate transcripts. Some schools grant credit hours to applicants with relevant work experience or military service, reviewing work history through resumes and letters of recommendation. For online programs, most schools manage the entire process electronically and appoint an enrollment adviser to oversee the process. The student creates a profile on the application site and uploads all documents. After receiving the required documentation, the school makes a final decision and contacts the student by email or phone.
- Bachelor’s Degree: To gain entry into the program, students need to show proof of a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning their education at the graduate level.
- Professional Experience: For this program, students should already hold experience working in healthcare or hold a position as a healthcare administrator.
- Minimum GPA: Not all master’s in healthcare administration programs enforce a minimum GPA requirement. For those with a requirement, students usually need a cumulative GPA of somewhere between 2.75 and 3.0.
- Application: Most applications take 60 minutes to complete. The CommonApplication allows students to fill out a basic application and submit it to multiple institutions. The Common App website features a list of schools that use the application.
- Transcripts: Schools use your application to check GPA scores and previous coursework and use the undergraduate transcript to ensure you graduated from the required program.
- Letters of Recommendation: You should start asking colleagues and instructors to write letters of recommendation at least a few months before you apply for MHA programs. This gives the professionals time to write a strong letter prior to the application deadline.
- Test Scores: Many schools require GRE scores for admission. In some cases, an English Language Proficiency Test may also be required.
- Application Fee: Application fees vary by institution, and many schools grant waivers under certain circumstances.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Healthcare Administration Program?
Students can choose a concentration in unique areas of healthcare administration. As students advance through the program, they put their knowledge to work through internships.
Concentrations Offered for a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
|Leadership and Organizational Development||Students learn how to allocate resources and assign duties to healthcare personnel. Taking cues from organizational psychology, this specialization trains leaders to understand workers’ personalities and address them accordingly.||Director of managed care|
|Population Health||The population health concentration assesses the state of public health within different population groups, such as the elderly and children. This concentration addresses the unique concerns of each group while encouraging the development of preventative measures and educational programs.||Group practice administrator|
|Systems and Policy||As healthcare reform continues to impact the industry, leaders must understand new developments. Learners research government regulations regarding healthcare and the importance of facility compliance. This program focuses on the system and policy changes that affect patients and administrators.||Compliance director|
|Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation||This specialization teaches future health leaders about entrepreneurship to encourage them to create new and innovative healthcare processes.||Academic program or departmental administrator|
Courses in a Master’s in Healthcare Administration Program
Curricula for MHA programs varies by school, but each program includes foundational courses that teach the basics of healthcare management and administration. Students take elective courses with a focus on specific areas like health technology or financial management. The following list includes some typical courses for MHA students.
- Foundation of Healthcare Administration
This course motivates students to understand every aspect of the healthcare industry. Learners study important medical terms referring to health and wellness in order to communicate with personnel and stakeholders. This class encourages learners to set goals, work on time management skills, and empathize with people from different cultural backgrounds.
- Law, Ethics, and Policy in Healthcare Administration
Administrators need to be aware of all the changes in healthcare reform and how it affects the delivery of patient care. This course probes current laws and the interests of policy makers. Students also explore regulatory failures and how they impact the facility.
- Healthcare Financial Management and Economics
Based in economics, this course explores money and how it affects a patient’s access to care. Learners analyze financial statements to create operational and capital budgets for facilities. Additionally, students create mock business plans using course techniques.
- Healthcare Informatics and Technology Management
This course highlights the importance of health information technology and applications. Students investigate data analytics and electronic health’s impact on recordkeeping and population health. Students interested in informatics or other information technology may find this course beneficial.
- Healthcare Operations Management
This course defines healthcare operations as the management of capacity issues, staffing, scheduling, and productivity. Students discuss the supply chain system and the importance of effective management and services delivery.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Healthcare Administration?
Typically, full-time students complete an MHA program in two years. An accelerated program can take less than 24 months, though course requirements affect the length of each master’s degree. Most programs consist of 12 courses, with students enrolling in two classes per semester. A full-time student can enroll in more courses to shorten program length.
Program prices vary depending on the number of courses taken. However, this only affects students that pay per course. If you pay a flat tuition rate, you can take as many classes as the university allows.
How Much Is a Master’s in Healthcare Administration?
The cost of a master’s degree in healthcare administration depends on the school. The best MHA programs allow you to transfer credits or receive credit for prior work experience, which can cut down program length and cost. In addition, some schools will charge more for the addition of a specialization or concentration.
Other costs, especially for online courses, include a technology fee. Technology fees allow students to access electronic resources. Schools can also charge registration, orientation, commencement, and lab fees. Campus fees typically refer to a flat fee that schools charge students to maintain buildings and programs. Students may avoid some of these fees by enrolling in an online program. Usually, students majoring in a health discipline also pay a lab fee. However, master’s-level health programs generally do not require a lab component.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Healthcare Administration Prepares For
- American Association of Healthcare Administration Management Certified Revenue Cycle Professional
Applicants with at least two years of healthcare experience can take this exam. However, the association waives the experience requirement if students hold a degree from an accredited institution. The four-hour exam assesses the candidate’s knowledge of billing, credit/collections, and patient access.
- American Association of Healthcare Administration Management Certified Compliance Technician
Applicants take a 90-minute proctored exam that evaluates the individual’s knowledge of healthcare compliance plans and noncompliance policies. Students must receive a score of 70% or higher to get the compliance technician credential. Students need at least a year of compliance experience before taking the test.
- American College of Health Care Administrators Certified Nursing Home Administrator
The ACHCA certification program is recognized by 20 states and used to determine if an administrator meets licensure eligibility requirements. To receive the credential, candidates must pass a general exam, specialty exam, and work for two years or more as a licensed nursing home administrator.
- American College of Health Care Administrators Certified Assisted Living Administrator
Individual states regulate the assisted living administration process, so a uniform credential from the ACHCA showcases the administrators’ commitment to providing quality care. The applicant must acknowledge the ACHCA’s Code of Ethics and submit the application fees.
- Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional
The Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals offers a traditional and fast-track program for applicants. The fast-track program helps association members apply for the exam. The traditional program serves professionals with one to five years of administrative experience.
Resources for Healthcare Administration Graduate Students
This initiative introduces students to mentors in long-term care services. Learners can meet their mentors at the ACHCA annual conference and communicate monthly.
The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards created this database of continuing education resources. Users can refine search results by state, city, and program type.
Through ACHCA Marketplace, healthcare vendors share their services with other industry providers. Members find medical equipment, supplies, and consultants through this resource.
This organization promotes cultural and linguistic diversity by providing healthcare workers with the resources and tools needed to understand different cultures.
This tool uses data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to identify industry trends. Long-term care providers use the LTC Trend Tracker to improve quality care in facilities.
Professional Organizations in Healthcare Administration
Joining a professional organization enables students to interact with other industry professionals. These organizations help professionals advance in their careers by listing job opportunities, hosting conferences, awarding certifications, and providing continuing education courses. To gain access to these associations, students usually pay a small membership fee and complete an application.