An MBA in healthcare management can give you several advantages, including credentials to move into leadership roles, greater earning potential, and entry into a growing industry. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of medical and health service manager jobs will grow by 20% through 2026. Furthermore, salaries for professionals in the healthcare management field often reach up to six figures.
Earning an MBA in healthcare management opens up multiple job opportunities. Tose aiming to become the director of a hospital should consider getting their MBA in healthcare management. That said, professionals who graduated with this degree also go on to work for nonprofit and for-profit health organizations as financial managers, consultants, and administrators.
Should I Get an MBA in Healthcare Management?
An MBA in healthcare management may help you begin a career in administration. Those with prior healthcare field experience also receive transferrable MBA skills such as leadership and communication. MBA courses teach you how to make difficult decisions for the benefit of your organization, instructing you to weigh each outcome of a dilemma from the perspective of an administrator.
When enrolling in an MBA program, you can either pursue your degree through online coursework or through traditional, on-campus programs. Graduates with their bachelor's degree who prefer conventional learning can attend an on-campus program where they interact with professors and other students. Alternatively, working professionals might choose to enroll in an online program to allow for more freedom and flexibility.
Earning an MBA can also give learners a step-up in their job search by giving them a chance to connect with other students. Students can also network through their professors, who often connect them with important healthcare leaders. In addition, MBA programs typically run internship programs or partnerships in concert with companies to enable students to gain professional experience. MBA programs also offer assistance with job placement.
What Can I Do With an MBA in Healthcare Management?
If you pursue an MBA in healthcare management degree, your career can follow multiple directions. You might become the director of a health clinic, or you could work as a financial or compensation manager at a healthcare facility. No matter the type of job you find, most management jobs require a certain set of skills. These include organization, the ability to make tough decisions, a knack for problem-solving, and critical thinking. A good manager knows how to plan ahead and implement strategies to keep his or her organization healthy and flourishing.
- Medical and Health Services Manager
Medical and health service managers direct healthcare facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. They might oversee the entire facility or they might manage one department or a group of physicians. They set goals and run their healthcare facilities in order to meet those goals -- whether that includes hiring and firing employees, making sure the facility meets legal regulations, or improving the quality of care.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Administrative Services Manager
Healthcare facilities or organizations hire administrative services managers who make sure those organizations run efficiently. These managers supervise people working in other administrative roles, manage recordkeeping, and make sure facilities remain well-maintained. They also ensure that their facility operates with sufficient equipment and resources.
Median Annual Salary: $94,020
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Financial Manager
Financial managers who work at healthcare facilities create strategies for the financial health and welfare of their organizations. Their duties include evaluating costs and profits, creating and presenting financial reports, supervising the personnel in the finance department, and directing investments. Ultimately, financial managers must figure out how to reduce costs of a healthcare facility while giving patients the services they require.
Median Annual Salary: $125,080
Projected Growth Rate: 19%
- Compensation or Benefits Manager
These professionals usually head the human resources departments at healthcare organizations. They oversee HR staff and manage programs meant to compensate the facility's employees. Compensation and benefits managers determine employees' wages and benefits throughout the entire organization. They also ensure that employees receive their paychecks on time.
Median Annual Salary: $119,120
Projected Growth Rate: 5%
- Social and Community Service Manager
Social and community service managers work at organizations that provide services to the public, such as free healthcare clinics. They direct the administrative aspects of these social and community groups. They also manage outreach programs, submit funding proposals, and present the goals and outcomes of their organizations to stakeholders.
Median Annual Salary: $64,000
Projected Growth Rate: 18%
How to Choose an MBA in Healthcare Management Program
When looking for the best MBA in healthcare management programs, you should carefully consider many factors. An MBA ultimately adds up to an investment, so make sure you scrutinize a program's cost before enrolling. How much money do you currently hold, and do you require student loans? Does the school offer scholarships, assistantships, or grants to help offset the price of tuition? If you do take out student loans, how much time do you want to spend repaying your debt? How much money will you earn upon graduation, and will it cover the cost of living and paying back your loans?
The length of the program matters, too. A two-year program typically costs more than a one-year program, unless the latter offers financial aid. If you enroll part time rather than full time, you might accumulate more school-related fees such as parking.
You should also look online at the school's course catalogue. Consider the sort of curriculum offered and compare it to your career goals. Does the course material match what you would like to learn? You must also decide whether you prefer an online program or an on-campus program. Online programs might fit better for working professionals, as they allow students more independence in study schedules. Those who prefer conventional learning should consider the location and commute time. Finally, take a look at whether the MBA program partners with any companies. Oftentimes, these partnerships allow students to accumulate some valuable work experience through internships.
Programmatic Accreditation for MBA in Healthcare Management Programs
Students should also consider the accreditation status of an MBA program in healthcare management. Accreditation ensures that the programs a school offers meet high educational standards. If you enroll in an unaccredited school, your credits may not count if you transfer or continue on to a Ph.D. program. Additionally, potential employers may feel skeptical about the quality of your education.
Programmatic accreditation agencies accredit one specific type of program. For instance, one accreditation agency may review only nursing programs, while another may assess only public relations programs. Valid accreditation agencies for MBA programs in healthcare management include the Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education and the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. Students may also find schools accredited by one of six regional accreditation programs across the U.S.
MBA in Healthcare Management Program Admissions
It may seem tempting to apply to 20 schools or to apply to one dream school and leave it at that. However, if you apply to too many schools, you do not necessarily increase your odds and might overextend yourself. If you apply to just one school, you may not earn admission, leading you to need to reevaluate your plans entirely. As such, students should apply to between five and eight schools: one safety school, one dream school, and a few in between.
When choosing MBA programs, students should look at the curriculum to make sure it matches up with their career goals. If they know which specific area of healthcare management they'd like to pursue, they may choose to apply to schools with that concentration. If prospective students apply to an on-campus program, they should physically visit the location. This allows them to meet with professors and current students so they can learn more about the school in person.
- Bachelor's Degree: Before students enroll in an MBA program, they must acquire a bachelor's degree. Graduate programs require each applicant to hold an undergraduate degree to prove that she or he can handle college-level coursework.
- Professional Experience: Some MBA programs expect applicants to possess professional experience in either the healthcare field or in administration before applying. Many programs recommend at least three years of professional experience so that students know the basics of business before beginning their MBA.
- Minimum GPA: The minimum undergraduate GPA for admittance depends on the program and the school. Several schools require students to hold at least a 3.0 during their bachelor's degree. Some schools allow students to apply with a lower GPA score.
- Application: MBA programs require students to fill out an application -- typically online -- where applicants type in basic information about their identity, previous education experience, and past work experience.
- Transcripts: MBA programs expect students to send in official transcripts from their bachelor's programs. Applicants should reach out to the registrar's office at their undergraduate schools to request these transcripts. Transcript requests require the requester to pay a fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: MBA programs typically require applicants to submit letters of recommendation. Prospective students can ask past professors or bosses to write these recommendations. Applicants should give their references at least a month to write their letters.
- Test Scores: Business schools generally require applicants to take the GMAT before they can apply. However, some schools allow students to apply to an MBA in healthcare management without a GMAT score. Students should do some online research to find out which schools do not require standardized tests.
- Application Fee: The application fee for each program varies: some schools demand as little as $30, while others expect students to pay $80 along with their applications. Sometimes schools waive application fees if students apply before a certain date.
What Else Can I Expect From an MBA in Healthcare Management Program?
No MBA programs in healthcare management operate in an identical manner. Each program designs its own curriculum, with courses focusing on different topics. Many programs do not offer concentrations -- in some cases, healthcare management serves as the concentration -- but a few do give students the option to specialize. Still, each program displays its own strengths and weaknesses. Students should keep that in mind when filling out applications.
|Communications||An MBA with a concentration in communications focuses on training students to effectively communicate in various situations. This specialization includes courses in public relations, interpersonal communication, marketing, and social media. Students may also take courses in cultural competency so they can communicate across cultures.||Marketing or public relations executive for healthcare facility; patient services administrator|
|Global Health||Some health organizations operate across national boundaries as either international companies or nongovernmental organizations. A global health concentration helps students prepare for positions working for these organizations. Students who choose this specialization learn about international business, geography, cross-cultural communication, and global health. Some programs may require students to know a foreign language.||Administrator for a nongovernmental organization; manager for international healthcare company|
|Informatics||If students wish to work at the intersection of management and technology, they should consider a healthcare management MBA with an emphasis in informatics. An informatics concentration teaches students how to manage and analyze data within a healthcare system. Students also learn how to interpret the data and apply lessons learned from a management standpoint.||Technology administrator for healthcare facilities, insurance groups, and pharmaceutical companies|
|Managed Care||Managed care refers to a system of paying for healthcare services in which patients visit certain doctors, but a third party company manages their bills. In the U.S., managed care occurs often. Students who pursue a concentration in managed care learn how to operate these systems from an administrative point of view, either at a healthcare facility or at an insurance company.||Insurance company administrator|
|Leadership||Some programs offer specializations specifically in leadership. Students who pursue this concentration take classes in resolving conflict and coaching subordinate employees. They also learn skills such as quantitative decision making, negotiation, human resources management, organization at the management level, and cross-cultural communication.||Healthcare administrator|
Courses in an MBA in Healthcare Management Program
Each healthcare management MBA program includes its own curriculum and offers its own set of courses. Despite the difference in curriculum, most schools offer courses that teach a shared set of fundamental skills: healthcare organization, legal management, policy, and finance. You can find a sample of some of these common courses below.
- Healthcare Organization and Management
This course provides students with an overview of both the American healthcare system and how different sectors operate within the industry. It also teaches students how to manage different types of companies within the healthcare industry. The course typically covers healthcare access and delivery as well.
- Healthcare Governance and Legal Management
In this course, students learn about the relationship between law and healthcare. The course teaches students about legal principles like liability and ethical issues. It also trains students how to understand government regulations related to healthcare, dispute resolution, and contracting.
- Health Insurance and Risk Management
This course focuses on health insurance from the perspective of insurers, employers, and healthcare facility administrators. It also covers how the health insurance industry operates across the U.S. -- including Medicare and Medicaid -- and what that means for healthcare facilities.
- Healthcare Policy
Students in this course learn about the current state of health policy in the U.S., and what it means for both patients and healthcare providers. They also learn about the role of government and public policy in healthcare.
- Healthcare Finance
This course covers issues related to money in the healthcare system. Healthcare finance examines everything from insurance to reimbursement systems, and from managed care to Medicaid. Students learn how to effectively understand this complex web of finances and make decisions about money from a managerial perspective.
How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA in Healthcare Management?
MBA in healthcare management programs typically last two years, although some students complete them in one year. The length of time depends on several factors: whether students enroll full time, whether students take the program online or on campus, the number of credit hours students can take, and whether students complete an internship before they graduate. Students who work part time may take on fewer credits, but their MBA program may last longer.
Students who wish to complete their MBA in healthcare management quickly should find one-year programs. Students should keep in mind, however, that these programs often include intensive coursework and a year-round curriculum.
How Much Is an MBA in Healthcare Management?
Many MBA programs in healthcare management generally cost under under $1,000 per credit hour, with tuition costs ranging from about $380 per credit hour to $830 per credit hour. However, tuition costs can reach over $1,800 per credit hour at some schools.
Students must also consider other costs, such as books, course materials, registration fees, and distance learning fees for online courses. Students should also take into account the location of their on-campus MBA program. Do you need to move to attend, and what is the local cost of living? In addition, make sure to scrutinize your own finances to determine whether you can afford attendance.
All of those expenses can add up quickly. However students enjoy access to financial aid through scholarships, grants, or loans to help offset the cost of the program. You should check with your prospective colleges or universities to see whether they offer any scholarships. If you identify as a veteran, you may also receive financial aid through your GI benefits.
Certifications and Licenses an MBA in Healthcare Management Prepares For
- Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional
Administered by the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals, this certification exam tests clerical skills, knowledge of healthcare regulation and governance, and software. Candidates need at least seven years of healthcare administration experience, a postsecondary degree, and membership in the AHCAP for at least five years.
- Certified Healthcare Access Manager
The National Association of Healthcare Access Management offers this certification; it guarantees that the certified employee possesses knowledge of patient access services. The exam covers statistical reporting, patient management, and strategic leadership. Candidates need at least two years of professional experience and to two references.
- Certified Healthcare Access Associate
Similar to the healthcare access manager certification, the healthcare access associate certification endorses employees' understanding of patient access services. However, candidates at this level only need one year of professional experience and one reference. Additionally, the certification exam does not test the candidate's leadership skills.
- AAHAM Certified Revenue Cycle Executive
Offered by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, this certification confirms that employees hold significant knowledge in managing revenue cycles. Students must pass an exam that covers tasks such as patient access, billing, credit and collections, and revenue cycle management. Applicants must hold at least four years of professional experience, or a higher education degree, and two years of work experience.
- AAHAM Certified Revenue Cycle Professional
The revenue cycle professional certification -- also offered by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management -- caters to supervisors and managers working in the healthcare revenue cycle industry. The exam lasts a shorter time and includes less-intensive questions than the revenue cycle executive certification exam. Applicants need only two years of work experience.
Resources for MBA in Healthcare Management Students
The National Center for Healthcare Leadership functions as a nonprofit organization that offers publications and presentations for professionals and students alike. The group also hosts a resource web page specifically for students.
This government-run website includes a wealth of information about the Affordable Care Act. Here, students can find up-to-date material about healthcare policies and regulations.
Made up of chief executives in the healthcare field, the Healthcare Leadership Council runs programs like the National Dialogue for Healthcare Innovation, where important players in the industry discuss solutions to problems like the opioid crisis.
A peer-reviewed academic publication, the Journal of Healthcare Leadership allows professionals to keep up to date with the latest research in the industry. Students can find full articles on the journal's website.
Kaiser Health News operates as an online trade publication for the healthcare industry. It covers updates on health law, Medicaid, and Medicare. Kaiser Health News also publishes healthcare data and investigative journalism.
Professional Organizations for MBA in Healthcare Management Students
Professional associations allow students and workers to meet, network, and ultimately grow in their profession by picking up best practices from one another. These groups also allow members to access educational tools, like webinars or journals. Annual conferences and summits give members the opportunity to attend workshops and lectures. Students can also jump start their career by perusing the groups' job boards, taking advantage of career services, or finding hiring companies through the association's membership directories.