The Latest from the Blog

A Day in the Life of a Clinical Data Analyst

September 18, 2018

Clinical data analysts help to make sense of the extensive data that is at their fingertips, creating stories that turn numbers into actionable intelligence to improve healthcare outcomes.

Joining the C-Suite: Top-Paying Positions for Healthcare Executives

September 13, 2018

The highest paid people in the healthcare industry are not necessarily doctors. In many settings, they are healthcare executives. According to the New York Times, executive salaries in healthcare saw a considerable increase in the 1990s, and the trend has since continued.

15 Healthcare Executives to Follow on Twitter

August 23, 2018

Some healthcare executives take to Twitter to disseminate their opinions about the state of healthcare and their vision for the industry's future. Read on to learn more about 15 influential healthcare executives who are actively engaging audiences through tweets.

Online Master's Degrees in Healthcare Administration

Although many MHA programs require applicants to have at least two years of qualifying professional experience in the field, this is not always the case. Some schools have waived the professional work experience requirement for MHA students.

Many online MHA programs require between two and four years of previous work experience at the middle to senior management level. Here are five online MHA programs which require candidates to have some professional experience.

The healthcare industry needs businesspeople to manage financial and business operations, and human resources. A master of business administration (MBA) with a healthcare focus can prepare graduates for a wide range of leadership roles in the field.

There’s a growing demand for healthcare law interpretation, implementation, and advocacy by professionals educated in law and policy. Professors at some of the world’s best universities are educating legal specialists to meet that demand, online.

These nine master’s in patient safety and healthcare quality degree programs are offered online, with seven provided entirely online and two programs requiring brief campus visits. The list includes one specialized MBA program and one program designed for nurses.

A graduate-level education in gerontology or aging services management can put degree-holders in a strong position to find employment at one of the more than 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S.

Online Master's Degrees in Clinical Research Administration

Clinical research scientists or administrators play an instrumental role in improving public health. Clinical researcher administrators help run clinical trials and work closely with researchers and participants over an extended period.

The goal of regulations is to keep people safe. Pharmaceutical, medical device, and other health-related businesses share that same goal. A master’s in regulatory affairs empowers graduates to help companies and government regulators work together towards this objective.

An online master's in biotechnology marries bioscience and pharmaceutical innovation with the scientific method, while a master's in bioenterprise links advanced biological science to the world of strategic business to help prepare market-minded leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. By illustration, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2018) predicted that the healthcare sector would see 18 percent job growth between 2016 and 2026. To put that into perspective, all occupations across the country have a projected seven percent job growth over the same decade.

One way that educational institutions are preparing to meet the swelling demand for highly skilled healthcare professionals in management is increasing distance-learning options. U.S. universities have risen to the challenge. According to the Babson Survey Research Group (2018), nearly one-third of all higher education enrollments in the fall of 2016 were online, with one-sixth of enrollments by students who were exclusively enrolled in distance learning courses.

MHA graduates have gone into varied leadership roles in healthcare, including positions such as clinic director, healthcare administrator, hospice plan administrator, hospital director, medical and health information manager, mental health program manager, nursing home manager, occupational therapy director, public health administrator, respiratory therapy director, and wellness manager, among others.

Learn more about healthcare administration programs designed to help meet the growing demand for healthcare administrators and clinical research managers in our FAQ.

What Is The Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC) and Why Do I Need It?

Offered through the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS), the RAC credential provides an official mark of distinction for those working in regulatory affairs. It is geared towards those working in regulatory agencies, consultancies, and corporations operating within the purview of healthcare product development, distribution, and regulation.

What Does a Nursing Home Administrator Do?

Nursing home administrators take care of a cherished, fragile, and growing segment of the population. They do so with a mixture of warm compassion and sharp intelligence. Read on to learn more about how this job looks in practice.

What Does a Hospital Administrator Do?

What a doctor is to a patient, a hospital administrator is to a medical facility. Keeping a large organization healthy requires a robust and multidimensional skillset. Read on to learn more about what this job entails, how it can look, and where it occurs.

Are there Online MHA Programs that Waive or Do Not Require the GRE?

The financial burden and intense time commitment mean that test-takers with additional work and family obligations may lack access to equal resources and a level playing field. Fortunately, some online MHA programs either waive or do not require the GRE.

How Do I Become A Regulatory Affairs Specialist?

Regulatory affairs specialists play a vital role in the well-being of the global population by monitoring the development and distribution of safe, healthy foods and technological advancements in medicine.

General Considerations for Choosing an Online Master’s Program

As online offerings become more available, students considering distance-based enrollment should keep the following three considerations in mind: scheduling flexibility, delivery format, and state authorization.

Scheduling Flexibility: Asynchronous vs. Synchronous

Online programs are often designed with non-traditional scheduling needs in mind, but can vary in terms of how much flexibility is offered. Students seeking full flexibility may want to consider programs with asynchronous instruction. In an asynchronous course, students have deadlines for watching pre-recorded lectures and completing assignments or exams, but they’re not required to login at a specific time. Students who thrive in programs that prioritize interpersonal interactions, by contrast, may want to consider programs with synchronous courses. In synchronous courses, lectures, meetings, exams, discussions, and other program essentials occur in real-time, with students and lecturers logging in simultaneously from different locations. These meetings often happen on evenings or weekends, designed to meet the needs of students who may have full-time jobs or other commitments. Note that it is common for programs to offer a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, and not exclusively one or the other. Primarily (but not totally) asynchronous programs are not uncommon, for example.

Delivery Format: Online Vs. Hybrid

In addition to considering the level of flexibility, prospective online MHA students should keep their program’s delivery format in mind. Some degree programs can be earned 100 percent online, while others are delivered in a hybrid or blended format. Fully online programs allow students to complete all of their coursework remotely, without ever having to visit a physical campus. Hybrid programs offer the possibility to take some or most courses online, but also require a student to visit a physical campus for labs, exams, orientations, immersions, or other degree requirements.

State Authorization

Finally, state authorization status is important for students applying to online MHA programs based in other states. Applicants should ensure that the institution being considered offers degree programs in their state of residence through the school’s website (e.g., Southern New Hampshire University) or by reaching out to admissions officers. Please note that many U.S. states and their distance-based universities participate in the National Council for State Reciprocity Authorization (NC-SARA), which allows students from compact states to pursue an online degree in another region.

Who Should Pursue an Online Master’s Degree in Health Administration?

Whether offered online or on-campus, a master’s degree in health administration or a related subject can prepare graduates to tackle the challenges of the healthcare industry from a systemic perspective. It teaches professionals to manage local, state, or federal hospitals and medical practices in alignment with changing laws, regulations, and technological advances. Earning a master of healthcare administration (MHA), for example, can help current clinicians apply years of insight from practice to non-clinical applications, and can provide a competitive advantage in applying for leadership positions. Students interested in this degree should be curious about human resources, care delivery systems, medical finance, strategy formulation and implementation, marketing, governance and leadership, information systems, and various other systems-focused topics as they relate specifically to healthcare.

Online programs are often designed specifically for busy professionals, people in remote regions of the country, or those with other commitments preventing them from relocating to a college town. Additionally, online programs are often best suited to those with the organization and time-management skills to make learning a day-to-day priority.

Admission Requirements for Online MHA Programs

While specific admissions procedures vary between programs, the following requirements are common among online MHA programs:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Official transcripts demonstrating a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Letters of reference or recommendations
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of purpose or letter of intent
  • Application fee
  • International students: TOEFL or IELTS scores
  • Proof of practical experience or certifications in healthcare (some programs)
  • GRE or GMAT scores (some programs)
  • In-person or remote interview (some programs)

What to Expect from an Online Master of Healthcare Administration

Online MHA Curriculum

Because health administration is such a broad field, both the type of master’s degree chosen (e.g., MBA, MS, MA, MLS, etc.) and the specialization within that degree determine what coursework, knowledge, and skills are required of students for program completion. Regardless the discipline, some programs have a generalized course of study for all students to complete, while others require students to complete a set of core courses followed by specialized classes in a student’s chosen focus. Finally, most master’s programs require a culmination course (i.e., a capstone or thesis), where students are expected to demonstrate the synthesis and integration of their knowledge and skills acquired throughout the program.

Common core courses for online MHA programs include:

  • Statistics for business/healthcare
  • Leadership and decision making in organizations
  • Healthcare finance
  • Health systems management and improvement
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Managing people and human resources
  • Ethics and patient safety

Below are examples of specialized coursework in master’s degree programs related to health administration:

  • Master’s of business administration (MBA) – Government impact on business
  • Master’s of legal studies (MLS) – Representing healthcare providers
  • Master’s of science (MS) in healthcare quality – Evaluating and designing quality improvement models
  • MS in bioenterprise – The business of biotechnology: commercialization pathways
  • MS in clinical research – The history of misconduct in biomedical research
  • MS in regulatory affairs – Regulatory strategy in the development of drugs and biologics
  • MS in gerontology – Financial and economic aspects of aging

Time to Completion

Master’s degrees in health administration can require students to complete anywhere from 32 to 60 credit-hours. Full-time students enrolled in most health administration programs can expect to complete requirements within 12 to 24 months. With dual-degree programs or certain specializations, students can expect degree completion to take three to four years. Students enrolled part-time have more time to complete coursework, but most programs limit the amount of time students have to complete the program (e.g., within five years). Finally, some programs enable students to complete programs quickly through accelerated formats or by allowing students to qualify out of certain requirements through work history, transfer credits, or test scores.

Accreditation

Accreditation is the process by which a third-party agency ensures that an educational program or an institution adheres to high standards of quality for facilities, curricula, student outcomes, and other metrics. Students seeking assurance that their online master of health administration program adheres to high quality standards can look for programs accredited by the Commision on Accreditation for Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) or another body recognized by the Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). While graduation from a CAHME-accredited program is not required in order to work in the healthcare field, enrolling in accredited program may help qualify a student for financial aid and ultimately make a graduate more competitive in the job market.

Career Outlook & Salary

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Oct. 2017) projected that openings for medical and health services managers (including healthcare administrators and executives) would grow 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, adding 72,100 new jobs nationally. This is substantially more robust than the seven percent growth anticipated across all U.S. occupations during the same time period. Furthermore, the BLS predicted that medical and health services management would grow faster than any other reported management role.

Salary

The compensation for medical and health services managers varies depending on industry and location. According to the BLS (May 2016), the mean annual salary for all medical and health services managers was $96,540—ten percent higher than the average for all other management positions, and 161 percent higher than average annual wage for all occupations nationally. The top 90 percent of earners made $172,240 or more annually, while the bottom ten percent of earners made $56,790 or less.

Mean Annual Salary by Industry (Top-Employing)

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (114,300 employed): $117,630 average
  • Offices of Physicians (36,930 employed): $105,140
  • Outpatient Care Centers (23,640 employed): $101,800
  • Nursing Care Facilities (21,620 employed): $90,970
  • Home Health Care Services (20,020 employed): $98,690

Mean Annual Salary by Industry (Top-Paying)

  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing (490 employed): $216,910 average
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing (60 employed): $162,580
  • Scientific Research and Development Services (2,830 employed): $149,150
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services (110 employed): $146,650
  • Insurance Carriers (4,390 employed): $146,090

Mean Salary by State (Top-Paying)

  • District of Columbia (1,780 employed): $142,380
  • New York (26,010 employed): $135,640
  • Connecticut (5,260 employed): $129,710
  • California (33,160 employed): $122,800
  • Alaska (880 employed): $121,530

Professional Associations and Resources for Professionals in Health Administration

With the exception of nursing home administration, licensure or certification is not required to work as a health or medical manager in the United States. MHA graduates may choose to sit for certification exams to demonstrate a commitment to professional growth and to attest to one’s knowledge and skills. Earning certifications can make an applicant more appealing to some employers and can lead to higher salary prospects. Additionally, MHA degree-holders may choose to join a professional association to expand their networks and to gain access to cutting-edge research in the field.

Professional associations for health administration professionals include:

  • AUPHA: Association of University Programs in Health Administration

    AUPHA seeks to develop innovative leaders through excellence in healthcare administration education and scholarship.

  • PAHCOM: Professional Association of Health Care Office Management

    PAHCOM connects and encourages the success of healthcare managers working at small group or solo physician practices.

  • ACHE: American College of Healthcare Executives

    ACHE is dedicated to the advancement of healthcare managers and to improving management excellence.

Professional associations for specific careers within healthcare administration include:

  • NAB: National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards

    Designed for those looking for nursing home administration, NAB supports board and certifying agencies for long term care by developing standards and sharing resources and tools. All 50 states and DC are members of NAB.

  • ACHCA: American College of Health Care Administrators

    ACHCA is a community providing professional development opportunities for administrators working in post-acute and aging services.

  • AAHAM: American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management

    For medical administrators whose focus is in finance, AAHAM is a professional organization focused on the revenue cycle.

  • AHIMA: America Health Information Management Association

    Medical administrators focusing on health information management have the opportunity to prove competency through AHIMA’s certification for health informatics and information professionals.