What Can You Do with a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)?


Healthcare administration is one of the most in-demand fields in the healthcare industry due to the rise in construction of medical facilities and the aging Baby Boomer population. The American Hospital Association (AHA) reported that there are 5,564 registered hospitals in the United States, which includes up to 897,961 staffed beds. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that openings for managers or healthcare executives within medical services are expected to increase 20 percent from 2016 to 2026—an addition pof 72,100 jobs.

A master of healthcare administration allows one to lead and direct various medical services as generalists or specialists. Generalists may manage an entire health and medical facility, while specialists address the needs of specific healthcare departments. Because of technological innovations and changing healthcare laws and regulations, healthcare administrators are essential to medical facilities and practices to help implement social and public policies, educate staff, and maintain the efficiency of their facility.

Healthcare administrators take up challenging leadership roles within our dynamic healthcare system. In general, master of healthcare administration (MHA) programs prepare students to become executives at the forefront of the shifting healthcare paradigm. Healthcare administration candidates gain valuable skills to answer to public demands and maintain the vision and mission of their department and/or medical practice. Administrators’ responsibilities vary, but generally include the ability to foster a medical community and monitor the flow of professionalism within the organization.

Typically, MHAs are two-year programs, during which, an internship or residency is usually required as well. Some healthcare administration programs might include coursework in managing healthcare organizations, risk and insurance, problems and ethical issues in healthcare, operations improvement, and health information systems. Residencies allow MHA candidates to apply the theories they learn in the classroom while gaining valuable hands-on knowledge of the global healthcare system and addressing operational issues within a healthcare facility. Some online MHA programs may also include a supervised residency requirement in students’ home communities, which allows space for further collaboration within leadership specializations and strategic planning.

Some specializations within master of healthcare administration include:

  • Operations management
  • Policy and systems analysis and marketing
  • Financial administration
  • Health information technology
  • Quality of care and patient advocacy

Depending on the academic institution, postgraduate administrative fellowships may be offered, in addition to immediately entering a more specialized role. Read on for more information about healthcare administration careers.

Career Paths of MHA Program Graduates

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), the healthcare administration field includes the ability to manage the healthcare system’s technical aspects and “the social and public policy issues related to access to care.” Administrators working as general managers or specialists collaborate with healthcare staff to ensure their facility or practice is in compliance with laws and health codes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) latest report indicates that the lowest 10 percent of healthcare managers earned less than $56,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $172,240.

Read on for some examples of career paths that an administrator may enter after completing a master of healthcare administration (MHA).

Employer Key Responsibilities Mean annual salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016)
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Train and educate staff regarding healthcare policies and procedures
  • Manage medical records, daily supply needs, and update and carry out procedures for specific departments
  • Evaluate staff, review and develop reports and facility/department budgets
Residential Care Groups/Nursing Care Facilities
  • Manage and train staff, oversee daily operations for facility or department
  • Coordinate and supervise the delivery of medical care, manage financial resources/budget
  • Recommend procedural and policy changes, create staff schedules, and adhere to governing laws
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
  • Establish staff and facility goals, write administration user manuals, implement new policies/procedures
  • Review, develop, perform and monitor tests, and maintain confidentiality and security
  • Review and identify medical laboratory information system needs and problems
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals
  • Follow guidelines outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and education staff to also adhere to updates within practices/policies
  • Analyze data using statistical and epidemiologic principles for large-scale planning and operations management
  • Focus on quality improvement and accessibility to treatment and rehabilitation services
Insurance/financial industry
  • Deal with legal claims, and adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules
  • Develop insurance plans, review, accept, and/or deny insurance applications, and work with coding/billing department to ensure insurance plan benefits are applied properly
  • Review micro/macroeconomic and financial principles to analyze and interpret medical data for strategic planning

Certifications within Healthcare Administration

There are a wide variety of certifications that health administrators can pursue to validate their expertise to employers. In fact, nursing homes that receive federal funding require administrators to be licensed nursing home administrators. The main organization which offers NHA certification is the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). To qualify, candidates must pass an exam with at least 75 percent correct on a 150-question exam, which covers resident-centered care and quality of life, human resources, leadership and management, and environment. Furthermore, states have differing requirements for licensure and may require additional exams, as well as continuing education to maintain credentialing. The Department of Public Health offers information about state-specific requirements.

Beyond nursing homes, each state may also have specific certification programs. For instance, the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards provides state licensure for administrators in long term care.

Other certifying entities and their sample certifications include: