Tuition: How Much Do Online MHA Programs Cost?

The U.S. population is both aging and increasing in size. Furthermore, as a result of the American Care Act, many more Americans have access to health insurance. With all of these changes happening at once, the healthcare industry is in need of new strategies to provide the best care.

As care needs expand and shift, the healthcare system demands a whole new force of healthcare managers willing to step up into the challenge of creating innovative methods and strategies for more efficient and effective care delivery. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job growth percentage in this profession is projected to be about three times higher than the national average for all occupations (7 percent). By illustration, the demand for medical and health services managers is expected to increase 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, resulting in a projected increase of 72,100 new jobs.

In response to the growing demand for healthcare services and those who manage them, many universities, business schools, and schools of public health are making their master of healthcare administration (MHA) programs available to a wider group. Online MHA programs allow students to earn an education in healthcare administration without having to relocate. This type of program can be customized to fit into a student’s schedule through asynchronous learning and offers minimal disruption with work, as many allow and encourage students to keep working while studying.

Read on to discover what to expect to pay for these in-demand degrees.

Considerations When Looking at the Cost of an MHA

While the above mentioned general capabilities are built into most online MHA degrees, not all MHA degrees are built the same. Before applying, prospective students should consider several factors when looking at the price tag for an MHA program.

Number of Credits

For the most part, more expensive programs require students to complete more credits. There are exceptions to this rule, like the University of Southern California’s 36-credit executive master of health administration. At $67,068, the program is on the more expensive side of the spectrum despite having fewer required credits for graduation. That said, this program is designed for more experienced professionals with a minimum of five years of work experience, hence its title as an “executive” program. Most MHAs consist of 36 to 64 credits.

Faculty

It’s no secret that students learn best when they learn from great teachers. This is also true in MHA students. The skills and knowledge that an MHA graduate obtains rely heavily on the quality of instructors from which he or she learns. Because online programs typically boast a distinguished faculty that provides the same quality of instruction as the on-campus learning experiences, prospective students may want to look for resonance. Generally, the most prestigious schools have more experienced and accomplished professors.

Asynchronous Versus Synchronous Learning

In addition to the instructors, a prospective MHA student should consider the way instruction occurs. Some programs build consistent access to instructors into their programming through synchronous learning—i.e., where students and professors are online together at the same time—or through smaller class sizes. Asynchronous learning can allow more flexibility with when and how students complete the curriculum and may offer less consistent direct access to professors. Although not universal, more expensive programs tend to have more synchronous learning experiences and smaller ratios than less expensive programs.

Networking

Networking can be a driving consideration for some students. For example, an MHA student seeking career advancement within his or her company may not find networking to be as important as one who is interested in changing careers or employers. More expensive programs may present students with more valuable peer-to-peer networking opportunities because they tend to have a higher work experience threshold. They may also have on-campus requirements, such as in-person immersion experiences or residencies. The opportunity for face-to-face interaction with peers, professors, and industry professionals may result in deeper networking opportunities than programs that are 100 percent online.

Rankings and Institutional Recognition

Generally, there is a correlation between the cost of a program and its ranking. Higher ranked programs tend to be more expensive. Students who wish to transition careers or employers may value brand recognition and ranking more than others. Every year, U.S. News and World Report ranks the top health schools according to peer assessment surveys from deans, administrators, and faculty.

Program Accreditation

Accreditation is a way in which academic programs demonstrate the quality of their educational experience. Although graduating from an accredited program is not required to work in healthcare management, it does provide prospective employers with a rubric upon which to judge the quality of a candidate’s education.

The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) and the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) focus on accrediting healthcare management programs. There are also several business-specific accrediting bodies, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). More costly programs are more likely to have prominent, industry-specific accreditation than more affordable programs.

Opportunity Cost

When thinking about the cost of an MHA, a prospective student may want to consider factoring in opportunity cost. MHA programs, even online, may require students to reduce their work hours, leave their jobs, or use vacation time to attend on-campus immersive or residency experiences. Before deciding on a program, students should ensure the bump in pay they expect to get following graduation will outweigh the cost of attendance plus the temporary reduction in salary that may occur as a result of program participation.

Program Highlights at All Cost Levels

Online MHA programs are available in a range of costs. Keep reading to learn more about what programs offer at different price points. Please note that all rankings are from U.S. News & World Report.

High-Premium MHA Programs

George Washington University

The MHA@GW is one of the more costly online MHA programs available. Part of the driving force behind GW’s high cost is student access to instructors. GW sets up one-on-one discussion sessions with professors and keeps the student to instructor ratios to 15 to one.

With 80 hours of immersion work and a culminating oral presentation, MHA@GW students must dedicate a larger portion of their studies to in-person work with peers, faculty, and other healthcare leaders. In addition, prospective students must have at least two years of full-time healthcare experience.

  • Tuition: $89,250 for the full program ($1,785 per credit)
  • Number of credits: 50
  • Accreditation: CAHME
  • Program length: Two years
  • Ranking: #16 for healthcare management graduate programs

Johns Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins flexible MBA in healthcare management requires 7.5 days of immersion where students interact with their classmates, professors, alumni, and other business leaders. The school promises online coursework as rigorous as in-person coursework and offers students all the same amenities as on-campus students.

Applicants must have two years of relevant professional experience, and the school boasts a post-graduation employment and internship rate of 89 percent within six months of graduation. Sample employers include healthcare giants like Kaiser and Children’s National Health Systems.

  • Tuition: $73,980 for the full program ($1,370 per credit)
  • Number of credits: 54
  • Accreditation: AACSB International
  • Program length: 32 months
  • Ranking: #7 for healthcare management graduate programs, #10 overall for national universities

Moderately Priced MHA Programs

George Mason University

George Mason’s two-year online MHA in health systems management is taught by the same “industry-shaping experts” as its on-campus counterpart. The program requires students to spend one week in Washington D.C., where they have the opportunity to network with elected representatives, federal agency staff, students, professors, and advocacy organizations.

Students must also complete a capstone practicum working with a healthcare organization over several months.

  • Tuition: $45,966 for the full program ($1,013 per credit)
  • Number of credits: 47
  • Accreditation: Association of University Programs in Health Administration
  • Program length: Two years
  • Ranking: #33 for healthcare management graduate programs

University of Scranton

The University of Scranton offers a 47-credit-hour MHA program taught by a faculty of expert practitioners. Programming is 100 percent online and does not require any residencies or immersions. However, students are expected to complete a 150-hour internship, which may present networking opportunities. In addition, the University of Scranton requires applicants to have three years of professional work experience.

  • Tuition: $44,180 for the full program ($940 per credit)
  • Number of credits: 47
  • Accreditation: CAHME
  • Program length: 30 months
  • Ranking: #196 overall for national universities

Most Affordable MHA Programs

Utica College

The 36-credit MHA program at Utica College is one of the least demanding programs in terms of required credits. Students can enroll in the general track or choose one of three specializations: acute care, nursing home administration, or service organizations. Utica’s four virtual residencies, asynchronous curriculum, and 100 percent online format are designed to fit within the schedule constraints of working professionals. Utica also helps students with career planning.

  • Tuition: $22,680 for the full program ($690 per credit)
  • Number of credits: 36
  • Accreditation: Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Program length: Two years

University of Saint Mary Online MBA in Health Care Management

Saint Mary offers one of the most affordable healthcare management programs in the country. The online master of business administration (MBA) with a focus on healthcare management can be completed in as little as one year.

Students are expected to spend 15 to 20 hours on coursework per week. Most courses are asynchronous to provide the schedule flexibility needed by working professionals. Students are welcome to visit the campus and participate in live chats and on discussion boards.

  • Tuition: $22,680 for the full program ($630 per credit)
  • Number of credits: 36
  • Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Program length: Two years

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