What are Executive MHA Programs?


Executive master of healthcare administration (MHA) degrees are graduate-level programs designed for healthcare professionals with extensive experience in their field who want to advance their careers. In order to be admitted to an executive MHA program, students should expect to have seven or more years of prior professional experience in hospitals, consulting firms, pharmaceutical companies, or other healthcare organizations.

Graduates of executive MHA programs can help to meet the growing demand for advanced leadership skills in a rapidly changing healthcare system. Operations of all sizes at all levels need leadership that has deep understanding of healthcare. These trained professionals can clarify and advance the mission of their employer realistically and creatively within the constraints of the current system, and can provide strategies for organizations to gracefully weather ongoing legal, systemic, and practice-based changes. Because of this growing need, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Oct. 2017) predicted that openings for medical and healthcare services managers would grow 20 percent in the decade preceding 2026—much faster than the expected average among all occupations nationally (7 percent).

Common job titles among executive MHA graduates include CEO, COO, director of health services, director of planning & development, executive director, risk manager, and vice president of clinical quality.

The duration of an executive MHA program will depend on the school and how frequently the student chooses to take courses. Students attending on a full-time basis may be able to complete their degree in two years or less. Professionals enrolled in an MHA program part-time while continuing work may find that it takes three to five years to complete a program.

While precise course titles will vary from one program to another, examples of MHA coursework include: healthcare economics, financing, and reimbursement; operational efficiency processes in healthcare organizations health policy; health law and risk management; reimbursement systems; and healthcare marketing, among others.

Executive MHA programs typically utilize a “learning cohort model,” which means that a small group of students begins and progresses through the entire program together. By allowing students to engage with the same peers over the course of the program, students are able to learn from the experiences of other highly experienced professionals and create a strong network in the process.

MHA program tuition will vary depending on which school a student attends, and can range from $30,000 per year to more than $50,000 per year. In the case of on-campus programs, applicants may also need to factor in housing or moving costs, if they are not already living near campus. Online programs may also have some on-campus requirements, so cost of travel, transportation, and lodging to fulfill these requirements should be included in financial planning. Financial aid is commonly available.

Many executive MHA programs are designed with working professionals in mind, offering programs with greater scheduling flexibility than traditional on-campus programs. There are on-campus executive MHA programs where courses are scheduled on nights and weekends, and fully online programs where most coursework can be completed online, at the time/place of the student’s choosing. Some executive MHA programs are also offered in a hybrid format, where some coursework is completed online, and immersive or practical experiences generally take place on-campus.

Learn more about what to expect from an executive MHA program below.

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On-Campus Executive MHA Programs

On-campus programs are best suited to the student who knows they thrive in structured learning environments, face-to-face, in real time with professors and other students. Designed with busy working professionals in mind, the following programs offer students the opportunity to learn on weekends, during off-hours, or supplement on-campus learning with online components.

Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health

  • Program: Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Location: New York, New York

University of Washington

  • Program: Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Location: Bellevue, Washington

Florida Atlantic University, College of Business

  • Program: Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Location: Boca Raton, Florida

Rutgers, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

  • Program: Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey

University of Iowa, College of Public Health

  • Program: Executive MHA
  • Location: Iowa City and Des Moines, Iowa

Online Executive MHA Programs

Many universities offering executive MHA programs are harnessing the flexibility of distance learning to help healthcare professionals gain advanced training without having to quit their jobs or relocate. The programs below are completed mostly online, with on-campus requirements as noted. Requirements for any program outlined here are subject to change and applicants should inquire with the school directly as to what will be required of them prior to applying.

University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy

  • Program: Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Campus Requirements: Two, five-day in-residence sessions for the duration of the program, held at the USC main campus in Los Angeles, California.

University of Minnesota, School of Public Health

  • Program: Executive Master of Healthcare Administration
  • Campus Requirements: To complete this program students will spend 26 days on campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The requirement is spread over five sessions throughout the 25 month program.

Western Kentucky University

  • Program: Online Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Campus Requirements: The WKU program requires three classroom visits per year for the duration of the two-year program. On-campus weekends take place at designated times in Bowling Green, Kentucky between mid-July and mid-August.

University of North Carolina, Gillings School of Global Public Health

  • Program: Health Policy and Management Executive MHA
  • Campus Requirements: Students in the UNC executive MHA program are required to attend three on-campus sessions per year in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. On-campus sessions require eight total work days and six weekend days each year.

University of Central Florida

  • Program: Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Campus Requirements: The UCF MHA program has no on-campus requirements.