Who Accredits MHA Programs?
Selecting the right master’s program in health administration can be tricky. The first step for prospective MHA students is to ensure that their desired institution and course of study are appropriately recognized by an accreditation body – such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), or Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). Although there exists a U.S. Department of Education database detailing post-secondary accredited institutions and programs, it should not be considered authoritative; confirmation from CHEA or CAHME should always occur before MHA enrollment decisions are made.
An institution of higher education will be recognized by one regional institutional accrediting organization and, depending on academic offerings, may have one or several programmatically-accredited programs in specialty areas, such as healthcare administration, nursing, allied healthcare careers, health informatics, business, social work, pharmacy, and journalism.
For example, the University of Scranton holds institutional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which is recognized by CHEA. In addition, it has multiple professionally-accredited by some of the following MHA-relevant organizations and disciplines:
- Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators (NAB)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Accrediting agencies are essential in providing assurance that educational and professional institutions meet the highest standards. Such transparency is invaluable for prospective students, who can examine a program’s accreditation status to ensure it meets their expectations before enrolling.
Read on to explore accreditation agencies and processes specific to master’s of health administration (MHA) and other related programs.
Types of Accreditation
There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic.
Institutional accreditation ensures that an institution of higher education provides high-quality education. Accredited institutions have met specific academic and professional standards of reputable third-party organizations recognized by Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). A non-profit higher education organization based in the United States, CHEA was founded in 1996 to advocate for academic quality through accreditation. CHEA recognizes these seven organizations responsible for the accreditation of roughly 3,000 of the nation’s colleges and universities:
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
- WASC Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
The purpose of programmatic accreditation is to ensure programs within a specific department prepare students for specific careers and meet high-quality, state-level, or national standards for licensure. For example, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is the preferred programmatic accrediting agency for master’s of healthcare administration (MHA) programs. In addition, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) accreditation is the gold standard for healthcare MBA programs.
Students must properly research the accreditation of the MHA programs they are considering. Failure to select programs and schools approved by the appropriate entities can negatively impact a student’s chances of securing financial aid; applying to other academic programs; or qualifying for professional certification. They may also have trouble transferring credits between schools.
Read on for an in-depth description of MHA program accrediting organizations and a list of accredited online MHA and other related healthcare administration programs.
MHA Program Accreditation
Several organizations throughout the country accredit MHA and other healthcare management programs. Therefore, students should be diligent when researching their MHA program of choice and its associated accreditation agency.
Here are the reputable accreditation entities for MHA and healthcare MBA programs with details about their history; which types of schools or programs they accredit; how they perform evaluations; and a featured MHA program for each organization.
Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
CAHME is the most reputable accreditation agency for MHA degrees and the only organization that grants MHA program-specific accreditation. It is considered the highest standard by students and employers. CAHME-accredited programs offer high-quality curricula, distinguished faculty in education and research, and a top-notch network of professional colleagues and alumni.
CAHME’s mission is to set measurable criteria for outstanding healthcare management education; support, assist, and advise programs to meet or exceed requirements and improve continuously; accredit graduate programs that meet or exceed the criteria; and make the information readily available.
Featured CAHME-Accredited Program
The University of Scranton provides one example of a CAHME-accredited online MHA program. It was one of the first online MHA programs accredited by this agency. To receive this distinction, the University of Scranton demonstrated how it maintains relevancy in its course curriculum and adjusts to the ever-changing nature of healthcare. This 47- to 52-credit program helps students develop communication, critical thinking, leadership, and ethics skills. Two specializations are available in health informatics and global health.
- Location: Scranton, PA
- Duration: 2.5 years
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- Tuition: $920 per credit
Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
CAHIIM accredits health informatics and information management programs, two fields closely allied with health administration. To qualify, a university must have institutional accreditation from a CHEA-recognized entity, provisions for Title IV eligibility, and must meet other standards of excellence in the evaluation process. Graduates of CAHIIM-accredited programs may be eligible to sit for the AHIMA certification exams, which cover various skills related to informatics, data management, and electronic health records.
Featured CAHIIM-Accredited Program
The University of Illinois at Chicago offers an online master of science in health information management (MSHI) accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM). The MSHI program is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to become leaders in health informatics. Students learn how to use data, technology, and analytics to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and enhance the quality of care.
The 39-credit program also focuses on developing leadership skills such as communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. With this degree, graduates can pursue various career paths in the healthcare industry, including clinical informatics specialists, health information managers, or healthcare IT consultants.
- Location: Chicago, IL
- Duration: Two years
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM
- Tuition: $750 per credit
Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
The ACBSP focuses on business programs specifically. Since 1988, it has been accrediting quality business programs at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degree levels at more than 1,000 schools worldwide. ACBSP focuses on exceptional teaching, learning outcomes, and continuous curriculum improvement according to the evolving business world.
Featured ACBSP-Accredited Program
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is one example of a school with an online ACBSP-accredited MBA in healthcare management program, where students can gain a competitive advantage in the healthcare field and master industry-specific knowledge within the master of business administration in healthcare management. Like an MHA, an MBA in healthcare management program can prepare students to take on leadership roles in hospitals, clinics, or medical offices.
- Location: Manchester, NH
- Duration: One year
- Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- Tuition: $627 per credit
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International
AACSB International brings educators, students, and businesses together to create a new generation of exceptional leaders. Since 1916, AACSB International has ensured quality, business education, intelligence, and professional development. Just like ACBSP, AACSB International focuses on business-oriented programs in healthcare. AACSB is considered the gold standard in MBA program accreditation.
Featured AACSB-Accredited Program
The University of Delaware online MBA program is accredited by AACSB. This 44-credit program can give students the targeted industry knowledge and analytical tools to lead their organization to far-reaching growth and success. Notably, it was ranked in the nation’s top ten percent of online MBAs by the U.S. News and World Report.
- Location: Newark, DE
- Duration: 16 months
- Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International
- Tuition: $950 per credit
International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
The International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) is an organization that works to advance academic quality in business programs through evidence-based accreditation. It encourages institutions to build and improve upon their educational offerings and assesses them based on outcomes. The IACBE has accredited MBA programs, colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions worldwide with healthcare management MBA programs.
Featured IACBE-Accredited Program
The University of St. Mary offers an online MBA program that provides students with the marketable skills they need to accelerate their careers in as little as 12 months. Students can tailor their degree to fit their career goals with eight concentrations available, including accounting, business analytics, finance, general management, health care administration, international business, and compliance and data analytics available. The flexible program allows students to take courses at their own pace while still providing the same quality education as the campus-based MBA program.
- Location: Leavenworth, KS
- Duration: One year
- Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
- Tuition: $598 per credit
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is one of the main accreditation entities for nursing programs, including those in nursing administration. The CCNE is an officially recognized national accreditation agency by the U.S. Department of Education. It provides accreditation to baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs, ensuring they meet specific quality standards. The CCNE process helps ensure that students receive a quality education and are prepared for future careers in nursing.
Featured CCNE-Accredited Program
The University of Alabama offers a top-notch online master of science in nursing (MSN) program with a concentration in nursing administration. This program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful nurse administrators. The curriculum covers topics such as healthcare policy, healthcare finance, organizational leadership, and quality improvement. Students also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through practicum courses and internships.
- Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
- Duration: Two years
- Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Tuition: $440 per credit
Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which accredits schools of public health and public health programs offered in institutions of higher education. CEPH works to ensure that the public health workforce is well-prepared to tackle the global challenges of today’s society through its rigorous evaluation process of school performance and curriculum standards. CEPH also seeks to promote quality improvements in population health through research, training, education and advocacy initiatives.
Featured CEPH-Accredited Program
The School of Public Health at Texas A&M University offers a master of public health (MPH) program that provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful public health professionals. The program focuses on equipping students with the abilities to recognize public health issues, analyze data for informed decision-making, create strategies for policy development and health promotion activities, and develop the skills required to work in diverse settings.
Texas A&M offers courses that explore a range of topics in public health including epidemiology, biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, environmental health, as well as global and occupational health. Graduate students can also take advantage of research opportunities through the school’s comprehensive National Institutes of Health-funded center. Through this program, graduates gain the training needed to pursue rewarding careers in public health and make lasting contributions to the overall well-being of their communities.
- Location: College Station, TX
- Duration: Two years
- Accreditation: Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
- Tuition: $741 per credit (residents); $1,195 per credit (non-residents)
Bottom Line: Accreditation is Key
No matter what graduate healthcare program you choose, the bottom line is: accreditation matters.
Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review institutional and programmatic accreditation standards and guidelines and the current and projected accreditation status of the schools and programs they are interested in before applying or enrolling.
Learn more about the differences between MHA, MBA, and MPH programs to find an accredited healthcare administration or policy graduate program.