Online MHA Programs That Do Not Require Professional Experience
Although many master’s degree programs require applicants to have at least two years of qualifying professional experience, this is not always the case. Some schools have waived the professional work experience requirement for students wishing to obtain an online master of healthcare administration (MHA). Perhaps this is because healthcare administration is an in-demand career. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 20 percent increase in job openings for medical and health services managers between 2016 and 2026, much higher than the expected average among all U.S. occupations in the same timeframe.
Many pursue a degree in healthcare administration because they want to work on the business and administrative side of healthcare management. Their interest is not necessarily in direct patient care, but rather in helping to create policies that improve healthcare delivery for an entire population. A person with the title of healthcare administrator may run a hospital or clinic, manage a group practice for multiple healthcare providers, or manage a single department within a healthcare setting.
Some of the specific duties of a healthcare administrator might include communicating with healthcare professionals regarding policies and patient progress, scheduling employees, managing finances, and other types of recordkeeping. However, the position of a healthcare administrator is one of many posts that MHA graduates can pursue. In addition to a general track, many schools offer specialties within their MHA programs. Examples include health informatics, acute care, nursing home administration, data management, population management, and senior services. It is a promising field for those who want to advance their career in healthcare administration as well as those pursuing this line of work for the first time.
This guide explores several respectable online MHA programs that do not require previous work experience as well as three renowned professors who teach these programs.
Featured Online MHA Programs That Don’t Require Professional Experience
Working adults who have decided to pursue an online MHA first need to select a school to complete their program. An online master’s degree program allows students to continue working and tend to other responsibilities while earning their credentials. Below are five schools that offer online MHA programs and do not require previous professional experience in healthcare to apply.
Although the coursework for this program is all online, as part of the curriculum, students are required to travel to Mason's Virginia campus for the annual Health Policy Institute. This includes meeting policymakers and viewing congressional hearings on Capitol Hill, as well as taking institute classes and participating in panel discussions with fellow students and federal healthcare policymakers. GMU divides the courses required for its MHA degree program into two phases of seven and eight courses respectively, most of which are in an asynchronous online format. This program is appropriate for students pursuing a variety of healthcare career applications. Students take courses such as an introduction to the American healthcare system, healthcare leadership and organizational behavior, and health economics. In the second phase, students take classes in statistics in health services management, quantitative skills, and quality improvement in health services. In addition to the requirement to spend one week in Washington DC, MHA students complete a field practicum in health systems management. Students must have a bachelor’s degree to apply for the program, but it does not need to be in a healthcare field. Please note that the admissions committee does consider prior work experience when evaluating applicants, but it is not an official requirement for the program. No GMAT is required to apply.
- Location: Fairfax, Virginia
- Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
- Tuition: $978 per credit-hour
- Program length: 47 credits over two years
The MHA program at Regis College is taught by staff who currently work in healthcare administration, who expose students to unique, informed perspectives. The program prepares graduates to make the necessary changes that ensure high-quality healthcare for patients. It teaches students to view healthcare administration from a business, patient, and policy point-of-view. This program is a good option for students from many different backgrounds who want to pursue or advance their career in healthcare administration. Therefore, the school does not require previous work experience or GMAT scores. Whether students are interested in an entry-level or executive position, they can acquire many valuable skills, such as healthcare accounting and financing, interpersonal and professional communication, strategic planning, organization in a healthcare environment, and critical thinking. Students who complete the field experience need 36 credits—while those who waive the field experience only need 33—in concepts in health administration, research methods for the health professions, and healthcare quality management. Admission requirements for this program include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, official transcripts from previous schools, application form and fee, current resume, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation.
- Location: Boston, Massachusetts
- Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Tuition: $750 per credit
- Program length: 33 to 36 credits over 16 months for full-time students or 24 months for part-time students
Saint Joseph’s University gives students the option of enrolling in a general healthcare administration program or one of two specialty tracks in informatics or organizational development and leadership. All programs provide a firm foundation in healthcare industry practices, laws, and research to prepare them for an exciting and challenging career. Students take ten core courses in health administration, healthcare law, the financial management of healthcare organizations, ethics of healthcare, and managed healthcare, among others. They also choose two general concentration electives in either health policy, computer-based patient records, healthcare and the internet, or epidemiology and community health. The MHA program can prepare students to make decisions at the executive level by exposing them to complex ethical and moral issues. Professional healthcare experience is preferred, but not required, but students do need to submit official transcripts from previous schools, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement explaining why they have chosen to pursue this program. They do not have to take the GMAT. According to the U.S. News & World Report, St. Joseph’s University ranks as one of the best colleges for veterans and a top university in the north.
- Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- Tuition: $870 per credit
- Program length: 36 credits for the general concentration and 42 credits for the specialized concentrations over two to three years
MHA students at Southern New Hampshire University will appreciate that it has one of the lowest tuition rates for online master’s degree programs in the U.S. This program, targeted toward entry- to mid-level healthcare managers, offers courses in biostatistics, healthcare quality and improvement, strategic human resources management, healthcare informatics, global health and diversity, healthcare marketing, finance and economics, law and several others. The school also offers a similar master's degree in management in healthcare administration. Graduates of these programs can expect to learn how to obtain leadership positions in healthcare. Prospective MHA students do not have to take the GMAT or show proof of previous professional work experience in healthcare. The admission process at SNHU requires students to submit an official application, official transcripts from other colleges, and an application processing fee. It takes two to four weeks for an admissions representative to review each application and notify the prospective student.
- Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
- Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
- Tuition: $627 per credit
- Program length: 36 credits over 15 months when completing two courses per term
This MHA degree offers students the option to choose between a general healthcare administration focus and three specialty concentrations in acute care, long-term care, and service organizations. Additionally, MHA students can choose any four courses included under leadership electives to customize their degree further to meet their career goals. The program is designed to be completed entirely online. Students have four virtual residencies throughout the program. The program is divided into three primary dimensions, including the continuum of care, leadership, and management. Students complete 21 credits of core courses, 12 credits of leadership specializations or additional electives, and a three-credit capstone project. In the core curriculum, students learn about healthcare accounting practices, healthcare systems, and healthcare ethical and legal issues. Students take electives that focus on their specialty of choice, or if they opted for the general track, they take general electives on fraud management and detection and economics of healthcare policy. Students in all programs study actual cases in healthcare, complete relevant projects, and participate in active learning formats, all of which take place online. Admissions requirements include submitting official transcripts from previous colleges, three letters of recommendation, and proof of a minimum 3.0 grade point average in previous college coursework. The school recommends professional work experience but does not require it.
- Location: Utica, New York
- Accreditation: Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- Tuition: $690 per credit
- Program length: 36 credits over two to three years
Professors to Know in Online MHA Programs
Darla Branda - Southern New Hampshire University
Darla Branda is the faculty lead of SNHU's health information management program. In this role, she works as a health information educator, program administrator, curriculum designer and developer, and evaluation and assessment coordinator. Branda has been a registered health information administrator since 1991. She has two bachelor degrees, one in healthcare management from Park College, the other in medical record administration from Saint Louis University. She also has a master’s degree in higher education from Saint Louis University. Before accepting her current role, Branda taught at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. In this position, she coordinated instruction and curriculum for online laboratory classes.
Mary Ann Hart - Regis College
Mary Ann Hart is the program director of Regis College's MHA program. She has worked in the nursing profession for more than four decades, and she was instrumental in developing the graduate MHA program at Regis College in 2009. She is principal of Hart Government Relations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she designs and directs government policies related to non-profit health and human services organizations. Hart earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from Simmons College, her master’s in nursing education from the University of Rhode Island, and a certificate of advanced graduate study as a family nurse practitioner from Regis College. Currently, Hart is taking the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program at Regis College, the highest degree a person can earn in the field of nursing. Hart has several publications to her name; the most recent one is called "Accountable Care Organizations: The Future of Care Delivery," which was published in the American Journal of Nursing.
Sheila Mitchell-Green - Saint Joseph’s University
Sheila Mitchell-Green is an adjunct professor in Saint Joseph's MHA program as well as the performance improvement project manager at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She has several years of experience in healthcare IT at hospitals across the country as well as at large companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young. Over her nearly 25 years in the healthcare administration industry, she created and implemented multiple customer-focused solutions using project management tools. Mitchell-Green obtained her master’s degree in healthcare administration and management from Saint Joseph’s University and her bachelor's degree in business administration and management from North Carolina Central University.