George Mason University Online MHA - Health Systems Management

The George Mason University (GMU) College of Health and Human Services offers an online master of health administration (MHA) in health systems management. GMU is located in Fairfax, Virginia, about 40 minutes drive from the heart of Washington DC. The MHA program was developed to meet demand for advanced leaders in health management and seeks to prepare students to become executives and innovative leaders in both public and private healthcare organizations.

Students gain a working knowledge of the U.S. health system and its global, socio-political, and economic health issues. The program focuses on effective interpersonal communication, public policy, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, analysis, social psychology, law, marketing, business management, healthcare management and leadership, ethics, and professionalism.

The online program mirrors the CAHME-accredited on-campus program and is taught by the same distinguished faculty. Benefits of the online program include its flexibility, students’ ability to continue working while earning a graduate degree, and the wealth of networking opportunities with peers, faculty, and alumni.

The health policy leadership course includes a week in Washington DC to expand participants’ exposure to policymakers, federal agencies, and advocacy organizations. In addition, a capstone practicum course provides hands-on experience within a healthcare organization, allowing students to apply their learning to real-world problems and issues. Through these varied experiences, students are able to study all that is involved in creating quality healthcare systems for communities.

Those interested in the online MHA in health systems management are typically busy healthcare professionals such as pharmacists, nurses, doctors, therapists, accounting managers in healthcare, or consultants, as well as those in the healthcare quality, risk management, or insurance fields. Students may go on to have careers in various settings, including medical practice groups, managed care facilities, hospitals, ambulatory clinics, government agencies, among others.

What to Expect from the GMU Online MHA in Health Systems Management

Admission Requirements: Applicants to the online MHA in health systems management at GMU must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution from the U.S. or an equivalent degree from a nationally recognized non-U.S. institution, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. No work experience is required, but it is considered for admission along with academic background, and any other evidence of potential success in the MHA program. No GMAT/GRE is required.

U.S. applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with their application, but will need official transcripts if admitted. In addition to the online application and fee, students must submit two letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a goal statement. The application fee may be waived at various times throughout the year.

International students who do not have a degree from a country where the primary language is English must meet graduate English proficiency exam requirements for direct enrollment. In addition, all transcripts must be submitted with the application in both English as well as in the original language granted, and hard copies sent via postal mail if the applicant is accepted into the program.

Study Plan: The online MHA can be completed in 24 months. Students can start in the fall or spring. Students take one course at a time and each online course lasts eight weeks. Participants should expect to spend eight to twelve hours per week for each class, in addition to class times for synchronous courses. Students should expect to log in at least four times per week to keep up with announcements, class discussions, and coursework. Also, students complete a practicum with a healthcare organization at the end of the program.

Curriculum: The GMU online MHA program in health systems management consists of 47 credits. Phase I courses delve into leadership in the healthcare system and include an orientation; organizational behavior and healthcare leadership; introduction to the U.S. health system; introduction to health information systems; health economics; human resource management in healthcare; and legal issues in health administration.

Phase II courses delve into the category of problem resolution and decision making and include an orientation; quantitative skills, statistics in health services management; managerial accounting in healthcare; contemporary issues in health systems management; strategic management and marketing; financial management in health systems; and quality improvement in health services. This phase ends with a capstone practicum in health systems management.

Two electives are chosen, either essentials of health insurance and managed care or health policy and government payment systems for health services, and either health policy development and analysis or health policy leadership.

International students who do not score adequately on the language proficiency test scores are required to take a course titled “graduate communication in the disciplines III” in their first semester.

Online Experience: All courses for the online MHA in health systems management are 100 percent online, with the exception of the week in Washington DC and the field practicum in health systems management.

Classes may be asynchronous with no set login time or synchronous with a set login time each week. The orientation and capstone practicum are synchronous and the rest of the courses are asynchronous. Classes are delivered through Blackboard and may have chat rooms, discussion boards, or blogs connected with them. Group assignments require interaction with classmates and are often completed using these online technologies. Most courses have a textbook. All tests, quizzes, and assignments can be completed or submitted online and are subject to the Mason Honor Code which states that students will not lie, steal, cheat or plagiarize in matters concerning academics. Students access online courses through the myMason portal and should set aside adequate time to prepare and participate in classes. Students need a dependable computer with an internet connection, a willingness to work independently, and of course, technical competency with computers.

On-Site Requirements: There is a weeklong residency required with the MHA online program titled, “A Week in Washington DC” that takes place during the health policy leadership course. During this time, students visit with policymakers and healthcare executives at the capitol, participate in panel discussions and presentations with their peers, attend congressional hearings, and explore Washington DC.

In addition, the field practicum in health systems management is a multi-month practicum with a healthcare organization such as a hospital, healthcare agency, consulting firm, or other healthcare organization in each student’s area of residence. During this time, students complete a non-thesis project that demonstrates skills in critical thinking, leadership, and systematic problem analysis. Students participate in weekly synchronous seminars where they present their project progress to the class to receive feedback from instructors and classmates.

Paying for the GMU Online MHA in Health Systems Management

GMU online MHA program tuition numbers are listed in the table below. Travel to campus for the week in Washington DC is not included in tuition and fees. Prospective online students should contact the admissions department of the GMU College of Health and Human Services for total cost clarifications and updates.

GMU offers financial aid in the form of grants, merit scholarships, need-based scholarships, and loans. Students can apply for federal financial aid through FAFSA. Students are also encouraged to seek financial aid from outside resources to help pay for their MHA degree. In addition, some businesses offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees seeking an MHA.

George Mason University Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management

  • Includes 1 week in Washington, DC, visiting with Capitol Hill policy-makers
  • Program is designed for a variety of healthcare career applications
  • Most courses are in an asynchronous online format
Program Essentials
Degree Level Master's Degree
Program Start Dates 2 - Fall, Spring
Credits Needed to Graduate 45
Time to Complete? Program can be completed in 2 years
100% Online? No, requires a one-week course in D.C.
Program Accreditation CAHME, AUPHA
Program Admissions
Level of Education Required? Bachelor's degree or higher
GRE or GMAT Required? No
Work Experience Required? No, but is considered as part of the admission process.
Program Tuition
Credit Hours 45
Average Cost Per Credit $930
Estimated Program Tuition * $41,850.00

Tuition is calculated based on credits, at the published tuition rate. For programs with variable tuition rates, we use the rates for part-time students. Tuition number represents the cost of tuition for the entire program, not per semester or year. Estimated total tuition does not include additional fees, unless otherwise specified. Please check here for any tuition updates.

Sara Navratil
Sara Navratil

Sara Navratil is a freelance writer and a Certified Canfield Success Principles Trainer. She's the owner of Sara Liza Life, a company dedicated to helping people rewrite their lives. She enjoys researching and writing about healthcare-related topics, including information on online MHA programs. When not working she likes to read, bake, and spend time with her family.