The healthcare Industry is one of the nation's fastest growing and most important. This growth is attributed to the nation's aging population and certain legislation that has increased access to healthcare. Add to this the fact that technology is increasing our ability to diagnose and treat injury and disease and an increase in telehealth options. The result is a dramatic upswing in demand for healthcare workers, including administrators.

While many can join a healthcare administration team with a business background, those whose degrees have focused on issues specific to healthcare will find better traction in the job market. Health systems need recruits who are familiar with healthcare regulations, understand how to budget in a hospital, and know the importance of medical ethics, among other skills. To keep pace with this demand, academia has responded with a swath of healthcare-focused courses and degrees. To match the ever-popular MBA, there is now a master’s in healthcare administration, which students can pursue on campuses or online from anywhere they can get a Wi-Fi signal. Keep reading to learn more about earning your online master’s degree in healthcare administration.

Pros and Cons of an Online Masters in Healthcare Administration

Pros

An online master’s degree in healthcare administration can open the doors of opportunity unlike any other career-enhancing effort. While a bachelor's degree, hard work, and a solid performance record can all add up to promotions and salary increases, a master’s degree takes professionals over the top. In fact, it will be hard to land a position in the C-suites without a master’s degree.

A graduate degree in healthcare administration enables professionals to enhance their credentials in other ways. Certain certifications require a master’s degree, and an advanced degree can boost one's status in the professional community. Leadership opportunities are often more readily available to those with an MHA.

Students now have the opportunity to return to school without leaving their jobs. Online programs offer MHA degrees for those who need the added flexibility. Not only do online graduate programs provide flexibility in terms of class schedules, students can attend a program that is hundreds of miles away and yet they never have to leave their town.

Cons

While many think of a master’s degree as a no-brainer, there are negative aspects to this approach to career advancement. One of the first negatives is the fact that there is no guarantee that a degree will result in higher pay or a promotion. Along with that, graduate school is not cheap and, even if it results in a promotion and a raise, that raise might be eaten up by student loan payments.

For those who opt for an online program, there are other possible problems. One is that an online program doesn't offer the networking opportunities that so many seek from an advanced professional degree. Some students also find it harder to learn through this medium, and assume or actually find traditional classrooms preferable. Further, it may be difficult to find the time and discipline to complete the coursework.

What Healthcare Administration Master’s Degrees are Available Online?

Master of Business Administration

MBA students are increasingly finding programs that offer concentrations in healthcare administration. While the focus is split between general business courses and those specific to healthcare, these MBA graduates emerge with a well-rounded, powerful degree.

Master of Healthcare Administration

This is a relatively new type of degree that is seen as a response to the MBA, but for healthcare professionals. Students in online MHA programs spend two full years focused on issues specific to their industry, which can be invaluable when moving into a highly regulated and complex field.

Master of Arts

This degree type is focused squarely on healthcare and graduates find that it is invaluable. Since this is a Master of Arts, students might find more soft skill courses in the curriculum. They may spend semesters delving into medical ethics, cultural issues, and communication or leadership skills. This is a terrific option for those interested in human resources, marketing, or leadership.

Master of Science

Students who opt for an online MS in healthcare administration will likely find that the curriculum focuses on aspects of the field such as finance, statistics, and information systems. Thus, this degree is designed more for the analytical or high-tech healthcare professional.

Admission Requirements to Enter an Online Master’s

Admission requirements for a master’s in healthcare administration program vary depending on the program. Where, in the past, nearly every graduate program required satisfactory scores on the GMAT or GRE, these days entrance exams are falling out of favor. This might be good news for you since it means that students are no longer burdened with the expense and logistical issues that come with these tests.

MHA and other degree programs are sure to require a few other items, however. Students should expect to provide their undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and even their resume. Depending on the program, students may need to demonstrate a minimum tenure in the healthcare industry. Five years is often the minimum requirement for entering an Executive MBA program, for instance.

How long does it take to earn a Graduate Degree in Healthcare Admin Online?

Any professional knows that time is money. This makes them eager to know how quickly they can complete an online master’s degree. The answer varies from program to program, but the general rule is two years for a master’s degree. However, there are accelerated programs that promise to graduate students in as little as a year. Even online students might need to take time off of work for such an intensive program, however. For those who need more time but who are still eager to get ahead, it might be worthwhile to seek an online healthcare administration program that confers a certificate along the way to a graduate degree.

What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Health Administration?

  • Consulting
    Healthcare consultants can perform a wide range of functions under this job title. Some may help healthcare systems implement a new technology, while others may assess a hospitals overall functionality with an eye to making the operations more efficient. Consultants often work within a firm, though just as many work as independent agents. The average base salary for a healthcare consultant is $78,000 before bonus and benefits.
  • Human Resources Management
    An online master’s degree in healthcare administration can lead to advancement in the human resources department. This position oversees an HR department and thus is responsible for benefits, hiring, firing, and even arranging new training for healthcare personnel. The average salary for this position is $67,000 before bonus and benefits.
  • Hospital Administrator
    A hospital administrator is the person who is fully in charge of a massive healthcare operation. They oversee the operations, finance, public relations, and more. A hospital administrator might also work with others in the industry to help steer public health policy. This position will surely require a master’s degree. The average salary for this position is at least $87,000 but executives at this level are often also rewarded with handsome bonuses and benefits packages.
  • Healthcare Risk Management Director
    Given the incredible risk that healthcare systems undertake every day, this is one of the more important positions in the industry. Professionals in this position oversee clinical practices and other operations to help reduce risk and increase safety for everyone, especially patients. The average salary for this position is $101,000.
  • Clinical Informatics Specialist
    This position is where information technology meets healthcare. Professionals in this field help design and build databases for patient records as well as the interfaces busy clinicians need. They also maintain software and hardware in a hospital or clinic. The average salary for clinical informatics specialists is $78,000 before bonuses.

How to Choose the Right Program for You

Not every online master’s program is created the same. Thus, it's vital to conduct in-depth research before sending out applications. Students will need to evaluate their favorite programs with regards to their accreditation, degree type, format (online, traditional, or hybrid), and the overall cost of the program.

For accreditation, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is the only accrediting body that assesses MHA programs specifically. A program accredited by this group should be strongly considered. On the other hand, students who prefer to pursue an MBA with a healthcare administration focus should look for programs accredited by either the AACSB, ACBSP, or the IACBE. Any of these national accreditations are sure to indicate top academic quality.

To decide what degree type they need, students will need to assess their goals and perhaps discuss this matter with peers in their HR department. Some degree types, whether they be an MA, MS, or MHA, tend to have a higher status. However, what matters most is the program's curriculum. Those who seek a more leadership-oriented career, for instance, may desire an MA, while the analytically focused will need an MS. Keep in mind that the letters that describe a degree do not guarantee any specific curriculum.

Finally, every student should carefully consider whether or not to pursue their master’s degree online, on campus, or through some sort of hybrid program. Online learning has been shown to produce equivalent outcomes to traditional classrooms and offer greater flexibility. However, online master’s degree programs don't offer the same opportunities to network and build a professional fellowship than campus programs do. This may be a vital part of the equation, especially for those who are not fully established in the industry.

There is a solution, however. Hybrid programs offer students nearly the same level of flexibility as an online program, but also gather students for networking and learning opportunities. Some of these programs only require a single on-campus meeting while others have multiple ‘residencies’ where students converge on campus for a week or long weekend.

Potential Courses for Health Admin Programs

  • Healthcare Financial Management
  • Legal Issues in Healthcare
  • Strategic Management
  • Quality of Care Concepts
  • Multivariate Statistical Analysis
  • U.S. Healthcare Delivery System
  • Healthcare Information Systems
  • Public Health
  • Epidemiology and Healthcare Administration
  • Health Services Marketing
  • Ethics and Health Care
  • Research and Quantitative Methods in Healthcare
  • Human Resources Management
  • Grant Writing
  • International Health Management
  • Information Technology in Healthcare
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Healthcare Administration Leadership
  • Internship in Healthcare

Colleges That Offer Online Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration

Ohio University

Athens, Ohio

Ohio University's online Master of Health Administration program does not require either a GRE or a GMAT score. Instead, the College of Health Sciences and Professions offers a long-standing tradition of academic excellence to health professionals. The courses are 100% online and cover everything from Information Systems to Epidemiology to Strategic Planning.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Public Health

University of Scranton

Scranton, PA

The University of Scranton's online CAHME-accredited Master of Health Administration degree program has high standards for its applicants, yet it also delivers top quality academics. Its graduates are working in all areas of health administration, including insurance companies, consulting firms, and long-term care facilities.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Health Administration – Health Informatics focus
  • Master of Health Administration – Global Health focus

UNC

Chapel Hill, NC

UNC's executive MHA program is one of the nation's very best. While coursework is primarily online, the two-year program integrates three on-campus sessions. The campus sessions not only reinforce learning but they allow healthcare executives the opportunity to meet-and-greet. Though the program encourages students to start and complete the program as a cohort, they do allow up to five years for completion.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Healthcare Administration – Executive Program (online)
  • Master of Public Health (online)

LSU Shreveport

Shreveport, LA

LSU's 10-course Master of Health Administration can be completed in under a year. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) which indicates high academic quality. Courses cover topics such as Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, Finance, and Economics, among others.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Business Administration

OHSU

Portland, OR

OHSU's hybrid healthcare management program is conducted in conjunction with Portland State University's Public Health department and is mostly online. In fact, 20% of classes are conducted on campus. Two Fridays and two Saturdays per term are dedicated to classroom instruction.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management (Hybrid)
  • Master of Business Administration (Hybrid)

University of Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ

The University of Phoenix is well-known as a pioneer in the field of online education. Students need to complete only 12 courses to graduate and they can choose one of three concentrations: Informatics, Compliance & Privacy, or a dual MBA degree option.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Business Administration

Purdue Global

West Lafayette, IN

Purdue Global brings the academic excellence of its home campus in Indiana to a global audience. Their Master of Health Care Administration (MHCA) program requires 52 total credit hours that include 12 required courses and one elective. Since each course is estimated to require up to 15 hours per week, it's easy to see how a professional could continue working while completing the degree.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Business Administration

Eastern University

St. Davids, PA

Eastern University maybe located in the Philadelphia and Harrisburg area, but their MBA in Health Administration is available online to people worldwide. Students can complete their degree in as little as one year. Eastern stands out for its emphasis on values and ethics.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Business Administration in Health Administration
  • Master of Arts in Health Services

George Washington University

Washington, DC

George Washington University is one of the nation's premier academic institutions and now they offer students a Master of Health Administration. GWU's Milken Institute School of Public Health is nationally ranked as the 12th best public health school.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Public Health

University of Washington

Seattle, WA

With just one long weekend per month, this hybrid Executive Master of Health Administration program is one of the nation's best. Conveniently located in Seattle, executive students from across the nation can fly in for their in-class appearances while conducting the rest of their work from the convenience of their laptop.

Degree programs:

  • Executive Master of Health Administration (Hybrid/Online)
  • Master of Health Administration (residential)

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK

Oklahoma State University's MS in Healthcare Administration is one of the very best in the nation. The online option allows students in any corner of the nation to attend the 32-hour program. Since the total price tag of this top-ranked program is under $16,000, there's little reason not to enroll.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Science in Health Care Administration
  • Master of Science in Management Information Systems

University of Southern California – Price School of Public Policy

Los Angeles, CA

University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy is one of the nation's most highly esteemed institutions. USC's Executive MHA program provides working professionals the opportunity to advance their credentials while remaining on the job. USC expects students to complete the program in six semesters, or two years.

Degrees Offered:

  • Executive Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Public Administration

Minnesota State University – Moorhead

Moorhead, MN

Minnesota State offers one of the most affordable online MHA degree programs in the nation. MN State is fully accredited and meets the standards for both the Higher Learning Commission and regional accreditation agencies. They are also candidates for credentials from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME.)

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Healthcare Administration
  • Master of Business Administration with Healthcare Management

Minnesota State – Twin Cities

Minneapolis - St Paul, MN

Minnesota State University's Master of Healthcare Administration Executive Program is ranked #2 in the United States, making it one of the top picks for healthcare executives nationwide. It's also one of the oldest MHA programs in the nation. The program is not cheap, but 55% of their students received promotions before graduating.

Degrees Offered:

  • Executive Master of Healthcare Administration
  • Executive Master of Public Health (Hybrid)

Rutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers is one of the nation's top academic institutions and their online MS in Health Care Management is designed to launch students' careers to the next level. The program offers three focused tracks: Healthcare Informatics, Management and Leadership, and Behavioral Health.

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Science in Health Care Management
  • Master of Science in Health Information Management