How to Choose the Best Healthcare Administration Degree

In this article, you will learn about why earning a healthcare administration degree is a good idea. You will learn about the different types of healthcare administration degrees, how to choose a program, joint degrees, accreditation and also how to understand requirements and the different career options.

What Is a Healthcare Administration Degree?

A  healthcare administration degree is an academic degree – usually a bachelor’s or master’s degree (referred to as an MHA) – that is awarded to students who complete their education in healthcare administration. A healthcare administration degree is a smart choice if you want to build a career in the administration and operations of a healthcare facility, such as a nursing home, hospital or medical practice.

Why Earn a Healthcare Administration Degree?

The healthcare industry overall is one of the highest demand professions in the United States. As the median age of the US population gets older, and baby boomers continue to be active even in retirement, the demand for healthcare services is expected to grow.

This is confirmed by US government statistics: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in healthcare occupations will grow by 19% by 2024, with more than 2.3 million jobs created. Many of these jobs will be clinical in nature, but of course, the growth of clinical health care workers means there are more healthcare administrators needed for medical facilities.

So it is clear that there will be plenty  of jobs available for healthcare administrators in the future. For you to take advantage of all of those jobs, you should determine the best healthcare administration degree to earn. Do you want to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field or eventually earn your master’s degree? With a master’s degree, you will have more administration leadership positions available to you.

Some professionals opt to earn their bachelor’s degree now and gain work experience, and earn their master’s later. If they are working for a healthcare organization, they may pay for some or all of your master’s degree.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may be able to just earn your master’s degree in healthcare administration. You will need to check with your program to see if you have all of the needed prerequisites for admission into the program.

Also, you will need to consider if you want to earn your degree on a campus or online. Many people today choose to earn their healthcare degree online so that they can continue to work and handle their personal obligations.

Choosing Your Healthcare Administration Degree Path

Below are some of the most common healthcare administration degree paths. There are some specialities at some schools that are worth exploring as well:

  • Bachelor of Science in Health Administration: Health Information Management: This type of degree is ideal for the student who wants to become a manager in the healthcare administration field. Healthcare organizations have to use healthcare data efficiently today to make good decisions about patient care.
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Administration – Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare: More patients are requiring the services of healthcare professionals, and there is much more focus today on patient outcomes and patient safety. This requires professional administrators to focus on analysis, compliance and development of quality healthcare. This program focuses on leadership skills, risk identification and analysis, data management and change of cultures.
  • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA): For professionals who want to work as a manager or administrator of a healthcare facility, this advanced degree will help you to develop the skills and experience you need. You will develop the capacity to critically examine and evaluate healthcare administration issues and trends that crop up in a dynamic and changing healthcare system. Focus is on finance, policy, research, technology, quality improvement and strategic planning.
  • Doctor of Healthcare Administration: There are doctoral programs available in this healthcare field that are generally executive programs. That is, they are suitable for highly experienced healthcare administration professionals and want executive leadership skills to succeed in health care advocacy. Some professionals who earn their doctorate also are interested in higher education faculty roles.

Online Healthcare Administration Degree Options

If you are interested in earning a master’s degree in healthcare administration online, the online program at Penn State is worth strong consideration. This Master of Health Administration in Health Policy and Administration can help you to leverage your work experience with a top notch business management education.

The Penn State program is a collaboration between Penn State World Campus and the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration, as well as the School of Public Affairs. This extended partnership provides students with faculty from across the university.

Career opportunities for past graduates of this online program of two years have been found in leadership roles in:

  • Hospitals and health systems
  • Medical group practices
  • Clinics and outpatient care centers
  • Home health care agencies
  • Insurance companies
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Federal and public health agencies

Required courses include these:

  • Financing Health Care
  • Introduction to Health Services Organizations and Delivery
  • Leadership Ethics in Health Services Organizations
  • Health Services Organizational Behavior
  • Financial Management in Health Institutions
  • Managing Health Care Options
  • Management of Healthcare Organizations
  • Change Leadership in Health Services Organizations

Joint Healthcare Administration Degree Options

If you are interested in pairing your healthcare administration degree with another degree, this can be a good option. You may be able to earn two degrees at the same time, saving yourself considerable money and time:

  • MHA/MBA: Graduates of this type of joint degree program have excellent business expertise combined with health care administration skills. This type of degree can be a great tool to move into executive leadership roles in healthcare organizations.
  • MHA/MPH: You may want to earn an MHA in combination with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree so that you can offer healthcare administration expertise in a public health environment, such as in a public health agency at the state or local level.
  • MHA/JD: This can be a good fit for the healthcare administrator who wants to work as a health care attorney or senior level health services administrator.

Accreditation

When you are considering various healthcare administration programs, you should verify that the program has been accredited by a respected accreditation agency. This accreditation achieves several important purposes:

  • Future employers will recognize that your degree is from a respected university.
  • You know that your degree has value and has been completely evaluated by healthcare administration education experts.
  • You know that you are learning the essential tools to succeed in the healthcare administration field, as judged by experts in the field.

One of the most respected accreditation agencies for this field is the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education or CAHME.

Summary

By choosing to obtain a healthcare administration degree, you are assured of enjoying a well paid and dynamic career.

Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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