Top 6 Online MHA Degree Requirements

The US population as a whole is growing older and living longer, which has greatly accelerated the demand for all types of healthcare services. Not only is there much higher need for clinical health care workers. The job of healthcare administrator is becoming a very important one in 21st century America as well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job growth for health care administrators and medical service managers will grow by 17% by 2024. As there is more demand for nurses, doctors, physician assistants and more, there will be much more need for effective managers and administrators who manage medical information and staff.

There is strong evidence that there will be enhanced need for health care administrators at hospitals, nursing homes, long term care facilities and home health care agencies.

Median Salaries on the Rise

As demand for good health care administrators rises, so are salaries. A health care administrator with a master’s degree in health administration (MHA) can expect to earn a median salary of $94,500 as of 2015. Clearly, earning a MHA degree is a great path to an exciting and well-paying career.

Fortunately, many of these MHA degree can now be earned entirely online in as little as 18 months. Never has it been easier to gain a graduate education and continue to work full time.

Requirement #1: Choose Your Specialty

A master of health care administration, or sometimes referred to as a master’s of health administration, is a two or three year graduate degree that will teach you how to apply business and management principles to the management of a health care organization.

Depending upon the university, you can choose many areas of specialization for your master’s degree. Some of the most common areas you can concentrate on in healthcare administration are:

  • Operations management
  • Care quality management
  • Communication and marketing
  • Gerontology
  • Outpatient services
  • IT and informatics
  • Policy development and business finance

Requirement #2: Core Courses

Course names will always vary in an online MHA degree program, but you can expect classes in these areas:

  • Statistics
  • Accounting
  • Economics for planning and policy
  • Financial management
  • Health information systems
  • Medical law
  • Strategic management
  • Human behavior
  • Research operations
  • Trends in the healthcare industry

Requirement #3: Accreditation

As you are looking for an online MHA program, you should check if the program has been accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education or CAHME. By having this accreditation, both you and employers know that you have learned all of the essentials of healthcare management.

Requirement #4: Obtain License

Depending upon where you work with your MHA degree, you may need to get a license. For example, all states will require that you get a license to be a nursing home administrator; this requires passing a national licensing exam after you complete your graduate degree.

Some states also require you to be licensed to be an administrator in an assisted living center.

Requirement #5: Choose Online MHA Degree Program

If you are going to spend the time and money to earn an online MHA degree, it is a good idea to earn a very high quality degree that will be highly regarded by any employer you consider.

That is why you should look at the Penn State Online World Campus. It offers a Master of Health Administration in Health Policy and Administration. This program will assist you to combine your work experience in a healthcare environment with an excellent business management education.

This will expand your qualifications for the most challenging health care leadership positions, and will offer you the management tools to promote change in your health care facility.

Why Consider Penn State

Earning an online MHA degree from Penn State has been shown to provide outstanding opportunities for career growth in health care administration. This degree program is a dynamic collaboration between the Penn State World Campus and the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration, as well as the School of Public Affairs.

This partnership provides you with a connection to a highly regarded faculty from one of the top ranked health care administration programs in the US. The online degree program is built upon the excellence, experience and reputation of the on campus MHA program that was established in 1989.

The online program recently won accreditation from the CAHME.

Required Courses

The Penn State MHA online degree program consists of seven semesters and has 13 online classes. You also participate in an integrative online independent study, and also will have two face to face management intensive seminars on campus. There are 49 total credits and it is designed to be completed in 28 months. Classes include:

  • Financing Healthcare
  • 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 Operations
  • Individual Studies
  • Change Leadership in Health Services Organizations
  • Introduction to Health Economics
  • Health Care Marketing
  • Information Systems in Health Services Administration

Admission Requirements

To be admitted into the Penn State online MHA degree program, you have to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, but it does not have to be health care or business related.

The online MHA program is made for career professionals who have several years of experience and want to change into the health care industry, or want to advance into management in their health care organization.

Most program attendees have eight or 10 years of experience and most have a strong background in health care. Generally, students should have at least five years of full time work experience, preferably in health care.

Specific requirements for your application to be considered:

  • Copies of all official transcripts from any universities you have attended or graduated
  • GPA and test scores: You need to have a 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate work but GRE and GMAT scores are no longer required
  • References: You must have two references that should be from professional peers and managers or supervisors.
  • Updated resume
  • Personal statement
  • 2 essays
  • Skype or in person interview for selected applicants

Online MHA Degree Program – George Washington University

George Washington University offers an online Executive Master of Health Administration program that will prepare the experienced health services professional with the skills to become a successful health care leader. The curriculum in this 24 month program is made to improve your skills in health care management leadership:

  • Leadership/ethics
  • Strategy and health care management
  • IT and making decisions based upon science
  • Quantitative methods and community health
  • Economics and finance
  • Quality improvement
  • Regulations and laws pertaining to health care’

Program Requirements

George Washington University requires eight learning modules that are 10 weeks long. The are offered four times per year. They are held both on campus and at various health care facilities around the US. Each module is focused on core skill sets that you need to know for delivering health care:

  1. Healthcare Management and Strategy
  2. Medical Informatics and Decision Management
  3. Healthcare Financial Management
  4. Community and Public Health
  5. Health Economics and Quantitative Methods
  6. Quality and Performance Improvement
  7. Law and Policy
  8. Capstone on Systems Thinking and Learning

As you are doing modules 6 and 7, you also will do an organizational research project. You will either evaluate a health care organization, come up with a business plan, or do a literature review that has you solve an operational problem in a real organization.

Admission Requirements

You should have a strong academic background in health care and have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. You also need to have a minimum of three years of health care experience, and are working in the health care field now. This program is made for experienced health care professionals, so do not need to do GRE or GMAT tests.

Other admission requirements:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation from professional or academic sources
  • Official college transcripts
  • Completing prerequisite classes – financial accounting and statistics
  • In person interview or video essay

Requirement #6: Decide Where to Work with An MHA Degree

Naturally, you will usually work at some type of health care provider, the exact type will depend upon your interests, job demand in your area, and any speciality you focused on in graduate school.

It is believed that hospitals employ approximately 30% of all health care administrators today, but there are many other options out there. You could work at one or more of the following in your career:

  • Group doctors’ office
  • Health care clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Elder care centers
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Mental health centers
  • Rehabilitation centers

There also are some other types of organizations you may work for outside the traditional clinical care environment:

  • Consulting organizations
  • Healthcare management firms
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Educational organizations

The field of healthcare administration is an outstanding one, with plenty of exciting jobs and good pay. Given that so many Americans are getting older and they demand more and better healthcare services, it makes sense to get on board and make a career out of health care management and administration.

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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