Would you like to take on a position of senior management within the healthcare industry? If your answer is in the affirmative, then you may want to consider a master’s in healthcare administration (MHA) degree. This is a professional degree with a specialized focus that prepares you to take on a range of very interesting and exciting positions in the fast-changing, dynamic field of healthcare.
How to Get a Masters in Healthcare Administration Degree
Within the field of healthcare administration, there are two very closely related degrees. The MHA is the most popular, but the MHSA (master of health services administration) is also gaining in popularity. This degree adds a business element to the MHA, and most universities are now incorporating this, as the health services industry becomes more and more business regulated.
Once you have chosen your MHA/MHSA degree program, you will also need to pick a specialization. Some universities only offer a generalized track, but most have adapted their curriculum so that the degree program becomes more suitable for your particular needs and interest. Some of the most common specialization areas are:
- Policy development
- Information technology and informatics
- Outpatient services
- Marketing and communication
- Care quality management
- Operations management
Whichever specialization you choose, it is vital that the degree program is accredited with the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). Without this accreditation, your credentials may not be recognized in the workplace. In order for a degree to be accredited by CAHME, it must meet certain specific standards, including its core courses. Usually, you will have to complete courses in:
- Issues and trends in the healthcare industry
- Research operations
- Concepts of quality of care
- Human behavior
- Strategic management
- Organizational theory
- Medical law
- Health information systems
- Financial management
- Economics for policy and planning
Different schools have very different criteria for acceptance. For instance, courses, such as accounting, statistics, and marketing may be listed as prerequisite courses, which means you must have completed them at the undergraduate level. Other common admissions criteria include a minimum GPA, submission of transcripts and letters of recommendations, an interview, English proficiency, having a certain amount of work experience, and more.
Why Get a Masters in Healthcare Administration Degree
The MHA degree is a lengthy and costly one, and enrolling is a decision not to be taken lightly. While the vast majority of people enter the field of healthcare because they have a genuine desire to improve outcomes for people in their communities and beyond, they do want to see a return on investment. Indeed, studying towards an MHA has to have both practical and personal considerations.
There are many possible personal motivations for pursuing an MHA degree, and each person has his or her own reasons. Perhaps you have a passion for making sure the healthcare services across this country run efficiently, or perhaps you have had a personal experience with quality of care and would like to drive improvements. This is a personal issue that only you can determine.
Meanwhile, practical reasons to study towards an MHA are quite similar across the board. They include the fact that:
- Your career will hit a dead end without an MHA degree. Regardless of how long you have worked in the healthcare industry, you may not be able to climb to the top positions of healthcare administration. You may get stuck in the lower levels. In fact, the healthcare industry is committed to increasing the standard of education for its workforce, and some people have even lost their job because they did not have an MHA degree.
- The salary for an MHA degree holder is quite substantial. It is certainly true that the degree program is an expensive one. However, once you complete your degree, you can expect to earn between $82,000 and $117,000 per year, which means that you should see a significant return on investment. Various factors will affect exactly how much you can earn, including where you work, in which geographical location, in which role, and how long for. However, if you really want to enter the top, six figure income earners, you need that MHA degree.
- You will increase your responsibilities. You will be part of the core people who are driving the organization to reach new heights, and your decisions can affect hundreds, if not thousands, of other people. Taking on such important responsibilities is a passion that drives many people who decide to enroll in an MHA degree. The business of healthcare is a difficult one, and you must be decisive and strong to run it properly. It is the responsibilities that you will carry as an MHA degree holder that will make this particular career so incredibly rewarding.
- There are many different disciplines to choose from. You will touch on all of those during the pursuit of your MHA degree, and likely specialize in one or two of them as well. Some of the options include management skills, market research, accounting, and leadership skills. Once you are employed, you will have to be further trained in the specific organizational goals of the organization in which you work, which will also be completely unique. The MHA is one of the most prestigious degrees in healthcare outside of clinical work, due to the fact that it is so broad in its scope.
- There is a huge demand for your particular skills and knowledge. There will be an increase in demand for all healthcare professionals, but perhaps nowhere as much as in the field of healthcare administration. The baby boomer population of this country is continuing to age, and this means healthcare facilities have to come up with ways to meet increased, and increasingly challenging, demands. Emergency rooms are being replaced with urgent care facilities, and all of these require strong administrative skills. With an MHA degree, you are guaranteed to have a long and fruitful career, and being able to advance regularly, particularly if you commit to your continuous professional education.
- You will have a flexible future, as you have a choice of medical facilities that you can work in. Perhaps you want to become the head of a health network or the administrator of a nursing home. As you continue to build your experience, different opportunities will become available to you. The healthcare industry is changing rapidly, sometimes seemingly overnight, and this means that you will have constant new opportunities to choose from as well. Consider, for instance, that urgent care facilities have only existed for around five years or so, and they are now everywhere. With an MHA degree, you will always be able to find work in an area that interests you.
- You will positively influence the lives of thousands of people. Without your skills and knowledge, even the finest physicians won’t be able to do their jobs properly. Patients would be unable to receive the treatment and help that they need, if it wasn’t for administrators making sure healthcare organizations run properly.
Online MHA Degree Programs
George Washington University
George Washington University has an innovative, online Master of Health Administration program that will prepare you as a health services professional to become a successful leader and change manager. The curriculum in this GWU program will build your expertise in many critical skill sets that are needed to head a healthcare organization with success:
- Ethics and leadership
- Management and strategy
- IT and decision science
- Community health and quantitative methods
- Finance and economics
- Quality improvement
- Law and regulation
As a student in this accredited program, you will work on many online learning exercises that are fully interactive. Many of them will include live, face to face class sessions each week with top quality multimedia presentations. The School of Public Health is completely dedicated to providing you with fully experiential learning. It believes that health care is at the core about human relationships most of all.
This is why GWU students each work in immersion experiences that give them the chance to meet with both peers and professors in person. Each of these immersion experiences is on the Washington DC campus, and also to healthcare organizations across the US and globe.
These are 40-hour immersive experiences, and also 20-hour immersions on campus and at various health organizations.
These immersion experiences will bring you together with many highly accomplished experts in the field. The focus is on developing the highest level healthcare administration leadership skills.
These immersion experiences are as follows:
- Leadership and Ethics I and II: Students will learn what their leadership style is, and will practice these skills so that they can become better leaders. Students also will study principles of ethics and learn how the best leaders use them. Also, students will focus on emotional intelligence, being a servant leader, and also being a transformational leader in improving their leadership skills.
- Health System Analysis: Study of an outstanding healthcare system in the US, or a nationalized health care system outside the US. The objective of this analysis is to examine and do an assessment of the function, structure, and operations of a health care system.
- Organization Research Project and Portfolio Presentation: Each student will present findings verbally of their research projects and leadership portfolio during this immersive experience.
This online MHA degree has been crafted for healthcare professionals with several years of experience, who want to excel in the three areas of excellent health leadership: transformation, execution, and people.
Students in this online program will greatly benefit from an outstanding curriculum that has been developed according to the National Center for Healthcare Leadership Competency Model.
This program is led by highly experienced healthcare administration faculty, and covers these vital areas:
- Epidemiology and biostatistics
- Managed care
- Affordable Care Act
- Organizational management
- Health policy
Students will learn how to apply a whole community focus, financial skills, strong analytical thinking and excellent strategic orientation in their assignments and courses.
Competencies that you will develop include fiscal accountability; human resources and team management; implementing and managing change; professional accountability and advocacy; relationship building and collaborative problem solving; and transformational leadership.
Required courses include:
- Historical Influences on the US Healthcare System
- Introduction to Descriptive Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Ethical and Legal Issues in Healthcare Management and Policy
- Resources, Recruitment, and Retention in Healthcare
- Introduction to Biostatistics
- Practice issues in Healthcare Management
- Applied Management Project
- Politics and Policy of Healthcare Resources
- National Health Expenditures
- Planning in the Era of the Affordable Care Act
- Advanced Healthcare Financial Management
University of Southern California
Professionals who have years of clinical or management healthcare experience who want to accelerate their career may consider the University of Southern California Executive MHA program. This is a highly rated program by US News and World Report that offers you an excellent opportunity to distinguish yourself in a time of strong job growth in health administration.
You will learn how to be transformative, visionary, and effective as a leader so that you can keep pace with rapid change in health care technology, economics, finance, ethics, policy, and management. Your course and project schedule will allow you to complete your courses and homework on your own time. The majority of classes are recorded so you can view them whenever your schedule allows.
The curriculum in this two-year graduate degree program is designed for busy working professionals who can apply theory and practical lessons they are learning in their jobs the next day.
The online learning environment is cutting edge with PC and mobile conferencing; social networks; collaborative writing and authoring; chat rooms and discussion boards.
Each student receives specialized guidance from USC’s highly experienced staff so that they are encouraged, advised and mentored to be prepared for next steps in their clinical or management career.
This program combines an outstanding learning environment online, tough coursework and a highly sophisticated network of professors and colleagues so that you will be prepared for the next level in your career journey.
This program currently is ranked #4 in the US in Health Policy and Management by US News and World Report. The Sol Price School of Public Policy is ranked #6 in the world by US News. Due to the high ranking of this program, most students find that they are in great demand with large healthcare employers upon graduation. Or, they are in line for a significant promotion at their current position.
The USC program also features two, four-day, in-residence experiences that are required. These events will give you a chance to hear from some of the top leaders in the healthcare administration field.
Each will share their unique perspective on health care management and reform. Students also will work on teams to integrate their online course materials in case studies; this will help them to address the newest evolutions in health care financing and provision.
Required MHA courses at USC include:
- Health Information Systems
- Operations Management for Accountability
- Managing and Improving Health
- Managing Organizational Financial Health
- Information Technology Management Systems in Healthcare
- Development and Monitoring Quality and Patient Safety Outcomes
- Strategic Management
- Managing Risk in Contracting to Meet Performance Objectives
- Frontline Issues in Health Services Administration and Policy
If you want a career that essentially gives you everything you could wish for – money, flexibility, excitement – then studying towards an MHA may just be the best option for you. You will be at the heart of developing the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow, driving positive change for patients and practitioners alike.
- MHA Application Requirements. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.jhsph.edu/departments/health-policy-and-management/degree-programs/master-of-health-administration/admissions-requirements.html
- Master of Health Administration. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.mha.uw.edu/
- Which Degree Should I Pursue? (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.ache.org/CARSVCS/whichdegree.cfm
- MHA Health Care Administration Degree Average Salary. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Health_Administration_(MHA)%2C_Health_Care_Administration/Salary