Healthcare professionals who want to work in management and administration often decide to earn a master’s degree in healthcare administration (MHA). This two year graduate degree provides you with the skills and experience to work in high-paying healthcare administration roles.
Common job titles include healthcare administrator and healthcare executive. With the growing need for healthcare workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates job growth in the healthcare administration field will by 20% through 2026.
If you desire a career in the booming healthcare administration field, below are the details about how to find the best online MHA degree. We also highlight six strong online MHA programs to review later in this article.
What type of online MHA is it?
An MHA is a two year graduate degree program that focuses on the business and management aspects of the healthcare industry. An online MHA program is a good fit for the busy professional in healthcare who wants to complete most or all of their studies at home. These programs can be attended by those with and without healthcare experience.
You should check to see if the program you are considering is made for healthcare professionals or professionals from another industry. Students without healthcare experience may be required to take some background coursework in healthcare administration and management that could extend your time in the program.
How long does it take to complete an MHA?
The majority of online MHA programs are 32 to 60 credits. Students who take the program full time can generally graduate in two years. If you attend part time, you may finish in three or four years. Students who have extensive background and previous graduate courses in the field may finish in less than two years full time.
If you are a full time professional, you should look for an MHA program that allows you to complete your classes on your own schedule as much as possible. Some programs require you to attend live classes on a set schedule, which can be a challenge for some busy professionals.
It also is important to consider when you can start the MHA program. Online programs offer different start times; some may offer one, two or three start times per year, while others can be started at any time.
Coursework for online MHA
The curriculum for an online MHA program will feature courses in finance, research, HR, and management with a focus on healthcare systems, such as hospitals, nursing homes and long term care centers. Some programs may have courses on the medical supply chain, health informatics and global health. MHA programs also will provide a background in healthcare laws and regulations at the state and national levels.
If you have previous graduate level coursework in healthcare administration, check that the online degree program will give you credit for these classes.
MHA degree specializations
The healthcare industry is a huge industry in the US, so there are many types of facilities and specialties in which you can work. Many online programs allow you to specialize in a certain area of healthcare administration. Some of the most common include:
- Acute care
- Long term care
- Health care informatics
- Health management and policy
- Environmental health
- Child and maternal health
- Nursing home care
- Hospice care
It is important to research if the online MHA program you are considering has specialties you want to focus on, or if it more of a generalist program.
As you are considering MHA programs online, you should check that it is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education or CAHME. This accreditation is a strong sign that the program is of high quality.
What are the admission requirements?
Some MHA programs require healthcare work experience, while others do not. Some may require GMAT or GRE test scores, but most on the list below do not.
With the above information in mind, the following online MHA programs are of good quality and worth consideration:
#1 Penn State World Campus
The online MHA from Penn State World Campus will provide ample opportunities for your healthcare career. The online MHA program is based upon the strength of the highly acclaimed on campus program that has been offered for 25 years. Both programs were recently re-accredited by the CAHME.
This MHA program is intended for professionals with five years of full time work experience in healthcare, and you should have references from peers and supervisors who can attest to your experience and skill in the healthcare field.
The program consists of 49 credit hours and will provide you with a solid understanding of management and health services. The curriculum is specifically designed to prepare you for the requirements of higher accountability, organization and management.
During each year of the program, you are required to have a face to face management intensive on campus that helps you to hone your leadership skills through interacting with fellow students, faculty and healthcare leaders. You are required to complete six credits of coursework in the two sessions.
Included courses in the MHA focus on financing healthcare; clinical issues in health services management; health care marketing; health economics; health law and information systems in health services administration.
Past graduates of this two-year full time program have found leadership positions in these types of organizations:
- Hospitals and healthcare systems
- Medical group practices
- Clinics and outpatient care centers
- Home healthcare agencies
- Insurance companies
- Consulting companies
- Public health and federal regulatory agencies
The cost of tuition for each semester of full time attendance is $11,160. Neither GRE or GMAT scores are required for consideration.
#2 University of Southern California
USC offers an online Executive Master of Health Administration that is designed for mid-career and management professionals in healthcare. This high quality graduate program from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy offers you a transformative educational experience that will prepare you to become a tope healthcare professional.
Full time students can complete the program in two or three years. It has 36 credit hours and semesters are 15 weeks long. The program features a final, four unit applied learning capstone.
Most coursework in this two year, CAHME-accredited program is delivered online, but there are two, five day in residences that are held at the main campus. The curriculum in the MHA program is designed for the active, experienced healthcare professional.
Critical courses in the MHA program include Healthcare Economics, Managing Risk, Strategic Management, Health Information Systems, Operational Efficiency and Quality of Care.
Typical career paths for graduates of the USC program are:
- Medical and health services manager
- Executive director
- Senior manager
- Vice president
The cost of tuition is $1666 per unit. You should have five years of business experience at the mid to senior level, ideally in the healthcare industry. The university is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
#3 George Washington University
The online Master of Health Administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health is ranked #16 on the US News and World Report list of best graduate schools in the healthcare management field. It is designed for the experienced and driven professional who wants to improve the delivery of healthcare in their organization and assume top leadership positions in hospitals, healthcare systems and nursing homes.
The two year program is designed for the experienced healthcare professional with two years of related experience, or three years of full time experience in any business field. Students who graduate may work in business administration, ethics, human relations, law and financial management, as well as various clinical fields.
The online classes are delivered to your home via live video conferencing. You will participate in face to face class sessions each week that are hosted by top GW professors. These classes have a small teacher to student ratio and will offer meaningful and in depth conversations about healthcare administration.
Before each weekly session, you will complete self paced coursework which is used to drive the live interactions. It consists of 50 credit hours and can be completed in two years full time. You also will be required to participate in two, 40 hour immersions and two 20 hour immersions that are on the GW campus in Washington DC.
The degree program features modules in Healthcare Management and Strategy, Medical Informatics, Healthcare Financial Management, Community and Public Health, and Health Economics.
It is offered with four start dates each year. It is accredited by the CAHME and the public health school is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health or CEPH. GRE and GMAT scores are not required for consideration. Cost is $1580 per credit hour.
#4 George Mason University
George Mason University offers an online Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management that is dedicated to providing you with the education you need to become a leading healthcare administration professional. You will gain vital strategic business, analytic and decision making skills, as well as vital industry and operational knowledge. This program is offered in a flexible, online format, and has been accredited by the CAHME.
The highly regarded faculty delivers courses in these areas:
- Knowledge of the Healthcare System and Healthcare Management
- Communications and Interpersonal Effectiveness
- Critical Thinking, Analysis and Problem Solving
- Management and Leadership
- Professionalism and Ethics
Most of the course offerings are delivered online and may be viewed on your schedule. There is a capstone that must be completed in the last semester of the program. It is completed at the Virginia campus and consists of one week at the annual Health Policy Institute retreat. This provides students with an outstanding, up close look at healthcare policy making at the federal level.
Students in this two year, full time program come from many backgrounds, including healthcare and allied health, healthcare financial management, accounting, health insurance, business analytics and consulting, and quality and risk management.
The cost of the program is $978 per credit hour, and 47 credit hours are required.
#5 Maryville University
Maryville University offers a 100% online Master of Health Administration that will provide you with the specialized expertise to grow into a well rounded and knowledgeable healthcare leader.
This is a two year full time, online program that offers specialities in healthcare strategies, population management, data management and senior services.
Major highlights of the MHA program are:
- 100% online with no visits to campus needed
- No GMAT or GRE requirement
- Graduate in as few as two years
- Start the program three times per year
- Four concentrations offers
- Learn online with your peers and professors in collaborative environment
- Ranked among the top colleges in the country according to Forbes 2017. It also is ranked by Kiplinger’s as one of the best values in private colleges
Common courses in this program include Healthcare Human Resources, Healthcare Marketing, Health Policy and Economics, and Healthcare Analytics.
The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Program is 36 credits and costs $714 per credit hour.
#6 Southern New Hampshire University
If you want a leadership role in the healthcare field but do not want to work on the clinical side, consider a healthcare administration master’s degree from SNHU. You will develop the formal healthcare administration education you need to improve your skills in the following major topic areas:
- Finance and economics
- Healthcare informatics
- Strategic planning
This program offers a Master of Science in Management in Healthcare Administration. It is designed for entry to mid level health administration professionals, and is one of the university’s most popular programs.
Courses in this two-year, online program include Healthcare Informatics, Global Health and Diversity, Marketing and Communications Strategies, Biostatistics, Health Policy and Law, and Economic Principles of Healthcare. If you do not have a strong healthcare background, you may be required to take Population Based Epidemiology and Human Behavior in Organizations.
The cost of this master’s degree is $627 per credit hour. No GMAT or GRE test scores are required to apply.
Now that you have learned what to look for in an online MHA program and six quality programs to consider, you have more information to make critical choices in your healthcare administration career. This career field is growing rapidly, and most professionals who earn an MHA will find strong demand and good pay, whether they choose to work for a hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office or other type of facility.
- Medical and Health Services Managers. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
- Online Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/healthcare-administration-management-masters-degree