Master’s in Healthcare Degree Programs | Medicine & Health Degrees in Alberta
The academic world of healthcare and medical specialties is vast. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 13% from 2021 to 2031, a rate that is much faster than the average for all occupations and translates to about 2 million new jobs!1
Often the pathway toward a career in healthcare involves pursuing one of many medicine and health master’s programs. While an undergrad degree may be enough for some entry-level roles, if you aspire to practice medicine, dentistry, osteopathy, or advanced nursing, or you are interested leadership roles in healthcare, you’ll often need at least a master’s degree.
Read on to learn all about the types of master’s programs available in healthcare and medicine and the opportunities they might lead to.
Medicine and Health Master’s Programs: Essentials
Typically, master’s degrees are 2-year graduate programs, although this may vary by program or depend on whether you are in school full or part time.
To be eligible for a master’s program a prospective applicant generally needs to have graduated from an accredited bachelor’s degree program and taken the GMAT or GRE. There are exceptions, however. For example, in the field of nursing there are RN to MSN programs offered that often accept registered nurses with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing. There are also fields of study that offer dual degrees. Keep these variations in mind as you research degree programs.
Schools with Healthcare Master’s Programs in Alberta
Types of Health and Medicine Degrees
“Health and Medicine” is a broad category, and there are many types of master’s degrees that fall within it. Here are some that may be more common.
- Master’s in Biomedical sciences (includes Biotechnology, Immunology, Cancer Biology)
- Master’s in Clinical Laboratory Science (includes Pathology and Disease Sciences)
- Master’s in Communication Science (includes Audiology, Communication Disorders, Speech Pathology)
- Master’s in Gerontology
- Master’s in Health Informatics
- Master’s in Health Sciences (MHS)
- Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA, MBA)
- Master’s in Human Services
- Master’s in Medical Assisting (Dental Assisting/Dental Hygiene)
- Master’s in Medical Diagnostics (Includes Anesthesiology, Cardiovascular Technology)
- Master’s in Medical Specialties (Includes Alternative Medicine, Chiropractic, Dental Medicine, Medicine and premed programs, Optometry, Physician Assistant, Respiratory Therapy)
- Master’s in Nursing (includes Accelerated Nursing programs, BSN-MSN, Midwifery, MSN Nursing, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Education, Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, Nursing Informatics, Nursing Specialties)
- Master’s in Nutrition & Fitness (includes Nutrition and Food Science)
- Master’s in Pharmacology (includes Pharmaceutical Sciences, PharmD, Toxicology)
- Master’s in Physical & Occupational Therapy (Includes Athletic Training, Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy)
- Master’s in Public Health (Includes Bioethics, Epidemiology, Health Education and Communication, International Health, Occupational Health & Safety)
- Master’s in Radiological & Imaging Sciences
Is Pre-Med a master’s program?
Pre-med is not a degree but is used as a general term for the course topics and activities needed for students interested in attending medical school. The Master of Medicine (MMed) is a Master’s degree program (postgraduate) that is awarded by medical schools to physicians (PhD candidates) who have followed a period of instruction and examination. The goal is to educate them about human biology and disease in order that they might transform new scientific discoveries into useful medical advances.
Benefits of Earning a Master’s Degree in Health and Medicine
Master’s degrees in health and medicine programs could provide current or aspiring healthcare professionals with in-depth knowledge in a broad range of sub-disciplines, from direct care to administration, rehabilitation to alternative medicine, and more. As such, earning a master’s degree could lead to a host of potential employment opportunities. Following are some additional benefits of earning a master’s degree in health and medicine.
Take your career to the next level
For existing healthcare professionals, earning a master’s degree in health and medicine could potentially pave the way toward a niche career in an area you are passionate about. For example, a registered nurse might pursue a career as nurse practitioner . An experienced healthcare professional working in a hospital might transition to a hospital CEO.
Increased earning potential
In general, master’s degree holders typically earn higher wages. In 2021, those who had earned a master’s degree in all fields earned a median annual salary that was $12,480 greater than those with just a bachelor’s degree.2
In addition, many occupations that healthcare professionals might transition into typically have higher salaries. For example, in 2022, registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $81,2203, while the median annual salary for nurse practitioners was $121,610.4 And managers in hospitals earned a median annual salary of $139,490.5
Improved job security
As mentioned previously, healthcare workers are projected to be in demand over the next 10 years, with a growth rate of 13% from 2021 to 2031.1 Many jobs requiring a master’s degree are projected to experience even faster growth during that time period:
- Nurse practitioners, 46%6
- Physician assistants, 28%7
- Speech-language pathologists, 21%8
- Genetic counselors, 18%9
- Orthotists and Prosthetists, 17%10
- Occupational therapists, 14%11
Additionally, master’s degree holders in general typically experience less unemployment than those with a bachelor’s degree. In 2021, the unemployment rate for those with a master’s was 2.6%, while the rate for those with a bachelor’s was 3.5%.2
Opportunities for networking and professional development
Pursuing a master’s degree program could provide opportunities for networking with peers, alumni, and faculty, as well as professionals in the healthcare industry. Networking is considered by many to be one of the key components in expanding job opportunities. It could also help you develop professionally, find mentors, and stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare.
Master’s programs might offer other avenues for professional development as well. For example, students might have the opportunity to attend or present at conferences , and many graduate programs require students to complete internships or engage in other clinical experiences.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Master’s Degree Program in Health and Medicine
With all the master’s degree programs available, how do you go about choosing one could help you further your career goals? Here are some tips.
Accreditation and reputation of the program and institution
Schools or degree programs that are accredited have been evaluated by an outside agency to verify that they meet certain standards of quality and rigor. Not only could accreditation be reassuring, it may also be a requirement for licensure.
In healthcare, accreditation might apply not only to schools but also to specific degree programs. For example, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has accredited over 2,500 degree programs worldwide. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits a variety of nursing programs and provides a search tool to help you find an accredited program in your area of interest.
Curriculum and course offerings
Choosing the type of degree that aligns with your career goals could be important, but also examine the curriculum of the master’s degree programs you are considering. Some programs may have more of an academic focus, while others a professional one. Check out the types of concentrations, the electives offered, and the extent of clinical work and/or research required. These factors could all effect your overall experiences in the program.
Faculty experience and research interests
Looks for programs with faculty members experienced in the areas of healthcare you wish to pursue. Check out their reputation in general by speaking with current students or alumni. You might also research whether professors have published papers in reputable journals.
Internship and practicum opportunities
Clinical experience is often one of the requirements in health and medicine master’s programs, particularly in programs for healthcare practitioners. Such experience might come in the form of an internship, practicum, or clinical rotation. Schools may vary in their requirements concerning number of hours and types of experiences offered, so take a close look at the hands-on portion of a curriculum to make sure you could engage in opportunities that match your aspirations and area of interest.
Location and availability of online learning options
Because many master’s programs in healthcare and medicine require clinical experience, location may be more of a factor than in other programs. Look for schools in locations with reputable healthcare facilities, both for your clinical experiences during school and career opportunities after.
Some master’s programs in healthcare and medicine may be offered online. In such cases, you typically have the flexibility to complete courses online on your own schedule; however, if there are clinical requirements, ensure that you research whether you might fulfill these requirements locally or where the school is located.
Job Outlook and Salary Potential for Graduates with a Master’s Degree in Health and Medicine
There are many career paths that graduates with a master’s degree in health and medicine might pursue. Some specific occupations may include:
- Healthcare administrator
- Health informatics manager
- Pharmaceutical project manager
- APRN (Nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist)
- Healthcare consultant
- Speech-language pathologist
- Orthotist or prosthetist
- Athletic trainer
- Health educator, post-secondary
Following is salary and job growth information for some of these occupations.
Medical and health services manager
Medical and health services managers, also known as healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services. They may manage a specific department within a healthcare organization or an entire healthcare facility.
Median annual salary (2022): $104,8305
Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 28%12
Industries with the highest levels of employment for medical and health services managers, May 20225
|Industry||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||137,410||$139,490|
|Offices of Physicians||61,740||$126,210|
|Outpatient Care Centers||36,350||$122,870|
|Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)||26,120||$103,800|
|Home Health Care Services||23,520||$104,220|
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
APRN (advanced practice registered nurse)
There are four types of APRNs: Nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist. They all require at least a master’s degree to practice, but their roles differ to some degree.
- Nurse practitioners serve as primary and specialty care providers, offering enhanced healthcare services to specific populations.
- Median annual salary (2022): $121,6104
- Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 46%13
- Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia and monitor patients during surgery.
- Median annual salary (2022): $203,09014
- Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 12%13
- Nurse midwives provide healthcare services primarily to women, with a focus on delivering babies.
- Median annual salary (2022): $120,88015
- Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 7%13
- Clinical nurse specialists are advanced practice nurses with proficiency in a particular area, such as pediatrics, neonatal, or adult gerontology. (salary and job growth data not available)
Occupational therapists work with people who have injuries, disabilities, or illnesses. They evaluate the patient’s capabilities and provide treatment to help them improve their functionality.
- Median annual salary (2022): $93,18016
- Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 14%11
PAs provide health services that are similar to those typically performed by physicians. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients, but under the supervision of a physician. In some cases they may prescribe medication.
- Median annual salary (2022): $126,01017
- Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 28%7
Genetic counselors evaluate a patients risk for a certain inherited conditions, such as birth defects and other genetic disorders.
- Median annual salary (2022): $89,99018
- Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 18%9
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$146,050||680|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$131,430||2,450|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$123,570||4,260|
GradSchools.com offers 5 Master’s Programs in Healthcare Programs
Sources: 1https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm 2https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm 3https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm 4https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm 5https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119111.htm 6https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6 7https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm 8https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm 9https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/genetic-counselors.htm 10https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/orthotists-and-prosthetists.htm 11https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm 12https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm 13https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6 14https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291151.htm 15https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291161.htm 16https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291122.htm 17https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291071.htm 18https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes299092.htm
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer or guarantee of employment and that may help prepare students to meet the licensing or certification requirements of the field they choose to study. Students should check with the appropriate licensing or certifying body to make sure the program they apply to will help meet any licensing or certification requirements. Students should also consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.
Wake Forest University
Western Governors University
Grand Canyon University
Colorado State University Global
University of Alberta
University of Calgary
Cross Cancer Institute
University of Lethbridge