Online Master of Health Science MHS Programs

MHS Online Programs are designed to help at-work students build skills and knowledge in their chosen industry. At its heart, health science covers many facets of human health, health systems and health care. Some masters in health science (MHS) programs therefore feature broad curricula plus a menu of concentration areas. Online learners could therefore study health promotion, public health, wellness, leadership, clinical research administration and more—from anywhere they have access to Internet.

Why earn a masters degree in Health Services Online?

written by Rana Waxman

What Is a MHS Online Degree?

An MHS online degree is short for Master of Health Science. In most universities, a MHS degree program is interdisciplinary in that it blends clinical and non-clinical courses. Also, because the degree could be awarded through multiple university departments, it generally allows students to tailor their studies to their specific goals and interests. Usually this is achieved through an area of emphasis. These differ in each school but one could often find areas such as health informatics, executive leadership, health education, or a related topic.

What Is the Difference between an MHS and a MSHS Degree?

Online Master of Health Science programs could also award a Master of Science in Health Science, abbreviated MSHS. While initially the MHS and MSHS might sound alike, it is important to look deeper into their format and course content. Since there are no ‘hard and fast’ rules, these details could become clearer when you review individual schools. However, there are some common differences bewtween them.

  • MHS Online Degree: An MHS typically exposes students to the ways that health policy, population health, and health systems interact. Then, students tack on a concentration to further define their professional skills and knowhow.
  • MSHS Online Degree: By comparison, an MSHS degree program could be
  • split into major courses, research courses, and professional courses—and be entirely devoted to one topic. Thus, the Master of Science might provide more in-depth study as well as a strong focus in research and data analysis

Students could bolster their ability to think systematically and critically while they conveniently take classes online in both these tracks, but may find one more suitable than the other.

Why a Masters in Health Science?

Depending on the university department and targeted area of study, the MHS degree could provide a platform for advanced study and research (more academic MHS programs). Or, it might prepare individuals to begin or further their careers as public health professionals (professional MHS programs).


Some health educator positions require a master’s or doctoral degree. Graduate programs are commonly in community health education, school health education, public health education, or health promotion. i

Admissions Criteria

Applicants to a Masters of Health Science online program should check with individual schools to see what is required. In some cases, students could need a bachelor of science degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Aside from transcripts, students may need to furnish test scores such as GRE, PCAT, MCAT, or DAT, a personal essay, a resume or CV, and letters of reference. Importantly, each program may come with a set of prerequisites. For instance, students who apply to a clinical research program may need relevant clinical research or related experience in healthcare.

Online Health Science Core Courses

To earn a Masters in Health Science online, students might need to complete about 30 to 36 credits of coursework as well as either a thesis or capstone project. At the heart of a MHS online program is a series of core courses. These may not be the same in each school, but generally form the building blocks of an otherwise flexible program.

  • Biostatistics – Descriptive and influential statistics, why and when to use specific procedures, interpretation of statistical results
  • Epidemiology and Study Design – Patterns and causes of disease, prevention, population health
  • Project Management – Integration of project plans, management and health care information systems, communication
  • Ethics of Health Care Research – Ethical issues that confront all aspects of health care
  • Health Care Systems and Policy – U.S. healthcare delivery systems, basics of healthcare economics, financing, reimbursement, quality assurance, policy

Online MHS – Concentration Areas

Students who pursue a MHS could study to fortify their ability to lead in areas such as health policy, administration, informatics, translational research, regulatory compliance, and more. Since areas of emphasis vary from one university to another, it could help students to first think about their aims and interests, then discover which school might have a suitable program. We go through a few examples below, drawn from our sponsored schools.

Regulatory Science: Students interested in compliance might pursue an online MHS in Regulatory Science. In this area of emphasis, students could learn about the federal and state regulations of healthcare delivery, manufacturing, and distribution of pharmaceuticals and biologics in the U.S. Other courses could cover healthcare product patent processes, clinical trial design, and ethics. Online students might also build communication skills through a course in medical and clinical writing. Additionally, they could learn some of the terms and steps that go into the preparation of a New Drug Application (NDA).

Interested students could compare the above program with an online MSHS in Regulatory Affairs. In some schools, the course of study could bridge theory with applicable strategies to optimize business goals. Online students might take courses in regulatory compliance, and develop their grasp of drug development. Research courses could include biostatistics and epidemiology, while other professional courses might speak to healthcare leadership and current trends.

Health Care Quality: An online Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) in Health Care Quality could help current patient safety and quality leaders develop their ability to improve patient safety within the context of today’s challenges. Coursework could meld topics such as health policy development with risk assessment and health administration. .

Clinical Research Administration (CRA): Online students who work towards their MHS in Clinical Research Administration could learn how to design, construct and communicate the results of clinical research programs to professional and other audiences. Apart from the core health science courses, this focus might take a deeper look at the various logistical and operational factors that go into a clinical research study. Other courses could examine ethics, regulatory pathways for drugs and medical devices, compliance strategies, and procedures. For their capstone, students may need to take part in a hands-on practice course where they gain experience alongside a clinical researcher in a hospital or health system, pharmaceutical or biotechnology institution, or a related setting.

Interested students could compare this program with an online MSHS in Clinical Research Administration. A MSHS may not have core health science courses, but instead students may complete basic CRA courses, strategic leadership courses, graduate research coursework and an elective. Clinical research administration courses could include critical analysis, medicines development, and quality/risk management. Students could also learn how to manage clinical research projects and the different factors that go into partnerships with human research subjects.

Informatics: Students who pursue an online MHS in Informatics could learn to assess health IT needs in healthcare delivery systems and develop decision support tools at point of care. Along with core health science courses, students could study the methods, issues and challenges that surround the transmission, storage, exchange and security of medical information. Other technical courses could cover electronic medical records management, data architecture and regulatory processes.

Professional Studies: Students who want to apply to medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary or another related program might consider a MHS with a focus in professional studies. This intensive biomedical curriculum could enhance a student’s knowledge and might help an application stand out. Courses could draw content from core health science courses, but stick to a more science-focused syllabus. Online students might therefore study topics such as biochemistry, medical chemistry, pharmacology, anatomy, histology and physiology. Other courses could help students build technical and scientific writing skills.

Athletic Training: Online students who are also licensed and or certified athletic trainers and therapists might focus their Master of Health Science in Athletic Training. Coursework could help these students expand their skills in risk management and leadership, injury prevention and more. Students may be able to complete their coursework online, but may have an optional residency where they could take hands-on courses to learn advanced emergency skills for injuries such as concussions. 

Executive Leadership: Students who want to focus on the operational side of healthcare might pursue an online MHS in Executive Leadership. Coursework could help learners develop more insight about how to develop and manage personnel, plan strategically, and make effective decisions. Courses in quality performance, healthcare informatics, and finance could round a curriculum out with other aspects of healthcare administration.

Health Education: Students who may want to pursue a Doctor of Education or increase their expertise in teaching practices might consider a MHS online program with a focus in teaching and learning. Coursework could help students learn to develop lessons for traditional and online classrooms.

Other Options for Online MHS Programs 

If the MHS is too broad for you or does not target your goals, there are other degrees that fall under the umbrella of online Masters in Health Science. Two of these are the (1) Master of Public Health and (2) Master of Health Administration. You could compare these two with the MHS, or look for programs in other disciplines such as human services counseling and health communication.

Online Master of Public Health (MPH)

An online Master of Public Health is a professional master’s degree that could help students bolster skills in broad based areas of public health practice. An MPH program focuses on ways to improve human health in populations and prevent illness and disease. Ultimately, MPH graduates could learn the  competencies necessary to solve public health problems, design studies, collect, analyze and interpret data.

Coursework for an MPH program has less focus on research and the curriculum generally includes a study of the five basic areas of public health.

  • Epidemiology
  • Public health administration and policy
  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health
  • Behavioral/Social Science

Additional requirements for MPH programs include completion of a field-based practicum and presentation of a capstone project. Generally, it takes two years of full-time study to complete an MPH program. Applicants could need both a bachelors degree as well as some undergraduate coursework in areas such as psychology, sociology, and statistics.

What Is CEPH Accreditation?

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the nationally recognized accrediting body for both schools of public health and public health programs.

Online Master of Health Administration (MHA)

An online Master of Health Administration (MHA) is a professional masters degree. It is generally planned-out with strong and multi-dimensional focus on business, management, and strategic practices specifically for healthcare. Applicants typically need a bachelors degree, although it is preferable to review policies for each school to be sure.

Through the MHA program, online students might fortify their ability to solve problems and critically assess operational issues. Many programs also include business and inter-professional communication. Generally, coursework in an MHA online program could center around required courses, with room for students to choose electives. Some of the topics one might find could draw from the examples below.

  • Health Care Quality, Risk, Compliance
  • Economics
  • Health Care Law and Policy
  • Health Care Finance
  • Health Information Systems

There is often a health administration field experience requirement as well, and online students might be able to do this in a local healthcare setting (e.g. a clinic or hospital). Students may also be required to complete a capstone.

What Is CAHME Accreditation?

Graduate healthcare management programs that comply with regulations set by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, may be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

Earning an MHS Online Degree 

Earning an MHS online could mean something different at each graduate school. In some programs, students might "attend" face-to-face weekly classes online via web camera. In others, instructional technology such as Blackboard could mean students attend a virtual classroom on their own time frame.

In the latter format, students click to access course content, discussion boards, and online resources. It is usually available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and allows for easy information interchange between student and instructor. Most courses require online learners to study independently, but there is often some team work as well. Students could therefore stay more focused and motivated, as well as potentially make career connections with others.

Take the Next Step

As an alternative to traditional on-campus programs, students who pursue a Master of Health Science MHS online do not need to relocate and may be able to more easily fit a graduate degree into an ongoing busy life and career. Ready to take that step? Great – browse paid programs right here, then, easily contact schools through the on-page form.


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