An online MHA degree — Masters in Healthcare Administration — is a professional, rather than clinical, graduate degree. The Master of Health Administration is a program designed to develop leadership, business, and managerial skills as they pertain to the healthcare settings. For instance, students might take courses on how to adapt procedures in response to changes in healthcare regulations, cut costs, or improve patient care.
An online MHA degree is one of several options for post-Bachelors students and health professionals who want to pursue executive and leadership careers. Often there is overlap with some of the course material, but each program tends to have a unique focus. For instance, some universities offer a similar degree called the Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA), which has a strong business focus. Other options may include MBA, MHA, MHSA, MPA, MSHS and MSHA programs.
Per the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, healthcare management is used as an umbrella term for these concepts.
The many choices for online MHA programs offer a good reason to think about what type of career you hope to prepare for. Are you someone who wants to work on health care policies? Do you enjoy the challenge of finance and budget decisions? Would you prefer to manage people or a supervise a department? Is your online MHA degree a step on your way to a PhD in Healthcare Administration?
DID YOU KNOW?
A sample of career paths for medical and health services managers include Clinical Directors, Mental Health Program Managers, and Nurse Managers.i
requirement that accredited online colleges for healthcare administration typically want to see is that a student has a bachelors degree, although not necessarily a Bachelors in Health Administration. Other specific requisites are determined by each school but tend to include some or all the material below.
Most online Masters Health Administration programs take full-time students about two to three years to complete and about 33- 53 graduate credit hours. Also, many programs include up to a year of supervised administrative experience in a hospital or healthcare consulting setting.ii
Typical online MHA degree programs require a certain number of core courses that might revolve around several key areas: These are leadership, professionalism, healthcare environment, business skills, and communication.
Typical objectives are to help students grasp the link between risk and strategic decisions, common ethics, norms, and policy as well as how to manage finances. While the course names will vary, topics may include foundations in the U.S. healthcare system and trends and issues in the healthcare industry. Then, while it depends on the focus of your degree (public policy, hospital management), course topics may include some of the ones listed below.
An online Master of Science in Management (MSM) with a concentration in Healthcare Management usually highlights leadership and takes on all aspects of management. For instance, students may learn how to manage projects and make strategic decisions. Other courses may span finance, marketing, organizational behavior, human resources and ethics. This is somewhat distinct from the MBA where the focus is on managerial skills for business environments, not specifically health care settings.
The online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Health Care Administration is usually set up around a series of core business topics. In addition, credits and courses are allotted to the major. Some of these may include healthcare systems, policy, finance, and current issues. As a result, students may develop a grasp of things such as the regulatory environment and how to drive improved patient care as well as some technical managerial skills.
An online Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Health Care Administration is likely to cover topics that relate to some of the public-sector nuances within the healthcare domain. For instance, how to implement effective healthcare public policy and improve access to quality care. As distinct from the online MHA degree, students may explore topics such as intergovernmental relations and research methods for public administration.
Online Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) programs offer another point of view for students keen on a healthcare oriented graduate degree. As a Master of Science program, students might expect research, strategic leadership, and science courses. For example, an MSHS in Regulatory Affairs could cover biostatistics, epidemiology, compliance, and healthcare leadership.
Experienced health care professionals who want to advance into executive roles might choose to earn an online MHA degree. Many medical and health services managers enter the field with a bachelors degree to gain valued work experience.i However, these days, more employers prefer candidates with masters degrees.i If you can relate, and want to pursue a degree while employed, distance education may be less disruptive to your current busy life.
Masters Health Administration online programs may offer students the ability to complete courses at their own pace. This means you spend the time you need to fully cover the course material, and you chart your own progress. Other programs may have start and end dates so that your time is organized but you still get to log in at your own pace.
Some online schools that offer healthcare administration have no campus requirements at all. Others, however, include some face-to-face residencies or management intensives. These are to foster personal interaction as well as expand students’ grasp of things such as change leadership, strategic management, performance improvement, organizational design, and collaboration. As a result, graduates of online MHA programs might pursue careers in hospitals, medical practices, care facilities, government, and healthcare services.ii
Students in online masters programs in healthcare management typically have access to the same resources as their campus counterparts. This may include online libraries with e-books, databases, articles, or inter-library loan systems. Online tutors as well as career and academic advisors may be part of your university’s repertoire of student-support services as well.
Many online universities offer multiple start dates — which is helpful if you are eager to get started on your online MHA degree. Others may use a cohort-based system where you travel through your program with the same students. Look for what suits your lifestyle.
In some Online MHA programs, students may be required to complete an internship. This supervised fieldwork is an opportunity to apply concepts and skills learned in the classroom to a health-related organization in the community, or as designated by your school.
There are regionally accredited online colleges for healthcare administration where students might find online MHA degree and other online healthcare administration masters programs. On top of this, some accredited schools have professionally-accredited programs. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is the agency designated by the Department of Education to oversee this process. Accredited programs may be housed in different settings within the university (Schools of Business, Medicine, Public Health, Public Administration, and Allied Health ).
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[i] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9111.00 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm