Moving up in the dynamic and expanding world of health care isn’t easy. In addition to working hard in a relevant field, seeking the advanced education of a Master in Health Administration degree program can set you apart from the competition.
But, how do you go to school while continuing to work in health care and be active in your family? Distance learning adds a level of convenience so you can earn an advanced degree while continuing to work. Instead of traveling to your classroom, your classroom becomes wherever you have a computing device and wi-fi, so you can study anywhere, anytime.
Fortunately, it’s a great time to earn your MHA. In addition to the evolving technology that advances your online experience, the health care industry is growing. Health administration professionals in management roles will be even more in demand in the coming years. The BLS predicts a 17 percent growth in health administration jobs through 2024, which is much higher than average growth predicted in all jobs in the US. Although a master’s degree isn’t required for all management roles, it can help set you up for upward mobility into healthcare administration.
Learn more about the time to complete, learning outcomes, core coursework, and career paths involved with an MHA in the table below.
|Time to Complete||Master’s of Health Administration programs generally take between two and four years to complete, depending on whether a student is enrolled full or part time. Accelerated MHA programs may be completed as quickly as 12 months, although this may require students to take more than the recommended number of classes each semester.|
|Learning Outcomes||Although student learning outcomes may vary slightly by program, MHA graduates generally display the same core competencies, including:
|Core Coursework||MHA curriculum varies by school and concentration, but prospective students can generally plan on studying such core topics as:
|Career Paths||There are a number of routes you can take after completing a Master’s of Health Administration degree program, including:
Learn more about the ins and outs of the Master’s of Health Administration degree program.
As an online student, you’ll be met with the resources to receive the same quality of education as on-campus students, but there are additional benefits to being online – including not being tied to particular classroom or study times. Plus, technology offers you greater accessibility and ability to organize.
Here are just a few of the benefits of online classes:
- Flexibility, with more options to start your courses and when to study
- Course materials that are available online
- Connect with students and professors across the country and around the world
- Choose from a variety of communication methods
Different institutions have different standards for online MHA programs – so you should always look for the features that are important to you. Find out whether you can study a specific area of focus, such as:
- Financial management
- Quality improvement
- Law and policy
- Decision management
- Patient satisfaction
If you’d like to take an accelerated program, ask whether you can complete your online MHA in 12-, 15- or 18-months instead of the standard 24. You might also ask whether a GRE is required. Some degree programs include immersions, which require travel to the campus or a central location for workshops or hands-on experience. If you are relatively close to your campus, you can travel there to participate in special events, a practicum or immersion programs.
The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) offers its own advice for evaluating master’s degree programs. According to the ACHE, factors to consider include:
- Faculty background and experience. Are the faculty published? Do they have experience as administrators and/or consultants to health care organizations?
- Size of alumni network. Is there a large network of alumni that supports the program by hiring students and graduates for internships or full-time jobs?
- Joint degree option. Does the program offer a joint degree, such as an MHA/MBA or an MHA/JD? In lieu of a joint degree option, can you concentrate on a specific area of focus?
As you explore online options, if flexibility is important to you, look for MHA programs that offer asynchronous classes. This means that lessons are recorded so students may view them on their own schedules. Synchronous programs, on the other hand, are live taught through a virtual classroom online.
Asynchronous classes’ start times are more flexible, so you can study when it’s convenient. You may access study materials and reading assignments during your lunch breaks, over dinner or with your first cup of weekend coffee. Synchronous programs have their own benefits, of course, such as greater interaction with teachers and peers. Attending live classes each week (from your computer) may also help keep you engaged with the course.
Now you can store your backpack of books and study aids on the shelf for good – online learning places some or all of your course materials on your online learning platform. Online course materials offer an easy way to organize materials, store notes and turn-in assignments. An essential efficiency for working professionals juggling a career and graduate work.
Go beyond the boundaries of your town, your state – even your country – without leaving your home office when you choose to pursue a Master in Health Administration online. The students in your class may be from different cultures and nations so you can build connections with future global industry clients, partners or vendors.
While in class, you could hear different viewpoints, strengthening your adaptability and ability to collaborate with different types of people which are valued characteristics to have in the workplace.
If you’re on the fence about whether an online Master in Health Administration program is for you, consider that during the time between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 2.3 million positions will be added to the field of health care and 56,300 will be in health care management and administration jobs.
Where do health administrators work?
According to BLS Occupational Employment Statistics for Medical and Health Services Managers (May 2016), industries with the highest levels of employment for health care managers and administrators include:
|Industry||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||114,300||$117,630|
|Offices of Physicians||36,930||$105,140|
|Outpatient Care Centers||23,640||$101,800|
|Nursing Care Facilities||21,620||$90,970|
|Home Health Care Services||20,020||$98,690|
The BLS also provides data on where health care managers and administrators work. This information may be useful for career-minded professionals willing to relocate for advancement opportunities. Metropolitan areas with the highest employment of medical and health services managers include:
- New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY/NJ
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA
- Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA
- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
- Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
- Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC/VA/MD/WV
- Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
- Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY
You might feel that this is the perfect opportunity to start a new career or step into one of the existing positions that may have been vacated due to turnover. In either case, a Master of Health Administration degree may help you become a leader and decision-maker in health care. But before you enroll in an online MHA program, you might think about drafting a career plan to identify the actions and steps needed to meet your professional goals beyond getting a master’s degree.
The American College of Healthcare Executives recommends you start building your career plan by asking yourself these four important career planning questions:
- What is important to me, and what do I require for fulfillment in my work and life?
- What does my current or a future employer contribute that meets my requirements for fulfillment?
- What is required of me to be successful by my current or a future employer?
- What do I contribute to my current or a future employer’s success?
Forward-thinking healthcare professionals are making decisions to be part of the future leadership of health care by enrolling in online MHA programs.
What is an MHA?
Learn what an MHA is and where MHA graduates work.