From small private practices to world-renowned medical centers, healthcare administration is a critical job in any medical office. Healthcare administrators are tasked with coordinating care, managing office operations, directing resources, and working with both medical personnel and business employees. Daily administration duties may include paying bills, organizing data, and stocking supply closets. Individuals with office or medical experience who want to help a healthcare facility operate more efficiently are particularly great candidates for pursuing an affordable master’s in healthcare administration online.
Students earning a master’s in healthcare administration will learn financial skills like ICD-10 code billing, federal and local legal requirements for administration, data management techniques, medical technology, and management and administrative techniques for optimal facility operation. Pursuing an online master’s in healthcare administration gives graduates access to more and higher-earning career opportunities than undergraduate degree-holders. Many management positions are not open to bachelor’s graduates.
A master’s degree in healthcare administration can lead directly to a career working in government, hospital, home healthcare, and physician offices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a significant growth in the need for healthcare administrators through 2022, roughly double the rate of other jobs. The average salary for healthcare administrators is more than $100,000 a year; hospitals and busy medical centers often offer even higher salaries.
Learn more about online MHA programs by exploring our list of accredited online programs below. Note that this list is ranked for overall value, not just for affordable tuition prices. Every school on the ranking provides students with rigorous programs that offer the greatest return on investment.
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What Will I Learn in My Online Master’s in Health Care Administration Program?
Coursework in an online MHA program teaches students to successfully manage a medical facility. Core courses are designed to reinforce students’ understanding of the administrative skills commonly used by health care administrators to perform daily tasks on the job. These include team leadership, accounting, insurance claims processing, and medical records maintenance and confidentiality. Students also learn about health policy and health care/business law and develop interpersonal relationship and managerial skills. Similar to their on-campus counterparts, most master’s in health care administration online programs culminate in a capstone project. Sample courses include:
- Group Dynamics and Team Leadership This course educates students about advanced theories related to team behavior. Topics include team management and leadership models, self-awareness development, and interpersonal relationship skills.
- Accounting for Health Services Managers This course details the daily financial accounting tasks of a professional health care administrator, including calculating equations, journaling, and various field-specific methods and systems. These skills are needed to assume management and leadership roles.
- Health Policy Development While this course focuses on U.S. health care policy and services, it also incorporates a general introduction to global health care policy. By using case studies, problem-based learning, and group projects, students explore the impact of both science and stakeholder interests on national health care policy development.
- Health Administration and Business Law Students explore contracts, medical malpractice, health care-related legal and ethical concerns, tax exemption, fraud, and health information management to develop a crucial understanding of how the law can both support and impede current efforts to improve health care in the United States.
- Risk and Insurance Seminar Students in this course explore both private and government-sponsored public programs and other health care financing arrangements in the United States.
An online MHA in health care administration can lead to a variety of careers, at both medical facilities and nontraditional settings. The degree incorporates work related to education, operations, and health policy. Some students may aspire to work in the increasingly popular area of health care education, while others may be more interested in information science or senior care; these students can seek out concentrations in informatics or gerontology while pursuing a master’s in health care administration online. Below we list some of the most common concentrations in affordable online MHA programs.
- Education: This specialization trains students to teach health care professionals new methods of teaching, improving the effectiveness of their practice and the services they provide. Graduates are prepared to develop new and innovative health care curricula, evaluate existing methods, and adapt current practices for a variety of audiences.
- Informatics: A common concentration among aspiring health care administrators, informatics centers on managing patient information. Students in this specialization learn best practices for optimizing the organization, storage, and use of medical records and information. Classes emphasize the importance of privacy.
- Gerontology: Gerontology, or the study of old age and the process of aging, has become a more common concentration among HMA programs as the average lifespan and medical needs of aging populations continue to increase. Students in this specialization are trained to develop strategies for medical practices that focus on elder care. They also raise awareness and advocate for health care needs specific to aging adults.
- Operations: This concentration teaches students to manage all administrative and supervisory operations within a health care organization. Coursework trains students to manage employees, patient records, marketing projects, and budgeting and finances.
- Health Policy: This concentration is popular for students interested in combining their administrative experience in health care with advanced business sensibilities. It is ideal for individuals who excel at problem-solving and are interested in working at consulting firms, federal regulatory agencies, and public health agencies.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Health Care Administration Graduates
Master’s in Health Care Administration Careers
The field of health care is incredibly broad and offers countless careers for qualified candidates with every level of education and experience; jobs related to health care administration are in especially high demand. Although students typically qualify for entry-level jobs with only a bachelor’s degree, graduates of on-campus and online MHA programs are eligible for top-tier management jobs at the country’s largest medical facilities. Aspiring clinical managers and health information managers who graduate from one of the country’s best online MHA programs are strongly favored by employers. Additionally, nursing home administrators must be licensed; although licensure can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, many employers prefer candidates with graduate experience. Below are some of the industry’s most common careers.
Nursing Home Administrator
Nursing home administrators are responsible for managing all of the operations at a nursing home facility, including overseeing the care of the residents and addressing HR, admissions, finances, and building maintenance needs. While nursing home administrators typically only need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field, they must also hold valid licensure in their state.
Projected Growth Rate 17%
These professionals act as specialized managers within an organization and are responsible for managing a specific medical facility department, such as surgery or nursing. They are responsible for managing departmental policies, goals, procedures, staff efficiency, reports, and budgets. Clinical managers only need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field, but most employers at larger clinics favor candidates with a master’s degree.
Projected Growth Rate 17%
Health Information Manager
Health information managers maintain and protect patient records through traditional and electronic methods. They also sometimes supervise health information technicians. An advanced degree in this specialization is not required but is preferred by employers because master’s students gain additional knowledge about medical records technologies and technical skills.
Projected Growth Rate 17%
Assistant administrators work directly under top administrators in medical facilities to handle minor administrative duties on a daily basis; some help oversee operations within a department or clinic, such as nursing, surgery, therapy, or medical records. Assistant administrators may enter this field with a bachelor’s degree; however, with work experience and an advanced degree, they can become eligible to advance to a non-assistant administrator position.
Projected Growth Rate 17%
Licensure and Certification
Because most health care workers in this field specialize in administrative tasks that are not directly related to patient care, they are not typically required to hold licensure or be certified; however, optional certifications are offered through agencies such as the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management and the American Health Information Management Association. That being said, nursing home administrators and assisted living administrators are required to be licensed in order to practice in their state. Licensure for these professionals is granted by the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) and involves passing either the CNHA or CALA exam.
Although a master’s degree is not required for most health care administration jobs, an advanced degree provides substantial benefits to job seekers in this field. Graduates of online MHA programs find greater access to top management jobs in health administration, health education, health information and medical records, and related occupations. A recent study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that students who earned a graduate degree from a health or medical preparatory program earned a salary increase of 190% compared to their undergraduate degree-holding counterparts. According to the BLS, job opportunities for medical and health services managers are also expected to continue to grow much faster than the average occupation; employment is predicted to increase by 17% through 2024.
MASTER’S IN Health Care Administration SALARY
Depending on your education and experience, the average salaries for health care administrators can vary significantly. Assistant administrators, for example, can expect to earn a modest salary while they are gaining experience and working their way up in the field. As with most careers, however, those with an online MHA and work experience can expect to earn a higher salary. It’s no surprise that nursing home administrators are among the highest earners in health care administration; their profession requires stringent licensing and experience with both clinical and administrative services. As a result, even entry-level nursing home administrators earn a substantial income. Clinical managers are the second-highest earners and have the potential to surpass $70,000 in annual income later in their careers.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Nursing Home Administrator||$87,287||$75,000||$91,000||$100,000|
|Health Information Manager||$54,550||$45,000||$50,000||$64,000|
Do I Need to Take the GRE to Enroll in an Online Master’s in Health Care Administration Program?
The GRE is the most common entrance exam requirement for online MHA programs. While some MHA degrees also accept the GMAT, this test is typically reserved for business school admission. Alternatively, the GRE is acceptable for a broad range of graduate programs, including health care and health sciences.
The GRE evaluates analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills. It also includes an experimental section that covers either math or verbal competencies. MHA programs prefer this test because it indicates a student’s readiness for the content they study in a health care administration program, including statistical reasoning, financial accounting, health finance, information systems, and health policy. While requirements vary, the average required GRE score is generally near the 55th percentile; however, top-tier schools may expect scores higher than the 75th percentile for admission.
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Health Care Administration Degrees
Attending an accredited college or university while pursuing your online MHA program is important to maximize your career opportunities after graduation. It is prudent to make sure your school is accredited by a national or regional agency such as the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. While any type of accreditation from one of these organizations is acceptable, regional accreditation is more prestigious and is more common among major educational institutions. In addition to institutional accreditation, an online MHA program may be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). You can confirm your school’s institutional accreditation by visiting the ED or CHEA websites.
Financing Your Online Master’s in Health Care Administration ProgramIf you want to pursue scholarships, loans, grants, or a work-study job to help finance your master’s in health care administration, you need to complete the FAFSA form. Most schools require students to complete the FAFSA in order to assess a student’s financial aid status. This form also helps you and your family understand your eligibility for any federal or private financial aid. Because health care administration is a popular major with lucrative career prospects, a number of nonprofit organizations offer diverse financial aid opportunities to students, especially to minorities and underserved populations. Below are a few of the scholarships available to health care administration majors.
Healthcare Administration Scholarships
Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, a minority student, and enrolled in their final year (fall/spring) of full-time study in a health care management graduate program with a graduation date between Sept. 1, 2018 and Aug. 31, 2019.
Bachrach Family Scholarship $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: Varies
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be studying full-time and entering their second year of a graduate health care administration program.
Bill and Mary Russell Healthcare Scholarship Varies
Scholarship Deadline: April 15
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be accepted or enrolled full-time in at least 12 hours of study in an approved nursing or related health care program.
Corris Boyd Scholars Program $40,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 17
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must belong to a minority group, be a U.S. citizen with a GPA of at least 3.0, and be accepted into or entering a full-time master’s degree program in the fall of 2018.
The Winston Scholarship $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: Varies
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be U.S. citizens who are current first-year graduate students (in their second full-time equivalent semester or third full-time equivalent quarter) studying at any AUPHA- or ASPPH-member graduate program or health policy program.