shutterstock 534696400When you think of healthcare you often think of physicians, surgeons, nurses, and technicians providing direct patient care. However, there are opportunities to work behind the scenes of every hospital in every aspect of healthcare. You may wonder, who plans, directs and coordinates all medical and healthcare services? Healthcare administrators work behind the scenes of “patient care” and manage entire facilities, clinical areas or departments, and medical practices for physician groups. You may wonder if getting a degree in healthcare administration is worth it? A Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) takes an average of 2 years to complete and provides high salaries for new graduates with little experience.

 The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an 18% growth for healthcare administrative jobs over the next ten years. This is 13% more than the national average for all occupations. This growth is promising for new graduates eager to start a career in healthcare administration. Healthcare administration correlates with the anticipated growth among healthcare workers. Healthcare administration and healthcare go hand-in-hand; however, it may be surprising to know that healthcare administrative jobs project more growth than physicians, surgeons, and nurses over the next ten years. There is a current and future need for healthcare administrators.

Time frame and requirements for MHA

Getting a Master’s in Healthcare Administration takes no longer than your average graduate level degree. Many MHA degrees are available around the United States both on-campus and online. MHA degrees surveyed were mostly offered 100% online.  On average, it takes 2 years to complete a MHA degree.

The quickest completion offered is through the University of St. Francis which claims students can complete the program in 15 months. The program is 36 credit hours long. Next, is an 18-month program offered by Roberts Wesleyan College, which is also 100% online. As you can see, it does not take long to complete a degree in Healthcare Administration, and participation with online classes adds to convenience.

The remaining colleges surveyed show completion around 2 years with some reaching into the 3-year mark due to extra electives and specialties. Some specialties include healthcare informatics, grant writing, and global healthcare. Universities that grant MHA degrees in 2 years include: Ohio University, California State University, Utica College, St. Joseph’s University, Colorado State University, Minnesota State University-Moorhead and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The longest degree plans are Central Michigan University with 51 credit hours, Pennsylvania State University-World Campus with 49 credit hours, and the University of Central Florida with 44 credit hours. These colleges have 36 credit hours of “core” healthcare administration classes, but add extra electives and specialties. These programs may take 2-3 years to complete, depending on how many classes you take each semester.

Most MHA programs require an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or greater, as well as letters of recommendation, and work experience in healthcare environments. Early and mid-level healthcare professionals are welcome to apply. Some examples of undergraduate degrees that translate well into MHA programs are business, information technology, nursing, biology, statistics, law, medicine, industrial engineering, and accounting or finance. GRE and GMAT standardized exams are not required for all MHA programs, but are required for some programs.

Master’s in Healthcare Administration Degree

According to U.S News and World Report the top 5 MHA degree plans take 2 years or less to complete. The top 5 list includes:

  • University of Alabama-Birmingham: 2 years to complete; Master of Science in Healthcare Quality and Safety
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities: 21 months to complete; Master of Healthcare Administration
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: 2 years to complete; Master in Health Services Administration
  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: 24 months to complete; Master of Healthcare Administration
  • Rush University: 21 months to complete; Master of Science in Health Systems Management

The University of Alabama- Birmingham is offered strictly on-campus. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities offers online or on-campus options depending on your degree path. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is offered on-campus unless you opt for the executive MHA degree, which is an on-campus and online mixture. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill offers on-campus MHA residential degrees and online executive MHA degrees. Rush University offers strictly on-campus degree options for MHA.  As you can see, it doesn’t take long to complete a high-quality Master of Healthcare Administration degree from top-rated colleges.

MHA  job opportunities and salary

Healthcare administration degrees produce healthcare executives and managers. Currently, the need for healthcare administrators is increasing, so it is no surprise that job opportunities are promising. At graduation, and in some cases prior to graduation, students find leadership jobs in healthcare by using their Master of Healthcare Administration degrees. Healthcare administrators plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They manage entire facilities, hospitals, clinics, or medical practices. They are experts in population health management, healthcare finance, healthcare delivery systems, information management, finance and economics related to healthcare, organizational leadership, and healthcare policy and procedures. MHA recipients are trained to adapt to change in healthcare laws, regulations and technology. Specific job titles that MHA recipients acquire are the following:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of hospitals (state, local, private)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of hospitals (state, local, private)
  • Chief Operations Officer (COO) of hospitals (state, local, private)
  • Clinic manger (doctor offices, Nursing Homes, Home Health Care Organizations)
  • Department or division manager
  • Facility manager
  • Healthcare consultant
  • Health services manager
  • Manger of outpatient and ambulatory centers
  • Insurance companies (various positions)

Since MHA job opportunities are often leadership and executive positions, salaries reflect this level of responsibility. According to BLS, median pay for healthcare administrators is $99,730/year. This salary is an entry-level projection that reflects those with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration. Salaries for those with Master’s in Healthcare Administration are presumed higher. The average Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a hospital makes upwards $140,000 with yearly bonuses. The average healthcare CEO makes $233,000 per year with bonuses averaging to total $700,000 per year! Healthcare administrators make high incomes at entry level and even higher incomes with gained experiences.

Overall, graduates of MHA programs are trained experts in healthcare administration. Healthcare administration is a hybrid of many disciplines which incorporates accounting, finance, leadership, healthcare planning and delivery. Because so many specialties are wrapped into a single degree, one would think it takes years to achieve a Master’s in Healthcare Administration. However, gaining a degree in MHA takes less time than anticipated, with promising career options post-graduation. If you are looking to start a career in healthcare, but do not want to do direct patient care, healthcare administration may be the path to take.

Tessa Chatham

Master of Science (M.S.), Nursing Education| Aspen University

Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Nursing| Texas Christian University

Bachelor of Arts (B.A), Psychology and English| The University of Texas at Arlington

October 2019

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