Introduction to Master’s in Healthcare Programs

BestMastersInHealthcare is a resource guide to online master’s degrees in healthcare. There are a large variety of different masters degrees in healthcare. A master’s degree is the standard credential for management and other advanced positions within health care.

If you’re looking for healthcare career advancement, then getting a masters degree is essential as you’ll be better prepared with the skills and knowledge needed for your desired job. Since there are so many options for someone with a Master of Healthcare, it’s a good idea to search and find a program that best fits your background and your personal desires for your future.

Boston University
MS in Health Communication
Boston University — The College of Communication at Boston University offers a unique Master of Science degree in health communication that prepares its students to take on careers in a variety of healthcare fields, including health literacy, marketing, public relations, and social marketing.
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University of Illinois at Chicago
MS in Health Informatics
MS in Patient Safety
University of Illinois at Chicago — The University of Illinois Chicago offers two Master of Science degrees in healthcare, both of which are available to take online: the MS in health information technology and the MS in patient safety leadership. Founded in 1858, UIC is a nationwide leader in health education.
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Kaplan University
MS in Health Care Mgmt
MBA in Health Care Mgmt
Kaplan University — Kaplan University's MS in healthcare management degree program (MBA also available) is taught entirely online, making it easy for any working adult to complete coursework from the comfort of his/her own home or office. Graduates of this program will be prepared for a variety of managerial and administrative positions within the healthcare industry.
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Walden University
General MHA
Walden University — The Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree program offered at Walden University is a general MHA that will provide students with the medical and administrative know-how to enter into careers with healthcare providers, healthcare policy organizations, or health insurance organizations, to name a few.
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Career Options for Master of Healthcare Degree Holders

With a master’s degree in healthcare, you can find a variety of careers such as:

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Health Services Administrator
  • Long-Term Care Administrator
  • Nurse Administrator
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Physical Therapist

For admission to a health care master’s degree program you’ll need an undergraduate degree. This degree could be in business, health administration, other health professions (such as an registered nurse), or even liberal arts. Students who have previous work experience within the health care system will have an advantage when it comes to admission to health care masters programs, and there many be prerequisite coursework for students who have never been within the healthcare industry. In general, a well rounded educational and professional career, and above average grades are needed for the best chances of acceptance.

Masters of Health Administration Programs (MHA)

The Master of Health Administration, or of Healthcare Administration, is a study in the knowledge and competencies of managing hospitals and other health service organizations, as well as public health infrastructure. An MHA is designed to give 4-year undergraduates of health disciplines greater understanding of healthcare management issues, and prepare them for senior management roles at the local, state, and federal level, as well as in the nonprofit sector.

As in any major field, programs differ according to the settings and the school. Most programs have a prerequisite of a minimum period of professional experience in the health system. Many colleges of medicine or allied health schools have practitioner-teacher model programs, where as colleges of business or public health have more classroom-based programs. Most programs require students to complete applied experiences as well as coursework in areas such as:

  • Population health
  • Healthcare economics
  • Health policy
  • Organizational behavior
  • Management of healthcare organizations
  • Healthcare marketing and communications
  • Human resource management
  • Information systems management and assessment
  • Operations assessment and improvement
  • Governance
  • Leadership
  • Statistical analysis and application
  • Financial analysis and management
  • Strategy formulation and implementation

Masters in Health Services Administration Programs (MHSA)

The MHSA degree program focuses on the organization, financing, marketing, and management of health care institutions, and the delivery of personal health services in the United States. Typically a 1-2 year full-time program, it is similar to a Masters in Public Health (MPH) program, although there are some slight differences with the MHSA being a more high-level, professional graduate degree. MHSA degrees are modeled after general business administration curriculum and combine social science and business content designed to prepare students for management careers in the unique environment of healthcare. This may include management careers in health systems, hospitals, clinics, and emergency services management. It’s also an appropriate degree for those seeking positions as planners, policy analysts, or consultants focusing on the financing, organization, quality and delivery of personal health services in either the public or the private sector. The goal of MHSA programs are to prepare individuals to improve health and health services delivery in the communities where they serve.

Typical accredited MHSA programs are 60-hour course loads with core classes including:

  • Health Services Systems
  • Accounting
  • Heath Policy
  • Law or Political Science
  • Organizational Theory / Management
  • Economics
  • Health Information Technology
  • Biostatistics
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Epidemiology
  • Principles of Environmental Health Sciences

Potential careers in health services administration include:

  • Associate Consultant
  • Coordinator, Education & Practice Improvement
  • Director of Ambulatory Care
  • Fiscal Program Analyst
  • Health Systems Specialist
  • Management Associate
  • Outreach Coordinator
  • Project Coordinator
  • Practice Manager
  • Quality Improvement Coordinator (Insurance)
  • Utilization Manager (Insurance)

The American College of Healthcare Executives have many options of health management careers on their website, with specific information about salaries and future job outlook.

Masters in Public Health Programs (MPH)

A Masters in Public Health will prepare you for the challenges that face public health professionals today, and is focused on public health practice, as opposed to research or teaching. Some of these challenges include pandemics, bioterrorism, epidemics, and the safety of our food and water. With this multi-disciplinary professional degree you will be prepared to work in health policy, research, government agencies, consulting, epidemiology, biostatistics, health services administration, health education, environmental science, behavioral science, and public health agencies. MPH programs are for medical graduates or medical students and usually last 2 years for full-time students, or 4 years if you decide to attend part-time. Degrees can be obtained from universities, colleges, and schools of medicine or schools of allied health.

The Association of Schools of Public Health lay out 5 core discipline areas of public health:

  1. Biostatistics
  2. Epidemiology
  3. Environmental Health
  4. Health Policy and Health Administration
  5. Social and Behavioral Sciences

For further resources The Association of Schools of Public Health have a helpful website with definitions, publications, education, centers, schools and programs, and job opportunities for potential students interested in a MPH degree.

Also, the APTR Council of Graduate Programs in Public Health is the organization for the accredited and emerging graduate programs across the U.S. that grant public health degrees and therefore prepare students for professional careers in public health.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management

Studying for a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare will give you an education that offers a strong foundation of business with special care and attention to healthcare. An MBA with a specialization in healthcare management is designed to strengthen the management and business skills you need to perform effectively within the health care industry. If you were pursuing mid-level management or executive positions in the health care industry, or in organizations serving the health care industry, this degree would be a good fit for you. Most programs curriculum is designed around industry guidelines for health care management education, and topics of study include a thorough study of health care strategic and financial management, health care policy analysis and legal and ethical considerations within the industry. There are opportunities in consulting, pharmaceuticals, or health plan management fields, and with this degree you could become the director of healthcare marketing, a hospital administrator, a health analytics director, or a healthcare finance manager, to name just a few options.

Most MBA healthcare management programs include core curriculum classes such as:

  • Foundational Skills for Business Leaders
  • Workplace/Leadership Development
  • Managerial Economics
  • Managerial Statistics
  • Integrated Global Marketing
  • Financial Accounting
  • Financial Management
  • Operations Management
  • Health Care Policy & Regulations
  • Data Analysis for Business Decisions
  • Strategic Operations Management
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Global Leadership
  • Health Care Business Ethics

Typical objectives for MBA healthcare management programs are:

  • Adapt and innovate to solve problems
  • Analyze various leader, follower, cultural and situational characteristics that contribute to leadership
  • Learn to adapt to the needs of situations, employees, and co-workers
  • Critical issue examination: how current topics impact the health care industry
  • Entrepreneurial thinking: encourage innovation with appropriate, calculated risk-taking and develop plans to improve business operations
  • Ethical behavior: instill core values for values-based leadership and know how to manage legal conflicts
  • Global perspective: examine how strategic, cross-functional actions and initiatives impact the global healthcare community
  • Strategic management skills: sharpen overall leadership and critical thinking skills
  • Communicate effectively in business situations

Master of Science (MS) in Community Health

Typically a Master of Science degree program in public or community health (sometimes referred to as MSPH) focuses on research—investigation of health issues that occur within a community—and education. Opposed to many other masters in healthcare, the MSPH is a more academic degree that emphasizes rigorous research study. There are a variety of concentration subjects a student can choose from such as health policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, health management, environmental health, and communication health education. Students often collect and analyze health data that’s gathered in the community, explore theory development, learn to understand how those theories can affect problems in public and community health, and then usually must write and defend a thesis to fulfill degree requirements.

Like with all Master of Healthcare degrees, you must have a bachelor’s degree for a MSPH, and although a health-related major isn’t generally required, there may be prerequisite coursework if you have a major outside the healthcare field. Additionally Graduate Record Examination(GRE) scores are usually required as well as a minimum GPA level. Typically the degree takes two years to complete, with 36-40 semester hours.

Typical core level course topics for a MSPH degree include:

  • Data management
  • Epidemiology
  • Social and behavioral medicine
  • Health service management
  • Health care policies
  • Health care law
  • Biostatistics
  • Biomedical applications
  • Designing clinical trials

Employment opportunities are vast for a MSPH graduate. One can work in research or in the implementation of healthcare policies in government, private industry or academia. Some available job titles could include:

  • Health policy analyst
  • Healthcare program director
  • Community healthcare advocate
  • Research consultant
  • Government policy specialist

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