Thanks to advances in medical technology and an aging population in need of health services, healthcare is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. Health administrators play an increasingly important role in the healthcare industry, providing leadership in hospitals, healthcare networks, public healthcare systems and government health agencies.
Healthcare administrators oversee the efficient delivery of health services in both the public and private sectors. As managers and executives, they plan, coordinate and direct medical and health services for state and local health departments, private hospitals, health insurance providers, consulting firms, pharmaceutical companies, medical supply companies, physician groups and other health organizations. They may work as generalists, managing entire healthcare organizations, or as specialists, managing specific departments within organizations.
Featured Online Healthcare Programs
|MPH@Simmons||MPH@Simmons, the online Master of Public Health from Simmons College, is designed to give you the real-world skills you need to address health inequity on a local, national, and global level.|
|MPH@GW||An innovative online Master of Public Health program offered by the top-ranked Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.|
|MHA@GW||Offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, this online Executive Master of Health Administration program is designed for healthcare professionals who aspire to become leaders in their field.|
The Master of Health Administration (MHA), which is also referred to as a Master of Healthcare Administration, is an advanced professional healthcare degree that provides the analytical, conceptual and applied skills required for senior management careers in health administration. The MHA is widely recognized in the healthcare industry as an essential requirement for an executive career in healthcare management. The emphasis is on leadership and management, so many characterize the MHA as an “MBA for healthcare.”
Nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a health field can advance their professional standing with a Master of Health Administration degree. For business majors who are interested in the management side of healthcare, an MHA is a differentiated degree compared to a generic MBA. According to the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), graduates of differentiated programs “generally receive a more ready and welcome reception from potential employers than do graduates of more generic programs.”
Health administration is a broad field that has been in existence for more than 75 years; the first graduate program in health administration was established at the University of Chicago in 1934. Although many schools of business and public health currently offer undergraduate or graduate degrees that include health administration content, there are fewer than 50 Master of Health Administration programs that have been fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The CAHME is the only accrediting body for graduate programs in health administration that is currently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Master of Health Administration curriculum typically includes coursework that focuses on economic, technical and social issues that shape the modern healthcare industry. To receive CAHME accreditation, a program must include the equivalent of two years of academic work that develops student competencies in analysis, critical thinking and problem solving; communication and interpersonal effectiveness; and leadership, management and professional ethics. In addition, the CAHME requires that all accredited MHA programs, even those offered online, include some type of on-campus or field-based experience that provides exposure to key leadership and collaboration competencies.
The CAHME provides a list of accredited MHA programs. Each MHA program is designed to meet specific goals, so it is important to research individual programs before applying. Visit program websites and check mission statements, faculty credentials and career information about alumni. Find out about each program’s career services department and job placement support. Professionals who want to earn an MHA degree while working should find out about programs that offer evening courses and executive programs that are designed to accommodate the schedules of working students.
Unlike the Master’s in Public Health degree, where a set of core competencies are required across all programs, the Master’s in Health Administration programs have flexibility in determining their focus. As long as a program adequately covers the general areas defined by the CAHME and aligns its curriculum with its stated mission, it can still be accredited. This means there are MHA degrees tailored for health policy, health planning, hospital management and other specific areas of healthcare administration.