Health care administration focuses on concepts in medicine, public policy, law, and management, as they apply to health care delivery systems. Graduates with a master’s in healthcare administration are equipped with the industry knowledge and leadership training to work as medical and health service managers, social and community service managers, or health educators. Jobs are found in hospitals, clinics, private practices, schools, or even government agencies.
Why a Master’s Degree?
While a number of opportunities are available for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in this field, the top management positions will likely go to candidates with an advanced degree. A master’s program prepares students through a research driven curriculum. Common topics include leadership in health care, health care law, operations, health care ethics, health policy, statistics, and finance. For those interested in teaching at the college or university level, a master’s can be a stepping stone towards a Ph.D. program.
Inside a Healthcare Administration Master’s Degree Program
Most online master’s in healthcare administration programs take two to three years to complete. This, of course, will depend on whether you remain enrolled full-time, transfer any credits in, or take any breaks. Students should expect a curriculum of advanced survey and seminar courses in topics such as health care operations, industry law and ethics, leadership, healthcare economics, policy, and statistics. A master’s thesis or capstone research project is also common.
Online programs typically run asynchronously, meaning students do not have a scheduled time for attending classes. Students can work when it is convenient for them, as long as they meet deadlines, typically set on a weekly basis. Group discussion boards, streaming video, chat, and web conferencing technology all help to keep the learning environment fresh and engaging.
What’s Next for Healthcare Administration Master’s Degree Holders?
Graduates are prepared to fill management and leadership positions with hospitals, clinics, private practices, nursing homes, and other facilities. Positions can be in either the public or private sectors as medical and health services managers, health educators, or social and community service managers. While some community colleges may allow you to teach with only a master’s, most higher education teaching positions require a Ph.D.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts strong job growth in this industry. For example, the demand for medical and health services managers is expected to increase by 17% from 2014 to 2024. The position’s average annual salary for May 2014, also reported by the BLS, came in at $103,680. Please note, these statistics may not reflect actual starting salaries, as they can vary greatly based on level of experience, education, location, and the specific position in question.