An MHA degree, short for Masters in Healthcare Administration, is a professional graduate degree designed to help students acquire core business and managerial skills as they apply to healthcare settings. MHA programs often address best practices for how to develop, plan and manage healthcare facilities, operations and services.
The MHA degree is one of several available Healthcare Administration Programs. Those who are interested in management and administration may pursue options such as the ones below.
While schools may use phrases such as ‘healthcare management’, ‘healthcare administration’ and ‘health services’ interchangeably, each degree program has unique features.
|Master of Business Administration - Health Services||National University||MBA|
|Master of Health Leadership||Western Governors University||MHA|
|M.B.A.: Health Systems Management||Grand Canyon University||MBA|
To pursue a Masters in Healthcare Administration degree, students typically need to hold a Bachelor's degree from an accredited university. That said, not all universities require students to have a Bachelors in Healthcare Administration. It may help to have some volunteer or work experience behind you (for example, as a clinical professional, military personnel, hospital staff, or caregiver at assisted care facility). Aside from your education and transcripts, some universities have minimum GPA requirements and may want to see a curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation and statement of goals and interests.
While MHA programs vary in length and scope, a full-time student may be able to complete their degree in about two years. As well, some schools offer part-time programs which may add on a year or so. While the Executive Master of Healthcare Administration programs, often geared for experienced professionals, may be offered at an accelerated pace.
Some schools offer accelerated and one year MHA programs that offer fewer courses, virtual residencies and a compact online schedule.
Students typically earn a degree in health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration, or business administration to pursue a career as a medical and health services manager. i
Students in Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree programs may be required to complete about 50 credits though this is a variable. Aside from coursework, students may have to work on a capstone project, thesis and or participate in an internship. While each university is likely to have a unique syllabus, courses often mix the fields of health care and business management. As well, they may address ethical leadership. Some possible areas of study covered in Masters healthcare administration programs are below.
Some Masters of Health Administration programs go beyond the general course of study and offer specific areas of emphasis. It may add on some time and or credits to your MHA degree but also, more courses that cover your theme.
The Master of Science in Healthcare Administration (MSHA), which may also be called a Master of Science in Health Care Management, may help students develop and apply business skills to health care settings. Often, it takes a data driven and analytical approach to measure things like quality and access to health care. Consequently, students may acquire research techniques, and put these to use in a final project.
Some full-time programs require students to complete about 36 credits of coursework which may take about one year, but these are variables. This type of program may have a distinct format from the MHA degree in that students may take core courses, courses for the health care major and electives. Also, they may be able to choose an emphasis is management (e.g. negotiation, consumer behavior) or analytics (e.g. corporate finance, competitive pricing analysis).
Master of Business Administration in Health Care Management usually combines the core MBA courses with a concentration in health care management. As a result, it may appeal to students who are interested in the business aspects of health administration. While these topics may be covered in an MHA degree, it may be to a different extent than in an MBA program.
MBA programs typically require an ‘MBA core’. These courses usually add a cross-functional sense to the program and may address key management issues. In addition, students then take electives and the courses for their health care major. Core topics may draw from the list below.
There may be overlap between MHA and Master of Public Administration (MPA) in health administration programs. For instance, they both develop leadership and managerial skills specific to health-related organizations. However, its structure is like the MBA.
An MPA program may entail about 36 credits, which a full-time student may be able to complete in about two years. The course of study in an MPA program generally will cover a series of core courses such as public budgeting and public policy. In addition, students may have a graduate project and their courses for the Health Administration major.
While a healthcare administrator may oversee staff, a department or a facility, while a healthcare manager may plan a budget, supervise patient care or meet with a hospital board. Make sure to clarify your career needs so that your Masters Healthcare Administration program mirrors these goals. It is a good idea to consider the type of organization where you would like to work and check whether such enterprises prefer one of the above degrees.
Per the BLS, the group of Medical and Health Services Managers spans executives, nursing home administrators, clinical managers, health information managers and assistants.i The variety of possible careers may mean that healthcare managers and healthcare administrators might perform different functions depending on where they work and what services they perform. These healthcare professionals may also receive different training and complete different educational paths.
Per the BLS,
Some students may go on to earn a PhD in Health Administration or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Health Care Administration.
The primary accreditor recognized by the United States Department of Education for MHA degree programs is the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). While most universities that offer MHA programs are accredited, CAHME-accreditation adds another tier of approval with courses that are designed around industry professional standards and practices.