Best Online Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration: Guide to Online Programs for 2022

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration: Guide to Online Programs for 2022
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

More than 10,000 graduated with a master’s degree in healthcare administration in 2019 (Wiley Education Services, 2021). Likely, these graduates are now at the frontlines against COVID-19, making business happen for health organizations. A perfect example would be hospital administrators. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they are the ones looking at the big picture. They play a crucial role in making sure that hospitals have enough rooms for patients, can function as efficiently as possible, are financially and administratively prepared for (more) crises, and overall, are working toward the right direction: the pandemic endgame.

The best online master’s degrees in healthcare administration will prepare graduates for leadership positions. They can build their careers in government healthcare organizations, healthcare regulatory agencies, consulting firms, health insurance companies, mental health organizations, and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, among others. This article aims to inform prospective graduate students about the online education path—its benefits, requirements, cost, and many more.

Online Degree in Healthcare Administration Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
  5. How much does an online master’s degree in healthcare administration cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online master’s degree in healthcare administration?
  7. Courses to Expect in an Online Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration

Can you get a degree completely online?

Yes. In 2019, 27% of master’s degree programs in health were already being offered online (Wiley Education Services, 2021). Among these programs, a statistics report in 2021 shows that healthcare administration is the third with the highest online adoption (52%) (Wiley Education Services, 2021).

A fully online education path in healthcare administration is widely available and is a safer option for prospective graduate students in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also more accessible for many in terms of cost, location-flexibility, and time-flexibility.

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1 in 4 practitioners in popular careers in healthcare administration have attained a master’s degree. This certainly gives them an economic advantage over individuals who have not pursued graduate education.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

Of course. Health and medical degree programs are the second most popular path among online students (Wiley Education Services, 2021). It is becoming more and more likely that hiring managers will encounter someone with an online degree. In fact, 71% of them have already personally hired someone who has (Gallagher, 2018). Moreover, 52% believe that most advanced degrees will be offered and completed online in the future (Gallagher, 2018).

It is highly unlikely that someone will end up unemployed after acquiring a master’s degree, online or traditional. The unemployment rate for individuals with this level of education is only 4.1% (BLS, 2021). Moreover, they earn $240 more per week than individuals with only a bachelor’s degree (BLS, 2021).

All things considered, there is definitely more reward than risks for taking an online degree in healthcare administration.

share of online health degree programs

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

Global elearning is growing at an exponential rate, and by 2025, it will be a $325 billion worth market (Research and Markets, 2021). There is no stopping industries from going digital. In fact, the pandemic only accelerated the global transition by two years (Hamilton and Quinlan, 2021).

While many were initially skeptical about online learning, perceptions and attitudes toward it are changing as more and more people gain experience with it. One survey of online students shows that 73% either somewhat agree or strongly agree that they would want a fully online option post-pandemic (McKenzie, 2021).

Research also demonstrates that after experiencing online learning, both students and faculty are more optimistic about it (McKenzie, 2021).

Source: McKenzie, 2021

Online vs. Traditional Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration

Higher education institutions are making a move to meet the demand for health-related online education. The distance education market of health degree programs has grown by 114% between the years 2012 and 2016. This is much higher than the growth of the traditional, on-campus education market, which has recorded a growth of only 17%.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

As early as 2018, the majority of human resources leaders (62%) already believe that online and traditional education is on par with each other in terms of quality (Gallagher, 2018). Graduate students can only benefit from the surge of online degree programs in healthcare administration. The higher the number of competing universities, the higher the quality of education that can be expected from them.

A healthcare administration degree program is very closely related to business, the topmost in-demand online program for students. In both fields, learning online is the more convenient and practical option. This is because the coursework for these programs needs to be aligned with real-world work and the workplace nowadays, much like online education institutions, relies heavily on digital technologies. In that sense, online education can pave a smoother transition from university to the workplace for healthcare administration graduates.

Is an online degree cheaper?

Other than quality and university-to-workplace transition, affordability is also a factor of concern to most graduate students. This is not surprising considering the college cost in America and the average time it takes to repay student loans. Evidently, online education will cost less than its traditional counterpart. Yet another reason to choose to go online.

Source: Magda, 2018

How much does an online master’s degree in healthcare administration cost?

Total tuition costs for online MHA programs can be as low as $6,500 and as high as $75,000, depending on whether the graduate student is in-state or out-of-state (U.S. News, 2021). This means that graduate students can save up to $68,500 by simply studying in their home states. It must be noted, however, that some schools set a standard rate for all students, regardless of what state they are from.

Is an online degree worth it?

An online master’s in healthcare administration is very much worth it. It can lead to not only a fulfilling career but a lucrative one. Furthermore, it brings you a step closer to a traditional or an online doctorate degree in healthcare administration . On average, healthcare administrators make $74,334 annually (Glassdoor, 2021). Managerial positions, which are more attainable for those with graduate education, have a much higher salary of $104,280 on average (BLS, 2021). Further, managerial positions in healthcare have a brighter career outlook, with a projected growth of 21%, while other management positions are projected to grow only 3% between the years 2019 and 2029 (BLS, 2021).

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

What are the requirements of an online master’s degree in healthcare administration?

Admission to an online master’s in healthcare administration program will require students to prepare a set of documents and online education tools. They will also be expected to have a set of skills that are preferred in this profession.

What are the admission requirements for an online degree program?

Prospective graduate students need to submit the following proof of qualifications:

  • Transcript of records from an undergraduate degree with at least 3.0 GPA
  • Resume detailing at least two years of healthcare experience
  • Recommendation letters from previous professors or employers
  • Letter of intent

What are the general requirements for an online degree program?

Healthcare administration graduate students are expected to have the following skills:

  • Knowledge of Healthcare. To become an effective member and lead well in organizations, healthcare administrators must have extensive knowledge of their own industry. This will allow them to make informed decisions as leaders.
  • Leadership. Master’s degree holders in this field are likely to land senior-level positions. It is essential that they are charismatic, active listeners, and visionaries if they are to make any positive difference in the healthcare system. They must also be comfortable working with other people and helping them achieve goals for organizations.
  • Communication. Healthcare administrators handle internal and external communications of health organizations. They are expected to be articulate in both speech and writing. A survey shows that they handle emails 100% of their workdays, telephone in 96%, and face-to-face discussions in 92% (O*NET Online, n.d.).
  • Financial Management. One of the tasks of healthcare administrators is to create budget plans, use accounting software programs, authorize expenditures, and write financial reports. To perform this aspect of the job well, they must be strategic, analytical, and organized.
  • Project Planning and Management. Part of healthcare administrators’ job is to oversee projects in their organizations. They need to be experts in coordinating with team members, using project management tools, and documenting the processes involved. Their expertise in this aspect of the job affects 30% of their salaries.

Skills that Affect Healthcare Administrator Salaries

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Source: Payscale

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What are the technological requirements for an online degree program?

Online graduate students need to invest in the following technological requirements:

  • A quality laptop, desktop, or tablet
  • Noise-canceling headphones with microphone
  • Webcam with a 720p resolution or higher
  • Fast and reliable internet connection

Courses to Expect in an Online Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration

Typically, graduate students complete an online master’s degree in healthcare administration in two years. In that span of time, they need to earn 32-60 credits. Here are some MHA program courses they are most likely to encounter in their online degree programs:

  • Operations Management. Healthcare administrators are in charge of the day-to-day legal, administrative, financial, and employee management. In this course, they will learn the following essentials: service planning, system design, supply chain management, and quality assurance, among others.
  • Global Economics. With increasing globalization, this course will only continue to be more relevant over time across all industries. Graduate students need to take this course to be prepared for working in the international sector. This course will introduce them to the global issues, forces, and trends in the healthcare system.
  • Ethical Leadership. The healthcare system needs leaders who have integrity and commitment to the truth, leaders whose decisions are informed by ethics. Ethical communication and management are the foundation of a healthy working environment. Future leaders need to take this course to be able to use ethics as a guiding principle in their own organizations.
  • Financial Management. This course will include lessons in budgeting, accounting, and managing finances. Many health institutions today have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing cost and financing challenges that put the quality of their service at risk. Healthcare administrators must be able to successfully navigate their way around these problems and come up with solutions.
  • Healthcare Software and Technology. Among the emerging trends in healthcare technology, today are telehealth, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, the internet of medical things, and virtual and augmented reality. This course will prepare graduate students for work by acquainting them with the current technology and training them to use various modern software for performing tasks in health organizations.

average class size of a master's degree program

Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration

Below are some qualities to look for in an online master’s degree program in healthcare administration:

  • Institutional Reputation. Fifty-eight percent of hiring leaders believe that reputation dictates the value of a credential, regardless of whether it was earned online or in-person (Gallagher, 2018). Graduate students must look into the amount of research produced in a particular academic institution, related online reviews, news articles, even leadership background, to ensure that the education they get will be what employers are looking for.
  • Accreditation. There are various certification programs that healthcare administrators can take to prove their excellence in a specific aspect of the job. For example, some certification programs that focus on management are Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and Certified Medical Manager (CMM). To be eligible to take these examinations, individuals must get credits from an educational institution accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Most employers will also look for this quality in online degree programs.
  • Affordability. There is a huge variation in the cost of acquiring a master’s degree in healthcare administration. Students are advised to look first at institutions within their state or institutions that offer a flat rate for all students regardless of their home state. They will be able to save a lot of money by choosing these institutions.
  • Type of Classes. Asynchronous classes are ideal for those who already have an extensive background in healthcare administration acquired through an undergraduate degree, work experience, or both. Synchronous classes, on the other hand, may fit those whose major in college is not the same field they are taking for graduate education. Some institutions allow this as long as the degree is health-related.
  • Program Coursework. Employers look for practical experience when selecting job candidates. Prospective graduate students must review the online coursework to ensure that they will get enough practical experience from taking it. They must also look into the technological knowledge and internship experience that the online degree program will provide.

Fast Track Your Way into Healthcare Leadership

Now more than ever, there is a need for non-clinical professionals to join the healthcare system. As an article published in The Journal of Health Administration in Education puts it, “The United States’ overall population health, increasing life expectancy, and innovations in healthcare organizational efficacy measurement and reimbursement models have created an environment that requires more healthcare workers than trained professionals currently working within the sector. Prepared healthcare industry leaders are fundamental to managing the current healthcare challenges. This requires rigorous educational preparation in areas that meet health organizations’ demands without slowing educational program participants’ ability to meet this demand quickly enough” (Comellas et al., 2020).

Not everyone can meet the demands of being a healthcare leader in the middle of a pandemic. If you are one of the few, an online master’s degree in healthcare administration can only strengthen your qualifications. Further, it can serve as a way for you to step into a managerial position right after. In that way, you will have more responsibility and at the same time more power to change the healthcare system for the better.

 

References:

  1. Comellas, M., et al. (2020). Health Services Administration Educational Programs in the United
    States: An Assessment of Past, Present, and Future Perspectives. The Journal of Health Administration Education (37)3, 171-180. Retrieved from https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/aupha/jhae/2020/00000037/00000003/art00004
  2. Friedman, L. & Kovner, A. (2018). 101 Careers in Healthcare Management (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.springerpub.com/101-careers-in-healthcare-management-9780826166623.html
  3. Gallagher, S. (2018). Educational Credentials Come of Age: A Survey on the Use and Value of
    Educational Credentials in Hiring. Retrieved from https://cps.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Educational_Credentials_Come_of_Age_2018.pdf
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  7. McKenzie, L. (2021). Students Want Online Learning Options Post-Pandemic. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/04/27/survey-reveals-positive-outlook-online-instruction-post-pandemic
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  10. Research and Markets (2021). Global E-learning Market – Outlook and Forecast 2021-2026. Retrieved from https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/5327504/global-e-learning-market-outlook-and-forecast
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