Earning a Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration

Everything you need to know about a master's degree program in healthcare administration.

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Overview of Healthcare Administration Master's Degree Program

A master's degree program in healthcare administration prepares individuals for a variety of fields within health and medical services. With this degree, you may work for healthcare providers, healthcare suppliers, health insurance organizations or healthcare policy organizations. Within each of these fields are several sub-categories, such as medical insurance/biller or medical receptionist. The masters in healthcare administration (MHA) is one of a few master's degrees for in the health administration, but it is also the most popular as it provides a general education.

Many people pursue a MHA in order to advance in their career. Often, they have achieved the highest level of health administration one can with a bachelor's degree, but need the extra training in order to successfully transition to a more upper level position. Other candidates pursue this degree because they have worked in other management positions and wish to switch over to healthcare.

Although students are not required to have prior experience in the healthcare industry, it is helpful.

Applying to a Master's Degree Program in Healthcare Administration

Typical requirements when applying to a master's degree program in healthcare administration include taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT); obtaining three letters of recommendation; writing a personal statement; and submitting your transcripts from your undergrad.

Although students are not required to have prior experience in the healthcare industry, it is helpful. Many applicants are hoping to transfer from a career in nursing administration, though others have a background in management or in another field. Due to the competitiveness of the program, many grad schools require on-campus interviews after turning in their applications. This helps the admissions committee make decisions between applicants with similar test scores and grades.

How to Choose a Healthcare Administration Master's Degree Program

When choosing a master's degree program in healthcare administration, make sure that you attend a graduate school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). Attending an accredited program ensures that you are learning the most up-to-date and relevant knowledge on healthcare administration. Only programs with this stamp of approval will allow you to get a job after graduation, as most employers frown on unaccredited degrees.

You may choose to attend a program fulltime, part-time, or through online school. Some of the healthcare administration programs even offer classes on weekends. With this flexibility, students of various backgrounds are able to pursue their masters degree in healthcare administration.

Some students choose to pursue a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a specialization in healthcare administration. While this choice may work for some people, employers prefer to hire applicants who attended an accredited MHA program, as these applicants are usually the most knowledgeable about the field.

There are two types of programs that one may choose when pursuing a MHA: generalist or specialist. A generalist is taught to manage a variety of health organizations and facilities, while a specialist is trained in managing only one type of facility, such as a nursing home or medical insurance agency.

In addition to choosing whether you want to be a generalist or a specialist, you will also need to choose how you want to learn your degree. That is, do you want to attend a program that is focused more on theory, or practice? Programs heavily based in theory mostly take place in a class room setting, while those focused on practice hold a significant portion of classes inside a healthcare facility, providing students with more hands-on experience.

What to Expect from a Master's Degree Program in Healthcare Administration

The curriculum for a master's degree program in healthcare administration includes such courses as, public health, ambulatory care, biomedical ethics, financing healthcare systems and law and ethics.

Often master's degree programs in healthcare administration require students to complete a year-long internship that provides them with on-the-job experience. This ensures they have a smooth transition into the responsibilities of their new career.

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