Explore a Master's Degree in Health Administration
Health administration is a professional area of study that covers the processes and procedures involved in the management of health service organizations. Earning a master's degree in health administration may be right for those with experience working in the healthcare industry and a desire to advance to a senior management role. Graduate health administration programs can be found in colleges of medicine, allied health, business, or public health. Some programs give students the option to specialize in a particular area such as healthcare finance, health information technology, health policy, quality of care, or healthcare operations. In general, health administration degree programs require students to complete 36-49 credit hours, which can take two to three years to complete. However, the amount of time it takes to complete a health administrative program may vary based on factors such as individual program, previously earned credits, enrollment status, and more.
Combining the study of business and healthcare, students take courses in areas like organizational behavior, marketing and communications, human resource management, population health, health policy, information systems management, and more. Depending on area of specialization, students may also have the option to take courses in physician practice management, urban health policy, financial management of health services, health information systems, and quality of care concepts. Core courses likely to be a part of a graduate health administration program include:
- Health Care Operations Management. In this class, students are introduced to concepts of operations management and learn about important management techniques. Analysis in health services is also discussed.
- Financing Health Care. Explores the importance of financial management in healthcare organizations. Topics include the analysis of financial flows, reimbursement practices, and third party payment programs.
- Healthcare Marketing. Students learn about the principles and practices of marketing and how they are applied in healthcare organizations and networks. This includes theory, concepts, processes, and skills.
Along with academic study, students will likely have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through hands-on assignments, including projects, papers, and presentations. Before they can graduate, many programs require students to participate in an administrative residency where they will gain practical experience that will prepare them for leadership positions. This typically requires them to work 1,000 or more hours in a professional healthcare environment.
Building a Career
A master's degree in health administration can equip you with the skills and abilities necessary to serve in administrative, management, or executive roles in healthcare organizations. These types of positions are commonly available in hospitals and health systems, health clinics, outpatient care centers, medical group practices, home health care agencies, public health agencies, or insurance companies. Possible titles include healthcare administrator, healthcare manager, healthcare executive, health services director, health services manager, and more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers are responsible for the planning, directing, and coordinating of medical health services. This can include managing an entire facility, just a department, or even a specific clinical area.
The BLS reported that the median annual salary of these types of managers was $84,270, with the highest 10% earning more than $144,880 and the lowest 10% less than $51,280. Employment projections are also positive for those interested in entering this field. The employment of medical and health services managers is expected to increase by 22% from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average growth for all occupations. While career outlook looks positive in healthcare management, those interested in pursuing master's degrees in health administration should understand that these projections are not guarantees of employment or salary. Remember that job availability and salary can vary depending on factors such as location, work experience, education level, economic conditions, and more.