A master’s in healthcare administration (MHA) prepares students for public and private sector leadership positions, such as hospital manager, health educator, and community health director.
With the demand for healthcare business professionals on the rise, MHA graduates can enjoy robust job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 32% job growth in healthcare management from 2019-2029, considerably faster than the 4% average.
Our rankings below feature the best master’s in health administration programs. We also detail what to expect from a master’s in healthcare administration, the benefits of earning an MHA degree, and the factors to consider when searching for the right school.
What Is a Master’s in Healthcare Administration Degree?
Healthcare administration emerged in the early 20th century as the U.S experienced an exponential growth in healthcare facilities. In 1934, the University of Chicago introduced the nation’s first healthcare administration program.
Today’s healthcare administration field attracts individuals interested in using business principles to improve the healthcare system and solve health crises. To succeed in this profession, graduates may need teamwork, benchmarking, and enterprising skills.
Earning a master’s in healthcare administration allows graduates to seek occupations in corporate healthcare, community health, and nonprofit health organizations. Corporate healthcare managers often work in tandem with other managers and top executives. Common focus areas for healthcare management professionals include public health, personnel management, and quality and compliance.
Why Get a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration?
Earning an MHA can open the door to a challenging yet rewarding career with a high return on investment.
Other benefits of pursuing an MHA degree include excellent job prospects and opportunities to help reform healthcare. We unpack these key advantages below:
- Strong Earning Potential: A master’s in healthcare administration can lay the groundwork for a highly profitable business career. For example, the BLS reports median salaries of $104,280 per year for health and service managers as of 2020.
- Excellent Job Prospects: With an MHA degree in hand, job seekers can look forward to exceptionally strong employment prospects. BLS projections indicate 32% job growth in the field from 2019-2029.
- Opportunities to Improve Healthcare: Healthcare managers often make care improvements to comply with the Joint Commission’s rigorous accreditation and certification standards for healthcare settings.
Recommended Online Programs
What to Expect From Master’s in Healthcare Administration Programs
A master’s in healthcare administration focuses on cultivating business and healthcare expertise. Most programs comprise 30-60 credits and take approximately 1-2 years to complete for full-time students.
Coursework covers financial management, healthcare policy, and healthcare innovation. Classes typically include lectures, projects, and discussions. Students may specialize in a health management topic through program tracks or electives.
While tuition rates vary by program, online degrees at public schools typically cost less than those from private schools. Some MHA programs also offer tuition waivers or stipends for graduate assistantships.
To apply, prospective students must complete an online application packet that includes materials such as official transcripts, a CV, a statement of purpose, recommendation letters, GRE or GMAT scores, and a nonrefundable admission fee.
Some schools waive standardized test scores for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and DACA recipients. Applicants must typically submit applications by specific deadlines, but some programs admit students on a rolling basis.
Generally, MHA program applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some schools require prior coursework or professional business experience. Applicants with 3.5 GPA or higher, GRE or GMAT scores in the 90th percentile, or relevant industry experience may be more competitive in the application process.
Should I Go to Graduate School?
A master’s in health administration program may provide concentrations for learners interested in specific health management areas. Alternatively, enrollees may specialize through a combination of electives. Common specializations include:
Public Health and Policy
This track is aimed at students interested in public sector health administration or managerial positions in nonprofit health organizations. Topics covered include healthcare regulation, community health, and healthcare reform.
Quality and Compliance
Learners aspiring to uphold healthcare standards may specialize in quality and compliance. Coursework addresses topics such as healthcare policy, care innovation, and hospital accreditation and certification.
This specialization is designed for students interested in managerial roles at hospitals, out-patient clinics, or long-term care facilities. Common courses include financial analysis, vertical markets, and matrix management.
Students looking to pursue staff supervision roles may find personal management appealing. This focus area explores recruitment, corporate culture, and conflict resolution.
Popular Healthcare Administration Courses
A master’s in healthcare administration program typically combines academic disciplines such as business administration, life science, and public health. Learners must complete required core and elective classes and seminars to graduate.
MHA degrees often culminate in a practicum or internship, which enables students to acquire the hands-on experience necessary for licensure and in-demand healthcare administration careers.
Our list below comprises sample descriptions of three common MHA program courses:
Healthcare Finance and Operations
This required proseminar introduces students to basic concepts in financial analysis and operating efficiency in the healthcare industry. Learners gain knowledge of risk-benefit analysis, trend analysis, and cash flow analysis. Term papers focus on the interplay between risk-benefit analyses and profitability.
Biostatistics and Epidemiology
This graduate course explores the principles and practice of epidemiology and health data sampling and analysis. Common topics include descriptive statistics, environmental health, and health management. Students learn to assess and critique the methodology of published epidemiologic studies.
Healthcare Policy and Reform
This elective graduate seminar provides an advanced introduction to healthcare policies, crises, and reform initiatives. Students gain experience identifying and meeting patient needs, lowering healthcare costs, and improving quality of care.
How Much Will a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration Cost?
Tuition expenses for a master’s in health administration vary based on school choice, degree format, and state residency. While tuition represents the highest expenditure, the price of course materials, on-campus fees, room and board, and commuting can contribute to the degree’s net cost.
Private universities generally charge more than public institutions. However, out-of-state public school tuition costs an average of $11,000 more than in-state tuition per academic year, bringing the price closer to that of a private university.
Public and private institutions may offer remote learning options at a reduced price. Online students can also save on commuting, room and board, and on-campus fees.To further reduce costs, learners can explore financial aid options like grants, loans, and scholarships.
Most Affordable Online Master's in Healthcare Administration Degrees
Jobs for Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration Graduates
With a master’s in health administration, graduates can pursue leadership positions in various healthcare settings. Healthcare administrators, long-term care directors, and hospital facilities managers enjoy some of the highest salaries in the field, with median annual incomes of $98,890-$104,280 as of 2020.
Below, we describe some of the careers available to MHA graduates:
Learn More About Other Healthcare Careers
Choosing the Right Healthcare Administration Graduate Program
Our rankings provide a great start when searching for the right program. Other factors to weigh include accreditation, learning compatibility, tuition cost, and financial aid:
What Is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter?
- Accreditation strongly impacts a degree’s caliber. Prospective applicants should prioritize regionally accredited programs. Programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business sets stringent industry standards for healthcare management or business schools.
- Learning Compatibility
- Prospective students should consider whether the program format is compatible with their individual learning styles. For example, an asynchronous online program may be a good option for individuals working full time. However, greater course flexibility often requires students to exercise strong time management skills.
- Degree Costs and Financial Aid
- Degree expenses and availability of financial aid can impact enrollment decisions. A program’s total price affects how soon graduates can expect to see a return on investment. Schools that offer financial aid, through institutional scholarships or graduate assistantships, may help reduce overall tuition costs.
Should You Get Your MHA Degree Online?
Pursuing an MHA degree online provides several advantages. Many universities offer distance learning programs at a reduced rate, making online degrees less expensive than the on-campus alternatives. Remote learning also delivers more convenience, as it does not require students to relocate or commute to campus.
Distance learning programs may offer synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid options. Synchronous classes typically require enrollees to attend Zoom or Blackboard classes a few times a week. Through real-time lectures and peer debate, synchronous courses provide an immersive learning environment akin to the on-campus experience.
Asynchronous classes enable online learners to listen to pre-recorded lectures and access discussion boards when convenient. This format tends to attract learners with job or family responsibilities. Before pursuing an asynchronous online option, however, students should consider whether a program with minimal faculty direction is the right fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What degree do I need to be a hospital administrator?
A hospital administrator career requires a bachelor’s degree and relevant professional experience. However, to ensure competitiveness in the job market, most aspiring hospital administrators pursue an MBA or hospital administration degree.
Is a MHA degree worth it?
Yes. Earning an MHA degree builds the expertise necessary for in-demand managerial roles. Other benefits include above-average job prospects, strong salaries, and opportunities to improve the quality of healthcare.
What is an MHA degree salary?
According to the BLS, the median annual pay for medical and health services managers exceeded $100,000 as of 2020. But many factors, such as industry and professional experience, can affect salaries for MHA graduates.
What can you do with a master's in health administration?
A master’s in health administration can open doors to leadership positions in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nonprofit health organizations. Common careers include long-term care director, healthcare manager, and community health director.
Is healthcare administration a good career?
Yes. Graduates with a master’s in healthcare administration can enjoy above-average job prospects. The BLS projects 32% job growth in medical and health services management from 2019-2029 — much faster than the average for all occupations.
2021 Best Master’s in Healthcare Administration Degrees
A public research university located in Gainesville, UF offers a master of health administration. Students can pursue the program on either a full-time or part-time track.
The 57-credit program includes courses covering vital healthcare topics like the U.S. healthcare system, medical terminology, and an introduction to public health. Other course topics cover finance, ethics, and management issues — including healthcare finance, legal and ethical issues in healthcare, and healthcare data analytics. Students must also complete a paid internship during the summer between their first and second year with a local organization in UF's network.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify for admission. Students must also submit GRE scores (waived through 2021). Students do not need to possess prior work experience for program eligibility.
UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
Located in Columbus, Ohio State offers a master of health administration. Students learn through experiential components and can take part in OSU's extensive mentorship network.
The 60-credit program begins with public health foundation courses such as biostatistics, epidemiology, and social and behavioral sciences. From there, students take core courses like the economic analysis of health services, healthcare law for managers, and strategic management and program development. Students must also complete a course in clinical rotations, allowing students to shadow clinical health professionals to learn about patient care. An administrative residency requirement between the first and second year also provides students with full-time, hands-on experience.
Applicants must submit GRE scores and possess a minimum bachelor's GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students must also complete an introductory financial accounting course before enrollment.
Ohio State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
Based in Seattle, UW offers a full-time master of health administration (MHA). The school also offers a part-time executive master of health administration for mid-career professionals on its Bellevue campus.
The 76-credit standard track includes courses such as an introduction to health services, managing healthcare organizations, and health economics. Students receive training in technical systems as well, including courses like systems modeling frameworks for healthcare. A summer internship between the first and second year provides students with hands-on learning. The executive MHA offers many of the same courses with 69 total credits but does not require an internship.
The school does not require the GRE for admission. MHA applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work to apply. Executive MHA applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and as well as some prior work experience.
UW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
An Ivy League institution based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard offers a master of healthcare management. The program targets mid-career professionals, specifically physicians and dentists, taking on an administrative role.
The curriculum includes foundation courses such as organizational behavior, transitioning to physician leadership, and operations management in service-based organizations. Students also take marketing and finance courses to help ensure the stability of their future organization. Students must also take practicum courses to allow them hands-on experience and to demonstrate skills mastery.
Applicants must possess an MD, DO, DMD, or DDS degree for program eligibility. Students must also submit standardized tests such as the MCAT or GRE to apply, and the school does accept scores greater than five years old.
Harvard is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.
California State University-Long Beach
Located in Long Beach, CSULB offers a master of science in healthcare administration. Students may choose from a standard track or an accelerated track. Students can complete the 45-credit program in about two years.
Course topics include healthcare economics, human resources management in healthcare, research methods in healthcare management, and continuous quality improvements in healthcare management. Electives such as management challenges in long-term care allow students to gain knowledge in focused areas. Students must also complete an internship to demonstrate skills mastery and gain real-world experience.
The school prefers applicants to possess an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and GMAT or GRE scores in the 50th percentile. The school encourages students with slightly lower scores to still apply. CSULB waives test requirements for students with five years of work experience.
CSULB is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.