To understand the career set ahead of you with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) it is first important to establish the differences between this degree and the Master’s of Healthcare Management (MHM). While they will both technically lead you into the field of healthcare management, the core difference is that an MHA will focus on the administrative responsibilities associated with accommodating staff needs, and an MHM will focus on the broader business-related responsibilities of running a hospital or health organization. It is also important to note that at higher levels of employment these two terms are used interchangeably along with “Healthcare Executive.” And for the most part, the similarities between the two degrees are enough that both healthcare managers and administrators earn their specialized degrees through parent MBA programs. However small these differences may be, in the big picture they are meaningful enough that in most cases an MHM degree can not earn you an healthcare administration job, and a MHA can not earn you an healthcare management position.
Because of these distinctions, new students entering the field will need to establish their professional goals early on, but as in the case with all professions, work experience rules the day. So with years of experience under your belt in either job type, the transition between the two positions is perceived as more natural, which is why top-level employers tend to ignore the distinctions between healthcare administrator, healthcare manager, and healthcare executive–because with enough working experience at the right jobs, you’ve likely covered the responsibilities of all three. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job outlook across all healthcare management positions is excellent, with reported growth far above the national average and a median annual wage of $94,500 in 2015. Students looking for details on job health and availability of specific professions, however, will need to refer to their state’s unique healthcare market because each state approaches the issue of healthcare management positions differently. In this article, we explore the 10 best online degree programs in healthcare management, so that you can earn your MHA or MHM while holding down a job and earning the crucial professional experience that can land you an even better job. You can find a more thorough explanation of the metrics used to create this ranking below.
- Affordability (1/3): Combined analysis of overall tuition of the program, financial aid or scholarship assistance programs, and estimated cost per credit hour for out-of-state students.
- Flexibility (1/3): The number of flexibility-enhancing elements specific to the degree program including teaching philosophy concentrations, degree specialties, prior learning or life experience crediting options, accelerated or self-paced courses, personalized student advisement/guidance, and competency-based credit options.
- Academic Prestige (1/3): The academic prestige of the parent institution operationally defined through the score of combined rankings and/or reviews of prominent education review entities such as US News & World Report and The Princeton Review.
Since its creation by the Colorado State University System Board of Governors in 2007, Colorado State Global Campus has been the the first and only 100% online, independent, regionally accredited university in the nation. The University has received numerous accolades that recognize its excellence such as these national rankings: #1 for Military-Friendly Advanced Education, #5 for Best Online Colleges of 2017, and #15 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. CSU GLobal Campus also offers a Healthcare Administration program that has also received national recognition for its excellent value, return on investment, and standards of academic excellence in general. The success of the Global Campus is associated with its industry-specific curricula, which are designed to truly prepare students for the real-world challenges of their careers.
CSU Global Campus specifically offers an online Master of Arts in Healthcare Administration that prepares students for a variety of leadership roles within the healthcare industry. In order to develop this dynamic skillset, the program educates students on the policies, laws, politics, problems, and issues facing the healthcare industry with an emphasis on the areas of quality assurance, risk assessment and management, and issues pertaining to insurance. Because of the program’s online design, the program prepares students for the unique environments of their individual state by investigating state-specific healthcare laws and regulations, ethics, and market trends. While many programs focus on a traditional curriculum for the healthcare administration field, CSU Global’s program provides students with a varietous and flexible curriculum where students can develop the unique knowledge and skillsets required for their individual pursuits.
- Average Tuition Cost: $500
- Flexibility enhancing features: Degree specializations, Asynchronous Schedule, and Personalized course projects.
The University of South Dakota (USD) is the state’s flagship university and provides a unique environment that incorporates the amenities of a large state university with the warmth and community of a small-college environment. In recent years, USD has moved many of its most popular programs into the online learning environment. All of USD Online programs are taught by the same faculty who teach the on-campus courses, so students can take confidence they’re earning a degree that carries the weight of the USD identity behind it. These online programs are designed to truly offer distance education, offering the same tuition to both in-state and out-of-state students, so that students all over the country can participate in their top-tier programs at affordable prices.
USD offers an online Master of Business Administration with a Health Services Specialization degree. The program’s curriculum-philosophy is to provide a balanced education across areas of general health administration, health facility and staff management, and health services education. So that students graduate with a dynamic degree that carries value in numerous career paths within the field of healthcare leadership. The program is composed of 33 credit hours of coursework designed according to the mission, “to improve the delivery of health services and the health of the populations served through the education of professional managers.” The cogency of this mission is strengthened by the program’s foundation in the MBA, which is ideal for training and educating managers in the dynamics of business and leadership within the healthcare industry. Students with an undergraduate degree in a related field also have the option to apply their undergraduate credits towards certain coursework in the program, which creates the opportunity for an accelerated graduation track.
- Average Tuition Cost: $442
- Flexibility enhancing features: Accelerated learning track, Asynchronous schedule.
Trident University International is an institution that has in recent years established itself as pioneer of online education. Trident University is the first fully online university regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Such regional accreditation is for many what determines the academic prestige of an online school. As such students at Trident can take pride in the fact that their school is among the nation’s best. One of the most notable teaching philosophies at Trident is that while there are fewer actual degree options, there are a great number of concentrations for each. This allows students to take traditional degrees and supplement them with new perspectives in order to build towards unique career goals.
Trident offers a Master of Science in Health Administration, which can be completed entirely online. Students in the program work closely with industry leaders and nationally renowned researchers. The program’s online learning technologies create opportunities for students to collaborate on projects, and for students to work more closely with instructors, so that they can get the most out of their faculty’s immense experience. The program curriculum covers broad topics including management, delivery systems, finance, ethics, regulation, and human resources. While students do explore more specialized topics through standard coursework, the real opportunity is to diversify experience is through the four distinct degree concentration options: Conflict Resolution Management, Health Care Quality Assurance, Health Informatics, and Human Resource Management.
- Average Tuition Cost: $510
- Flexibility enhancing features: Asynchronous learning schedule, and Four degree specialization options.
Founded in 1905, Concordia University is a private, nonprofit, Christian liberal arts institution. While the schools remains true to its foundations in Lutheran-Christianity, it is also open to students of any faith, and encourages interdisciplinary and non-denominational discussions alike. Asking hard questions and employing tools of critical thinking are central to the school’s overall philosophy of education. Concordia also houses a number of well-reviewed online degree programs, among which is its MBA program which is ranked among the best in Oregon. Concordia’s online programs also emphasize degree concentration options so that students can construct a degree path that best accommodates their career goals.
Concordia offers a fully online Master’s of Business Administration with a Healthcare Administration specialization. Program graduates have gone on to become Medical/Health Services Managers, Public Health Division Managers, and Environmental Health Directors. Graduates earn such prestigious positions through making the most of their time in Concordia’s MBA program. A cohort learning format ensures that students progress through the program with peers, so that they can build lasting connections and learn to collaborate on difficult projects. As a nationally renowned MBA program, students in the program will also gain access to professional networks of regional businesses and corporations, which provide a host of professional development opportunities to students every semester.
- Average Tuition Cost: $526
- Flexibility enhancing features: Cohort learning format.
Drexel University is a top-tier, comprehensive research institution that has demonstrated a commitment to real-world results. The University’s research activities result in more than $110 million in annual expenditures for sponsored projects. Drexel also emphasizes the importance of entrepreneurship, both as a teaching philosophy and as virtue. Any student at Drexel who has established an ongoing business can participate in the University’s “Entrepreneurship Co-op” where they will receive $15,000 in funding, as well consultants, mentors, and a dedicated work space in the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship. And whether you start a business or not, Drexel encourages its students to think outside of the box and to apply creative thinking to their degree program and their career path ahead.
Drexel offers a fully online Master’s of Business Administration with a Concentration in Healthcare Management. The other three MBA concentrations include Business Analytics, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, and Finance. This is important because each concentration is directed by faculty with real-world experience, and regardless of the concentration path students can take certain courses in each. This allows students to truly personalize their experience during the program, and the skill sets they develop. The healthcare management curriculum is designed to provide students with analytical and leadership skills, so that they can take charge in increasingly complex healthcare and pharmaceutical profession environments.
- Average Tuition Cost: $1,106
- Flexibility enhancing features: Cohort learning format, Accelerated or self-paced program schedule.
Since its founding in 1949 as a Baptist university, Grand Canyon University (GCU) has been a Christian college with a biblically rooted mission. At GCU students can expect to simultaneously build an education while simultaneously developing their spiritual character. While many universities offer spiritual backgrounds to their educational programs, GCU’s commitment to Christianity is evidenced by its mission-based community. GCU and its student body are highly active in engaging each other, local communities, and national networks in order to enrich their spiritual mission. GCU values non-traditional students and adult learners, offering a wide array of online degree programs as well as generous credit transfer options so that students can apply past schooling, work, and even life experience towards their degree program.
Through its College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions GCU offers a fully online Master of Science in Healthcare Administration, which is comprised of 36 credit hours. Students can take advantage of Drexel’s generous credit-transfer policies to remove up to ⅓ (12) of the program’s required credits. The program’s curriculum is designed to emphasize the conceptual, analytical, and actionable skills required to manage modern healthcare organizations. This curriculum is career-oriented and requires students to analyze industry research, study market trends, and master healthcare organization models. A primary example of this is the program’s comprehensive capstone project. In this project students select a challenge that mirrors a problem from a real-world organization or market, and then develop an evidence-based plan or proposal that addresses this problem. Upon graduation this project becomes a highly marketable tool that demonstrates a student’s proficiency to potential employers.
- Average Tuition Cost: $560
- Flexibility enhancing features: Accelerated learning options, Generous credit-transfer policies, and a Capstone research project for students’ professional portfolio.
Liberty University is a nationally recognized name in online education. Liberty began its commitment to distance education back in 1985 when only a handful of schools were brave enough to commit resources to building out these programs. And since then Liberty has demonstrated a student-oriented approach through flexible coursework options, 24/7 access to student support, and virtual classrooms. The success of these strategies are evident in the 91% of graduates who are employed within 6 months of graduation. Liberty is also a school firmly rooted in Christian tradition, and while it welcomes students from every walk of life and belief system, it also emphasizes–depending on your perspective–personal or spiritual development in its curriculums. With a proven history of commitment to nontraditional student needs, its genuine interest in students’ spiritual growth, and curricula proven to launch students into successful careers, Liberty University is a school that’s hard to beat.
Liberty’s Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management degree program was ranked among the nation’s best online MBA programs in 2016. With small class sizes combined with virtual classroom technology Liberty’s program creates a close-knit learning environment, emphasizing peer collaboration and personalized attention from instructors. The program prides itself on the true value of its curriculum design. The curriculum is never the same two years in a row, as it is constantly improved upon by industry leaders, the field’s academic researchers, and student feedback. Students enrolled in this program can take pride in the fact that their coursework was designed specifically for the job market they’re set to enter, and not an outdated one.
- Average Tuition Cost: $565
- Flexibility enhancing features: Generous credit transfer policy for previous schooling, work, or even life experience, A hybrid learning format incorporating elements of the cohort format and the asynchronous format.
Founded in 1905 as Boiling Springs High School, the Gardner-Webb University of today is classified as a Doctoral University by the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education. This classification is a prestigious distinction, making Gardner-Webb one of just 334 institutions nationwide with this classification. The University has demonstrated excellent curricula design as well. In the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s 2015-16 study, “What Will They Learn?” the University’s curriculum ranked in the top two percent of institutions nationwide. Gardner-Webb also distinguishes itself through its reputable commitment to Christianity and its tenets. Students with faith-based interests will be able to explore self-betterment and spiritual growth while simultaneously progressing through coursework.
Delivered by the Godbold School of Business, Gardner-Webb University offers a fully online Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Healthcare Management. This MBA program ranked as the 9th best online MBA in the world and the number 1 best online MBA for veterans. The program’s curriculum is designed to prepare students for a wide-array of professional responsibilities with flexibility in coursework so students can direct the degree towards their unique career goals. The program also has built-in options for students upon graduation to either supplement employment or to help build their professional resumes. Among these is the “MBA Plus” program where students gain access to opportunities to teach college-level courses in the discipline of their chosen area.
- Average Tuition Cost: $525
- Flexibility enhancing features: Cohort learning format, MBA plus program.
Established in 1923, the University of Saint Mary (USM) is a private liberal arts institution sponsored by the Sisters of the Charity of Leavenworth. Once a school for women, the school is now coeducational and has expanded to offer 26 bachelor’s degree and 6 master’s degrees with both traditional formats and online degree options. Despite its evolution since its inception, the University remains devout to its spiritual mission “to educate students of diverse backgrounds to realize their God-given potential and prepare them for value-centered lives and careers that contribute to the well-being of our global society.” Students interested in an online degree that fosters spiritual development as well will likely find USM a great option.
USM offers a Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Healthcare Management degree. This degree can be completed entirely online, on-campus, or in a convenient combination of both. Named among the nation’s best online Master’s in Healthcare Management, students can take pride in the quality of the program they’ve chosen. Courses are designed with flexibility in mind, so that you can work on a schedule that best suits your individual needs while also keeping you involved with peers in the same course. These courses are also offered in an accelerated 8-week session format, so that students can graduate in as little as one year. This makes it one of the fastest and most affordable programs on this list.
- Average Tuition Cost: $598
- Flexibility enhancing features: Combination of asynchronous and cohort learning formats, Accelerated course delivery, and 1 year graduation time.
Named “One of the Best in the Midwest” by the Princeton Review, Ball State University is a school that derives great pride from its entrepreneurial spirit. Ball State offers comprehensive academic opportunities, including close to 190 undergraduate and more than 140 graduate programs. Ball State’s architecture, education, entrepreneurship, and online master’s in nursing degrees consistently rank among the best in the nation. Ball State emphasizes its ‘students-first’ approach, and has more than 90% of classes taught by professors, which is nearly unheard of at an institution of Ball State’s size.
Ball State offers an MBA with a Emphasis in Health Economics, Policy, and Administration that can be completed entirely online. Often times a shortcoming of online degree programs is that they are unable to offer many experiential components in their curricula. Ball State’s program combats this directly, however, and demonstrates a commitment to the school’s entrepreneurial spirit through designing immersive learning projects, which aim to provide students with hands-on and inspiring experiences. These projects incorporate industry-based research, projects with community partners, and capstone experiences. And as the name of the degree implies, the curriculum is flexible and covers a broad swath of topics. This makes it ideal for any students who are unsure of which direction they want to take this degree; and it is also ideal for any students who want to use this degree to carve a more creative path towards their careers.
- Average Tuition Cost: $590
- Flexibility enhancing features: Asynchronous learning formats, Flexible curriculum, and Immersive learning projects.