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Health Care Management Degree Program Options by Level

Degree programs in healthcare management are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Each level presents new information and new opportunity for those looking for a career in this field.

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Essential Information

Students of bachelor's programs learn the fundamentals of business and human resource management, and they might later build careers in middle management. A master's program sometimes takes the form of an MBA program with a relevant specialization and emphasizing topics such as healthcare policy and quality control, which may lead to careers in upper management. Doctoral programs in healthcare management consist of extensive research, and they prepare students to assess healthcare delivery systems. A dissertation requirement is often included. Aspiring executives and policy makers might earn this degree in five years or more.

Typical requirements for admissions can include a high school diploma or GED for bachelor's programs, a bachelor's degree for master's levels and a master's degree for the doctorate.


Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management

A bachelor's degree program in healthcare management integrates concepts from accounting, organizational management, law, and healthcare delivery systems. Students learn to assess the needs of clients, determine whether the processes and practices used by a healthcare organization are meeting them and devise new solutions for problems in healthcare delivery. Some programs may be offered as a degree in business management with a healthcare focus. Liberal arts courses in English, the humanities, and social sciences are often a component of bachelor's degree programs. Classes specific to healthcare management may include:

  • Business management fundamentals
  • Human resource management fundamentals
  • Systems of healthcare delivery
  • Healthcare budgeting
  • Healthcare marketing

Master's Degree in Healthcare Management

Master's degree programs in healthcare management are often offered as MBA programs with a healthcare management specialization. Course content focuses on the range of human resource, organizational and systemic leadership skills necessary to run a business or institution in the healthcare industry. Students also develop skills in business analysis and examine current issues in the provision of care. Some programs may be available online. Healthcare management master's degree programs are frequently organized into a business management core and healthcare electives. The following are possible courses in a healthcare management program:

  • Healthcare finance
  • Healthcare quality control and assessment
  • Politics and healthcare policy
  • Mediation and conflict management
  • Healthcare law and ethics

Doctoral Degree in Healthcare Management

Doctoral degree programs in healthcare management emphasize the use of research and statistics to monitor the performance of healthcare systems. Students learn to evaluate healthcare delivery in terms of accessibility, cost, treatment outcomes, patient demographics, and staff competence, and to communicate their findings to technical and non-technical audiences. The first 2-3 years of a doctoral program are devoted to classes and seminars, and the balance to researching and writing a dissertation. Courses may include:

  • Healthcare policy design
  • Financial management of health services
  • Healthcare research methods
  • Statistics and statistical analysis
  • Medical industry economics

Popular Career Options

Hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities will need the skills of professionals trained in healthcare management to supervise caregivers and assure the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations. Healthcare management has applications across the medical industry. Bachelor's degree holders can find middle management and supervisory positions. Graduates of a healthcare management Master's degree program are qualified for positions as medical and health services managers. Some examples would be:

  • Hospitals
  • Community health centers
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Health insurance providers
  • Nursing homes
  • Government care facilities

A doctorate is the terminal degree in healthcare management, and qualifies graduates for top-level positions in government, business, non-profit and academic institutions. Possible careers for graduates include:

  • Professor of healthcare management
  • Health insurance company executive
  • Pharmaceutical company executive
  • Senior health policy adviser

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 17% growth in the employment of medical and health services managers between the years 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for managers will be driven by a growing population of elderly patients and the ongoing need to balance cost control with improvements in the quality of healthcare delivery. Medical and health service managers earned median salaries of $94,500 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Studies in healthcare management are available to students at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Careers for graduates often include positions within hospitals and community health centers, as well as roles such as company executives and professors.

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