In a 4-year degree program, students will take courses emphasizing health and business topics. Master's degree programs are designed to provide graduate students with advanced knowledge of business administration, organizational management, finance, and marketing necessary to oversee entire staffs of hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory agencies, and more, and will likely complete a thesis. A Ph.D. program in health administration primarily prepares students to conduct research in the field of healthcare administration or teach the subject at the collegiate level. Doctoral students study primarily through seminars and must complete a dissertation, with specialization options in biostatistics and aging and health.
In order to enroll in a bachelor's program, students will only need a high school education. A master's degree requires the completion of a bachelor's degree in a relevant field with transcripts, letters of recommendation, and satisfactory GRE scores. Doctorate programs have the same prerequisites as a master's degree but also stipulate that students be master's holders, as well.
Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration
Bachelor's degree programs related to health services administration are interdisciplinary, taking the basic concepts found within a business administration or management degree program and tailoring them to the healthcare field. Students enrolled in such programs learn about human resources management and organizational theory while also studying healthcare policy and regulations. They take college-level courses in mathematics, health sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences. Some such courses include:
- Business administration
- Healthcare organization
- Social work
- Aging and health
- Human resource management
Master of Health Services Administration
Master's degrees in health services administration are often offered through the public health or health sciences departments of 4-year universities and colleges. The courses most often found within a graduate program in health services administration cover particular policies related to healthcare as well as basic management theories and principles. Courses commonly address these topics:
- Healthcare policy
- Health services systems
- Managerial accounting
- Health economics
- Project management
Doctor of Philosophy in Health Administration
Students will need to have a solid understanding of both administration policies and the healthcare industry before they embark upon a research-heavy doctorate program in the field. The main seminar courses often included in a Ph.D. program in healthcare administration focus on advanced topics and contemporary issues in the subject. Some of these seminars might include:
- Public health history
- Healthcare politics
- Advanced topics in health administration
- Research methods
- Dissertation research
Popular Career Options
Bachelor's degrees in health services administration suffice for entry-level positions in the field. While most health services administration jobs require graduate degrees, the following positions can be obtained with a B.S. in Health Services Administration:
- Health information manager
- Physician's office manager
- Health maintenance organization administrator
- Health insurance agent
Licensing and certification is available in this field and could be a requirement for some types of positions, such as nursing home administrator. Certification is available through organizations such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) and the American Hospital Association.
One of the most common career paths for a graduate of a Ph.D. program in health administration is to become a professor or associate professor in health science and administration at a 4-year college or university. Another common career path is to gain a position in the research sector or accept a leadership position at an organization such as the AAHAM.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Approximately 333,000 medical and health services managers were working in the United States as of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov). The majority of these individuals worked for general and surgical hospitals, while others worked for physicians' offices, nursing homes, and home healthcare services. The median annual wage for the profession as of May 2015 was $94,500, and those working in the District of Columbia earned more than those working in any other state.
Health services administration education comes in the form of a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration, a Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA), or a Ph.D. in Health Administration, giving students numerous possibilities for employment within the healthcare field and beyond, including research and academia positions. Licensure or certification may be necessary for your chosen career.