Students who want to work in hospital administration at the entry level can earn an associate's degree, but those who aspire to executive positions will probably want to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree. Degree programs at each of these levels are available through distance learning, generally in a hybrid format that combines online courses with in-person internships. Hospital administration programs are sometimes interchangeable with healthcare administration programs.
Courses in an associate's degree program cover skills needed to work in a medical office, such as filing insurance claims or scheduling procedures. At the bachelor's and master's levels, course topics include more management-related areas, such as healthcare law, marketing and hospital information systems. Master's programs are usually designed to accommodate working healthcare administrators.
All states require nursing home administrators to be licensed, and many states require licensing for administrators of assisted living facilities. Licensing requirements usually include a bachelor's degree, passing a certification examination and completing an approved training course.
Associate's Degree in Hospital Administration Program
Students with an interest in medical office management may pursue an associate's degree in healthcare administration. Students learn how to file insurance claims, schedule appointments and transcribe medical dictation. Related fields of study include nursing and public administration.
Program Information and Requirements
Associate's degree programs are typically offered in a hybrid format, with all assignments and tests completed online. A field-based internship under the guidance of administrative personnel is required for graduation. Because lectures and presentations are delivered using streaming audio and video applications, a computer with access to the Internet is necessary. An associate's degree is usually received after two years of study.
List of Common Associate's-Level Hospital Administration Courses
General education requirements include courses like algebra, English and psychology. The majority of a student's curriculum covers issues directly related to healthcare management.
Introduction to Medical Administration
Topics like patient confidentiality, workplace ethics and medical record keeping are discussed. Students learn how to communicate with patients as well as doctors and physicians.
Understanding commonly used medical words and phrases is an important skill for healthcare administrators. Students examine the terms used to describe parts of the anatomy, medical procedures and patient diagnosis.
Insurance and Billing in Healthcare
In this class, students are taught how to authorize a patient's payments and contact insurance providers. Topics include overviews of basic insurance coding and long-term payment plans.
Bachelor's Degree in Hospital Administration Program
A hospital or healthcare administration bachelor's program is designed for students seeking careers as healthcare managers or administrators. Students explore concepts like financial assessment, organizational structure and team leadership. Some schools may require an interview with admissions supervisors before applying. Business administration is a closely related field of study.
Program Information and Requirements
Coursework is delivered using online audio and video content, making access to a computer with Internet access mandatory. Many programs require students to complete a professional internship as well as a limited number of campus-based classroom sessions. A bachelor's degree is often received within four years of study. Students who possess an associate's degree may be able to transfer credits and finish their program in two to three years.
List of Common Bachelor's-Level Hospital Administration Courses
Courses in mathematics, communications and the humanities fulfill the general education requirements of a student's curriculum. Concepts in professional healthcare management are the primary focus of most classes.
Students examine various leadership styles and techniques used in the modern healthcare system. Topics like accountability, situational response and ethical behavior are discussed.
In this course, students learn how to drive team performance, deliver positive feedback and set departmental goals. Emphasis is placed on talent assessment and employee development.
Law and Healthcare
Legal issues regarding the patient-provider relationship, medical malpractice and insurance reimbursement are explored. Case studies are used to understand concepts related to government regulation and client privacy.
Master's Degree in Hospital Administration Program
Healthcare administration professionals seeking career advancement opportunities often enroll in online master's programs. Most schools require completion of a bachelor's degree program before applying as well as two years of experience in the field. Course topics include marketing strategies for hospitals, medical information systems and health research analysis. A master's in public administration covers many of the same concepts included in a hospital administration curriculum.
Program Information and Requirements
A computer with access to the Internet is required for receiving streaming audio and video coursework and communicating with instructors and fellow students. Many schools store lectures and class notes on private servers, allowing students to access content at their convenience. Most programs offer both online and campus-based learning options. Some students may be asked to complete a field-based research project or internship. Earning a master's degree typically takes two to three years depending on part- or full-time enrollment status.
List of Common Master's-Level Hospital Administration Courses
There are no general education requirements for most master's students. Coursework explores a variety of advanced topics in healthcare management.
Marketing in Healthcare
Students learn how to assess market variables, launch promotional initiatives and expand products or services according to customer needs. This course emphasizes the importance of strategic business planning for hospital administrators.
Hospital Information Systems
In this course, students examine the process of recording and accessing data using specialized information systems. Concepts include spreadsheet creation and management as well as statistical analysis.
Public Policy and the Healthcare Sector
Topics like government regulation, Medicaid and universal access are discussed. Teachers use case studies to illustrate the process of navigating policy issues in the public and private medical sectors.
Career Information for Graduates
Recipients of an associate's degree in healthcare administration may obtain positions as medical assistants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistants earned a median salary of $30,590 in 2015. The number of employed medical assistants was projected to increase by 23% from 2014 to 2024, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Graduates of a bachelor's program in healthcare management may find work as nursing home or practice administrators. In 2016, nursing home administrators made a median annual salary of $83,551, while practice administrators earned a median salary of $70,719, as noted by PayScale.com. According to the BLS, employment of all medical or healthcare-related managers is expected to increase by an estimated 17% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).
Master's degree recipients may find positions as hospital administrators or healthcare consultants. PayScale.com reports that in 2016, hospital administrators made a median salary of $90,385, while healthcare consultants earned $75,136.
Continuing Education Information
Professionals who are certified in their area of expertise often find more employment opportunities than those who aren't. Bachelor's degree holders are eligible to sit for the American Health Information Management Association's Registered Health Information Administrator certification exam. Program graduates may also take the American College of Healthcare Administrators' Certified Nursing Home Administrator exam.
Students can earn hospital administration degrees online at the associate's, bachelor's or master's degree levels. These programs often include courses related to medical terminology, hospital leadership and marketing in healthcare.