Master's degree programs highlight areas such as consulting, marketing, financial management and communication, coupled with fieldwork, such as an internship. Research is a key component of doctoral programs in health care administration, but other areas of discussion could include theory and health policy. Most applicants to DHA programs need a master's degree, while a bachelor's degree is required for admission to MBA and MS programs. Schools may also look for candidates with relevant work experience.
Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration
Health care administration can be available as a chosen concentration within an MBA degree program. Here, students interested in advancing their careers in health care administration or management can find training in long-term care administration, policy analysis, consulting and health planning. MBA degree programs can be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). An MBA degree program with a health care administration specialization exposes students to the tangible link between health care, finance and economics, augmenting their business acumen.
A student who does not hold a bachelor's degree in business or related field may be subject to additional requirements before the start of the official MBA curriculum, such as a business seminar. In addition to practical experiences offered through required internship programs, courses typically offered in an MBA in health care administration degree program impart knowledge of management theory and pivotal elements of the health care profession. Students study business English, statistical business methods, marketing, and organizational behavior. Additional courses include:
- Financial management
- Accounting in management
- Labor relations
- Ethics in health care
- Cost analysis
- American health care system
Master of Science in Health Care Administration
A Master of Science in Health Care Administration caters to individuals working in the health care sector. Many programs offered to students are accredited by CAHME. Mid-career professionals are able to focus their studies and broaden their knowledge of health care programs and services. Additionally, some academic institutions provide students with internship opportunities and on-site, hands-on experiences through affiliations with local health care facilities.
A bachelor's degree holder looking to enroll in a health care administration master's degree program may be required to have completed a minimum amount of coursework in related areas, including accounting, statistics or finance, and may need to satisfy a minimum grade point average requirement. In some cases, master's degree programs are designed for professionals already working in the field, so a recommended or required amount of work experience must be completed before enrollment.
Within a health care administration master's degree program, courses provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the U.S. health care system, as well as the functions of management. Required courses could include intercultural communications, managerial financial decision and information technology. Additional courses include:
- Legal components
- U.S. health care system
- Quantitative methods
- Economics in health care
- Human resource management
Doctor of Health Administration
Expanding upon a student's knowledge and skills in the administration of health care, a Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) degree program caters to future leaders of health care organizations by providing them with an approach that bridges theory and application. Typically a master's degree is required for enrollment, yet a professional doctoral degree, such as a Juris Doctor, Doctor of Pharmacy or Doctor of Medicine, could also satisfy admission requirements. Additionally, students seeking admission into this type of degree program are often required to have significant employment experience within the health care industry as managers or policy makers.
The curricula offered in DHA degree programs are advanced and designed to suit the career and academic needs of experienced professionals. Courses offered include health policy fundamentals, international and local health, and applied research techniques. Additional courses include:
- Quantitative research methods
- Quality improvement
- Health care information systems management
- Health policy
- Health care finance
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a master's degree in health care administration is the standard credential required by employers in this field (www.bls.gov). Graduates can seek employment as supervisors or department managers in settings such as:
- Mental health facilities
- Consulting firms
- Nursing care organizations
- Medical group practices
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Upon program completion, graduates can go on to work with senior-level managers to solve the many problems of the health care industry by effectively using their learned leadership skills. According to the BLS, employment in health care administration is expected to grow much faster than average from 2014-2024, with a 17% increase. In 2015, medical and health services managers earned an annual median salary of $94,500.
Individuals in the health-care profession who want to either change jobs or advance their career may consider getting a master's or doctorate degree in health care administration. These programs are often designed for experienced healthcare professionals, and internships may be included. The job outlook for health services managers is bright, with faster-than-average employment growth expected from 2014-2024.