Best Online Master's of Healthcare Administration (MHA) Degree Programs
Some of the best online MHA degree programs provide students with different format options and/or specializations. Here we discuss online MHA programs in detail, as well as career options and requirements for the field.
Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Healthcare Administration
Students can choose from a wide range of online Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) or Master of Science (MS) in Healthcare Administration degree programs that help prepare them for their future career in the field. Some of the best online programs offer experiential learning opportunities, flexible formats, and/or different specializations. Find out more about some of the top online master's degree programs in healthcare administration and what makes them the best.
1. University of Mississippi
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
The University of Mississippi offers an online MHA that requires a minimum of 48 credit hours. Students can complete the program in full- or part-time formats, with full-time students taking 6 terms to complete the program and part-time students taking 9 terms to complete it. The program does require an on-campus orientation during students' first term (students must start in the fall) and an internship in a healthcare facility during students' final term.
2. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
According to the school's website, Saint Joseph's College of Maine is the only online MHA program that is accredited by the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). The program takes 2 years to complete and offers 4 different start times throughout the year. Courses are 12 weeks in length, a final capstone course is required, and online students can interact live with their peers and instructors. Applicants to the program are not required to submit GMAT or GRE test scores.
3. Valparaiso University
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
Valparaiso University has an on-campus MHA, but also offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Healthcare Administration. The MS program can be completed fully online, totals 36 credits, and does not include an experiential component. Students can choose from 6 different start terms throughout the year and can further focus their studies with specializations in forensic health, strategic leadership, gerontology, or health informatics.
4. University of Scranton
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
The University of Scranton offers an online MHA program that boasts expert practitioner faculty and full accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The program has 2 areas of specialization, global health and health informatics, and the global health specialization includes 2 separate study-abroad trips that last 10 days. The program does require an internship experience that includes 150 hours of fieldwork.
5. The Sage Colleges
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
An online MS in Health Services Administration, which is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), is available at The Sage Colleges. The online MS is a non-research option that requires a final externship or internship. The program takes on a multi-disciplinary approach to help prepare students for a wide range of job positions within healthcare administration.
|Rank||School Name||Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
|6||MCPHS University||Boston, MA||$22,530|
|7||Saint Joseph's University||Philadelphia, PA||$16,992|
|8||Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond, VA||$14,496|
|9||University of Illinois at Chicago||Chicago, IL||$16,792|
|10||Salve Regina University||Newport, RI||$10,650|
|11||George Mason University||Fairfax, VA||$15,138|
|12||Gwynedd Mercy University||Gwynedd Valley, PA||$11,286|
|13||Mary Baldwin University||Staunton, VA||$12,620|
|14||Appalachian State University||Boone, NC||$7,961|
|15||Ohio University-Main Campus||Athens, OH||$9,720|
|16||University of Southern Indiana||Evansville, IN||$9,820|
|17||University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne||Fort Wayne, IN||$17,470|
|18||Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green, KY||$12,140|
|19||Rosemont College||Rosemont, PA||$12,420|
|20||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||Greensboro, NC||$8,128|
|21||Jacksonville University||Jacksonville, FL||$14,274|
|22||Simmons University||Boston, MA||$21,894|
|23||University of Cincinnati-Main Campus||Cincinnati, OH||$14,468|
|24||Southeast Missouri State University||Cape Girardeau, MO||$5,680|
|25||Mount Vernon Nazarene University||Mount Vernon, OH||$9,024|
All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate tuition based on 2018-2019 school year.
Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.
Common Courses for Online MHA Degrees
Online master's programs in healthcare administration commonly require between 36 and 48 credit hours for completion. Students in these programs take some core or foundational courses, some electives and/or courses in their specialization, and usually conclude the program with a capstone or internship experience. Coursework and course titles vary by institution, but students can take courses in topics like:
- Healthcare Finance- Courses in healthcare finance are generally designed to train students in how to manage the finances of a healthcare organization according to current policies in the industry. Specific topics for these courses may include budgeting, analyzing financial statements, cost allocation, and cash-flow management.
- Quality Management- Students in quality management courses explore the quality of healthcare in the United states and ways to improve it. Students may review literature from the field and examine topics in quality initiatives, quality assurance, performance systems, and statistical measurement techniques.
- Legal Aspects- Most MHA programs include a course that explores the different legal perspectives of healthcare, and may incorporate ethics as well. Students can explore legal issues on a large scale in healthcare and how to respond to legal issues as a healthcare manager.
- Planning and Analysis- Students may take a course that examines strategic planning and management and/or the planning of specific programs and how to evaluate its effectiveness. Although these courses may have various focuses, in general, they help prepare students to plan, implement, and evaluate programs and/or policies.
- Healthcare Marketing- Sometimes offered as a core course or elective course, healthcare marketing courses show students how marketing functions within healthcare and how different strategies can help a healthcare organization stay competitive. Students may discuss ethical considerations, public scrutiny, and other topics in areas like pricing and promotional activities.
Many online MHA degree programs allow students to further focus their studies in a specific area of interest through specialization options. Typically, students take coursework pertaining to these specializations in addition to core courses in healthcare administration. These specializations may be designed to help students prepare for a specific kind of position in healthcare administration, such as those focusing on budgets or policy. Specializations vary by program, but some available concentrations include:
- Systems and policy
- Health informatics
- Global health
- Strategic management
- Population health
- Nonprofit management
How to Choose an MHA that is Right for You
With so many online MHA degree programs to choose from, finding one that is right for you may seem challenging. While students must ultimately make the choice that is right for them, there are several factors to consider. For example, one of the first considerations for choosing an online MHA program may be the available specializations and/or opportunities for real-world experience. Students should consider their career goals and find an MHA program that provides the coursework and/or specialization that most closely aligns with these goals. Some students may also prefer a program that provides the opportunity for hands-on learning in a final internship, while others may prefer a non-experiential experience for time and flexibility reasons. Below, we explore a few more considerations in detail.
Program Format and Length for an Online MHA
Students trying to choose an online MHA should think about their schedule and what format of online program they need to fit their lifestyle. Several online MHA programs offer full- and/or part-time degree programs. Usually, full-time programs can be completed in 1.5 to 2 years, while part-time programs allow students to take more than 2 years to earn their degree. Students may also consider if they would prefer to enroll in a self-paced program or one with scheduled meeting times.
Program Costs and Financial Aid Options for Online MHA Programs
Tuition costs and availability of financial aid may be another deciding factor for students when choosing an online MHA program. Tuition rates vary by institution and program, but there are programs available that can be completed for less than $24,000. However, when comparing tuition costs, students should also note whether tuition includes any additional fees, such as textbooks or fees for clinical experiences. Students may even find some programs that have kept the tuition rates consistent for a number of years, which could indicate that rates will not change while a student is completing the program.
Online MHA students are typically still eligible for financial aid options like on-campus students. These options may include loans, grants, and/or scholarships. Some online programs may offer special deals at different times of the year to increase enrollment, such as a $3,000 grant if you begin the program by a certain date. Some schools may have scholarships available specifically for MHA students, and some programs may allow for employer sponsorship for working professionals completing their degree. There are also usually financial assistance options for veteran students.
It is also important that students consider attending an accredited online MHA program to ensure the program is of high quality and includes appropriate content. Typically, institutions will have overarching accreditation from organizations such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), but students should look for specialized accreditation for the MHA program from organizations like the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) or the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). Although accreditation from these organizations for online MHA programs are rare, they indicate a high level of quality in the program.
Career Options for Graduates with an MHA
Typically, graduates with their MHA look to move into administrative, managerial, and/or supervisory leadership positions within the field of healthcare. There are many different job titles that fall under the category of healthcare administration, including titles like:
- Health information manager
- Healthcare administrator
- Medical services manager
- Director of patient access
- Nonprofit organization director
- Group practice administrator
- Assistant administrator
Most healthcare administrators work full-time and in an office setting. However, they can work in a wide range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, and outpatient care centers.
While their specific job title and work setting may dictate their job duties, many healthcare administrators, or medical and health services managers, are responsible for planning and overseeing the various health services in their department or organization. This may require them to perform duties like monitoring budgets, creating work schedules, training staff members, attending investor meetings, and maintaining lines of communication throughout their department.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers have a job outlook of 18% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the national average. The BLS also reported that these managers made an average annual salary of $113,730 in 2018, and professionals with their master's degree may make a salary as much as 30% higher than those with only a bachelor's degree.
While entry-level positions in healthcare administration or management may only require a bachelor's degree, many employers prefer or require these administrators and managers to have a master's degree. It is also fairly common for employers to require prior work experience in the healthcare field, such as working as a nurse, health information technician, or administrative assistant. Positions that oversee a specific area of healthcare may require a particular license, such as a social work license or registered nurse license.
It is also important for healthcare administrators to have good communication and leadership skills to help manage their department or organization and keep everyone informed and on the same page. Some positions may require more technical skills than others, such as using various electronic health record (EHR) systems and other technologies. Other important skills for these professionals to have include, but are not limited to, interpersonal skills and analytical skills.
Requirements for professional certifications and/or licensure vary by factors like job title, employer, and state of employment. Some positions, such as nursing home administrators or those that work in assisted-living facilities are required to have a state license. Certification is usually optional, but can help professionals stay competitive and/or demonstrate proficiency in their area of practice. Certifications are available for an array of areas, including nursing home administration, medical management, and health information management.
Due to the broad nature of healthcare administration, there are many different professional organizations in the field that offer support, resources, and/or certifications to healthcare administrative professionals. These organizations may provide professional development, continuing education, and networking opportunities. A few professional organizations in healthcare administration are discussed in more detail here.
National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards
The NAB offers accreditation to academic programs in healthcare administration, as well as training and continuing education resources. The organization's website also provides students with information regarding licensing exams and licensing information. For example, the NAB gives students a state-by-state list of requirements for nursing home administrator licensing.
Professional Association of Health Care Office Management
PAHCOM is an organization that works to ensure excellence in physician practice management by offering the certified medical manager exam and membership. The organization has a variety of corporate members and provides professionals with an events calendar and job postings on their website.
American Health Information Management Association
AHIMA offers training, conferences, events, career resources, and education opportunities for professionals in health information management. The organization also offers certification in health information management. The goal of AHIMA is to help improve the practice and standards for quality healthcare.
American College of Health Care Administrators
ACHCA provides the Certified Assisted Living Administrator and Certified Nursing Home Administrator distinctions, but also provides professionals with a variety of educational resources. The organization offers membership and chapters for participation, as well as convocations and even scholarships for professionals in the field.