Is a Master's in Healthcare Administration Worth It?

For those considering a master's degree in healthcare administration, this article provides insight into career options that often pay considerably more than many management or business specialist occupations. A general overview of common courses is included, as well. Schools offering Health Care Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options with a Master of Science Degree in Healthcare Administration

Medical and Health Services Managers

Working with physicians, nurses, laboratory workers, and other staff, medical and health services managers (or health care administrators) can use their graduate level education to assess organizational needs, implement services, and direct the overall execution of health and medical services. In this capacity, medical and health service manages must also use their knowledge of healthcare laws and regulations to make sure that employee and patient rights are being respected and adhered to, as well as ensuring that whatever facility or department they manage is consistently operating within the confines of current laws and regulations. Informatics knowledge gained during master's level coursework in healthcare management is beneficial for storing and retrieving patient, organization, staff, and financial records, and is also valuable when it comes to staffing and training needs.

Management Analysts

Management analysts often work in the capacity of a consultant and strive to reduce costs while in the healthcare capacity, not compromising patient care and satisfaction. Graduates with a master's degree in healthcare administration can use their advanced knowledge in healthcare systems and health economics to analyze financial data and employment reports to best determine what cuts can be made and what expenditures are necessary for efficiency improvement. Putting their master's level human resource training to use, healthcare management analysts can effectively oversee onsite functions and interview staff to determine if additional personnel are needed, if any roles are redundant, and what organizational changes need to be addressed and brought to the attention of upper management.

Financial Managers

Financial Managers working in the healthcare and medical insurance industries utilize their education and experience to brighten the financial outlook of their respective organizations. They apply their familiarity with healthcare laws to ensure all legal requirements are fulfilled. As financial managers, they will also review the financial reports of their employer and assist in the decision making process when it comes to budgeting and reducing costs, while also maximizing profits if they work in the insurance industry, and providing reduced cost care to patients in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Medical and Health Services Managers $99,730 18% (much faster than average)
Management Analysts $83,610 14% (much faster than average)
Financial Managers $127,990 16% (much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*

Earning a Master of Science Degree in Healthcare Administration

A master's degree in healthcare administration can usually be completed within two years with full-time study, and there are multiple programs that accept any undergraduate background so long as basic accounting, statistics, economics, and/or algebra courses have been successfully taken. It is typically a well-rounded program with common curricula, as discussed in the following course descriptions.

Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare is a specialty field that requires a specially focused marketing plan. Planning strategies must be conducive to healthcare organizations as well as regulations that may determine the course of marketing strategies. Students will likely learn about how various organization and department leadership roles (i.e. governing boards, healthcare managers) influence marketing strategies and management.

Health Informatics

The healthcare industry is not immune to a rapidly digitized world. Health informatics studies the tools that allow for the organization and management of multiple types of information important to the overall operation of an organization. From excel spreadsheets, patient portals, and electronic health records, graduate students mastering healthcare management could be introduced to a variety of written and digital methods to track information and use it to recognize, analyze, and resolve patient, staff, and organizational management issues as they arise.

Health Policy

It is critical to staff and organizational management to have a firm understanding of current healthcare policies. Because a master's program in healthcare management can lead to a career in top management positions overseeing the entire operation of a hospital or other healthcare facility, understanding policy-making and trends in healthcare is worthy knowledge to have. Healthcare reform and issues related to health insurance and healthcare costs are likely to be covered in health policy courses.

Operations Management

Learning to be a team player in order to lead a team in the healthcare industry while being adaptable to change and guiding others in the direction of that change are a few of the topics that may be covered in operations management courses. Conflict resolution, organizational design, and human resource management are also common topics important to future healthcare managers. Coursework may also focus on self-development for the operations manager in order to be a fair, objective, and effective leader in health organizations.

Healthcare Finance and Economics

Financial analysis, management, and decision-making are common topics discussed in healthcare finance and economics classes. Reviewing financial management, capital acquisition/budgeting, and the economics of healthcare are common areas of exploration in such classes. Students may learn about finances for the not-for-profit sector and how to analyze financial report econometrics. Accounting and microeconomic theory may also be taught at this level in order to produce graduate students who have the knowledge and capability to handle the financial aspects of healthcare programs, policy, and management.

Earning a master's degree is time and finance consumptive, but understanding what a program has to offer and how long the course of study will take are important factors when coming to a decision on whether to pursue a master's degree. The job outlook for healthcare administrators looks very positive, and with the possibility of completing a master's program within two years, the time between earning a master's degree and the consequent earning potential is not as long as some other graduate level degree programs.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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