An MBA in healthcare management combines a core business curriculum with an understanding of the modern healthcare market. Students learn the traditional skills of a business administration degree, including accounting, finance, marketing, and leadership. They also develop expertise in areas like healthcare operations, health systems, health law, and health informatics.
Graduates can pursue some of the fastest-growing careers in the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for medical and health services managers are projected to grow by 18% between 2018 and 2028. These jobs pay a median annual salary of about $100,000 and can reach up to almost twice that for the highest-paid CEOs at health-related corporations.
Below, you can learn what to expect from an online MBA in healthcare management, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
Careers in Healthcare Management
Students often ask: "What can I do with a degree in healthcare management?" The field continues to grow and change, encompassing a variety of occupations. Graduates with a healthcare management MBA can work as CEOs of health-related organizations. They can also run government agencies, like health and human service departments, and direct small social-service organizations, medium-sized hospitals, or massive medical-supply corporations.
Generally speaking, these positions tend to pay well and enjoy strong growth potential. The following list outlines several common careers and potential salaries for graduates with an online MBA in healthcare management.
Hospital directors oversee the business operations of a medical-care facility. They recruit, train, and manage staff; set the vision and the direction of the facility; represent the institution in the media; and work with the community. They also create and manage the budget and report to the board of directors. Because the hospital director often represents the highest-ranking executive on staff, they earn high salaries. The median annual salary for these professionals in 2018 was about $100,000, and the occupation enjoys much faster-than-average growth potential.
Administrative Services Manager
Individuals in these positions typically direct how a company provides healthcare services, setting training standards and monitoring systems, records, and facilities. As VP-level professionals, they often report to the highest-ranking official in an organization. Administrative service managers made a median annual salary close to $100,000 in 2018, and the occupation enjoys faster-than-average growth projections.
Nonprofit administrators with healthcare management MBAs often lead organizations that provide some form of social or health-related services, such as nonprofit organizations and government agencies. These individuals direct all aspects of business, much like CEOs at for-profit corporations, managing staff and services. The median salary for these positions sat at $65,000 in 2018. Nonprofit administrators also enjoy much faster-than-average job growth projections.
Health Services Manager
Health services managers run clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations. They typically hold the highest offices in these organizations, serving as heads of business functions. They manage staff, set priorities and standards of care, and oversee the budget. In 2018, these professionals made a median annual salary of about $100,000. They also enjoy faster-than-average job growth projections.
Chief executives with a healthcare management MBA run businesses that provide healthcare services, such as hospitals, insurance companies, research facilities, and manufacturers of medical supplies. These individuals set company policies, manage staff, report to the board, and generally oversee all aspects of the organization. The position ranks among the highest-paid in the country, with a median annual salary of almost $190,000 in 2018. These jobs are projected to grow at a pace in line with the national average for all occupations.
How to Choose a Program in Healthcare Management
Students should consider several factors when researching potential online MBA in healthcare management programs, such as price, concentrations, internship opportunities, and accreditation. We outline several important considerations for prospective students below.
Ask for information on how lessons are delivered in the program
Some schools deliver programs as hybrid options, combining online and on-campus programs. Other programs may feature fully online formats and asynchronous or synchronous course delivery. Make sure you understand how the schools that interest you format their programs before you commit to a school.
Get details on what support is available to students
Look into the student services available at each school you consider. Schools may offer student support services and resources like free tutoring, dedicated advising, mentoring, and tech support. They may also feature honors programs, clubs, and other organizations that can help students build their resume. Additionally, many schools provide career services and networking events.
Estimate your expected program costs
Affordability is a primary concern for many students. Make sure you look into all the costs associated with the programs that intrigue you. Some programs offer tuition discounts for in-state online students, while others allow all online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. In addition to tuition rates, you should consider added costs, such as technology and residency fees.
Ensure the school's admission requirements align with your expectations
Admission requirements vary by program. Schools may, for example, specify the number of years of work experience applicants should hold. Some schools demand GMAT or GRE scores, while others do not. Schools generally set GPA standards that students must meet. Make sure you feel comfortable with the school's expectations as you prepare to apply.
Compare student outcomes data
Many colleges publish their student outcome data as a way of distinguishing themselves. These figures can prove very helpful in comparing schools. They typically include factors like how many students found employment in their field within six months of graduation. Some schools list average salaries commanded by their MBA graduates or success rates on certification exams. Programs may also include the number of alumni in their network, which can help students make connections after graduation.
Look for partnerships with local businesses and communities
Many colleges and universities develop partnerships with local businesses and communities, which can add value to their program. These relationships often keep curricula up to date, with industry leaders sharing the latest needs in the field. They can also help students find internships and practicum opportunities that lead to employment after graduation.
Make sure the program is accredited
Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to academic rigor, faculty qualifications, and student learning outcomes. Students should always check to see if a school carries accreditation, typically from a regional accreditation agency. They should also look to see whether the program itself holds accreditation. In the case of an MBA, accreditation from an organization like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs shows a program meets the highest possible standards.
Speak with current students and alumni
Prospective students can learn a lot about a program by speaking with current students and alumni. Many schools set up these conversations during the admission process. Current students can explain some of the pros and cons of a school or program, and explain why they selected it over others. Alumni can give an idea about the entirety of the program and how it set them up for their current jobs.
Healthcare Management Curriculum
Every university develops its own online healthcare management MBA program. Students should always explore a program before enrolling to ensure it includes courses aligned with their interests and goals. For example, some healthcare management MBAs may emphasize business, while others feature more healthcare content. Classes vary from school to school, but most programs include classes similar to those listed below.
- Healthcare Finance
- Healthcare systems employ unique finance methods because they rely so heavily on the insurance industry and must comply with specific government regulations. This class explores the complexities of healthcare finance, covering topics like budgeting, insurance reimbursements, interpreting reports, accounting, risk analysis, and time value analysis.
- Healthcare Law
- In this course, students examine the legal and regulatory environment in which healthcare exists today. Topics include physician and facility liability, malpractice, negligence, and licensure. Learners also study patient rights, confidentiality in healthcare, and institutional ethics. Professors might use case studies or group exercises to enhance learning.
- Health Informatics
- This course examines the use of data and technology in health records. Students learn how to improve the delivery of healthcare through information technology, including management, storage, and interpretation of patient records. They explore how nurses and doctors can use this information and how it connects to billing and insurance. Programs often employ an experiential approach to health informatics, with students entering and reading data.
Comparison of Healthcare Management Degrees and Specializations
Graduate-level degrees in healthcare management take many forms. Some universities may offer healthcare management as a specialization of an MBA program, while others offer a standalone master's in healthcare management or administration program. These programs may lead to different career paths. We cover several types of programs and potential career paths in the following table.
|Degree Type||Description||Potential Career Path|
|MBA in Healthcare Management||An MBA in healthcare management focuses on the business side of the industry. Students learn to apply fundamental business principles, such as marketing and finance, to specific healthcare components, like patient services, insurance billing, and hospital operations.||Medical Manager|
|Master of Healthcare Administration||An MHA degree prepares students to run healthcare facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, and community health centers. Depending on the size of the medical facility they manage and the services offered therein, healthcare administrators often handle budgeting issues and funding concerns, hire and train medical professionals, and support staff and building operations.||Healthcare Facilities Administrator|
|Master of Public Health||An MPH program examines topics like healthcare equity and accessibility, public health safety, disease prevention, and effective community health programs. Public health programs also acquaint students with policy-setting principles and practice so they can take on leadership roles after graduation. Graduates may work as epidemiologists who study infectious diseases and their implications for public health.||Epidemiologist|
Cost and Length of a Healthcare Management Degree
The cost and length of a healthcare management MBA varies by several factors. Some programs take longer than others to complete, which can compound the costs. Students should carefully look at the cost and duration breakdown presented by each school that interests them.
Many colleges and universities extend in-state tuition to out-of-state online students, which can make these programs much cheaper than their on-campus alternatives. Studying from home also saves students money on commuting and housing costs.
Most master's programs take at least two years of full-time study to complete. However, many online programs use accelerated terms that allow students to graduate in as little as one year.
Healthcare Management FAQs
- What can I do with an MBA in Healthcare Management?
- A master's degree in healthcare management gives you a wealth of options in terms of your career. Many students move into executive roles in hospitals, clinics, medical supply companies, and health-related corporations. Other students may take management positions in nonprofit or government organizations. Graduates can also pursue further education through doctoral programs.
- Which is better, an MBA or MHA?
- A healthcare management MBA and a master's in healthcare administration can both lead to fulfilling, executive-level careers in healthcare, but they differ slightly. An MBA includes more general business coursework, while an MHA features a greater emphasis on healthcare.
- What is the difference between Health Administration and Healthcare Management?
- Typically, someone with a master's in health administration manages the staff, services, and healthcare delivery of a hospital or clinic. Graduates with a healthcare management degree generally oversee the entire business operations of a healthcare company, serving in positions like CEO or executive director.
Healthcare Management Scholarships
David A. Winston Health Policy Fellowship
Ten scholarships of $10,000 each go to U.S. residents in graduate health administration programs. Applicants apply during the second semester of their program and must attend full time.
Foster G. McGaw Scholarship
The American College of Healthcare Executives awards these $5,000 scholarships to students in their final year of graduate health management programs. The college sponsors several annual scholarships. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and enroll full time at an accredited institution.
Haynes Rice Scholarship
Administered by the National Association of Health Executives, these scholarships provide $5,000 to African American students in graduate health-management programs. Students must hold a 3.0 or better GPA at an accredited institution and demonstrate financial need.
Alfred W. Dent Graduate Scholarship
These funds help minority students pursue master's-level education in healthcare management. Administered by the American College of Healthcare Executives, the scholarships amount to $5,000 each. Applicants must attend school full time and demonstrate financial need.
Bachrach Family Scholarship
This award welcomes applicants from full-time, graduate-level residential programs in healthcare administration. The foundation gives preference to females who come from families without a master's-level education. Applicants must attend schools accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.