Best Dual MD/MHA Programs For 2021
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Have you dreamed of becoming a doctor or healthcare administrator? Perhaps you have wondered what it would be like to become both. If so, an MD/MHA dual degree program could be what you have been searching for! Dual MD/MHA programs are an excellent way to earn degrees as both a medical doctor and a healthcare administrator. Throughout this article, you will find information about the pros and cons of these programs, learn the process of applying and becoming accepted, and discover where to find the best dual MD/MHA programs for 2021.
What Exactly Is the Goal of a Dual MD/MHA Program?
A dual Doctor of Medicine and Master of Health Administration program is an innovative degree program that combines two highly specialized degrees, training future doctors for roles as administrators and leaders in the healthcare industry. Dual MD/MHA programs integrate classroom and clinical instruction to prepare qualified professionals with management and leadership functions needed in clinical healthcare environments to meet the need for cost-effective, high-quality healthcare services. The Master of Healthcare Administration degree program is designed to provide students with an educational experience that encompasses the finance, delivery, organization, and improvement of healthcare services, preparing them for careers in health services management and administration. The Medical Doctor program prepares students for clinical roles as healthcare providers in a variety of healthcare settings capable of caring for diverse patient populations.
7 Big Advantages of Dual MD/MHA Programs
If you are contemplating going back to school and a dual MD/MHA program interests you, it is understandable if you have many questions. It is always a good idea to consider the pros and cons of major decisions before moving forward. In this section, I will share some advantages of MD/MHA dual programs, and in the next will discuss a few disadvantages for you to consider.
1. The two degrees complement one another and will give you an edge when applying for a job.
Earning dual degrees as an M.D. and MHA pairs hands-on healthcare training with the managerial skills needed to manage the business requirements and oversee the daily operations of a healthcare facility.
2. Prepare yourself to make Great Money!
If you want to earn dual degrees that offer the opportunity to earn a substantial income, MHA/MD dual degree programs are a great way to make that happen. Graduates of these programs earn an average annual salary of $225,000. The more experience you gain, the higher the salary you can negotiate with potential employers.
3. You will be prepared to impact healthcare delivery and patient outcomes through leadership.
The best dual MD/MHA programs prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become influential leaders in healthcare and the delivery of healthcare services. These programs will help you develop and hone in on skills that will help you promote better patient outcomes and impact the way healthcare services are delivered, making you an effective leader and integral part of the healthcare system.
4. Excellent networking opportunities:
Students enrolled in accredited dual MD/MHA programs experience more than classroom instruction or clinical rotations. Clinical internships, residencies, workshops, and conferences are essential parts of the program, allowing students the opportunity to meet professionals in the field. Because residencies and internships involve hands-on patient care and exposure to leadership methods, it is not uncommon for potential employers to vet students for possible post-graduation employment opportunities.
5. Gain the knowledge and skillset relevant to opening your own practice.
Whether you choose to open a medical practice now or pursue that goal later, one great benefit of an MD/MHA dual degree program is you will learn essential skills for running a business. In the MHA portion of the dual degree program, you will learn how to handle administrative and regulatory requirements, such as dealing with third-party pay sources like insurance companies.
6. You will have the option of an alternate career path.
While the objective of dual MHA/MD programs is to prepare medical doctors for positions in healthcare administration, graduates are not limited to working in dual roles. After graduating, if you decide to focus on clinical practice as a medical doctor or in healthcare administration utilizing the MHA, you will have that option. This option appeals to many students because, as doctors age and choose to move from clinical practice, they can still use their MHA degree to work in hospital administration or other leadership positions in the healthcare industry.
7. Self-Respect and the Respect of Your Peers:
Earning two degrees is no small feat. When you achieve dual M.D. and MHA degrees, you will have the satisfaction that comes with self-respect for your hard work. Your personal and professional peers will recognize the enthusiasm with which you pursue your goals and will, no doubt, respect you and your accomplishments.
3 Big Disadvantages of Dual MD/MHA Programs
Even the most exciting opportunities can have what many call a “flip side,” meaning there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider. A few challenges or disadvantages you may encounter with MHA/MD dual degree programs include the following.
1. A dual MD/MHA program may leave you feeling as though you have time for little else.
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns that prospective students have about pursuing dual degrees is the time commitment. While many Medical Doctor/Master of Health Administration programs can be completed in four or five years, that time is filled with lots of coursework and assignments, often leaving little free time. If you are committed to earning these degrees, you will have to resolve to know there will be times when all you have time to do is focus on schoolwork. In the end, earning dual degrees comes with many benefits that can afford you great opportunities. You just need to stay determined!
2. Are you ready for the competition?
To say that MD/MHA program admission is competitive would be an understatement. Although each school determines minimum admission criteria, admission faculty are not looking for candidates who can slip through by only meeting general admission requirements. If you genuinely want to secure an offer of admission, be prepared to show them what you are made of and face the competition.
3. MD/MHA Dual Degree Programs are not cheap.
As you will read later in this article, these dual degree programs can be expensive, with some costing more than $150,000. There are options for financial assistance for qualifying students or other methods of supporting the financial obligations associated with the programs. However, it is necessary to take a close look at your current financial situation and determine what resources, if any, you already have and can use. Many students find that to continue working while enrolled in the program can be too much to handle. However, cutting back on work or taking a leave of absence can make the financial blow seem a bit harsher.
How Long Are MD/MHA Dual Degree Programs?
Although timeframes differ depending on the school and the student’s previous academic achievements, dual MD/MHA programs typically take four to six years to complete. When researching different programs, be sure to find out if there are designated times to apply to one or both programs and what prerequisite classes are required before enrolling. Here are a few examples of program length for some of our featured programs.
At the Ohio State University College of Medicine
, the MD/MHA dual degree program can be completed in five years. However, many students spend six years due to an additional year of medical training. The program plan is as follows.
◦ 1st and 2nd years: Medical School, Complete Pre-clinical Curriculum, Pass Step 1 of the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination)
◦ 3rd Year: Full-time MHA curriculum
◦ 4th Year: Medical School curriculum
◦ 5th and 6th Years: Complete 4th-year electives and rotations for the M.D. degree, an integrative writing project, and any unfinished MHA coursework
The dual MD/MHA degree program at Scranton University
is a five-year course of study. Students devote the first two years of the program to medical school coursework, including summer courses supplemented at Scranton. The third-year is dedicated to the Department of Health Administration and Human Resources at the University of Scranton. The fourth and fifth years of the program are spent at the Commonwealth Medical College, where all medical school training is completed.
The University of Washington’s dual degree MD/MHA program is designed to be completed in
five years. Most students enter the Master of Health Administration portion of the MD/MHA dual degree program after their third year of medical school.
• Thomas Jefferson University
of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has partnered with Widener University of Chester, Pennsylvania, to offer another of the best dual MD/MHA programs available. The joint venture between TJU and Widener is a five-year program designed for highly motivated students who wish to pursue dual Master of Healthcare Administration and Medical Doctor degrees.
At Virginia Commonwealth University
, the dual MD/MHA program takes approximately five years
to complete. Students first complete two years of training in the M.D. program, followed by a full academic year in the MHA program. After the MHA coursework is completed, students return for a third and fourth year of M.D. training.
How Much Do MD/MHA Dual Degree Programs Cost?
Perhaps one of the most influential factors that determine one’s decision to pursue any degree is the cost of obtaining that education. Dual MD/MHA programs can cost from $50,000 to more than $275,000. The following are examples of the cost of a few of the programs featured in this article.
• At Ohio State University
, in-state tuition is calculated based on which program component a student is enrolled in each academic year. The total tuition cost for the dual MHA/MD program is $152,552 for in-state students and $276,010 for out-of-state students.
• At Scranton University
, students who live on-campus pay an average of $30,448 per academic year, while those residing off-campus usually spend $25,000 per academic year. Students can complete the dual MD/MHA program in five years of ongoing study, costing between $125,000 and $152,240.
• Students at the University of British Columbia
pay tuition ranging from $78,100 to $89,400.
If you have decided you want to earn dual MHA/MD degrees but are concerned about the cost, be encouraged as there are resources to help offset the costs. Some students choose to secure private funding, such as through a personal loan or another line of credit. Others may qualify for federal grants or loans. You can find out if you are eligible for government-assisted programs by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA). Many schools and private organizations offer scholarships or education stipends for qualifying applicants of accredited dual MD/MHA programs.
What Is the Curriculum Like For MHA/MD Dual Degree Programs?
The curriculum in dual MD/MHA programs can be pretty intense. Students spend time in medical school, complete pre-clinical curriculum, and devote time to graduate study for the Master of Health Administration portion. Following are some of the common courses found in most programs.
◦ Population Health Management Strategy: Introduces students to health administration strategies related to managing the health of specific populations. Students gain an in-depth knowledge of health maintenance organizations, accountable care management, people employed in specific workplaces, and populations within diverse areas of healthcare.
◦ Group Dynamics and Team Leadership: This class focuses on theories and the observations of team techniques and behaviors emphasizing individuals as part of a team. Students are introduced to leadership and team management models, skills and theories, and develop knowledge, skills, and self-awareness relevant for building strong interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.
◦ Informatics in Healthcare Management: Healthcare informatics involves representing, manipulating, and organizing biomedical knowledge and information. In this class, students gain a high-level understanding of informatics and its importance in healthcare applications.
Here are a few examples of coursework that is required at some of our featured programs.
• Ohio State University:
The MD portion of the curriculum is divided into three phases.
◦ Phase 1, Clinical Foundations, includes foundational science topics and their corresponding clinicals. Students participate in group sessions one half-day weekly and discuss issues such as physical examination, clinical reasoning, behavioral and social sciences, and interpersonal communication.
◦ Phase 2, Clinical Applications, begins in the student’s third year. In this phase, students begin clinical clerkship rotations. Clinical rotations integrate knowledge and skills related to patient populations, specialized medical care, surgical and reproductive care.
◦ Phase 3, Advanced Clinical Management, focuses on the student’s knowledge and is designed to broaden their experiences in their chosen specialty/field of interest. Students in this phase of the program provide acute care management for patients in hospitals and practice relationship-centered care for patients with chronic diseases.
The MHA portion of the dual MD/MHA program combines instruction with practical, real-world experiences. Students are prepared with the foundation necessary to provide high-quality healthcare services, positively impact healthcare delivery, and become effective leaders in the industry. The curriculum guides students as they learn about the United States healthcare system and develop critical analytic and thinking skills and communication skills.
Sample MHA Coursework:
◦ Methods of Quantitative Data Analysis
◦ Economic Analysis of Health Services
◦ Health Services Leadership and Organizational Change
◦ Operations Management for Health Service Organizations
The University of Scranton
and Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine offer one of the accredited dual MD/MHA programs we have chosen to feature in this article. The University of Scranton confers the MHA degree, and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine confers the M.D. degree.
◦ Healthcare Financial Management
• The University of Washington:
◦ Healthcare operations and Quality
◦ Human Resources Management
◦ General and Analytical Chemistry I and II (Both classes have corresponding labs.)
◦ Organic Chemistry I and II (Both classes have corresponding labs.)
The M.D. curriculum is presented in three phases. Phase one, the Foundation Phase, includes an immersion period involving clinical skills, basic, clinical, and social sciences, and preparation for patient care. Phase two, also known as the Patient Care phase, involves clerkships in Family Medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, and Psychiatry. Phase three, "Explore and Focus," allows students to explore specialty courses and participate in required clinical clerkships in Advanced Patient Care, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Advanced Patient Care.
◦ Health Administration and Business Law
• The University of British Columbia:
◦ Ethical Issues in Health Services
◦ Genes, Molecules, and Signaling
◦ Human Form and Function: Pathology/Histology/Pharmacology
Students in the MD/MHA program at the University of British Columbia follow a four-year study plan, including twenty-four mandatory classes and a major research project for the MHA component.
◦ Operations and Logistics
◦ Government and Policy
◦ Social Determinants of Health
◦ Design and Measurement
◦ Health Information Systems
What Are the Most Difficult Courses in an MHA/MD Dual Degree Program?
While opinions may vary, many students in MD/MHA dual degree programs say that neuroanatomy, biochemistry, and advanced statistics are some of the most challenging classes they have taken. It is not always easy to determine which subjects will be more difficult from one student to the next, as a person may excel in one subject while another struggles. Here are some course descriptions for the three most challenging courses.
is the study of the anatomy and physiology of the central and peripheral nervous systems. General topics in this course include embryology, gross and microscopic nervous system structure, neurophysiology of the brain, nerves, and spinal cord, including descriptions of alterations in the normal anatomy related to disease or injury. Students who complete this course will recognize major features of the internal and external morphology of the developing spinal cord, brain, peripheral nerves, blood supply, ventricular system, and meninges. They will describe the relationship between anatomical structures that make up the motor and sensory systems of the central nervous system.
is the study of all the chemical processes within biological systems. Students explore fundamental principles of biochemistry and develop an understanding of internal biological networks. This course focuses on biochemical processes and stresses the importance of research design and applications. The field of biochemistry is constantly changing and affects several areas of cell biology. Therefore, this course also includes an introduction to molecular biology.
includes the study of the science dealing with the collection, analysis, description, interpretation, and presentation of data. Topics in the course include methods used in statistical research such as linear regression and chi-square analysis, inference for variables, and discriminate analysis.
Admission to dual MD/MHA programs can be competitive. While some schools offer larger classes and multiple start dates, others may have limited spots, especially in the M.D. portion of the programs. If you plan to apply, make yourself familiar with the admission criteria of each school where you will apply, and strive to exceed minimum admission requirements, rather than settling for just meeting the standards.
Every college or university has the right to establish and enforce the criteria used by each program to screen applicants. Some of the expected minimum admission standards for accredited MD/MHA dual degree programs are as follows.
◦ Applicants should possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.
◦ Submit official transcripts from any post-secondary school attended.
◦ Provide letters of professional recommendation.
◦ Submit a resume/curriculum vitae
The list below outlines some admission requirements at some of this article's best dual MD/MHA programs.
Applicants who wish to pursue the MD/MHA dual degree program at Ohio State University
should submit a formal application to the MHA program before February 15 of the second year of medical school. Prospective students should have a strong motivation to study family medicine and healthcare administration and an academic record that indicates potential for success in a dual degree program.
Sample Admission Criteria:
◦ Applicant must show evidence of good communication and analytical skills, and quantitative skills.
• Virginia Commonwealth University
◦ Complete undergraduate courses in Statistics and Economics
◦ Submit official GRE scores
◦ Prepare a Personal Statement of Intent
◦ Provide letters of professional reference
◦ Have a minimum cumulative grade point average greater than 3.0 on all post-secondary coursework
in Richmond, Virginia, offers another featured, accredited MD/MHA dual degree program. Admissions faculty use a holistic review to determine whether an applicant is a good candidate with potential for success in the program.
Sample Admission Criteria:
◦ Submit official MCAT scores
• Florida Atlantic University
◦ Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.3 for all college credit coursework (If a class is repeated, both grades for that class are calculated in the GPA.)
◦ Submit at least three letters of professional recommendation (Five are recommended). Students are encouraged to have the letters prepared by individuals from a volunteer, research, clinical, academic, or employment setting who can attest to their character and likelihood of success in the MD/MHA dual degree program.
◦ Because physicians who work in healthcare administration serve people from various educational and economic backgrounds, applicants are strongly encouraged to participate in community or volunteer services to help them become more culturally competent.
is home to another of the seven best MD/MHA dual degree programs being shared in this article. The Schmidt College of Medicine's Office of Student Affairs and Admissions will coordinate with the College of Business Office of Executive Programs to assist with the admission process. Students who wish to enroll in the dual degree program must meet with a Student Affairs Dean from the College of Medicine to review eligibility for the program and obtain approval to apply from the Office of Student Affairs.
◦ Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university
◦ Submit at least two letters of reference
◦ Prepare a Personal Essay that outlines professional and academic goals
5 Hardest Things MHA/MD Dual Degree Students Have to Do
Sometimes the biggest challenge to changes, especially when it comes to new endeavors like going to school, is preparing yourself mentally. If you are considering enrolling in an accredited MD/MHA dual degree program, you may be wondering what to expect and what you can do to overcome challenges. Here are a few of the hardest things students must do and some suggestions on how to handle the situations.
1. Developing Time Management Skills:
Students in dual MD/MHA programs have a heavy course load that is added to what may already be a very hectic schedule. It is normal to feel overwhelmed at times. To help ease the stress of "not enough hours in the day," create a schedule and stick with it. Whether you use a paper planner or digital planner is irrelevant, but if you take the time to make a list of things you need to accomplish and prioritize them, you may feel less stress and that your time is not wasted on unnecessary things.
2. Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy School/Life Balance:
You may remember a time when you felt like everything in your life was turned upside down, a time when it seemed as if nothing was going right, and you couldn’t focus. Most people have experienced a feeling of imbalance in their lives on more than one occasion. As a student in an MHA/MD dual degree program, it is crucial to understand the importance of achieving a healthy balance between your personal and professional/academic life and working to maintain that balance.
3. Admitting you don’t have to do it all.
I know, it seems kind of backward to say you can pursue a degree as a Medical Doctor and a Master of Health Administration and to say still you don't have to "do it all." Unfortunately, students in programs like dual MD/MHA programs often feel the need to prove to themselves and others that they can take on anything and everything. Doing this can quickly lead to a feeling of being burned out, which is one of the leading causes of professional students dropping out of school. Instead, pace yourself and remember no one expects you to take on more than you can handle.
4. Asking for help:
It is not uncommon for students in professional programs to feel like asking for help is a sign of weakness. The truth is, asking for help shows wisdom. It is better to ask for help from faculty, preceptors, and peers if you have trouble grasping information or performing skills than to attempt things on your own and make mistakes that you cannot correct.
5. Remembering not to compare themselves to other students in the program.
Being accepted into an MHA/MD dual degree program means going through some fierce competition. That kind of competition can cause some people to begin to compare themselves to others. Students must remember that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, learning methods, and goals. It is okay (and actually healthy) to embrace your individuality and not grade yourself based on someone else's scale.
FOLLOWING ARE THE 7 BEST DUAL MD/MHA PROGRAMS IN THE NATION FOR 2021
(These MD/MHA Dual Degree Programs are ideal for individuals who wish to earn skills, knowledge, and expertise in both MD and Healthcare Administration.)
View Ranking Methodology
A Day in the Life of an MD/MHA Graduate (What Do They Do?)
If a career as a physician with a healthcare administration degree, you may wonder what a day at work involves. A day in the life of graduates of dual MD/MHA programs varies depending on the environment in which one works. Some of the day-to-day activities include meeting with patients, families, and healthcare teams to gather information and develop plans to improve patient care and outcomes, increase productivity among employees, boost employee morale, and advocate for change that will benefit patients and the organizations for whom they work.
Career Opportunities for MHA/MD Graduates
The healthcare industry continues to see sweeping changes from technological advances, managed care, and healthcare reform. Managed care and other forces contribute to changes in healthcare on what seems like a daily basis. Graduates of MD/MHA dual degree programs have the skillset and leadership qualities needed to navigate the industry by creating and implementing changes that impact healthcare for everyone. There are several career opportunities for graduates, a few of which are listed below.
Healthcare Policy Maker:
Graduates of MD/MHA dual degree programs who work as Healthcare Policy Makers use their combined clinical and business leadership skills to navigate and lobby for changes in healthcare. They present information and data from a physician's clinical viewpoint and use that to advocate for healthcare policies that improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
Health Services/ Healthcare Administrator:
Directly oversees the operations of healthcare systems such as hospitals, nursing homes, and research centers. Health Services Administrators are responsible for managing budgets, programs, services, staff, and other leadership functions. They help develop and implement public policies designed to improve healthcare services and delivery.
Average MD/MHA Salary
Several factors influence a person's earning capacity. For example, salary potential varies based on your health industry experience, the organization's size, geographical location, job title, and responsibilities. According to PayScale, the average base salary for a general practice medical doctor in the United States is $153,968 annually, and healthcare executives with an MHA earn between $82,000 and $118,000 yearly. Graduates of MD/MHA dual degree programs earn up to $75,000 more, with an average yearly income of $225,700.
For several years, the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) has predicted a shortage of licensed physicians. Public health issues such as drug abuse and addiction, the COVID-19 pandemic, an aging population with increasing health issues, and a high number of physicians reaching retirement age are believed to be major contributing factors to the anticipated shortage. According to data published on June 11, 2021, by the Association of American Medical Colleges
, the U.S. could see an estimated shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034.
For many of the same reasons the physician shortage remains constant, the need for healthcare administrators capable of leading organizations continues to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
projects a thirty-two percent growth in medical and health services managers' jobs from 2019-2029.
With an ever-evolving healthcare climate comes the need for clinicians and leaders who can respond to the dynamic, often complex, healthcare needs of patients, medical staff, and the companies and populations for whom service is provided. Healthcare organizations recognize how the hands-on involvement of physicians puts them in excellent positions to become effective leaders in healthcare management. For this reason, they seek to employ individuals who can fill dual roles, giving reason to believe the job outlook for graduates of MD/MHA dual degree programs is and will remain promising.
The Bottom Line
There has never been a better time to follow your dream of becoming a medical doctor and specializing in healthcare administration! The best MD/MHA dual degree programs for 2021 featured in this article offer excellent opportunities for committed individuals who desire to develop clinical and administrative skills in the healthcare industry. If this sounds like you, take the time to research the schools and programs, see which may be a better fit for you, and start pursuing your goals today.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.