Best Online MHA Programs For 2021
Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org
Healthcare in the U.S. is a $2.5 trillion industry. Like any other high-stakes industry, it cannot continue to thrive and grow without individuals in supervisory roles who demonstrate the knowledge, competencies, and inter/intra-personal skills required to be successful managers. This is where healthcare administrators come in.
Traditionally, physicians were tapped for administrative leadership within hospitals and medical centers. That started to change in the early 1980s as new payment systems and new technologies began to emphasized the need for a class of management professionals specifically trained to help ensure healthcare facilities operate efficiently. Online MHA degrees can prepare you to become an administrative leader in the healthcare industry. Keep reading to find out more about the best online MHA programs for 2021.
What Exactly is the Goal of a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) Degree Program?
A good Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree program aims to train you in all the competencies you’ll be exercising on a regular basis whether you’re hired by a large healthcare institution or a smaller provider like a clinic or a hospital department. You’ll learn how to balance budgets, evaluate employees, create and maintain policies and protocols, oversee marketing and promotion activities, and all the other skills that you’ll need in order to excel as a healthcare professional.
Who Accredits MHA Online Programs and Why Accreditation Matters?
Online MHA programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
(CAHME). CAHME is an interdisciplinary body that has developed a set of quantifiable criteria for judging the quality of healthcare management education. Accreditation is only awarded to those programs that meet or exceed CAHME’s criteria.
Accreditation is vitally important to any educational program because it establishes uniform achievement standards. Without accreditation, other academic programs wouldn’t have a way to assess the validity of transfer credits, and prospective employers wouldn’t be able to evaluate your competence. Accreditation allows these parties—and others that have a vested interested in the quality of your skills—to trust that your education has prepared you adequately to meet the challenges they throw your way.
7 Reasons Why Online MHA Programs are Worth it
If you’re interested in working on the management side of healthcare, an online MHA degree will help propel you up the career ladder and maximize your earning potential. Indeed, in many healthcare organizations, it’s becoming nearly impossible to be hired into any but the most entry-level management jobs without this degree.
Opting to enroll in one of the available online MHA programs has many advantages as well:
1. Successful learning: A 2010 study published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Planning
concluded that distance learning is actually more effective than traditional face-to-face classroom learning.
You can pick your own study times and proceed through materials at your own speed. Many people who choose online MHA programs are juggling significant work and/or family responsibilities; if you’re one of these people, you understand how stressful it might be to have to fit your life around the demands of a rigid schedule of on-campus classes.
3. Low cost:
On the whole, online education is far less expensive than traditional campus-based education.
You’ll never have to worry about unreliable public transportation or finding a place to park your car when you enroll in one of the many online master of healthcare administration programs. eLearning relies upon online platforms and tools that are very simple to set up for the most part. All you need is an internet connection.
Isn’t your home more comfortable than a classroom? Maybe, though, you’re one of those people who prefers to work from a table at a bustling café. Both those options—and many more—are available to you when you take online classes.
Lectures, Q & A sessions, and other types of discussion in online classrooms are routinely recorded and archived, saving you the dreary work of transcribing your own notes. If you need to review a point you didn’t quite understand, it’s as easy as calling the appropriate lecture up and hitting the replay button.
7. Multiple communication channels:
You can communicate with your professors and fellow students in a multitude of different ways, including email, video chat, instant messaging, and social media.
How Long are Online MHA Programs?
Online master of healthcare administration programs require the completion of between 32 to 60 credits. The curriculum includes at least one internship, which will be an immersive learning experience at a real-world healthcare facility. On average, full-time students will need two or three years to complete this curriculum; part-time students may need as long as five years. A few programs offer accelerated MHA degrees in as little as 10 weeks. Such programs are quite intensive and assume students have much familiarity with the subject matter before they enroll.
The University of Southern California’s executive master’s of health administration degree program
takes six semesters to complete while Pennsylvania State University’s MHA program
takes seven semesters. If you pursue an MHA program at the Milken Institute School of Public Health associated with George Washington University
, you should be able to graduate in as little as two years by completing eight 10-week learning modules.
How Much Do Online MHA Programs Cost?
The overall costs associated with online MHA degree programs vary between approximately $25,000 to approximately $70,000.
Several factors determine the cost of master of healthcare administration online programs. Chief among them are the number of credits a student will be required to take. In most instances, the more required credits, the higher the cost will be. There are exceptions to this rule, however: The University of Southern California’s executive master’s of health administration entails the completion of only 32 credits but will set you back nearly $70,000.
Another factor is residency: Students with out-of-state addresses often pay more for online classes even when they enroll in online programs. Ohio University
, for example, bills residents of The Buckeye State $654 per credit while out-of-state students pay $673 per credit. Total tuition for Ohio University’s top-ranked online MHA program works out to $25,338 for Ohio residents and $26,022 for non-residents.
Fees at state schools like the University of North Carolina
are often set through an off-campus procedure that involves approval from trustees. The University of North Carolina charges North Carolina residents approximately $4,490 for a full academic course load while residents of other states will have to pay $4,421.
Core courses required for the completion of MHA online degrees include classes you might enroll in if you were pursuing a business degree but taught from a healthcare business perspective. You will take at least one class that presents an overview of the American healthcare system. You can also expect to take classes in management theory and organizational behavior, data analysis, law and ethics, financial management, and strategic planning and marketing. From there, you’ll move on to classes that focus on particular niches within the healthcare industry such as health informatics, health policy, or gerontological care.
Some online MHA programs have a campus component during which students have the opportunity to connect with professors, other students, and healthcare experts in person. Nearly all online MHA programs also include an experiential component during which you will receive on-site training from professionals associated with hospitals, clinics, and other institutions that provide healthcare. In fact, internships may be the most important part of your online MHA degree program because it is through these experiences that you’ll gain hands-on proficiencies and begin developing professional competencies. Many MHA programs also require a thesis project, which allows students to apply the new skills they’ve acquired to the solution of a real-world problem.
Saint Joseph’s University’s core MHA curriculum
consists of 12 courses that comprise 36 credits; additionally, the university offers specializations in informatics, and organizational leadership and development. Coursework at Pennsylvania State University
encompasses topics like healthcare finance, quality assurance, clinical issues, healthcare law, healthcare marketing, and the specific ways that data is used in healthcare information systems. If you enroll in the University of Central Florida’s online executive master of health administration
, you’ll be learning about risk management and healthcare-related accounting in addition to leadership theory as it pertains to the healthcare workplace.
MHA admission requirements vary by school. You will need to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. To verify your GPA, your undergraduate school will need to send transcripts. (Some schools will admit you with a slightly lower GPA if you’re currently working in the healthcare industry.)
You’ll be asked to submit letters of recommendation from former teachers or employers, and you’ll also be required to turn in a resume as well as a detailed statement of purpose. Most MHA programs do not require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), but If you’re an international student, you may need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Most schools request a nonrefundable fee when you submit your application.
Most healthcare administration programs require admission candidates to have some professional experience in the healthcare field. Some schools will let you substitute managerial experience in another industry sector. George Washington University
, for example, requires either three years of previous experience in any industry or two years of previous experience in the health care industry, but either way, you must be employed in the healthcare industry at the time you apply for admission. The University of Scranton
requires three years of supervisory work experience in the healthcare sector with no exceptions.
Most schools require three letters of recommendation, but the University of Cincinnati
only requires two, and instead of a statement of purpose, the university asks for a 750-word essay that addresses your academic goals, your professional objectives, your plan for completing the degree, and what it was about their program that motivated you to apply.
Ways to Pay for Your MHA Education
As an MHA candidate, you may be eligible for federal grants and loans, depending upon the information you submit in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
form. FAFSA funds are limited, so make sure you meet all deadlines to optimize the chances that you’ll get approved for financial aid. Depending upon the school you decide to go to and guidelines in your state of residence, you may be eligible for state grants, too. State financial aid is also awarded on the basis of FAFSA information.
Many graduate schools offer students merit-based scholarships in addition to needs-based grants and loans. Loans from private lenders are another option though keep in mind that private lenders typically impose interest rates that are higher than those imposed by federal and state lending programs.
How to Get Into the Top MHA Online Programs: 6 Expert Admissions Tips
Admission into the best online MHA programs is highly competitive, so you’re really going to have to step up your A game if you want to go to one of them. Here are six tips aimed at helping you improve your chances of getting accepted into one of the best online MHA programs.
1. Tailor your application.
When applying to graduate degree programs, one size does not fit all. Though all online MHA programs cover the same basic areas, each one has a different emphasis, which you can learn about by carefully studying the program’s mission statement, academic offerings, and faculty specializations. Make sure to customize each MHA application you submit so that it’s a strong fit for the program you’re applying to.
2. Get the right experience.
Most MHA programs are looking for candidates who already have some professional experience in the healthcare sector. If you know healthcare administration is an area you want to go into, make sure you streamline your resume accordingly.
Volunteer work is another way to bolster your qualifications in the eyes of an MHA admissions committee.
4. Write a compelling application essay.
In order to become a top-notch healthcare administrator, you must have excellent communication skills, so the essay you submit is a particularly important part of your online MHA program application. You have a unique story; this is your opportunity to showcase it. Make sure to doublecheck your grammar and your spelling.
5. Apply to multiple schools.
Submit applications to more than one school. This will improve your chances of admission into an online MHA program. Make sure to keep careful records of all the schools you’ve applied to and the materials you’ve sent them.
6. Take a standardized exam prep class.
If admission into your favorite school depends upon a high score on a standardized test like the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
, consider taking a prep course.
Following Are The 10 Best Online MHA Programs 2021
7) University of Scranton - Scranton, PA Programs Offered: Executive Certificate in Health Administration
and Master of Health Administration
View Ranking Methodology
Recommended Certifications for MHA Graduates
Professional certifications let colleagues and prospective employers know that you are seriously committed to excellence in your chosen field. Four certification opportunities exist in the healthcare management sector:
The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) offers a credential called FACHE (Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives)
. In order to qualify to sit for the exam, you must have been a member of ACHE for at least three years, have a minimum of five years of healthcare management experience, obtain two references and participate in at least four volunteer experiences. The examination costs $225. The credential must be recertified every three years.
• Certified Medical Manager: The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM)
offers the Certified Medical Manager (CMM)
credential. Exam candidates need not have a graduate degree in healthcare administration, but they must have a minimum of two years of professional experience in the healthcare field and 12 college course units in healthcare or business management. The exam costs $385 for PAHCOM members and $770 for non-members. In order to maintain the credential, you must retake the test every two years.
• Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional:
The Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals offers a credential called Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional (cHAP). The exam fee is $100 for members and $200 for non-members. The cHAP certification must be renewed every three years.
• Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management: CPHRM (Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management)
is a credential specifically designed for healthcare managers who deal with risk assessment. The exam is administered by the American Hospital Association
in conjunction with the American Society for Health Care Risk Management
. The fee is $275 for members and $425 for non-members.
A master’s degree in healthcare administration will groom you specifically for a managerial career. However, that career can be spent in a wide assortment of venues.
With an MHA, you can help plan and direct the delivery of healthcare within a medical center, a hospital, a hospital department, a skilled nursing facility, or a clinic. You can work as an admissions coordinator, screening incoming patients and helping evaluate the level of care he or she will require; or you can take a job as a medical services manager, implementing programs that enhance the quality of patient care. Federal and state governments hire many MHA graduates for input into healthcare policy decisions while corporations hire them to oversee company health insurance and wellness programs. Pharmaceutical firms and medical equipment manufacturers employ MHA-prepared individuals to help them stay on top of domestic and international healthcare policy. After you’ve gained sufficient experience, you can also leverage your expertise as a healthcare consultant.
Average Earnings for MHA Graduates
The average annual salary for someone holding an MHA degree is $76,023, which works out to $36.55 an hour or $6,340 a month. There’s a considerable degree of salary variation, however, depending upon the type of organization you work for and where that organization is located. Urban healthcare administrators earn more than their rural counterparts. Hospital administrators, clinical practice managers, and healthcare consultants tend to earn more than nursing home managers and government employees.
Scale also has a significant impact on earning potential; administrators at large facilities typically make more than administrators at smaller facilities. If you think about it for a moment, you’ll understand why that would have to be true: Administrators at larger facilities are managing far more hands-on providers.
| Hourly|| $36.55|
| Monthly|| $6,340|
| Annual|| $76,023|
Job Market for MHA Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for healthcare administrators will grow by nearly one-third between now and 2030. A good deal of that is due to the escalating need for nursing home facilities and hospitals as the Baby Boom generation ages. Better healthcare insurance access has also increased the number of Americans who utilize healthcare services regularly. Additionally, chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity are on the rise, and the healthcare workers who will be needed to diagnose and treat individuals with these conditions will require management.
Useful Organizations & Associations
Affiliation with organizations designed for healthcare managers can enhance MHA graduates’ professional standing and increase their networking opportunities.
• Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME):
CAHME is the body charged with accrediting graduate healthcare management education.
• Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA):
HFMA is an organization dedicated to helping provide solutions to issues associated with healthcare finance. The organization’s membership consists of more than 56,000 individuals and organizations, ranging from hospital financial officers to representatives from physician practices, provider organizations, and other payer markets.
• Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA):
AUPHA is a worldwide network of colleges, universities, faculty, individuals, and organizations dedicated to improving healthcare delivery by supporting excellence in healthcare management education.
• The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM):
AAHAM is a resource center for issues related to reimbursement, admitting and registration, data management, medical records, and patient relations.
• American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE):
ACHE is a 48,000-member organization committed to promoting networking, education, and career development among healthcare management professionals. ACHE oversees the award of the coveted FACHE credential.
• Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals (AHCAP):
AHCAP is a group for executive assistants, administrative assistants, and other support staff for health managers. AHCAP sponsors a yearly conference and oversees the cHAP certification.
• American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA):
AHIMMA is an advocacy organization for healthcare managers who work with data. The group offers a series of certification exams specifically aimed at individuals who work in the field of health informatics.
• Health Care Administrators Association (HCAA):
HCAA got its start as an advocacy group for third-party administrators and related service providers. Today, its membership includes benefit administrators (TPAs), stop-loss insurance carriers, managing general underwriters, audit firms, medical managers, technology organizations, pharmacy benefit managers, brokers/agents, human resource managers, plan sponsors, and health care consultants.
• The National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM):
NAHAM is an organization focused on creating best practices in the delivery of patient access services.
A masters in healthcare administration is a degree in a highly specialized field, so before you enroll in one of the best online MHA programs, make absolutely sure that this is the area you want to go into. This is a degree with very little transferability outside the healthcare sector. That said, once you graduate, you will likely have your choice of high-paying jobs with great benefits and good job security.
Frequently Asked Questions Answered By Our Expert
1. How Many Accredited Online MHA Programs Are There in the US?
Right now, there are 77 accredited online MHA programs in the U.S. CAHME, the accrediting body, uses strict professional guidelines in its accrediting protocols, and presently, the only online MHA programs CAHME accredits are those associated with campus-based universities.
2. Should I Get an MBA or MHA?
If you’re planning on an administrative career within the healthcare sector, the MHA degree is the more useful of the two. The MHA degree and the MBA degree are both graduate business degrees, but the MHA degree focuses specifically upon the business of healthcare. While the MHA curriculum covers subjects like statistics, economics, finance and accounting, it does not do so with the in-depth quantitative focus you might find in an MBA curriculum. As a business, healthcare operates within a highly regulated environment, and MHA coursework emphasizes the types of tools healthcare providers need to have access to in order to thrive in a regulatory environment.
3. Should I Get an MPH or MHA?
Health administration is actually one of the five subspecialties within public health, so if you get an MPH, you will receive some training in healthcare management, particularly if you choose to focus on the health policy concentration. You will not receive the type of granular training, however, that will qualify you to jump into a decision-making role at a hospital or medical facility. An MHA is the best fit for someone who wants to work in health-related operations and finances.
4. Should a Nurse or a Physician Pursue an MHA degree?
If you’re a clinician who’s looking to make a leap into healthcare management, an MHA degree can assist you in your aspirations. An MHA program will teach you how to assume more business-focused leadership roles within a healthcare facility that pertain to financial oversight, accounting, marketing, and general management of an organization’s operations.
5. Are MHA Programs Competitive?
The most highly ranked MHA programs can be quite competitive. The University of Southern California only accepts 16 percent of the individuals who apply to its highly ranked program. On the other hand, the University of Cincinnati accepts 76 percent of those who apply. To optimize your chances for admission, make sure to write a strong statement of purpose, and submit your application materials in a timely fashion.
6. How Many MHA Programs Should I Apply To?
Applying to a greater number of schools will maximize your chances of admission. You’ll be required to submit a fee with every application you turn in, however, so applying to a lot of schools can get expensive. Remember the strategy you used when you were applying to college? Apply to one dream school, a handful of schools that you feel confident about getting into (given your professional experience), and a few schools you’re certain you’ll get into no matter what.
7. Do I Need to Take the GRE to Apply for an MHA?
Professional schools including ones offering MHA programs have been trending away from standardized tests as a prerequisite for admission. That said, a few still do require a certain score on the GRE before they will consider your application seriously, so check admission requirements for the schools you’re interested in carefully.
8. Can I Get Into an MHA Program Without Professional Healthcare Experience?
Requirements vary from educational institution to educational institution, but on the whole, it will be difficult to get accepted into an MHA program without two or three years of work experience in the healthcare sector. If you don’t have this experience, you might consider applying to a related degree program with more flexible requirements such as the Masters of Public Health in Public Health Management or the Master of Business Administration in Health Management.
9. Does It Matter Where I Get My Online MHA Degree From?
So long as your online MHA program is accredited, you can be confident that the education you receive will meet professional standards. It’s true, however, that more highly ranked schools may be able to offer better internship and networking opportunities. When you’re mulling over which programs to apply to, peruse each program description carefully, and pick the ones that are most likely to help you succeed in your unique career goals.
10. What Are MHA Internships Like?
MHA internships are designed to give students the opportunity to apply decision-making strategies they’ve learned about in the classroom to real-life situations. They generally entail around 300 hours spread out over 10 to 12 weeks. Master of Health Administration internships can be scheduled in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, ambulatory care clinics, county health departments and assisted living facilities.