Earning a Master's in Health Science Online

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Earning a graduate degree in health science allows students and current healthcare workers to expand their knowledge and advance within their specialization. A master's in health science prepares graduates for careers throughout the healthcare industry, unlike a master's in healthcare administration, which prepares students to work specifically in administrative roles.

Professionals in various healthcare roles, including clinical and administrative positions, can benefit from earning a master's in health sciences online. The guide below includes information about what to expect from a master's in health science program, along with salary expectations for graduates.

Why Get a Master's in Health Science?

Pursue Deeper Knowledge and Specialization

Many healthcare professionals earn a master's in health science to enhance their credibility and become a leader within their specialization. Graduate programs help clinical practitioners and administrative professionals in healthcare gain advanced knowledge through study and research. Learners can also explore a different specialization and gain knowledge and skills in other areas of the healthcare industry.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Earning a master's degree can help professionals advance their career and secure healthcare positions with more responsibilities and higher pay. Many professionals pursue a master's degree to contribute to the field through graduate research. Professionals who earn a master's in health sciences online often have opportunities to enter a new career field.

Online Learning Technology

Healthcare professionals utilize a variety of technology, including industry-specific software and many types of devices. Earning a master's in health sciences online allows learners to practice using technology while conducting research and exploring healthcare topics. Some programs provide students with free software and access to on-campus computer and technology labs where learners can become familiar with the latest technology.

Prerequisites for Master's in Health Science Programs

Prior to pursuing a master's in health sciences online, students must complete prerequisites and requirements, including prior coursework and experience. Specific admission requirements vary by school, but the prerequisites below are common for most programs.

    • Bachelor's Degree from an Accredited Institution Generally, graduate programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Some health sciences programs require a bachelor's in a specific field, but many accept students with any undergraduate major. Many students apply to master's programs during their undergraduate senior year and must complete their bachelor's prior to enrolling in the graduate program.
    • Healthcare Experience Many master's in health sciences programs require applicants to have a minimum number of years or hours working in the field. Programs may accept undergraduate internships as work experience, or they may require applicants to have completed professional experience after earning their bachelor's degree. Some programs require applicants to have experience in the specialization area they intend to pursue.
    • Computer Skills Some master's in health sciences online programs prefer applicants with demonstrable technology skills, acquired through coursework, self-instruction, or professional experience with certain types of software and devices. Generally, online learners should be comfortable using common software and operating systems.
    • Professional Licensure Depending on the applicant's specialization, health sciences programs may prefer applicants who hold licensure or certification. Common credentials include a nursing license for practicing nurses, a national allied health certification for general healthcare professionals, and any bachelor's-level educational certificates.
    • Personal Health Insurance Some programs require students to provide proof of medical insurance prior to enrolling. Many health sciences concentrations involve in-person fieldwork, and colleges sometimes require students to hold insurance to cover on-the-job injuries or incidents.

How Much Can I Make With a Master's in Health Science?

Across the variety of occupations within the healthcare industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 18% increase in job growth from 2016-2026. According to data from PayScale, professionals with a master's in health science earn an average of $76,000 per year. Although work experience significantly impacts earning potential, graduate programs provide broad and diverse skill sets, which can help graduates command higher salaries.

Potential Careers

Careers Stats Description

Medical and Health Services Managers

Median Annual Salary: $99,730

Sometimes referred to as healthcare administrators, these professionals manage departments or specific clinical areas to ensure patients receive efficient care. Medical and health services managers typically hold at least a bachelor's degree; however, many employers prefer candidates with a master's. These managers may also represent their department, recruit and hire staff, and manage departmental budgets.

Health Educators

Median Annual Salary: $46,080

Health educators work in a variety of environments, including schools, hospitals, and public health departments. They educate patients about their diagnoses and help them understand the risks and benefits of treatment options. These educators may also address community health issues. Many health educators hold a master's degree and certification.

Dieticians and Nutritionists

Median Annual Salary: $60,370

Dieticians work in settings including hospitals, outpatient care centers, and colleges. These professionals provide nutritional advice and guidance. They create individual diet and nutrition plans based on an assessment of the patient's needs and may work alongside medical professionals. Many dieticians and nutritionists hold a graduate degree, along with certification and licensure.

Paying for an Online Master's in Health Science Program

Graduate students earning their master's in health sciences online can pursue various options to fund their education. Learners should research programs and tuition rates and learn about different enrollment options, including accelerated programs and programs that offer flat, per-semester tuition rates. Students should also consider applying for field-specific scholarships, in addition to general student grants and financial aid.

Scholarships

Although graduate school can be expensive, students can pursue a variety of funding opportunities to help offset the cost. Students earning their master's in health sciences online often benefit from applying for scholarships reserved for learners in the healthcare field.

What to Expect from a Master's in Health Science Program

Students earning a master's in health sciences online must typically complete 30-45 credits, which generally takes 2-6 semesters, depending on the student's enrollment status. Most learners pursuing a health sciences degree select a specialization or concentration area. Master's programs in the field often culminate in a thesis or capstone project, which students complete during their final year of study. Classes in online health sciences programs often utilize discussion boards and video lectures.

Major Milestones

Each master's in health sciences program has unique admission requirements and program elements. However, the milestones below are typical for most students pursuing a graduate degree in the field.

  1. Complete Core Coursework

    During the first semester or two, students generally complete the core curriculum. Students in all concentrations must complete this coursework, which generally includes broad, seminar-style classes.

  2. Choose a Concentration

    Students earning a health sciences degree often choose a concentration or specialization. While completing core coursework, or directly after, students select a concentration to focus on during the rest of their studies.

  3. File Intent to Graduate

    Most programs require students to formally apply for graduation, or advancement to candidacy, prior to completing a capstone or thesis project. Some programs require learners to take an oral or written comprehensive exam before filing intent.

  4. Complete Capstone or Thesis

    Capstone courses often involve the completion of an individual or collaborative project, a formal portfolio, or an internship. Thesis projects comprise a formal research project.

  5. Apply to Jobs or Professional School

    Depending on the student's career plans, they may spend their final semester applying to jobs in the field or submitting applications to doctoral or professional schools.

Coursework

Available and required courses vary by program and specialization. However, the courses below offer a sample of coursework students can expect to complete during a master's in health sciences online program.

Graduate Research Methods

Students explore research methodologies commonly used in health sciences, including quantitative and qualitative methods. Students may employ one or more of these methods to conduct an original research project.

Graduate Writing

Students practice academic and scholarly writing. Learners may take this course in tandem with a research methods class, preparing students to write formal research reports. The course may also emphasize writing for publication in scholarly journals.

Healthcare Policy

Students explore the policy-making process in the healthcare industry, at the local and national levels. Learners discuss the impact of policies on health organizations and communities. Students in the course often analyze existing policies through critical writing and reading.

Public Health

This course provides an overview of the foundations of public health. Learners explore disease prevention, the design of public health programs, and various types of health-related community needs.

Leadership

This course prepares students to enter leadership positions. Coursework explores effective healthcare leadership and management skills, and students learn to foster positive relationships with staff members.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Learners pursuing a master's in health sciences online have access to a variety of digital and in-person resources. Students can join professional organizations in the field to stay involved in current research and news, network with healthcare professionals, and learn about job openings. Many organizations offer local chapters, meetings, and annual conferences. The list below includes organizations and resources for health sciences students.

  • Society for Public Health Education: This organization represents more than 4,000 professionals in public health and education. The society provides a knowledge base and ongoing advocacy for professionals in the field.
  • National AHEC Organization: This organization of health education centers works to expand and improve the healthcare workforce. NAO provides clinical training placements and service-learning opportunities for students and professionals.
  • National Consortium for Health Science Education: This consortium of professionals and organizations aims to foster leadership within the health sciences field. The consortium offers annual conferences and career services.
  • International Journal of Health Sciences Education: This scholarly journal publishes multidisciplinary, current research and advances in health sciences education. Students can utilize this publication for research purposes, and they can submit their own work for publication.
  • Health Sciences Association: This organization represents thousands of health sciences professionals. Members have access to professional development and scholarship opportunities, along with health and welfare benefits.