Earning a Master's in Health Services Administration Online

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Individuals who pursue a master's in health services administration online set themselves up for exciting, upwardly mobile careers that earn salaries far above the national average for all occupations. They also enter a field with stable and prolonged growth, creating demand for more qualified professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for health services managers should grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026, creating 72,100 new positions.

Some prospective students question the difference between health services administration and healthcare administration master's degrees. While the former emphasizes management of staff to maximize patient care quality, the latter focuses more on administrative functions. Keep reading to learn about common jobs, salaries, funding opportunities, and coursework.

Why Get a Master's in Health Services Administration?

Pursue Deeper Knowledge and Specialization

While a bachelor's in health services administration introduces learners to the discipline, it typically focuses more on providing a broad basin of competencies rather than instilling deeper knowledge in the field. Master's programs allow learners to specialize their knowledge in a niche area and build real expertise by the time they graduate.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Students who possess a bachelor's in health services administration qualify to take on entry-level roles, but they may struggle to move up the career ladder without additional education. Those who pursue a master's in health services administration online can compete against other qualified administrative practitioners for positions offering high levels of pay and responsibility alongside a senior-level title.

Online Learning Technology

As the health services administration field continues to embrace technologies that make patient care more streamlined, the need exists for qualified administrators with experience using digital management tools. Graduates of master's in health services administration online degrees are well-versed in using education and communication technologies, and many of their skills transfer to those used in healthcare management.

Prerequisites for Master's in Health Services Administration Programs

Given the rigor of master's in health services administration online degrees, most departments prepare a set list of prerequisites that candidates must meet if they hope to receive an offer of admission. These requirements vary by school, so students should check with individual admission departments. The prerequisites discussed below give students an idea of what to expect.

    • Bachelor's Degree From an Accredited College

      Though most departments do not require applicants to hold a degree in healthcare administration or a related field, they do expect them to possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

    • Minimum GPA

      Almost all programs require students to submit official transcripts from any schools attended so they can assess GPAs. Less competitive programs look for GPAs in the neighborhood of 2.25-2.5, while more competitive departments often expect applicants to possess GPAs of 3.0 or higher.

    • GMAT/GRE Scores

      Not all schools require GMAT or GRE scores, but some use them as a further metric for differentiating candidates. Less competitive programs look for scores in the 50th percentile or above, while more exclusive departments expect students to score in the 25th percentile or better. Those with exceptional GPAs may be able to offset this requirement.

    • Prerequisite Classes

      While not a requirement of all programs, some want students to possess existing classroom experience in relevant subject areas. Common topics include accounting, statistics, or financial management. Students who need these classes can either take them at a community college or at the school they plan to attend.

    • Work Experience

      Some master's in health services administration — particularly those aimed at mid-career applicants — look for students to hold at least a few years of professional experience. The work does not necessarily need to be in healthcare, but it should constitute full-time employment in a professional setting.

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

Graduates of master's in health services administration online degrees often earn wages that sit far above the national average for all occupations. The BLS reports that individuals in the bottom 10% of earners brought home less than $58,680 in May 2018. Those in the top 10% earned salaries in excess of $182,000. While experience helps in garnering higher salaries, higher education also instills a broader and deeper set of skills that often translate to higher-level positions offering better pay.

Potential Careers

Careers Stats Description

Health Services Manager

Median Annual Salary: $99,730

These professionals work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and physicians' offices to oversee the day-to-day work of other administrative and health services employees. They ensure all staff possess the skills, training, and support to carry out their roles effectively and continually improve patient outcomes.

Human Resources Manager

Median Annual Salary: $113,300

HR managers work in a variety of professional settings, including healthcare settings, to manage and coordinate organizational staff. They recruit, hire, train, and oversee employees, with special emphasis on finding suitable staff for open roles, managing benefits, coordinating hiring processes, and managing any issues arising.

Health Services Executive

Median Annual Salary: $104,980

These C-Level executives work in this highest echelons of the health services management field to set strategic goals and complete long-term planning for the future of the company. They liaise with other high-level staff about organizational priorities, manage large contracts, participate in the hiring of additional staff, and oversee other health services management employees.

Paying for an Online Master's in Health Services Administration Program

Completing a master's in health services administration online requires a substantial amount of money. Learners who attend schools that provide in-state tuition rates often pay the least, while those at private institutions pay the most. Some degree seekers also opt for accelerated programs that allow them to graduate and begin earning a salary more quickly. Several grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities exist specifically for health services administration learners.

Scholarships

Scholarships can greatly reduce the amount of student loan burdens graduates face, making it well worth their time to find and apply for these awards. In addition to those offered by schools and academic departments, learners can also look for awards from professional associations, state and federal government programs, nonprofit organizations, and healthcare corporations.

What to Expect From a Master's in Health Services Administration Program

Master's in health services administration degrees usually take 2-3 years to complete, depending on curricular requirements of individual schools. Some accelerated programs may allow individuals to graduate in as few as 15 months. Once enrolled, students use learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, etc.) to watch lectures, converse with fellow students and faculty, turn in assignments, work on group projects, and take exams.

Major Milestones

Learners encounter several milestones while completing a master's in health services administration; these help encourage focus and move them closer to graduation.

  1. Capstone Coursework

    Capstone coursework calls on learners to develop a project that demonstrates the breadth of knowledge they gained throughout the degree in an innovative and comprehensive way.

  2. Fellowships/Internships

    Some programs require students to participate in summer- or semester-long internships at an approved health services facility. These experiences help students build real-world skills and industry contacts prior to graduating.

  3. Thesis and Defense

    Students interested in research or academic roles often gravitate toward programs that allow them to write a thesis. Students focused more on administrative roles often bypass this optional component.

  4. Intent to Graduate/Completion Confirmation

    After meeting all degree requirements, learners must alert the registrar's office of their intent to graduate. They must also pay any outstanding fines or fees and order their cap and gown.

  5. Application to Professional School

    If planning to progress into a doctoral program, many students work on their applications during the final year of master's study. They also need to write personal statements and submit letters of recommendation.

Coursework

Courses highlighted in this section offer a glimpse of what to expect in a master's in health services administration online program, but learners should conduct additional research to learn more.

Health Policy

This survey course considers current and historic policy surrounding health, the role that legislative advocacy plays in this industry, and the economic and political implications of introducing new policies.

Healthcare Management

This course introduces students to the various roles and functions of health services leaders and staff, with special emphasis on roles commonly inhabited by graduates of these programs.

Health Systems Financial Management

This course provides learners with the skills needed to manage budgets, oversee capital projects, raise funds, participate in audits, and make smart investments.

Leading Through Times of Change

This class walks students through common scenarios when healthcare organizations experience change or growth. Students read case studies to develop insight into best practices for managing these processes.

Managing Long-Term Care Facilities

This course appeals to students who want to work in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other healthcare facilities focused on providing long-term care. Learners look at financial, policy, and organizational issues that may arise.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations devoted to the support and championing of health services administration professionals appeal to current students, recent graduates, and those who have worked in the field for decades. In exchange for modest annual membership fees, individuals take advantage of myriad services that help them stay connected to the discipline and access helpful industry materials. A few of the top organizations are highlighted below, but students can also look for chapters at their school or in their region.

  • Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals: AHCAP provides members with access to annual educational conferences, webinars, industry certifications, continuing education programs, discussion forums, software and technology, and job postings.
  • American College of Healthcare Executives: Members of ACHE take advantage of online tutorials, career resources, printed and online resources, webinars, chapter directories, a podcast, an annual conference, and a learning center.
  • Health Care Administrators Association: The HCAA hosts summits, executive forums, seminars, and webinars to help members network and stay connected. The group also offers an emerging leader program, scholarships, and the option to join committees and task forces.
  • American Health Information Management Association: AHIMA supports professionals working in information management by offering professional practice experience, trainings, certification, webinars, conferences, and a student career center.
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association: HFMA members gain access to virtual pitch contests, podcasts, research and trends, certifications, a job bank, career self-assessments, community groups, a member directory, and a series of events and conferences.