Earning a Master’s in Healthcare Management Online

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Healthcare represents one of the most important industries in the world, and programs in the field host some of the largest student populations at the undergraduate and graduate levels. For aspiring healthcare leaders, an online healthcare management master's degree provides one of the most direct routes to management careers in healthcare while also allowing for increased flexibility.

The following information highlights some of the career options available to graduates, including salary expectations and projected job growth. Students can also learn about common courses in these types of programs, different funding opportunities, and various organizations available for career support.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Healthcare Management?

The ability to complete a healthcare management master's degree online makes it a viable option and a quality investment for professionals at all levels. Many students proceed directly from a bachelor's program into a graduate program, while others opt to return to school a few years later to qualify for new positions or specializations. Even experienced professionals looking to bolster their qualifications, salaries, and career prospects can find value in earning a master's degree in healthcare management online.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Healthcare Management?

Pursuing Specialization

For health science graduates or general healthcare professionals seeking a management position in a medical office, this online master's degree provides the leadership training and healthcare-specific management skills necessary to advance in the field. Furthermore, the leadership skills gained from an online master's degree in healthcare management can be applied to a variety of careers and industries. Graduates may qualify for leadership positions in different healthcare specializations or transfer into management roles in non-healthcare organizations and industries.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Healthcare administrators looking to advance through the ranks into leadership or managerial positions can qualify for these advanced roles by earning a healthcare management graduate degree. Healthcare managers hold large amounts of responsibility and serve multiple functions within a healthcare setting. While many master's degrees command high salaries, the advanced training and industry-specific skills earned by graduates in this field enable individuals to join a select group capable of assuming healthcare management roles.

Online Learning Technology

Online learning provides students with increased study flexibility and additional school and program options. For working healthcare professionals, online master's programs in healthcare management offer valuable professional development opportunities while allowing workers to maintain steady employment. Additionally, the nature of online delivery enables participants to utilize some of the industry's latest technologies. Graduate students receive useful training on advanced communication technologies and online systems.

Prerequisites for Online Healthcare Management Programs

When applying to a healthcare management master's degree online program, students must meet certain prerequisites for admission. While these vary depending on the school and program, the following list highlights common requirements.

    • Work Experience: Work experience may prove valuable for students in this type of graduate program, but most schools only require students to possess a bachelor's degree. However, many programs do design courses to build on administrative experience, and some schools may grant transfer credit for relevant work experience.
    • Exams and Test Scores: Some graduate programs, including many master's degree in healthcare management programs, ask students to submit their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores. While acceptable scores vary depending on the program, most schools require results from within the last five years.
    • Coursework: Though not all healthcare management graduate degrees require a healthcare-related bachelor's degree for admission, applicants who have taken medical-related courses may receive preference. Many programs require applicants to possess biology or other science credits, while some require a full healthcare bachelor's degree. Programs may also attach GPA requirements to course prerequisites, transfer credits, and degrees.
    • Recommendations: Graduate programs usually request personal or professional recommendations from students. These letters demonstrate an applicant's character, highlighting the student's strengths, determination, and qualities that make them a strong candidate for graduate school. Recommendation letters should come from former teachers or employers, preferably in a healthcare-related field or program.
    • Essays: While not all programs require personal essays, these documents give students the chance to identify their personal interests in a program and discuss their career and educational goals. In some cases, essays may allow students to address extenuating circumstances or explain specific elements in their application.
    • Interviews: Some programs require candidates to complete an interview with a department head. These interviews provide students with the opportunity to talk about their interests, goals, and experiences. Although interviews may prove rarer than other application requirements, students should prepare for the possibility.
    • International Students For international students, application requirements change somewhat. Many international students must receive prior credit evaluation from an eligible evaluator. This enables U.S. schools to determine what level of education the incoming student possesses in comparison to domestic applicants. Additionally, most schools require international students to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) results if applicants hail from non-English-speaking countries.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Healthcare Management?

After earning a master's degree in healthcare management online, graduates may qualify for many leadership positions. However, even at the management level, salaries vary dramatically. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 10th-percentile salary for medical service managers stands at $58,350, whereas the 90th-percentile salary exceeds $175,000. While experience plays a large role in securing management positions, many healthcare service leadership roles require the advanced training and education obtained in a master's program.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Healthcare Management Graduates

Careers Stats Description

Medical and Health Services Managers

Median Pay: $98,350

Job Growth: 20%

Health services managers oversee the day-to-day activities of a medical facility, department, or clinic. These leaders typically manage the staffing, purchasing, and administration needs of the facility. The administrative functions of this position require that professionals possess strong communication and technical skills.

Administrative Services Managers

Median Pay: $94,020

Job Growth: 10%

Administrative services managers oversee departments and offices in a variety of organizations and industries. They typically maintain the recordkeeping, purchasing, and accounting needs of an organization. Ideal candidates for this career enjoy detail-oriented tasks and boast strong communication and analytical skills.

Financial Managers

Median Pay: $125,080

Job Growth: 19%

Financial managers take charge of an organization's finances. These professionals ensure their employers stay financially healthy by identifying inefficiencies and developing improvement strategies wherever necessary. In addition to strong math and analytical skills, finance managers typically require superior organization skills.

Management Analysts

Median Pay: $82,450

Job Growth: 14%

Management analysts and consultants assist organizations in improving their overall health. This typically requires analysts to observe business functions or finances, identify inefficiencies, and suggest methods for improvement. The job requires professionals to hold excellent communication and problem-solving skills, along with in-depth finance and business knowledge.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nontraditional Careers for Healthcare Management Graduates

While completing an online master's in healthcare management primarily prepares graduates for careers in the healthcare industry and other leadership positions, graduates may also pursue nontraditional career options. The following list describes a few other career options students may wish to explore.

Career Stats Description

Insurance Underwriters

Median Pay: $69,760

Job Growth: -5%

Insurance underwriters manage applications and policies for insurance companies. Professionals analyze client information, determine applicable policies, and handle any claims. The administrative skills and automation software experience obtained in a healthcare management programs prepare graduates for many aspects of insurance underwriting.

Skills Overlapped: Like the traditional healthcare management career path, insurance underwriters require analytical skills and detail-oriented mindsets.

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Median Pay: $119,120

Job Growth: 5%

These managers determine employee compensation and benefits. They analyze employee contributions and their value to organizations, while also adhering to or establishing personnel budgets. Compensation managers require knowledge of state and federal laws and policies. Healthcare managers obtain many of the administrative and finance skills required by this position.

Skills Overlapped: Similar to healthcare managers, compensation managers with strong communication and leadership skills thrive in this field.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Median Pay: $92.360

Job Growth: 10%

Postsecondary administrators work in different departments within a college or university. They manage admissions, registrations, finances, and student affairs. While healthcare managers learn within a healthcare-specific context, their administrative skills transfer into several fields, including postsecondary education.

Skills Overlapped: Graduates with computer and organizational skills find success in healthcare management and education administration careers.

Social and Community Service Managers

Median Pay: $64,100

Job Growth: 18%

These managers oversee social service programs on behalf of the community and its stakeholders. Professionals must manage program proposals and implementation, which may include assessing community needs, planning budgets, and giving proposal presentations. Equipped with broad administrative training, healthcare managers possess the ability to complete the typical duties of this position.

Skills Overlapped: The leadership and managerial skills obtained while earning a healthcare management degree put graduates in a position to succeed as community service managers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paying for an Online Master's in Healthcare Management

Financing a degree can prove daunting for many students, but earning an online healthcare management master's degree changes the financial landscape compared to other, more traditional study methods. In addition to the ability to take classes while working, online students may be able to cut costs by taking advantage of different tuition rates (some out-of-state distance learners may qualify for in-state tuition), accelerated course loads, and shorter graduation timelines. Furthermore, healthcare management graduate students receive access to substantial financial support, including grants and scholarships.

Scholarships for Online Healthcare Management Master's Students

While students can apply for scholarships from a variety of sources, healthcare management students benefit from entering a major industry. As a result of the healthcare industry's size, importance, and continued growth, healthcare management students enjoy access to many scholarships offered by government agencies, schools, and various healthcare organizations.

What to Expect from a Master's-Level Online Healthcare Management Program

For students earning a master's in healthcare management online, the digital environment provides a variety of advantages. These programs often shorten graduation timelines by using asynchronous course delivery and letting participants take heavier course loads. The typical program runs between one and two years.

Most schools include various milestones near a program's end, like a capstone project and/or internships. These experiences allow students to put their learning into practice before completing their program.

Major Milestones

  1. Capstone Project

    Most students complete capstone projects during their final semester, although some programs may allow students to work on these earlier. These projects typically take the form of a course for credit during the final semester of a healthcare management master's degree track. Students tackle practical problems in the field, attempting to overcome challenges by applying their newly learned skills.

  2. Internship

    Internships take place at different times throughout the program, but most programs make them a priority during the final term. These experiences allow students to apply their training in actual work environments. For example, learners can gain important practical experience working with and/or shadowing a healthcare manager.

  3. Thesis

    Thesis projects can take different shapes depending on the graduate program. Some learners work on a thesis as the main requirement for their degrees, enrolling in classes that supplement their ability to complete a paper or project. Although a participant does not present their thesis project until the final weeks of a program, they may work on it throughout their time in graduate school. A thesis paper demonstrates a student's ability to structure and present a solid argument based on in-depth research, the application of graduate-level teachings, and a strong understanding of the healthcare management field. However, not all healthcare management graduate programs require a master's thesis.

  4. Licensure Exam Preparation

    In the field of healthcare management, professionals can benefit from earning many different licenses and certifications. Some graduate programs offer students courses that specifically help prepare them for different license or certification exams upon graduation.

  5. Application for Fraduation

    In the weeks leading up to their final term, students should apply for graduation. This informs the school of a student's intentions and ensures the institution prepares the necessary documentation.

Coursework

Each healthcare management track features different courses and requirements, but the profession demands that some classes remain constant across most programs. The following list identifies some common courses graduate students can expect to take.

Healthcare Finance

Since administration represents a major element in healthcare management, most programs teach students to manage finances. This training typically includes budgeting, purchasing, and accounting at various levels.

Healthcare Policy

Healthcare policy offers students training about the laws and regulations that govern healthcare in the United States. Students learn some of the ethical issues in the profession, along with the consequences of failing to adhere to the profession's laws and principles.

Global Health Systems

This course teaches students about healthcare systems across the world, providing information about how other countries manage healthcare issues, different communicable diseases, and techniques used by health professionals. This information helps paint a clearer picture of global healthcare.

Principles of Leadership

Healthcare managers require strong leadership skills to efficiently motivate their teams. This class teaches students proper motivational techniques by focusing on productivity assessment, training strategies, and new tools for employee evaluation.

Communication

This course teaches the interpersonal skills leaders need to communicate effectively. Coursework may also cover different presentation, professional writing, and public speaking skills.

Degree Timelines

Because online programs offer diverse study schedules and delivery methods, graduation timelines vary more than on-campus programs. The following table discusses the common completion times of a few program types.

Enrollment Status Time to Complete Description

Part-Time

3-4 years

Part-time enrollment usually allows students with full-time jobs to complete schoolwork after hours, while taking one or two classes at a time. Typically, part-time students complete 9-15 credits each year and take 3-4 years to graduate. Students should note that not all programs allow for part-time study, and some funding sources require full-time enrollment.

Full-Time

2 years

Full-time study typically requires students to take 20-30 credits per year, allowing participants to complete a 45-credit master's degree in around two years. Some full-time online students pursuing a degree still manage to work full time. However, full-time study does require a significant time commitment.

Accelerated

10-18 months

While not always available, an accelerated online master's degree track enables students to graduate in fewer than 18 months. Depending on the program design, accelerated programs may allow students to complete courses faster than normal or let students to take on more courses at once. These programs may appeal to committed students with flexible schedules looking to earn their degrees in the shortest amount of time.

Licenses and Certifications

Each state features its own requirements for healthcare professionals, although national licensing requirements do not generally exist for healthcare managers. For professionals aspiring to work in long-term care facilities, however, each state requires licensure. Healthcare managers may wish to obtain certifications to bolster their skills and qualifications. These optional programs offer training and certification in specific disciplines within the healthcare field. The following list highlights a few popular credentials available to healthcare management graduates.

    • Certified Medical Manager: This certification demonstrates the advanced education, experience, and knowledge of administrative healthcare managers. To sit for the exam, candidates must hold at least two years of healthcare and patient care support work experience and have completed at least 12 healthcare management (or related) credits at the post-secondary level. The exam takes three hours to complete and costs $770 for non-members and $385 for members.
    • Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management: Students interested in health informatics and health management professions — and related specialties — may wish to pursue relevant certification. Candidates must meet certain education prerequisites, pay an application fee, and pass an exam. A master's in healthcare management meets the educational requirements for several of these health information management certifications.
    • Certified Nursing Home Administrator: To gain this certification, candidates must possess at least two years of related experience, 40 hours of continuing education, state licensure, and an acceptable healthcare degree; a healthcare management graduate degree meets this requirement. Candidates then need to pass a certification exam, which costs between $150 and $310.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations represent a valuable resource for healthcare managers at every level of their careers. Current students and recent graduates can find scholarship opportunities, career services assistance, and job boards through these associations, while experienced professionals enjoy access to networking and professional development opportunities. The list below describes some of the most popular professional organizations for healthcare managers.

  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: This national organization strives to develop the profession by providing its members with networking opportunities, access to certifications, and professional development courses. Members also gain access to valuable career-building support.
  • American College of Healthcare Executives: Dedicated to improving healthcare and the executives who work within the industry, ACHE offers its members access to an expansive industry network, research articles and publications, and professional development opportunities.
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association: HFMA unites the financial managers who work at all levels within the healthcare industry. Members can network with their peers and access training programs and professional certifications.
  • American Health Information Management Association: Driven to improve the standards for recording and maintaining health data, AHIMA promotes better industry standards and ethics. Members gain access to a valuable network, professional development programs, and certifications.
  • National Association of Healthcare Access Management: In addition to promoting a set of best practices for the industry and professionals, NAHAM seeks to equip its members with improved skills and knowledge. The association achieves these goals through professional development, networking, and certification.
  • Association of University Programs in Health Administration: This resource provides students with information about various health administration programs, scholarships, and careers. Visitors can find certification information and access industry publications.
  • Department of Health and Human Services: Individuals can visit this resource to learn about the laws and regulations governing health services across the country. The website contains information on training programs, social services, and public health and safety.
  • Health Care Administrators Association: As an association that promotes the education of healthcare administrators, HCAA offers valuable resources for aspiring healthcare managers, including access to networking events, educational advice, and career information.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC offers many resources that can help healthcare students and professionals, including access to research, publications, and information about public health.
  • Healthcare edX: This resource offers students access to a variety of free healthcare courses, lectures, and programs to help supplement their graduate-level training.