Table of Contents

What Does it Mean to Study Healthcare Administration?

When thinking about a career in healthcare, images of doctors or nurses might be the first to come to mind. In reality, there are hundreds of different healthcare careers, from the people who administer the healing to the people who manage the industry. Doctors and nurses do not work alone; many other people work behind the scenes to keep the healthcare system functioning — some of these are healthcare administrators.

If there was not a need for healthcare administration professionals, then so many online healthcare administration degrees would not likely be available. Just search any employment website for healthcare administration degree jobs and you'll find options from clinic manager to healthcare administrator, healthcare compliance manager and more. This job availability aligns with Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showing that jobs for medical and health services managers are predicted to grow 18 percent - much faster than average - by 2028. If you are asking is healthcare administration a good career choice, you might just now have an answer.

Types of Healthcare Administration Degrees

When evaluating candidates for entry-level management positions, employers seek applicants with the appropriate educational and work experience. Healthcare administration majors should exhibit excellent communication skills, understand basic management concepts, and possess the leadership qualities needed for the position. For healthcare administration graduates, business planning skills and the ability to perform quantitative analysis is also a must. Students are encouraged to look for volunteer or internship positions with healthcare providers to supplement their coursework.

Before committing to a program, healthcare administration majors should first decide which type of degree fits best with their career goals and objectives. A wide variety of degree types can be found online, ranging from associate degrees to doctoral programs

Associate Degrees in Healthcare Administration

This degree can be an excellent primer for entry into the healthcare management field. Students learn both basic business and healthcare skills to be able to work in a doctor's office or other healthcare facility.

Factors prospective students should consider

Typically, an associate degree requires about 60 credits of classes, the equivalent of approximately two years of education. Students can find both campus-based and online associate degrees at this level.

Type of courses and clinical experiences offered

Within a healthcare administration associate program, courses could include:

  • Ethics for Healthcare Professionals
  • Fundamentals of Healthcare Reimbursement
  • Introduction to Healthcare Delivery Systems
  • Introduction to Healthcare Software and Technology
  • Medical Terminology

Skills students can learn

In a healthcare administration degree program at the two-year level, you could learn how to manage administrative and business duties, complete payroll and processing tasks and hire and manage staff.

Jobs related to this degree

Potential occupations for someone with an associate degree in healthcare administration include positions such as patient coordinator, program coordinator and support specialist.

Bachelor's Degrees in Healthcare Administration

Bachelor's degree programs help teach healthcare administration majors the analytical skills they need to succeed in both their own work environment and the healthcare system as a whole.

Factors prospective students should consider

A bachelor's degree in healthcare administration provides an interdisciplinary approach to your education, covering topics as varied as administration, planning and policy. You also might be able to specialize in areas as focused as entrepreneurship, project management or public administration.

Type of courses and clinical experiences offered

If you are accepted into a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration program, you might take classes such as:

  • Fundamentals of Private Sector Finance
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Principles of Leadership
  • Risk Management for Healthcare

Skills students can learn

In these programs, students typically develop skills in financial management, statistical and economic analysis, and decision-making. Special emphasis is often placed on ethical concepts, understanding the healthcare organizational structure, and how health concerns affect individual communities.

Jobs related to this degree level

After completing a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, you might seek employment as a clinic administrator, health information manager or healthcare human resources staff.

Master's Degrees in Healthcare Administration

A master's degree in healthcare administration is often pursued by professionals already working in health provider jobs who want to move into management positions. These programs usually have a number of different concentrations available. Some programs even have concentrations that are specifically tailored to practitioners seeking to improve their management skills.

Factors prospective students should consider

A master's degree at this level is often referred to as an MHA, or Master's in Health Administration degree. Concentrations could be available in areas as varied as leadership and organizational development, systems and policy-making or social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Type of courses and clinical experience offered

Healthcare administration degree requirements could include courses, such as:

  • Analytical Decision Making for Healthcare
  • Economics of Healthcare
  • Emerging Issues in Healthcare Management
  • Global Health Systems
  • Policy and Regulation

Skills students can learn

In a master's program in healthcare administration, students could gain skills to enable them to create a more value-based and disease prevention system and study case systems useful in real-world settings.

Jobs related to this degree level

Potential healthcare administration degree jobs at the master's level might include employment as a hospital or health services administrator, ambulatory surgery center director or academic program or departmental administrator.

PhD in Healthcare Administration

A Ph.D. or Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) degree allows you to pursue critical studies of advanced problems in healthcare administration. Typically, Ph.D. holders research, teach and write about high-level medical and policy-related topics throughout the field.

Factors prospective students should consider

Since advancement to senior-level positions usually requires only a master's degree, a Ph.D. is rarely needed for non-academic or non-research positions. However, a Ph.D. can be important for those who are looking to affect healthcare administration policy on a broader level. You might also seek a Doctor of Healthcare Administration, which is a degree that typically is more applicable to the business world.

Types of courses and clinical experiences offered

In addition to completing a dissertation, core courses of a doctoral program in healthcare administration could include:

  • Advanced Healthcare Policy Analysis
  • Economics of the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry
  • Economics of Public Management
  • Managed Care and Market Structure

Skills students can learn

In a doctoral program in healthcare administration, you could learn how to become a better leader, apply research to your work or initiate innovative healthcare practices.

Jobs related to this degree

Career opportunities for someone with a PhD or doctoral degree in healthcare administration could include becoming a C-level executive, consultant or professor.

Online or Campus-Based Healthcare Administration Programs?

People wanting to major in healthcare administration will be happy to know that both campus-based and online programs are available. Some healthcare administration degree online programs may allow you to transfer in prior credits, take tests to receive credits for previous experience or to accelerate through degree content and curriculum. Many of these programs are not only accredited; the ability to specialize, find multiple start dates throughout the year, take courses in 8-week or other shortened formats may also be at your fingertips. With online programs available from the undergraduate to graduate level, there may be little to keep you from enrolling.

Financial Aid for Healthcare Administration Students

How exactly do you fund your way to becoming a health administration major? One route is to look for scholarships. While scholarships typically cover just a small part of tuition and fees, they can help - some could be up to $5,000 - and do not have to be repaid, as loans do. The following organizations offer scholarships for healthcare administration majors:

Other ways to help pay for a healthcare administration degree include using financial aid, grants or student loans. Our financial aid page provides further suggestions to assist with paying for a college education.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration covers such a broad area that it can be difficult to describe the field. What administrators do depends on the type and size of facility at which they are working. The table below provides insight into a healthcare administration degree salary as well as job growth in various fields and numbers as far as total employment. Data is provided for several different job occupations in healthcare administration, with more descriptions on these occupations listed afterward.

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Management Analysts709,750$95,560
Medical and Health Services Managers394,910$115,160
Social and Community Service Managers156,460$72,900
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Healthcare Administrators

As noted previously, healthcare administrators work in numerous types of healthcare facilities and at a variety of levels within each organization. Managers in the healthcare sector have varying responsibilities, qualifications, salary ranges, and work hours. Basic duties include supervision of staff, solving problems, and making business decisions for the facility.

Healthcare administrators have regular contact with patients, community members, physicians, nurses, vendors, trustees, and organizational staff. Entry-level administrative positions include marketing assistant, operating assistant, project manager, health provider representative, or accountant. Mid-level administrators include marketing directors, department managers, case managers, managers of ancillary services (such as laboratory and radiology departments), and ambulatory care managers. Senior-level healthcare administrators may work as chief executive officers, chief operating officers, chief financial officers, senior vice presidents, or vice presidents for various sections and services.

  • Minimum Educational Requirement: Healthcare administrators typically need at least a bachelor's degree, although master's degrees may be preferred or required for some positions.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Certain certifications or licensures may be required for healthcare administrators and are largely dependent upon the type of facility they manage. For example, nursing home administrators often must be registered nurses themselves.

Social and Community Service Managers

After earning a healthcare administration degree, graduates might seek employment at a non-profit organization that offers social services or healthcare to the public. Examples of these organizations include large charitable organizations (like the American Red Cross), research organizations (such as the American Cancer Society), or even locally based organizations and networks. In this capacity, social and community service managers recruit and train volunteers and staff, manage organizational budgets, write funding proposals, and gather data to analyze the performance of their organization's programs.

  • Minimum Educational Requirement: Most positions require candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree in social work, public health, business administration, or a related field. For some positions, a master's degree is preferred.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Certifications and licensures vary by organizational type and required duties.

Management Analysts and Consultants

Healthcare administration majors can also go on to join healthcare consulting firms. As a management analyst or consultant, they may be asked to analyze a healthcare facility's efficiency and propose ways to improve the organization. This could include giving procedural, structural, or financial recommendations. These types of positions require gathering data, analyzing financial reports, and conducting interviews with management and employees.

  • Minimum Educational Requirements: Entry-level consultants must have at least a bachelor's degree, although a master's in healthcare administration or business may be preferred. Previous work experience in healthcare might also be required.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Special certifications and licensures are not generally required. Voluntary designations, such as the Certified Management Consultant (CMC), may be helpful for broadening available opportunities.

Healthcare Administration Associations and Organizations

There are a number of associations and organizations that offer support and resources for healthcare administrators. Some of these include:

  • American College of Health Care Administrators — This organization focuses on support and educational opportunities for healthcare administrators in nursing homes and long-term care fields.
  • American College of Healthcare Executives — This international professional society boasts more than 40,000 members working as healthcare executives in numerous fields. Additionally, they offer board certification in healthcare management through the Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) designation. The ACHE also publishes several textbooks used at colleges and universities.
  • American Public Health Association — The American Public Health Association advocates for the "health of all people and all communities." This organization uses scientific research to influence federal health policy. They also publish the American Journal of Public Health.
Article Sources
Article Sources

Sources:

  1. Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Administration, Ashford College, Accessed January 21, 2020, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/health-care/bachelor-of-arts-health-care-administration
  2. Doctor of Healthcare Administration, Franklin University, Accessed January 22, 2020, https://www.franklin.edu/degrees/doctoral/healthcare-administration
  3. Health Services Administrative Associate Degree, Bryant & Stratton College, Accessed January 21, 2020, https://www.bryantstratton.edu/degrees/associate-degrees/aas-health-services-administration
  4. Indeed.com, Accessed January 24, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
  5. Master of Healthcare Administration, Walden University, Accessed January 22, 2020, https://info.waldenu.edu/walden-programs/
  6. Medical and Health Services Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed January 24, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
  7. Medical and Health Services Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed January 24, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
X
Our Partner Listings