The Importance of a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) Degree: Breaking Things Down
Published on: July 5, 2023
Did you know that the healthcare sector is not only a critical part of life in the United States from a public safety perspective, but it’s also the country’s biggest employer? According to the Census Bureau, the healthcare sector employed roughly 20.5 million people as of 2018 – a number that is expected to increase by about 2.4 million by as soon as 2029.
Not all those professionals interact with patients and provide care on a daily basis. Many of them perform jobs like recruiting and training staff, maintaining a facility’s records, developing essential cost-reduction strategies and making sure that a facility maintains compliance with all relevant regulations.
Those experienced, passionate and hard-working men and women are called healthcare administrators, and many of them consider earning a Master of Healthcare Administration an essential piece of their professional journey.
Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA): What Is it?
A Master of Healthcare Administration is a graduate-level degree aimed at those who want to work in healthcare administration and management. Because of the way these two concepts overlap, most programs focus heavily on both business management concepts and the development of leadership skills.
Define Healthcare Administration
Healthcare administration professionals oversee the various operations of a healthcare organization. Unlike doctors or nurses, they don’t tend to interact directly with patients. Instead, they help to create and shape the policies that allow the facility to function. Virtually everything they do is accomplished with the goal of empowering doctors, nurses and other skilled providers and improving patient experience.
Time Commitment for an MHA
How much time you can expect to invest earning your MHA will vary depending on a few factors, but some programs are set up so you could earn your MHA degree in as little as 12 months if you attend on a full-time basis.
However, while this is theoretically possible, most full-time students take roughly two years to complete the program. If you’re attending school part-time, which is a great option for those with an existing career, it will take an estimated three to five years to finish.
The total amount of time it takes will ultimately come down to how many credits are required for the MHA program you’ve selected, when courses are offered and how many classes you are able to take at a time.
Is an MHA Expensive?
The answer to whether earning an MHA is expensive is “it depends.” First, the subject of cost is largely relative, especially when it comes to the quality of your education. What one person considers to be expensive, another might consider totally reasonable, especially if the investment pays off with a new career. The cost of any particular program will also vary depending on the educational institution you attend. Having said that, according to some estimates, the average cost of an MHA is around $36,000.
Why Study Health Care Administration?
To get a better sense of how important healthcare administration professionals are, one must think of the sector as a whole. When most people think of an organization like a hospital, they think of doctors, nurses and other practitioners who are “on the frontlines” providing critical care to patients. While obviously vital, they’re just one part of a much larger story.
Perhaps equally important are the administrators – the hardworking men and women who make sure those front-line workers have access to the resources they need to provide that care in the first place. They’re involved in everything from business-related affairs to hiring and training, quality control, policy and more – all of which impact how efficiently a healthcare organization can run and what kind of quality of patient care they’re able to provide.
All this underlines what is perhaps the most essential reason to study healthcare administration – if you want to enact broader meaningful advances in the healthcare field, this is how you do it. Healthcare administrators are uniquely positioned to effect change in the organizations for which they work.
Another reason to study healthcare administration has to do with the fact that many find it to be very gratifying. Every day, you play a direct role in improving the lives of as many patients as possible. Every day is also different, which is perfect for people who don’t want to get trapped in the same routine or set of circumstances indefinitely. The healthcare sector is dynamic and there are always new challenges to overcome and new goals to accomplish.
Finally, a major reason to pursue an education in healthcare administration comes down to the massive growth it is projected to experience over the next few years. According to one recent study, health-related spending in the United States is expected to grow at a yearly rate of about 5.4% and will hit an enormous $6.2 trillion by as soon as 2028. This is going to dramatically increase the demand for healthcare administrators and the specialized set of skills they bring with them.
If you’re looking for a rewarding, flexible career that is also essentially recession-proof, look no further than healthcare administration.
While earning a general MHA is always an option, you will be also able to choose a concentration, including but not limited to the following:
- Business analytics
- Disaster and emergency management
- Human resource management
- Innovation and quality management
- Management accounting
- Management information systems
- Nonprofit management concentration
- Project management
What Are the Requirements for an MHA?
As is true with other graduate degree programs, there are certain requirements you must meet to pursue your MHA. Understanding them now will allow you to prepare and ensure you’re ready for your eventual application.
Education and Certifications
Common educational prerequisites for MHA programs are as follows:
- A bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75
- Some programs require previous experience in either the healthcare field or general management
- A GRE or other standardized test score may also be a requirement
When you’re all set with your education requirements, you’ll have to apply to your program(s) of choice. In most cases, you will be asked to submit a resume with your application, as well as a personal statement outlining why you want to enter the program, your official transcripts from other educational institutions you’ve attended and letters of recommendation.
How Does an MHA Differ From Other Master’s Programs?
At this point, it’s important to note that earning an MHA is not the only way to advance throughout the healthcare administration or management sectors. There are several master’s programs you can choose from, each with their own unique approaches to consider.
MHA vs. MBA
The acronym MBA is short for Master of Business Administration. An MBA in Healthcare Administration is very similar in concept to an MHA, but the curriculum of the MBA will be far broader and predominately feature courses focused on the business-side of healthcare as opposed to the medical side.
MHA vs. MPH
An MPH, on the other hand, is a Master of Public Health. This is a type of degree earned by healthcare professionals who want to achieve a leadership position in the public health sector. This includes positions like health educators, community outreach coordinators and more.
MHA vs. MS/MA
MS/MA is short for Master of Science or Master of Arts which may be available in the field of Health Administration. This is a degree people tend to pursue when they are interested in some of the more advanced management positions within the healthcare field. Here, they will spend a lot of time learning about the finer points of things like healthcare policies and economics, leadership styles and development best practices and organizational structure.
Benefits of Pursing an MHA
The major benefit of pursuing an MHA as opposed to one of the previously listed degree types is that you gain access to a wide range of career choices moving forward. Graduates can work in many positions including as administrations coordinators, department managers, clinical directors and admissions coordinators.
This segues into another one of the significant advantages of pursuing an MHA: it helps prepare you for future leadership positions that may interest you. Over time, you’ll start to develop skills that would make you an ideal candidate for positions like a pharmaceutical executive. Many with this educational background even end up in CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or COO (Chief Operations Officer) positions.
Skills and Experience You Can Learn From an MHA
This potential career trajectory is possible thanks to the various skills and knowledge you can gain from an MHA program. In addition to learning the ins and outs of healthcare in general, you can also expect to learn many skills that are high in demand, like data analysis, quality assurance, operations management and budgeting.
Your education will also help hone your problem-solving abilities, teambuilding skills and your ability to communicate and collaborate with those around you.
Master of Healthcare Administration Potential Careers
In addition to the job examples listed above, earning a Master of Healthcare Administration can open the door to many fascinating potential careers including:
- Government healthcare consultant
- Health network administrator
- Informatics manager
- Long-term care administrator
- Healthcare marketing director
- Medical records manager
- Nursing director
- Public relations director
Your Story Starts Here
Earning your Master of Healthcare Administration degree could be just what you need to take your career to new heights. It gets you up close and personal with virtually all aspects of a healthcare environment, putting you both in a position to support and empower those facets of the system that are working and improve those that are not.