The Complete Guide to Healthcare Administration Degrees


    October 14, 2023
    Ultimate List of Healthcare Administration Degrees | 2024

    Healthcare administration is one of the fastest-growing professions in the healthcare field, with ample opportunities for those with degrees. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the industry will add over 650,000 jobs between 2022 and 2032. 

    Fortunately, there are several ways to earn entry-level and advanced degrees in healthcare administration. With so many available career paths, it’s important to pursue a degree that aligns with your goals.

    This guide will break down the different types of healthcare administration degrees, their prerequisites, relevant coursework, costs, career opportunities, and more. Read on to find a healthcare administrator degree that suits your dream career.

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    Part One Types of Healthcare Administration Degrees

    Your career goals should be at the forefront of your mind as you decide which healthcare administration degree suits you. While several healthcare administration jobs accept associate's or bachelor's-educated candidates, the highest-paying healthcare administration jobs will require a master's degree or higher. Academic jobs will almost always require candidates to hold a doctorate degree.

    While advanced degrees open more doors, they require more time, money, and effort to earn than associate's or bachelor’s degrees. You should consider these factors in combination with your goals to discover which degree is best for you.

    Types of Healthcare Administration Degrees

    Healthcare Administrator Degree Prerequisites Total Program Cost Program Length
    Associate of Healthcare Administration Degree
    • High School Diploma or GED
    • Minimum GPA
    $5,000 to $20,000 16-24 months
    Bachelor of Healthcare Administration Degree
    • High School Diploma or GED
    • Minimum GPA
    • Standardized Test Scores
    $30,000 for in-state and upwards of  $100,000 for private universities 4 years
    Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) Degree
    • Bachelor's Degree in Business or Healthcare Administration
    • GPA minimum
    • GRE or GMAT scores
    • Relevant work experience
    • Resume or CV
    • Letters of recommendation
    $10,000 to $75,000 12 months to 3 years
    Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management Degree
    • Bachelor's Degree in a related field
    • GPA minimum
    • GRE or GMAT scores
    • Relevant work experience
    • Resume or CV
    • Letters of recommendation
    $54,000 to $73,000 12 months to 3 years
    Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) Degree
    • Master's Degree
    • CV or resume
    • Interview
    • Letters of recommendations
    • Minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Personal statement
    • Relevant work experience
    $150,835 (avg.) 3 to 5 years
    Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration
    • Master's Degree
    • CV or resume
    • Interview
    • Letters of recommendations
    • Minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Personal statement
    • Relevant work experience
    $106,860 (avg.) 3 to 5 years

    Part Two Associate of Healthcare Administration Degree

    An Associate of Healthcare Administration degree provides the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to begin working in healthcare services. It also provides a foundation to build upon if you want to pursue advanced education in the future. As you build upon your education, you'll become qualified for advanced healthcare administration jobs.

    People who are unsure about their career choice or goals are best suited for pursuing this degree. It is the quickest path to entering healthcare administration, though it only prepares graduates for entry-level healthcare careers. Graduates may choose to begin working or go directly into a bachelor's curriculum following program completion.

    Prerequisites 

    Common prerequisites for an associate's in healthcare administration include the following:

    1. High school transcripts 
    2. Application fee
    3. Letters of recommendation
    4. Minimum GPA or GED score as required by the program
    5. Online application
    6. Personal essay 
    7. Provide proof of a high school diploma or GED
    8. Standardized test scores such as the SAT

    Coursework

    Associate degree curriculum is often more generalized than advanced degrees. These programs focus on broad healthcare administration knowledge. Some courses you can expect include:

    1. Conflict Resolution
    2. Healthcare Customer Relations
    3. Health Policy
    4. Medical Coding
    5. Medical Ethics
    6. Medical Office Management
    7. Medical Terminology 
    8. Patient Privacy
    9. US Healthcare Systems

    Career Opportunities

    The associate degree grants quicker entry into the workforce for healthcare administrators than advanced degrees. Some entry-level healthcare administrator positions available to associate-educated candidates include:

    1. Customer relations representative
    2. Insurance customer representative
    3. Medical administrative assistant
    4. Medical billing and coding
    5. Medical records assistant
    6. Medical scribe
    7. Medical secretary
    8. Medical transcriptionist
    9. Office assistant

    How Much Does an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration Cost?

    Associate degree programs are the cheapest healthcare administrator degrees available. Typically offered at community colleges, these programs cost $5,000 to $20,000.

    The total program cost varies depending on the college you attend, full or part-time student status, resident or non-resident student status, and many other factors. The most cost-effective way to earn an Associate of Healthcare Administration degree is by attending a community college in your county of residence. Online programs may be more expensive due to their convenience.

    How Long Does it Take to Get an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration?

    Most associate degree programs require 30 to 45 total credit hours for graduation. In theory, this means you should be able to graduate in as little as 16 months. However, most colleges recommend planning for 24 months due to course offerings and general education requirements.

    Students in online programs can complete their associate degrees quicker because online schools work at a faster pace and offer year-round classes.

    Online vs In-Person Associate Degrees in Healthcare Administration

    Most community colleges offer Associate of Healthcare Administration programs. If you're a resident student, these programs are often the most affordable options. However, you may have in-person class requirements that interfere with your schedule. 

    While online degrees allow you to work on your own time, they tend to be more expensive. Weighing the pros and cons of these options will help you select a program that best suits your needs.

    Popular Online Masters Healthcare Administration Programs

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    A private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on campus students, over 130,000 online learners and an alumni network of over 100,000. SNHU offers BSN, MSN, and Accelerated MSN Programs developed by doctoral-prepared nursing faculty.

    Accreditation
    NECHE
    Location
    Online

    Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding WA

    The University of Scranton

    The University of Scranton offers multiple online degrees in the growing healthcare industry. The comprehensive coursework is based on real-world scenarios and is equally rigorous and rewarding. The return on investment will be as big as the change you can make in a variety of healthcare leadership roles!

    Accreditation
    Multiple
    Location
    Online

    Enrollment: Nationwide

    Part Three Bachelor of Healthcare Administration Degree

    A Bachelor of Healthcare Administration degree allows more specialization than an associate's degree while still imparting a broad range of knowledge to students. You can earn this entry-level degree through traditional four-year programs.

    There are two types of bachelor's degree programs for healthcare administration:

    1. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree focuses on humanities and social sciences

    2. A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree focuses on cultivating technical skills

    Bachelor's degree graduates can analyze financial and economic data, enhance operations through strategic planning, and assess healthcare policies and procedures for efficiency and ethical considerations.

    >>Related: Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Degree Guide 

    Prerequisites 

    The requirements for entry to a bachelor’s program are:

    1. High school transcripts 
    2. Application fee
    3. Letters of recommendation
    4. Minimum GPA or GED score as required by the program
    5. Online application
    6. Personal essay 
    7. Provide proof of a high school diploma or GED
    8. Standardized test scores such as the SAT

    Coursework

    Courses in a bachelor’s degree program include:

    1. Communication and Technologies
    2. Ethical Considerations of Healthcare
    3. Healthcare Administration
    4. Healthcare Data Management
    5. Healthcare Finance
    6. Healthcare IT Infrastructure and Network Management
    7. Healthcare Quality Management
    8. Healthcare Regulatory Compliance and Accreditation
    9. Healthcare Reimbursement
    10. Legal Considerations of Healthcare
    11. Managing and Leading
    12. Organizational Behavior
    13. Patient Safety Systems and Strategies
    14. Performance Improvement Measurement and Methodologies
    15. Principles of Epidemiology
    16. Public Health and Safety

    Career Opportunities

    Individuals who earn a bachelor’s degree will be better qualified for the following roles:

    1. Community health manager
    2. Healthcare consultant
    3. Health insurance analyst
    4. Health policy analyst
    5. Health promotion specialist
    6. Health services manager
    7. Medical reimbursement analyst
    8. Medical services administrator
    9. Nursing home administrative assistant
    10. Private practice officer manager
    11. Social worker

    How Much Does a Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration Cost?

    Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration can cost $30,000 for in-state colleges to upwards of $100,000 for private universities. 

    How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration?

    Earning a Bachelor of Healthcare Administration degree takes four years. You can finish the program in less time if you already have an associate's degree or transfer credits. Non-transfer students who take summer classes may graduate in as little as three years, though this is very uncommon.

    Online vs In-Person Bachelor's Degrees in Healthcare Administration

    Most major universities and colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in healthcare administration. While it is possible also to earn the degree online, most students find in-person programs more beneficial for their knowledge and career goals. 

    Top accredited programs include: 

    1. Auburn University
    2. California State University, Long Beach
    3. East Carolina University
    4. James Madison University
    5. Texas State University
    6. University of Alabama
    7. University of Massachusetts

    >> Show Me Online Healthcare Administration Programs

    Part Four Master of Healthcare Administration Degree

    A Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) is a graduate degree for professionals who want to transition into healthcare management or leadership positions.

    Prerequisites

    You must have a bachelor's degree in business or healthcare administration to pursue an MHA. Otherwise, you may need to complete more prerequisite courses before getting accepted. 

    Other MHA requirements include:

    1. GPA greater than 3.0
    2. GRE or GMAT scores
    3. Letters of recommendation
    4. Proficiency in the English language
    5. Relevant work experience
    6. Resume or CV
    7. TOEFL Score (if applicable)
    8. Written personal statement

    Coursework

    MHA curriculum varies by program. However, most master's level healthcare administration degrees require 30 to 65 credits.

    Specific coursework includes:

    1. Budgeting and Financial Management
    2. Business Model Innovation
    3. Business Strategy in the Global Environment
    4. Consulting Practicum
    5. Epidemiologic Inference Public Health
    6. Epidemiology
    7. Financial Accounting
    8. Healthcare Consulting
    9. Health Finance and Management
    10. Leading Organizations
    11. Managed Care and Health Insurance
    12. Marketing in Healthcare Organizations
    13. Medical Practice Management
    14. Population Health
    15. Power, Influence, and Negotiation in Organization
    16. Project Management
    17. Quality and Patient Safety
    18. Quantitative Tools for Managers
    19. Statistical Learning

    Career Opportunities

    An MHA opens doors to a number of high-level roles as healthcare executives. From hospital CEO to nurse manager, it’s a highly versatile degree. Some of the job titles for a professional with a master’s degree in health administration include:

    1. Chief executive officer
    2. Chief operations officer
    3. Clinic director
    4. Clinic manager
    5. Department or division director
    6. Department or division manager/supervisor
    7. Facility manager
    8. Healthcare consultant
    9. Health services manager
    10. Hospital administrator
    11. Hospital admissions director
    12. Long-term care director
    13. Long-term care manager
    14. Medical records manager
    15. Nurse manager
    16. Nursing director
    17. Operations manager
    18. Practice manager
    19. Program manager
    20. Social Worker

    How Much Does a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA) Cost?

    The total cost of an MHA ranges from $10,000 to $75,000 and varies widely depending on the school you attend, where you live, and whether you're a resident or nonresident student. An MHA can cost as little as $200 per credit hour for in-state tuition, while out-of-state students may pay upwards of $1,500 per credit hour. 

    How Long Does it Take to Get an MHA?

    You can earn an MHA in 12 months to 3 years, depending on whether you attend full or part-time. Most individuals work during the program, so very few complete it within 12 months. 

    Some programs can be taken online through a series of seven-week classes. Individuals can complete multiple courses back to back or take time off in between courses. 

    Online vs In-Person MHA Programs

    The COVID-19 pandemic made online programs in all fields, including healthcare administration, more abundant than ever. Distance learning is still popular in 2024, and there are still many MHA degrees you can earn in an online format. However, many colleges continue to offer in-person and even hybrid options, catering to individual schedules and needs.

    Top accredited MHA programs include:

    1. Cornell University 
    2. Georgetown University*
    3. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
    4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    5. Johns Hopkins University

    Part Five Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management

    A Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management focuses on general business and financial practices rather than those specific to the healthcare industry. This degree is one of the hottest degrees in healthcare because it opens a wide variety of opportunities for healthcare professionals.

    Prerequisites

    In order to be eligible for a program in an MBA in healthcare administration or management, the following admission requirements must be met.

    1. Bachelor’s degree in a related field
    2. GPA
    3. GRE/GMAT test scores
    4. Letter of intent or personal statement
    5. Letters of recommendation
    6. Personal interview
    7. Relevant work experience
    8. Resume or CV
    9. TOEFL score (if applicable)

    Coursework

    Some of the core courses include:

    1. Healthcare Law
    2. Healthcare Finance
    3. Strategic Organization in a Healthcare Organization
    4. Marketing Management
    5. Business Computing
    6. Executive Skills Development & Decision Making
    7. Financial and Managerial Accounting
    8. Fiscal Issues in Health Systems Management
    9. Data Analysis
    10. Contemporary Issues in Healthcare Policy
    11. Issues in Quality Management for Healthcare Systems
    12. Principles and Strategies for Managed Healthcare
    13. Community Health Assessment and Planning
    14. Human Resources
    15. Public Health
    16. Informatics
    17. Operations Management
    18. Capstone 
    19. Information Systems
    20. Electives

    Career Opportunities

    AN MBA in healthcare management qualifies you for high-level roles as a healthcare executive, including:

    • Policy analyst
    • Clinical director
    • Hospital's chief executive officer
    • Medical records manager
    • Health and social services manager
    • Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
    • Chief Financial Operator (CFO)
    • Medical Manager
    • Nursing home administrator
    • Health information manager
    • Healthcare administrators
    • Pharmaceutical project manager

    However, because this degree focuses on business, individuals can also use the degree for non-healthcare-related jobs such as financial management and marketing. 

    How Much Does an MBA in Healthcare Management Cost?

    According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of earning an MBA is $71,880. Earning a master's degree ranges in cost from $54,000 and $73,000 on average.

    However, actual costs vary widely depending on factors like whether you attend a public or private university or whether you attend school in-person vs online. For example, earning an MBA at Harvard costs $115,638, while attending Binghampton University costs $22,620, about one-fifth of Harvard's tuition.

    It is important to consider the reputation of the program as well as accreditation. Generally, these programs will be accredited through the university or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which accredits roughly 5% of business schools. 

    How Long Does it Take to Get an MBA in Healthcare Management?

    The length of programs will vary greatly depending on whether the program is completed full-time or part-time. It typically takes 1-3 years to earn an MBA in healthcare administration.

    Additionally, some online programs can be completed in a series of seven-week classes. Individuals can complete multiple courses back-to-back or take time off in between courses. 

    Online vs In-Person MBA in Healthcare Management Programs

    U.S. News & World Report identified the top online MBA Healthcare Administration programs.

    Top accredited programs include:

    1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    2. University of Arizona
    3. Rice University
    4. University of Massachusettes, Amhurst
    5. University of Utah

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    The University of Scranton

    The University of Scranton offers multiple online degrees in the growing healthcare industry. The comprehensive coursework is based on real-world scenarios and is equally rigorous and rewarding. The return on investment will be as big as the change you can make in a variety of healthcare leadership roles!

    Accreditation
    Multiple
    Location
    Online

    Enrollment: Nationwide

    Western Governors University

    WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

    Accreditation
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    Prerequisite
    RN Required

    Enrollment: Nationwide

    Liberty University
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    Accreditation
    CCNE
    Location
    Online
    Prerequisite
    RN Required

    Enrollment: Nationwide

    Part Six Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) Degree

    A Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) degree expands students' knowledge of healthcare administration and business. DHA programs focus on taking knowledge and applying it to current practices to improve the healthcare profession.

    The doctorate in healthcare administration is a terminal degree and capstone for healthcare professionals pursuing top executive positions. Although you can pursue a DHA if you have academic and research aspirations, a Ph.D. in healthcare administration is more suited to those goals.

    Prerequisites

    You must meet the following requirements to become a DHA program candidate:

    1. A master’s Degree
    2. CV or resume
    3. Interview
    4. Letters of recommendations
    5. Minimum GPA of 3.0
    6. Personal statement
    7. Relevant work experience
    8. TOEFL scores (if applicable)

    Coursework

    Common DHA courses include the following:

    1. Communications, Marketing, and Public Relations
    2. Finance
    3. Global Health
    4. Health Education
    5. Health Informatics
    6. Health Leadership
    7. Issues in Disease Prevention
    8. Patient Quality and Safety
    9. Research
    10. Research Design and Data Analysis
    11. Strategic Planning and Change
    12. Systems Thinking
    13. Writing Assessment

    Career Opportunities

    DHA-educated administrators have some of the highest-paying medical jobs. They take on high-level administration positions in hospitals and other healthcare systems, work as researchers focused on improving healthcare delivery, and become educators. Some of the top jobs you can get with a DHA include the following:

    1. Chief nursing officer
    2. Hospital CEO
    3. Hospital CFO
    4. Nursing home administrator
    5. Hospital administrator
    6. Chief operating officer
    7. Education
    8. Health informatics manager
    9. Health services manager
    10. Hospital admissions director
    11. Long-term care director/manager
    12. Medical records manager
    13. Nurse manager
    14. Nursing director
    15. Project manager
    16. Research director

    How Much Does a Doctorate in Health Administration Cost?

    On average, earning a doctorate degree costs $150,835, according to the Education Data Initiative (2023). Reports from US News estimate much lower costs for online DHA programs, which cost as little as $31,000 to $54,000.

    Factors that will impact the cost of your DHA include whether you attend school in person or online, whether you attend a public or private university, full vs part-time student status, and residency. Some university programs pay for doctorate tuition in return for service at the university, like teaching or research.

    How Long Does it Take to Get a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration?

    Students typically take three to five years to complete a doctorate degree, depending on whether they attend school full or part-time. Most programs focus on classroom education for the first few years while students take the end of the program to craft and defend their dissertations.

    The true length of the program depends on the depth of the dissertation and the associated project. Students are unable to graduate without defending their dissertations.

    Online vs In-Person Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs

    Doctorate programs are less common than master’s degree programs. This is due in part to an ongoing need for faculty to teach the course and an overall lack of applicants. Most programs are offered online, both synchronously and asynchronously. 

    Top programs for a DHA include:

    1. Central Michigan University
    2. Franklin University
    3. Colorado Technical University
    4. A.T. Still University
    5. Walden University*

    >> Show Me Online Healthcare Administration Programs

    Part Seven Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration

    Similar to a DHA, the Ph.D. in healthcare administration is a terminal degree. Unlike the DHA, which focuses on cultivating leadership and business skills, the Ph.D. in healthcare admin focuses on research and education. The main purpose of these programs is scientific and investigative research, especially through experimentation.

    Prerequisites

    In order to be considered for a Ph.D. program, individuals must meet the following requirements:

    1. CV or resume
    2. Interview
    3. Letters of recommendations
    4. Master’s degree in a related field
    5. Minimum GPA of 3.0
    6. Personal statement
    7. Two or more years of healthcare industry experience
    8. TOEFL score (if applicable)

    Coursework

    You'll primarily participate in research-focused coursework throughout a Ph.D. program, which may include:

    1. Comparative Health Policy
    2. Ethical Considerations
    3. Healthcare Education
    4. Health Economics
    5. Health Informatics
    6. Legal and Regulatory Challenges in Healthcare
    7. Research Methods

    Career Opportunities

    Ph.D.-educated healthcare administrators can take on the same roles as those with a DHA. However, many opt for a Ph.D. to enter industries like education and research. Many Ph.D. in healthcare administration graduates become academic professors.

    How Much Does a Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration Cost?

    The Education Data Initiative reports that a Ph.D. costs $106,860 on average, which is slightly less than other doctorate degrees. Like DHA programs, some universities waive or discount Ph.D. tuition in exchange for teaching or research services. Around 21.4% of Ph.D. students take advantage of programs like these to offset their tuition costs.

    How Long Does it Take to Get a Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration?

    Like a DHA, Ph.D. students must prepare, present, and defend a dissertation before they can graduate. So, while the programs typically take between three and five years, the length of your Ph.D. in healthcare administration may vary. Most Ph.D. programs require that students base their dissertations on new research and knowledge, which can make them slightly longer.

    Online vs In-Person Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration Programs

    Online degrees are fairly common for this type of advanced degree.

    You can find many online Ph.D. in healthcare administration programs. However, many students prefer in-person programs due to the research and dissertation demands of this type of degree. In-person courses give students access to lab space, physical libraries, their peers, and professors. The campus environment also provides a sample population for survey-based research.

    The following universities offer the top Ph.D. in healthcare administration programs:

    1. University of Pennsylvania
    2. University of Texas Health - Houston
    3. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    4. University of Illinois at Chicago
    5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    >> Show Me Online Healthcare Administration Programs

    Part Eight Accredited Healthcare Administration Degree Programs

    While there are many factors in determining the right healthcare administration degree, especially an advanced program, accreditation is the MOST important. No matter what program you choose - private or public, in person or online - you must ensure it is accredited.

    Why Accreditation is Important

    Attending an accredited healthcare administration program has several benefits that include, but aren't limited to, the following:

    1. Financial Aid: You may not qualify for certain types of financial aid if you attend a non-accredited program
    2. Transfer Credits: Credits from non-accredited programs may not transfer if you change schools or try to pursue a higher degree
    3. Job Market Competitiveness: Employers know which schools offer accredited, quality programs. Those who attend non-accredited universities are less competitive job candidates.

    Accrediting Bodies

    Accreditation ensures that programs offered at universities sufficiently prepare students for the demands of their careers. Several bodies accredit healthcare administration degree programs:

    • Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
    • Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
    • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
    • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International

    The CAHME is the gold standard for healthcare administration degree accreditation, while the CAHIIM covers healthcare informatics and information management programs.

    Students seeking an MBA with a healthcare management focus may expand their selection to ACBSP and AACSB-accredited programs. These bodies accredit business education and professional development programs.

    >> Show Me Online Healthcare Administration Programs

    Part Nine Healthcare Administration Resources

    For more information on healthcare administration degrees and careers, check out these other articles!

    1. Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) Degree Guide
    2. MBA in Healthcare Management Degree Guide
    3. Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Degree Guide
    4. Top 10 Online Healthcare Administration Programs
    5. Top Entry-Level Healthcare Administration Jobs

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