Online colleges for healthcare administration allow students to earn master’s degrees that can help them advance through the medical field. Unlike traditional programs that require students attend classes at specific times, online programs give students the freedom to attend classes and do their work whenever they want. Our editors looked at the top schools and online programs for healthcare administration and how different websites and resources ranked those programs, including College Choice, Best Colleges and The Best Schools. The way those resources ranked these schools helped our editors decide where each one should fall on our own list.
Most students applying to online schools have two questions in mind. They want to know how long it will take to earn a degree and what they need to do to apply. As different colleges have different application requirements in place, it’s often hard to come up with a general description of the application process. It will typically begin with an online application that includes sections on the student’s educational background, where he or she went to college, when the student completed an undergrad degree and the grades the student received. The application may also ask for an undergrad GPA and/or a description of any work experience the student has.
The graduate application process is fairly similar to the undergrad application process in terms of what the college wants or needs. A school will often ask for an official score from a standardized test like the GRE, though online schools often skip this step. Students may need to submit a professional resume that lists all jobs the student had in the last few years and any professional experience outside of full-time or part-time jobs. Many colleges will also ask for one or more letters of recommendation from employers or professors familiar with the student.
Though students will often want to know how long it takes to finish a healthcare administration degree online, this too can vary between schools. A Master of Science in Healthcare Administration or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization or concentration in healthcare administration will generally take two years to finish, but there are some colleges that offer shorter and more intensive classes designed to help students graduate in around 15 to 16 months.
Healthcare administration colleges online differ from traditional programs that meet on campus because these program emphasize the importance of independent learning. In addition to requiring that students do work on their own, these programs also encourage students to research subjects that interest them outside of their classes through independent or individual study courses. Though many do ask that students do some type of residency component or fieldwork experience, the colleges will allow students to find and complete those experiences in their own cities or regions. Some schools even award credit based on the jobs that students have and the work they do in those jobs. The same professors who teach courses on college campuses are responsible for the courses online. They can chat with students over the phone, through email or even on the course discussion board. Online healthcare administration degree programs also give students the chance to interact with students living in other states and countries and learn about the laws and practices in other areas.
Prospective students may want to take a look at the courses in various programs to get an idea of which one covers the information that they will need to use on the job. These programs are suitable for those who want to work in leadership and management positions because most include courses on human resource management that teach students how to create benefits for employees, the best way to recruit new employees, the basics of interviewing prospective workers and how to schedule employee shifts. A course on health care marketing will look at the ways in which facilities can advertise the services offered and reach patients looking for help, while a class on quality improvement will look at ways in which medical professionals can improve the level of care they offer to patients. Though some programs have a residency component that requires students do some work in the field, others have a capstone or a thesis requirement that gives students the option of doing a final project or a thesis paper instead.
There are a number of jobs available to those who have an MHA degree, including positions in emergency departments, urgent care centers, rehabilitation treatment centers and hospitals. Many health care facilities have a high need for trained and educated managers who can handle the daily operations of the medical facility, including the hiring and training of new workers and the management of an annual budget. One good job is that of a hospital administrator. Hospital administrators earn a median pay of $92,000 a year and ensure that the hospital follows all state and federal laws and that the hospital works within its operating budget.
Graduates can also work in private facilities or for organizations like a physician group, which is a group of doctors and other medical professionals who work together in one shared office. These administrators are responsible for ensuring that patients are happy with the services rendered and that the physicians working in the practice provide the best care possible. They can also handle budgets, schedules and the ordering of new supplies too. Insurance companies may need administrators as well, and those administrators will handle the sending of bills to insured people, working out payment arrangements with facilities and determining which services and treatments a customer’s insurance plan will cover.
Jobs with an MHA degree obtained from an online healthcare administration college typically fall into areas that include suppliers, providers or organizations. Organizations can include insurance companies, while providers include the hospitals and centers that actually offer medical services. Suppliers refer to those who make products or offer services for medical professionals and can include pharmaceutical companies, colleges, management providers and consulting groups. Healthcare administration online programs can help students graduate with the strong budgeting, scheduling management and leadership skills that allow them to find jobs paying $100,000 a year or more.
10. The George Washington University
The George Washington University, also known as George Washington or GW, is a private university that emphasizes the importance of research in all of its programs. Founded in 1821, it ranks as one of the oldest colleges in the Washington DC area and also ranks as one of the top colleges in the United States, according to Forbes, Washington Monthly and U.S. News & World Report. It offers a Health Administration program online that awards students with an MHA degree. The GW program requires that students take 31 credits of core courses that include quality and performance improvement, health services information applications, community health management and advocacy and health services for managers among others.
9. Simmons College
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Simmons College is a private college that is open only to female students. Simmons also operates its own graduate school, which offers a number of programs online. John Simmons founded the college in 1899 because he believed that young women deserved the right to liberal arts and higher education opportunities. The School of Management at Simmons offers a Health Care degree program that awards students an HCMBA degree, and this program combines elements of a health administration program with an MBA program. Some of the health care courses available in this program include health care financial strategy, health care strategic management and health care information technology.
8. Saint Joseph’s University
U.S. News & World Report ranked Saint Joseph’s University as one of the top 100 schools for online graduate degree programs in the entire nation and also ranked its online undergrad and graduate business programs highly too. Founded in 1851 as Saint Joseph’s College, it has an affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. One of the online grad programs Saint Joseph’s offers is an MS in Health Administration. In addition to the general program, students can pick a concentration in health informatics, health care ethics or organization development and leadership. There is also a joint program that allows students to also earn a degree in health education at the same time.
7. University of Illinois Chicago
The University of Illinois Chicago is a public university with a campus in the large city of Chicago. Though the city was home to other colleges and schools, it wasn’t until 1965 the the University of Illinois established a large campus in the city. U.S. News & World Report ranked UIC as the 152nd best college in the nation, and Washington Monthly ranked it as the nation’s 65th best college. The university is home to one of the state’s best Master of Healthcare Administration programs as well. Students must complete 60 credits of work and take classes like healthcare finance and law and the healthcare system as well as do fieldwork and a capstone.
6. University of St. Francis Joliet
The University of St. Francis Joliet is another university that has an affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Established in 1920, this private university has a student base of more than 3,300 students. Its Master of Science in Health Administration program allows working professionals to earn their degree through online classes, though some students may opt to take classes on the campus on weekends too. Students take three classes each semester and can finish the program in 15 months. Faculty members have health care experience and provide students with help finding and applying for jobs. Courses include health care finance, medical sociology, organizational and human resource management and health services marketing.
5. University of Central Florida
Founded in 1963, the University of Central Florida is both the largest university in the country in terms of its student body as well as the largest university in Florida. Often called UCF, it has an enrollment of more than 60,000 students. According to U.S. News & World Report, its graduate health care management program 46th out of all programs in the country. This program includes research courses designed to help students transition to a doctoral program later, which is also available through the university. After taking courses like health care finance, health care human resource management and health care quality management, the university will help online students find an internship.
4. University of Southern California
With a student population of more than 42,000, the University of Southern California ranks among the largest colleges in the state. Founded in 1880, USC ranks among the top 50 colleges in the country on lists created by U.S. News & World Report, ARWU and Washington Monthly, but it also ranks on a global scale as well. The Master of Health Administration offered by the university allows students to pick a specialization in quality care, management, operations and leadership, health policy analysis, health finance or health information technology. This program has a residency component that requires students do fieldwork, and those enrolled in the online program can get help meeting this requirement from the university.
3. Pennsylvania State University World Campus
Pennsylvania State University, better known as Penn State, is one of the country’s top colleges. Founded in 1855, the university stresses the importance of research and teaching as well as service learning. More than 46,000 students enroll in Penn State courses each year. A Master of Health Administration in Health Policy and Administration is available through its world campus, which allows students to take all required courses online. Students must take a total of 49 credits, and the university recommends that students take two to three classes each semester. Those classes can include leadership ethics in health services organizations, financial management in health institutions, introduction to health economics and health law.
2. Northeastern State University
Northeastern State University encourages its students to take advantage of other opportunities like internships and study abroad programs while taking classes to give them a better understanding of subjects they may not learn about in school. Founded in 1898, this private university has a population of close to 25,000 students. The MBA in Healthcare Management offered by the university ranks among the top programs of its type available online. This program requires that students take core business classes that address topics like management, human resources, financial reporting, economics and marketing as well as health care administration and management classes like strategic management for healthcare organizations and creation and application of medical knowledge.
1. Colorado State University
Colorado State University is the top online college for healthcare administration because both its online program and its traditional college program rank among the top in the country. Founded in 1870 as a college devoted to the agricultural sciences, it later added programs in business, health care, education and other subjects to its curriculum to assist incoming students. CSU offers a Master’s in Healthcare Administration specifically designed for students who want to work in medical facilities as managers and leaders. Students can pick a specialization in a field like fraud management or human resource management. The program requires that students complete 36 credits of work.