Studying Health Science Administration: Bachelor's, Master's & Online Info at a Glance
Health science administrators plan and organize business functions supporting medical services in facilities, clinical areas or medical practices. Your role might range from accounting to human resources, operations, purchasing or marketing. Lifelong learning may be necessary to keep up with changes in technology, laws and regulations. Some fields, such as nursing home administration, may require licensing in your state.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 14% overall job growth for all occupations from 2010-2020, but opportunities for medical and health services managers were expected to grow 22% as the population ages. Medical offices may be a growth area as more services are performed in offices instead of hospitals. With a bachelor's degree, you might become a department head or assistant administrator, and with a master's degree, you might move into an advanced position or consulting.
|Who is this Degree for?|| - Individuals who want an entry-level position in health science administration |
- Students preparing for advanced graduate or professional programs
| Individuals interested in management positions or employment advancement|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary)|| - Admissions coordinator, nursing home ($42,000 - 2-4 years of experience)*|
- Wellness (corporate) program administrator ($56,000 - 2-4 years of experience)*
- Business office manager - healthcare ($60,000 - Five years of experience)*
- Corporate (healthcare) compliance officer ($89,000 - Five years of experience)*
| - Instructor, medical administration ($46,000 - 2-4 years of experience)* |
- Hospital quality improvement director ($100,000 - Seven years of experience)*
- Physician practice operations manager ($103,000 - Seven years of experience)*
- Clinic (hospital) operations director ($123,000 - Seven years of experience)*
|Time to Completion||4-5 years, full-time|| 2-3 years, full-time |
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Approximately 120 credits, including major area subjects and liberal arts core requirements|
| - Approximately 60 credits |
- Internship or capstone project
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or GED||Bachelor's degree|
|Online Availability||Online coursework may be available; fully online degrees uncommon||Available|
Source: *Salary.com (2012 figures).
Bachelor's Degree in Health Science Administration
Your bachelor's degree could prepare you for administrative careers in public, community or mental health, physician practices, hospitals and clinics, managed care or long-term care facilities. Similar programs may be titled health service or health administration. This degree could help you develop competency in business disciplines as applied in a healthcare organization. You may be introduced to the technologies and regulatory environment of the healthcare system. You might initially qualify as an administrative assistant or department head in a larger hospital facility, or play a larger role in smaller hospitals, physician practices or nursing facilities. Programs may require internships.
Pros and Cons
- Undergraduate degree required for graduate programs
- Internship and co-op opportunities could build experience and credibility with employers
- Healthcare specialization may provide an edge over students with bachelor's degrees in business who apply for healthcare jobs
- With good performance on the job, your employer may pay for continuing or graduate education
- Additional education may be required for further advancement
- Positions may require the equivalent of two or more years of experience plus the degree
- Online study opportunities may be limited
Courses and Requirements
You'll typically complete general education requirements during your first two years and then focus on health administration courses. Professional coursework may address business aspects of operating healthcare organizations. Core coursework might also include pathophysiology and general pharmacology courses. You may be able to specialize in managed care systems, hospitals, gerontology or nursing homes through electives. Programs often include field placements or internships. You might encounter courses such as:
- Hospital organization and management
- Utilization of professional and allied health personnel
- Organization of community health services
- Health services for the elderly or mentally ill
- Managing finance and capital
Online courses and programs may have the same requirements but allow you to complete your work on your own schedule. Online courses may be convenient for working professionals. If you become a member of a professional association, you may have access to their online continuing education credit options. Although fully online programs may be hard to find, you may find schools that offer online coursework or degree completion programs. Fully online bachelor's programs may be more available at proprietary schools.
Standing Out with this Degree
You might consider joining student organizations or participating in projects or activities of any related institutes and centers. Your school may have a chapter of Upsilon Phi Delta, the health administration honor society. Part-time work and internships could help you make contacts and accumulate experience you may need to land your full-time job. Some schools may offer part-time programs that allow you to continue to work for a health industry organization while completing your degree program.
If you intend to specialize in a particular health science administration field, joining the student chapter of the relevant professional organization could give you access to mentoring or networking opportunities. You could attend the organization's conferences to make contacts.
Master's Degree in Health Science Administration
Master's programs could prepare you for health science executive leadership positions by enhancing management and interpersonal skills. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education may accredit some graduate programs. You may have on-campus or executive program options. Candidates in a clinical track - nurses, for example - may need a graduate degree for advancement to clinical management positions.
Electives may support specialization or support eligibility for licensing in your state as a nursing home administrator. Master's programs often require internships and may require up to one year of supervised experience.
Pros and Cons
- You could qualify for management-level or executive trainee positions
- Master's grads with enhanced skill sets in a specific area of interest may be preferred for high-paid positions in a competitive market
- Offers hands-on training through field experiences and internships
- Master's recipients may be able to teach or join a consulting firm
- Careful planning required by students with limited healthcare administration experience to avoid being overqualified for entry-level positions
- Program may limit opportunities for outside work
- A certificate program could help you reach a targeted goal with less time and expense
Courses and Requirements
Students may study financial and managerial accounting, human resource management, quality improvement or other core business disciplines as they apply to health science administration. Electives could help you specialize in long-term care, medical group management, entrepreneurship, managed care or patient or staff management. Students might complete internships, comprehensive examinations or a thesis over the course of the program. You might take courses such as these in a master's program:
- Grant writing
- Administration of health programs
- Technology applications in health sciences
- Healthcare entrepreneurship
- Health behavior and managerial epidemiology
- Healthcare finance
- Long-term care administration
Online Degree Options
Online master's programs in health science management are available through both proprietary and traditional universities. They may be offered in both fully online and hybrid formats. On-campus and distance learning programs may be appropriate for those who are currently employed, hold prior experience in the field or who are planning a career switch.
Getting Ahead with This Degree
While enrolled, students who have limited previous work experience in the healthcare field may want to consider part-time employment, since management positions may require several years of experience. Master's programs may require an internship. Your school may have a graduate chapter of Upsilon Phi Delta, or you could attend events sponsored by specialized professional associations in a targeted field such as academia, long-term care, healthcare marketing or financial management, public health, healthcare information systems or medical group management.