Hospital Management Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a hospital management program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a master's degree and PhD and potential careers.
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Study Hospital Management: Degrees at a Glance

Hospital management programs train people to direct, coordinate and plan the overall activities of a health care facility. Hospital management is usually included in a larger health care administration degree. In general, hospital management degrees assume you already have some health care knowledge or experience.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), positions for health care administrators were expected to grow by 22% between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than average. Positions were expected to shift away from hospitals to doctors' offices and medical group practices.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? Students interested in the organizational elements of health care Those who wish to research more effective health care delivery methods
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Health care administrator ($96,000)* - Same as master's
Time to Completion 2-3 years 2-5 years after the master's
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 30-50 credit hours of coursework
- Residency or internship
- Approximately 55-65 credit hours of coursework
- Project or dissertation
- Qualifying exams
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree Master's or professional degree in a related field
Online Availability Yes Hybrid

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's Degrees in Hospital Management

Many different types of master's degree programs are available for hospital management. For example, some schools may offer a Master of Health Care Administration (MHA), while others might offer a Master of Science (MS) in health care management. Additionally, health care management or hospital management might be a specialization within a larger degree such as international public policy and management. Programs tend to be offered in a university's school of business or school of public health. Some universities offer different health care management degree options, while others may give you the opportunity to earn an MHA along with a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Flexible degree programs designed for those with jobs/families**
  • High growth job field that pays above average salary*
  • Can work in a variety of facilities with this degree (hospitals, health clinics, etc.)*

Cons

  • May need to be already familiar with health care industry
  • Competing against those with bachelor's degrees or on-the-job experience*
  • May be required to work nights and weekends*

Sources: *BLS, **Des Moines University.

Common Courses and Requirements

Master's degree programs typically take two or three years to complete, although many offer flexible options for those who work full-time. Classes may be offered online or in the evenings. Several schools offer a joint MHA/MBA degree for those students who want more of a business focus to their education. Some schools may also offer an executive MHA, designed for those who are already in management or another executive position in the health care field.

Some courses you may take include:

  • Overview of the U.S. health care system
  • Health care financial systems
  • Insurance principles
  • Health care delivery design
  • Quality and process improvement

Master's degree programs usually include a residency or internship as well.

Online Degree Options

Many universities offer their master's programs at least partially online so degrees can be completed around working full-time. Some courses may be offered both online and on-campus, and there usually is no difference in curriculum between the two delivery methods. Some programs may be offered completely online, while others may offer all coursework online but require students to attend residencies in person.

Standing Out With This Degree

BLS predicts that job opportunities will be better for those who wish to work at nursing facilities as the baby boomer population ages. Additionally, you may consider earning a certification. The American Hospital Association (AHA) offers a variety of certifications, including a Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM) one. It has education and experience requirements, and you must complete an exam to earn the certification. It is good for three years, and can be renewed by retaking the exam or earning 45 credits of continuing education.

PhDs in Hospital Management

PhDs are rarer than master's degrees in hospital management. It is more common for a school to offer a Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) degree than a PhD. Health care management may also be included as a concentration in a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree program. Some schools may offer both a DHA (or a Doctor of Public Health) and a PhD program. PhD programs tend to focus more on health care policy than administration.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Have the ability to research health care policy and administrative practices
  • Learn management techniques useful to a wide variety of health care fields***
  • Degrees may offer flexible schedule for those who work full-time**

Cons

  • Degree takes many years to earn
  • May not have further career opportunities over those with master's degrees*
  • All work towards degree must be completed within a certain time frame***

Sources: *BLS, **Medical University, ***John Hopkins School of Public Health.

Common Courses and Requirements

PhDs and other doctorate programs often offer a range of times needed for completion, depending on whether a student is attending full or part-time, but they usually require all work towards the degree to be completed in a certain amount of time. Credits are broken down between coursework and dissertation work. Courses are normally defined by the program with little room for individual direction.

Courses you may take include:

  • Health organization communication
  • Leadership foundations
  • Statistical applications
  • Financial economics

Online Degree Options

PhD and other doctorate programs are typically not offered online, and if they are, they are usually hybrid programs. Coursework may be offered online while seminars and orientation courses are offered in person on campus or at additional approved locations. If a program does offer an online alternative, they are usually stricter about class schedule and the amount of time necessary to complete the degree, setting up a comprehensive schedule of courses and dissertation work.

Standing Out With This Degree

Aside from the AHA certifications discussed under master's degrees, the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) offers a fellow designation. In order to become a fellow of ACHE, you must attend a webinar that explains the process and allows you to ask any questions you may have. One of the steps of the process is the completion of the Board of Governors examination, which can only be completed after certain other steps are finished. The exam may take up to six hours and must be taken within three years of applying.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
      • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
      • MS in Health Care Informatics
      • MS in Nursing: Health Care Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
      • Master of Health Informatics
      • Master of Health Information Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Management
      • Masters in Health Care Administration
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Long Term Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Service Organization
  • Online Programs Available
    7. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Health Care Quality
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • MBA - Health Care Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    9. University of the Southwest

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
      • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management

Featured Schools

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin

Are you a US citizen?

Colorado Technical University

  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • MS in Health Care Administration
  • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management

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Kaplan University

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt

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George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Utica College

  • MBA - Health Care Management
  • Masters in Health Care Administration
  • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care

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The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Health Care Quality

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Northcentral University

  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA - Health Care Admin

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