Healthcare Systems Administration: MBA, PhD & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in a healthcare systems administration degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of graduate degrees and potential careers.
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Studying Healthcare Systems Administration: Degrees at a Glance

If you enroll in a graduate degree program in healthcare systems administration, you'll learn how to oversee the day-to-day operations of a healthcare facility while also mastering business skills. You'll learn medical concepts such as epidemiology and healthcare ethics while you study finance, personnel management and long-term care administration.

If your career goal is to be a senior executive in the healthcare administration field, you will likely find that a master's degree is sufficient. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees are not generally needed for most of these positions. However, you may decide to pursue the doctorate degree if you want to teach healthcare administration at the college level. Doctorates in this field can also conduct research, attempting to discover new and effective methods for providing a range of healthcare.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in pursuing employment as healthcare administrators Those interested in healthcare research and policy analysis
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary info) Medical and health service managers ($96,000)* University professor ($68,000)*
Time to Completion 2-3 years full-time 3-5 years after the master's, although it can take longer
Common Graduation Requirements Requirements may include residency, internship and/or capstone research project Doctoral dissertation
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Some programs may require evidence of specific healthcare coursework having been completed at an accredited institution
- Either a bachelor's or a master's degree in a relevant field, depending on program
- GRE scores
Online Availability A limited number of hybrid programs are available Only non-accredited programs are available

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

Master's Degree in Healthcare Systems Administration

The purpose of a Master of Science or Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in healthcare systems administration is to train you to efficiently and effectively manage a healthcare institution. These can include hospitals, long- or short-term care nursing facilities, insurance providers, state or federal governmental policy providers or other group medical providers. These programs should instill you with a wide-ranging business management knowledge base, while also providing you with the healthcare skills and knowledge you'll need.

These programs are usually multidisciplinary, involving coursework from a number of academic fields. Many programs feature residency or internship degree requirements. These opportunities can allow you to acquire valuable professional experience for course credit. Programs are offered in a range of formats, including part- or full-time and hybrid online/on-campus programs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for medical and health service managers are expected to increase by 22% between now and 2020. This increase is faster than average as compared to other industries.
  • Because healthcare professionals are needed anywhere there are people, you'll be able to conduct a thorough and far-reaching job search.
  • The multidisciplinary nature of the degree program will provide you with a varied knowledge base.

Cons

  • You'll be in college for up to 6-7 years or more (including your bachelor's degree).
  • In some cases, you may be competing for jobs with candidates who only have a bachelor's degree.
  • As an executive managing a healthcare facility, you may be called upon to work evening or weekend hours.

Courses and Requirements

You'll most likely have a core set of business or MBA courses, in which you'll study concepts such as finance, accounting and marketing. Alongside that regiment of courses, you'll also study healthcare concepts such as healthcare ethics, medical law and medical operating systems. Below are listed some sample course topics:

  • Healthcare statistics
  • Medical informatics
  • Healthcare marketing
  • Medical research allocation

Online Degree Options

The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME), the only accrediting body for evaluating healthcare education, has determined that completely online degree programs for this field are not possible. CAHME has stated that group experience is essential for learning relevant skills such as teamwork and leadership. Some programs do offer a few courses online. These hybrid programs often offer the more business-minded MBA courses online, while the healthcare courses are offered on campus.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you want to manage a nursing facility in any U.S. state, you'll have to be licensed. While the exact process varies by state, it generally consists of obtaining a degree and passing an exam. Continuing education credits may also be involved. A smaller number of states also require assisted-living administrators be licensed. Licensure is not required in other healthcare administrator dynamics.

Doctor of Philosophy in Healthcare Systems Administration

The purpose of this type of degree program is to train the next generation of healthcare researchers and policy analysts. The end goal of this training is meant to be the creation and implementation of healthcare policies that are cheaper, more effective and more humane. Similar to the master's degree, this program usually features a multidisciplinary academic approach. Upon graduating, you'll be eligible to pursue employment at colleges and research universities, in the private sphere with insurance and research companies and with federal governmental healthcare institutions.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • By the time you're done, you'll have a Ph.D., one of the most prestigious degrees offered in academia.
  • Many programs feature financial assistance for all or most of their doctoral students.
  • Your degree should make you eligible to seek jobs with a range of employers, including higher education, governmental offices and the private sector.

Cons

  • It could take you up to ten years to complete your degree.
  • Owing to the small number of accredited programs, admissions can be competitive.
  • If your goal is teaching at the university-level, tenure-track positions can be challenging to secure.

Courses and Requirements

Many programs will require you to choose a concentration from within the field of healthcare administration. Examples of such concentrations include health economics or the sociology of health. Nearly all programs will require you to complete a research dissertation. Below are listed some sample courses:

  • Biostatistics
  • Health and behavior
  • Data analysis
  • Health organization science

Online Degree Info

As stated earlier, the reigning accreditation body for this academic field (CAHME) has determined that strictly online programs are not possible. Some programs offer some of the doctoral coursework online.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Whichever career path you pursue after your degree is secured, you'll want and need to be as technologically savvy as possible. Your academic studies will familiarize you with the latest in electronic research and academic tools. However, you may want to complement this knowledge with additional computer languages. HTML, the language of websites, may come in handy as your career advances and you seek additional recognition.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. 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
      • Master: Nursing/Nurse Administrator
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgt. & Healthcare Mgt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Mgt. & Human Resources
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting & Healthcare Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. - Health Care Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Government - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Public Administration - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Health Admin
      • MS - Health Admin Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Herzing University

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgt. & Healthcare Mgt.
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Mgt. & Human Resources

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Ashford University

  • M.A. - Health Care Admin

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management

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Northcentral University

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

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Government - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • MS in Health Care Informatics

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Saint Joseph's University

  • MS - Health Admin
  • MS - Health Admin Informatics

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