Study Hospital Administration: Master's Degree, PhD & Course Info

About this article
Master's and PhD degrees in hospital administration can lead to careers in management, policy and academia. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options and find out what you can do with your degree.
View available schools

Hospital Administration: Degrees at a Glance

Students in a hospital administration graduate degree program receive comprehensive training in the operations, leadership and management techniques used to successfully run a hospital or health services organization. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in medical and health service management typically require at least a bachelor's degree. However, master's degrees are becoming increasingly popular, particularly for leadership positions.

Salaries and occupational data vary with each particular career path. Employment demand for medical and health services managers (also known as hospital administrators) is expected to see an above-average growth of 22% from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. PhD holders typically work in academia, policy and research, where salaries may vary based on experience.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? - Individuals who want management positions in the health and medical services industry
- Healthcare workers who want to specialize in management or elevate their careers
- Individuals who want to work in academia, health policy or research
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Medical and health services managers ($96,000 - may vary with experience)*- Postsecondary health specialty teacher ($99,000 - may vary with experience)*
Time to Completion Approximately 2 years (full-time) Approximately 4-5 years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Completion of coursework
- Completion of residency/internship
- Completion of course requirements
- PhD qualifier exams
- Research, write and present dissertation
- Teaching or research assistantship, if applicable
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- GRE/GMAT scores
- Courses in statistics
- Meet GPA requirements
All of the master's requirements plus
- Master's degree in a related field
- Knowledge of the core issues/topics in health services field
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Hospital Administration Master's Degrees

As a student in a typical hospital administration master's degree program, you will learn the essential business and leadership skills required for a career in health service management. Programs structures may vary, but are generally formatted as a Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA) or as a Master of Science in Management (MSM) with a concentration in healthcare administration. Generally, program curricula emphasize social science and business knowledge in the context of various healthcare settings. It is common for programs to combine classroom learning with real-world experiences, such as internships.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • An undergraduate is degree in a related major (such as business or health) may not be required by many master's degree programs.
  • According to the BLS, the employment outlook for medical and health service managers is promising, due to the aging baby-boom population and an overall growing demand for medical services.*
  • Because a bachelor's degree is the most common academic credential in this field, students with master's degrees are poised to stand out among job applicants.

Cons

  • Admission into a master's degree programs can be competitive due to the popularity of the field.
  • While relevant work experience is not a typical admissions requirement, it is required for many jobs. Students who do not participate in internships or full/part-time work may have a more challenging time finding a job upon graduation, despite advanced education.
  • Salaries typically vary based on the size and type of healthcare facilities, so it can be difficult to estimate earnings prior to graduation.*

'Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses and Requirements

To obtain a degree, you need to satisfy several requirements beyond academic coursework. Students in a hospital administration master's program will typically need to complete a relevant internship or residency, where they can apply classroom theories to real-life situations. Depending on your amount of prior professional experience, you may need to complete hundreds of residency hours at an approved healthcare facility. Students in hospital administration master's degree program will likely study the following topics:

  • Legal and ethical issues in healthcare
  • Economics of health organizations
  • Strategic management of health organizations
  • Leadership
  • Quality of care concepts

Online Degree Options

Online master's degree programs in hospital administration are available. Some schools offer a hybrid degree option, where you can take some classes online and some classes on campus. In these cases, you will likely need to find an approved, off-line practicum site.

Similar to many online degree programs, curricula are likely designed to accommodate the schedules of working professionals, with full-time and part-time options. Admission and curriculum requirements are very similar to those of a traditional on-campus program.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

While you are enrolled in your master's degree program, consider taking additional courses or training that can teach you new and marketable skills, particularly in project or case management software. This extra expertise can show potential employers that you have a demonstrated knowledge of technology, in addition to setting you apart from other job applicants.

Hospital Administration PhD Degrees

The purpose of many PhD degree programs is to produce experts in health research and policy. Programs tend to emphasize research and scholarly contributions to the field of public health services. If you have a hard time finding hospital administration PhD programs, consider that related programs in health policy and management programs offer similar curricula and may be more widely available. Remember, PhD programs may be selective because some only admit a handful of students each year.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A PhD is often required for careers in academia and research.
  • A professor working in academia can obtain significant job security by earning tenure.
  • PhD programs are often designed to allow close interaction with faculty members, some of whom may serve as mentors.

Cons

  • PhD programs can be competitive, as they draw candidates from various fields, including medicine, economics, health systems and business.
  • Smaller programs may only accept a handful of students each year.
  • Without relevant work experience, PhD candidates may appear over-educated and under-experienced to prospective employers.

Common Courses and Requirements

A typical hospital administration PhD program features several components. In general, students complete research and coursework on current issues in health policy. A typical curriculum may include courses on the following topics:

  • Applied health services research
  • Statistical applications
  • Healthcare management
  • Instructional methods in health education
  • Data management

In addition to coursework, students will need to pass qualifying exams and prepare for their doctoral dissertation, which they will ultimately research, write and present to a faculty panel. Some programs may also require students to complete a teaching seminar or practicum.

Online Degree Options

Online hospital management PhD degrees are available. Some schools may offer limited online courses that count toward a PhD degree program, particularly for prerequisite courses, while other programs offer a complete curriculum. Note that you may need to complete offline components, such as a practicum. As with all educational investments, consider whether online courses are part of an accredited academic institution.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Consider joining organizations that highlight your newly-acquired skills. For example, some schools have student associations focused on the healthcare industry (if your school doesn't have a relevant student association, consider joining a national professional organization that allows student members). Joining an organization can provide the opportunity to network with alumni and faculty members who are experienced in hospital administration. Additionally, organizations may provide other perks, like guest lectures or discounts on continuing education courses.

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
  • Online Programs Available
    2. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. 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
    6. 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
    7. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Health Administration
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    8. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Health Care Quality
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

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

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

George Mason University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

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

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

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

Are you a US citizen?

The University of Scranton

  • MBA - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Health Care Quality

What is your highest level of education?