Study Medical Management: MBA, PhD & Online Degree Info

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MBA and PhD degrees in medical management can lead to careers in the planning and management of health and medical services. Get the truth about requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Medical Management MBA and PhD: Degrees at a Glance

Students in a medical management graduate degree program receive comprehensive training in the operations and leadership skills needed to successfully run a health service facility. Although careers in medical management usually require a bachelor's degree, many of these professionals hold master's degrees, particularly those in leadership positions. Keep in mind that admission into Master of Business Administration (MBA) and PhD programs can be highly competitive.

Job prospects for this field are bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical and health services managers were expected to see above-average growth (22%) from 2010 to 2020. The growing aging population, which has a greater demand for healthcare, was projected to spur this demand.

Who is this degree for? Healthcare professionals who want to advance to management positionsIndividuals with backgrounds in healthcare, business, math or social science who want to pursue careers in policy, research or academia
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) Medical or health services manager ($96,000)*- Career path for the PhD is similar to that of the master's, though there might be greater advancement opportunities for candidates holding PhDs
- Postsecondary business professor ($87,000)*
Time to Completion Approximately 2 years Approximately 4 years
Common Graduation Requirements - Core courses
- Electives
- Practicum or field project
- Core coursework
- Dissertation presentation
- Dissertation defense
- Teaching practicum
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree transcripts
- Resume
- Personal statement
- Letters of recommendation
- GMAT or GRE scores
All of the MBA prerequisites, plus:
- Master's degree in healthcare or a related field
- Graduate degree transcripts
Online Availability YesSimilar programs are available

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

Medical Management MBA

Medical management Master of Business Administration programs prepare students for careers in healthcare administration. Master's candidates will typically learn how to oversee medical facilities by studying the foundations of business, financial management and healthcare policy. Depending on the nature of your program, you may need to fulfill prerequisite courses in business or health-related topics. These programs are generally geared toward students who already have experience in the healthcare field, and graduates of medical management MBA programs may go on to pursue careers in various industries, including government, finance, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and private business.

Pros and Cons


  • Can give medical and health services managers a competitive edge over bachelor's degree holders
  • Strong prospects for employment in nursing care facilities due to the growing aging population*
  • Medical and health services managers can earn more than two times the national median salary for all occupations**
  • An undergraduate degree specific to business or health is often not required for admission


  • MBA programs may favor applicants who have previous work experience
  • Managers of nursing-care and assisted-living facilities are often require to hold state licensure
  • May be required to work evenings, weekends or overnight shifts

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 projections), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2010 figures).

Courses and Requirements

Students in a medical management MBA program will experience a variety of business- and healthcare-focused courses. In addition to core courses, students can generally pick an assortment of elective courses in areas that interest them. Although curricula vary, students in medical management MBA programs will typically study topics in financial management, health policy, the globalization of healthcare and technology in healthcare (such as e-health business models or informatics). Consider that programs often have some form of hands-on experience requirement, such as a field project or practicum.

Online Degree Options

Medical management MBA degrees are available in online formats. Some schools offer completely online curricula, while others have blended, partially online formats. Online degree programs are typically flexible, offering full-time and part-time options. Admission and curriculum requirements are very similar to those of a traditional on-campus program, and students may be required to have several years of prior work experience.

Stand Out with This Degree

During college, consider joining on-campus organizations that highlight your management skills and newly-acquired business expertise. For example, some business schools have student associations focused on the healthcare industry. By joining such an association, you may have the opportunity to interact with alumni and faculty members who have experience in medical management. If your school does not have a relevant student association, consider becoming a member of a national professional organization; the Medical Group Management Association - American College of Medical Practice Executives, for example, offers a student membership.

Medical Management PhD

Medical management PhD programs emphasize research and scholarly contributions to public and private health services. Programs may stress intensive training in healthcare systems and health services research combined with traditional business disciplines. When researching medical management PhD programs, consider that similar programs may use slightly different names (such as health policy and management) in their titles. Graduates with a PhD in medical management often seek upper-level management careers in private industry and government as well as university-level teaching and research positions.

Pros and Cons


  • Some programs admit students from various backgrounds, including medicine, economics, insurance, nursing, business and health
  • Can lead to an advanced career in academia and research
  • Small class sizes enable students to interact closely with faculty and peers, which can be particularly valuable during research assignments


  • Doctoral programs generally only accept a handful of students each year
  • Some programs require applicants to hold master's degrees in healthcare, social science or another similar field
  • Career-long learning necessary to stay abreast of changing healthcare policies and technologies

Courses and Requirements

As a student in a medical management PhD program, you will need to complete major courses and pass preliminary or qualifying examinations in your field, as well as researching, writing and presenting a dissertation. Many programs also encourage or require PhD candidates to complete teaching practicums. PhD candidates can expect courses in healthcare services systems, research, health policy and statistics. You will also take seminars in various healthcare topics. Depending on your program and academic credentials, you may need to take some prerequisite courses as well.

Online Degree Options

Fully online PhD programs in medical management are not available at this time; however, there are similar degree programs that offer distance learning options, such as a PhD in health sciences program with a specialty in health professions leadership. Similar to traditional on-campus degree programs, coursework is further enhanced through seminars, practicums and scholarly projects. Some offline components (such as teaching requirements or dissertation defenses) may be required to complete your degree.

Stand out with This Degree

Since a PhD may lead to a career in postsecondary teaching, consider familiarizing yourself with new classroom technology tools that can help you better manage your role as teaching assistant and increase student engagement. Some tools, such as Blackboard, are designed to streamline organization and efficiency for professors and students. Other tools serve as instructional devices, such as 3-D visualization technology.

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