A master of health administration (MHA) degree prepares students for work as a healthcare administrator, with responsibilities that include planning, directing, and coordinating medical business operations and ensuring health services run smoothly. Many students choose online MHA programs over traditional classroom-based graduate programs because online coursework is convenient, affordable, and can provide extensive career networking opportunities for the C-suite position.
In pursuing an online health administration degree, students can continue their careers while applying new knowledge to the workplace. The experience allows healthcare professionals to build on existing skills and business professionals to learn new ones. An MHA degree is considered a vital step to an executive-level career in the healthcare business field.
Advantages Of Pursuing A Masters Of Health Administration
In the coming decade, employment opportunities for healthcare administrators are expected to grow by seventeen percent, which is much faster than most occupations, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said. The growth means more than 56,000 new jobs will open by 2024. The BLS, which is the government agency that forecasts employment opportunities for hundreds of occupations, identified the MHA degree as a key to earning an administrative position.
The increasing need for healthcare executives comes as the baby boom population ages, people remain active later in life, technology allows for healthier living, and the healthcare industry sees a larger demand for services. Administrators work across the spectrum of industries—from nonprofit organizations to governmental agencies—to ensure compliance with changing healthcare laws and regulation. They are also needed to oversee medical information and staff, particularly in office settings as medical groups become larger and more complex, the BLS said.
What Students Should Expect From An Online MHA
Prospective students who seek a master’s in health administration should be self-motivated and ready to work because earning the advanced degree requires dedication. Through the intensive coursework, students will learn about healthcare strategies, ethics, and human resources, among other things. In earning an MHA degree, online students at the leading programs are held to the same high standards as on-campus students and receive the same diploma.
Students should also expect the following from an online MHA program:
• Executive leadership competencies
In 2017, the American College of Healthcare Executives updated its key competencies to create a common framework for the healthcare administrator position. The five critical domains are communication and relationship management, leadership, professionalism, knowledge of the healthcare environment, and business skills and knowledge. The domains intersect and have underlying goals. For example, a proficiency in business skills and knowledge should include financial management, informational management, and quality improvement expertise.
The leading online MHA programs utilize the competencies to build educational programs that will allow students to learn and grow into their executive roles.
• Support and camaraderie
Students enrolled in online programs should not be expected to traverse their studies alone. Programs that encourage student success have various avenues for student-professor and peer connections.
Most online health administration degree programs offer conveniences similar to on-campus courses to assist students struggling with course work, such as professor office hours. On an individual basis, students can connect with the teaching staff through email, online bulletin boards, video conferencing (Skype), telephone conference calls, texts or instant messaging, and online chat rooms. Larger lecture courses are conducted through teleconferencing, web conferences, streaming video or audio, recorded sessions, and typed correspondence.
Peer interactions are also important in an online setting. Studies show students who communicate with online peers feel a greater sense of community, are more motivated, and better retain information.
Online graduate school programs run on either synchronous (fixed) or asynchronous (flexible) schedules. In synchronous programs, there are predetermined class meeting times and defined deadline timeframes. For asynchronous programs, students can access coursework on their own schedules with more broad deadlines. Both types of schedules allow MHA students to work from internet-connected devices from any location.
At Maryville University, the online MHA program is 100 percent internet and computer-based. Students can finish the degree program in as few as two years.
While studies have not conclusively proven online classes are less expensive than traditional classes, online graduate students do see costs savings at the gas pump and in their paychecks. Online students don’t have to pay for gas to get to classes or fees for parking on campus. They also do not have to take time off work to attend classes. In some cases, online students are not required to purchase expensive textbooks and supplies.
Coursework Covered In Online MHA Programs
MHA programs cover a variety of materials about healthcare administration, including business, policy, strategy, and analytics. In earning an MHA, student learning aligns with core industry competencies. The point of the coursework is to meld business acumen with healthcare knowledge and public policy expertise.
For example, Maryville University online MHA students take foundational classes that explore the impact of the healthcare industry on healthcare management and the operational concepts surrounding the healthcare system. Core coursework includes classes in population health management, healthcare ethics, healthcare information technology, and healthcare human resources.
Students are also able to choose a concentration that will further delve into healthcare topics that include data management and geriatrics.
About Maryville University’s Online Master of Health Administration Degree Program
Maryville University’s innovative MHA degree program provides skills, training, and education for future leaders in healthcare. The 36-credit hour program is 100 percent online, allowing professionals to continue their careers. The school offers a general MHA degree or four concentrations in Data Management, Healthcare Strategies, Population Management, and Senior Services. For more information, contact Maryville University today.