Health Administration Degree

Why a Health Administration Degree?

Health administration programs typically prepare students for managerial positions in traditional healthcare settings including hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, and healthcare-related firms such as insurance and pharmaceutical companies. However, a degree in this area can also advance your career in environmental health.

Professionals in this field keep people safe from chemical and environmental hazards where we live and work. They conduct inspections to make sure that landfills, hazardous materials facilities, and drinking water systems comply with regulations. Others are employed as environmental health physicians and nurses at large manufacturers and other companies, where they ensure worker health and safety. For this reason, environmental health is often folded into the field of occupational safety and health.

Administrators oversee the environmental health service programs of public agencies at all levels of government. They may also supervise hazmat and first responder programs, supervise health and safety services for employees at companies and hospitals, and manage environmental health research programs at universities and medical organizations.

Health Administration Associate's Degrees

Associates of Applied Science (AAS) in Healthcare Administration prepare students for entry-level positions in the healthcare industry only. Graduates typically work as administrative assistants in medical offices, rather than actual administrators. These programs encompass healthcare terminology, billing software, computerized scheduling programs, and health informatics. A full bachelor's degree is required to become a healthcare administrator who manages the operations of a medical facility.

Health Administration Undergraduate Programs

A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for management positions that oversee medical services. Undergraduate programs typically include coursework on the management of healthcare resources, including its financial, legal, and human resources aspects. Students also take courses in healthcare ethics, economics, and policy. While they are most often administered through an allied health department, other colleges and universities offer these degrees through their business schools.

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What are the education costs for a health administration bachelor's degree?

It's difficult to say how much a bachelor's degree in health administration will cost. The expense largely depends on the school attended. At public colleges, in-state students pay an average of $9,139 per year in tuition and fees, while out-of-state students pay nearly $23,000. A bachelor's degree in health administration from a private college averages $31,231 per year. These figures do not include room and board.

What are the entry requirements for a health administration bachelor's degree?

A high school diploma or GED and SAT/ACT scores are required for program acceptance.

What coursework is required for a health administration bachelor's degree?

Undergraduate programs typically include coursework on the management of healthcare resources, including its financial, legal, and human resources aspects. Students also take courses in healthcare ethics, economics, and policy.

What are my employment options with an undergraduate degree in health administration?

Graduates find healthcare management career opportunities at clinics, health insurance organizations, hospitals, nursing homes, public health departments, rehabilitation centers, and private practices.

School Spotlight

Drexel University - Philadelphia

Drexel University administers an online Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration through its College of Nursing and Health Professions, which is ranked in the top 15 nationally. This part-time program is geared toward working healthcare professionals, such as those in medical billing and coding, who want to expand their skills and qualify for higher-level managerial positions.

Core courses in the major area include a foundational class in health systems administration, as well as healthcare ethics, human resources, the legal aspects of healthcare services, financial management in healthcare, and nonprofits and healthcare. The curriculum also covers healthcare policy, marketing, accounting and economics, organizational behavior, statistics, and diversity issues in healthcare services.

College of Westchester - New York

The College of Westchester's School of Allied Health offers a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Healthcare Administration. The BBA is a degree completion program that admits students who have already earned an Associate degree in Medical Assistant Management or Health Information Management through the college. The program also accepts applicants with associate's degrees from other colleges, though not all credits may transfer over. Its core course on U.S. healthcare provides an overview of health insurance, physician practice and payment, ambulatory care, managed care, medical terminology, and public health issues. Coursework also includes public policy, environmental law and ethics, and healthcare delivery systems operation. Classes in business management and accounting are also required. Program participants choose from electives in business, digital media, medicine, healthcare, and general education, which includes a course on environmental science. Students develop the skills necessary to design, implement, and evaluate healthcare service programs, and the policy issues that shape them. They also gain an understanding of the governing structure of healthcare organizations, relationships with insurance companies, and the requirements of government bodies.

Because most graduate programs in this discipline do not require a bachelor's degree in the same field, alternative pathways to a careers in environmental health administration are possible. For example, students may choose to earn a bachelor's degree in environmental health sciences before proceeding to a graduate program for health administrators. Earning a joint degree in health administration and environmental health or pursuing a minor are other options.

Graduate Certificate in Health Administration

Post-baccalaureate certificates are typically intended for working professionals who want to upgrade their skills or explore a new field. They are usually designed so that certificate credits will easily transfer to a full master's degree program.

What are the education costs for a health administration graduate certificate?

The cost of a graduate certificate in health administration is difficult to estimate. A typical four-course (12 credit) graduate certificate program may cost anywhere from $1,000-$11,000 at a public college and up to $25,000 per year at private institutions.

What are the entry requirements for a health administration graduate certificate?

Applicants to post-baccalaureate certificate programs need to have a bachelor's degree, usually from an accredited institution. Some schools have a minimum GPA requirement. GRE scores are generally not required for certificate programs.

What coursework is required for a health administration graduate certificate?

In general, students take foundational courses in healthcare systems, healthcare management, and financial management. Students can choose from more advanced courses in healthcare economics, marketing, legal issues, and ethics.

What are my employment options with a graduate certificate in health administration?

After completing a certificate program, students may begin their careers as healthcare managers in a variety of settings, or apply the credits toward a full master's degree.

School Spotlight

Seton Hall University - New Jersey

Seton Hall University offers an online Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Administration. Students complete three required courses, two electives, and an independent study to earn the certificate. Required courses include Introduction to Healthcare Systems/Orientation Residency, Healthcare Management, and Healthcare Financial Management and Accounting. Students choose from electives in healthcare ethics, financial management, economics, legal and human resource issues, informatics, research methods, and managing emergency preparedness and health security.

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Master's Degrees in Health Administration

Graduate degrees in this discipline are usually geared toward current healthcare workers seeking career advancement and those interested in healthcare policy research. These programs cover professional knowledge and policy issues in greater depth, and focus on developing the skills required to conduct original research.

What are the education costs for a health administration master's degree?

A master's degree in health administration can cost from $11,000 per year at a public college ($916 per credit hour) to $25,000 per year ($2,083 per credit hour) at a private institution. Five-year combined bachelor's and master's programs are an excellent option for earning a bachelor's degree while paying only one year's worth of additional tuition.

What are the entry requirements for a health administration master's degree?

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and an acceptable GPA. They must also submit GRE or GMAT scores.

What coursework is required for a health administration master's degree?

Graduate programs cover such topics as health and disease, the legal and ethical issues affecting healthcare, financial management, human resource management, planning, and marketing. Field experience and/or a thesis may be required.

What are my employment options with a master's degree in health administration?

A master's degree in health administration can give you a solid foundation for a new career in this vibrant field. It can also provide current healthcare workers with new opportunities for advancement.

School Spotlight

Texas State University

Texas State University offers a Masters of Healthcare Administration that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. The program encompasses health and disease; the sociological, economic, legal and political aspects of healthcare; management; and organizational behavior. Students take 43 hours of core courses in Healthcare Organization and Delivery, Healthcare Law, Healthcare Organizational Behavior/Theory, financial management, human resources, planning, marketing, and data analysis. In addition, students with little practice in health administration complete a field experience, while more seasoned students write a thesis. Texas State students in related graduate programs, such as aquatic resources, biochemistry, biology, engineering, and population and conservation biology, can also add a nine-hour cognate, or group of classes in health administration, to their course of study. All students must have completed coursework in statistics, economics, and financial accounting to be accepted into the program.

University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center offers a Master of Health Administration (MHA). In addition to the standard coursework offered by graduate programs in this discipline, classes in managerial epidemiology and professional communication are required. Six credit hours of electives can be applied outside of the program, with departmental permission. Students also take a capstone seminar in health services management. All MHA students must complete an internship in health administration, which preferably includes 10 to 12 weeks of field experience.

Doctoral Programs in Health Administration

Ph.D. programs develop the managerial skills necessary for advancement to high-salary senior positions in healthcare organizations. They typically emphasize healthcare management theory, policy, and law. They also develop the ability to conduct original research. Graduates are promoted to high-levels positions that involve designing healthcare policies and managing service delivery at large organizations. Most programs only accept applicants with several years of post-graduate experience in the healthcare field.

What are the education costs for a health administration doctorate?

The cost of a doctorate in health administration will depend on the school you choose. Most Ph.D. programs require 60 credits, which can amount to $55,000 at a public college to $125,000 at a private university.

What are the entry requirements for health administration doctoral programs?

Applicants must typically have a prior master's degree and several years of post-graduate experience in the healthcare field. GRE or GMAT scores are also required.

What coursework is required for a health administration doctorate?

Doctoral programs include advanced courses on the U.S. healthcare system, epidemiology, environmental health, organizational leadership, program evaluation, health informatics, and disaster preparedness. Candidates also learn statistics and research methods, and must successfully defend a dissertation.

What are my employment options with a doctoral degree in health administration?

Graduates are employed in high-levels positions that involve designing healthcare policies and managing service delivery at large organizations. Some choose academic careers.

School Spotlight

University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill offers a three-year, cohort-based Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership (DrPH). Candidates take classes in public health law, ethics, finance, health informatics, and global health systems. The program also emphasizes review and assessment of the field's professional literature. Students learn leadership theory and practice, population perspectives for health, and strategic thinking. With the exception a handful of visits to Chapel Hill or an alternate site in years one and two, the program can be completed online. Applicants must already hold an advanced degree and be employed full-time in a leadership position in the field.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University in State College administers a Ph.D. program designed for students interested in research careers. The program explores the organization of health services, financial management, and quantitative techniques for conducting research in health policy and administration. Candidates later pursue one of three tracks: health economics; healthcare management and organizations; or population health and demography. Graduate minors in demography and gerontology are also available. Graduates go on to conduct original research in both academic and non-academic settings.

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Health administrators are employed as mid-level or senior managers at hospitals, nursing homes, and public health agencies. Some work for insurance and pharmaceutical companies. More specifically, environmental health administrators fill similar positions at environmental agencies and health agencies at all levels of government. Some work for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Others work as consultants. They may also find employment with the military, as well as the Veteran's Administration.

The employment outlook for health administrators is excellent; jobs for medical and health services managers are projected to grow 32 percent in the coming years. However, while concerns about pollution and environmental toxins will drive some of this expansion, the vast majority of growth will occur in more traditional healthcare settings.

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for Medical and Health Services Managers reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.

Skills You'll Learn While Studying Health Administration

  • Reading Comprehension - Health administrators spend much of their time reading and writing reports.
  • Speaking - Health administrators develop oral communication skills so they can run meetings effectively and convey information to stakeholders.
  • Critical Thinking - Health administrators must be able to identify different approaches to problems, or different healthcare program design options.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - All administrators and managers must be able to evaluate the options they've identified and choose the most appropriate alternative.