Healthcare Administration

Is a Master’s in Healthcare Administration Worth It?

Is a Master’s in Healthcare Administration Worth It?
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Paige Cerulli profile
Paige Cerulli May 28, 2019

Expect a booming job market and nearly endless career paths. What more could you want, universal healthcare?

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According to AMN Healthcare, the healthcare industry is both the largest and the fastest-growing job market in the United States economy. In December 2018, healthcare jobs increased by 50,200, which is the largest growth seen in a single month ever since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began its Current Employment Statistics survey in 1990 (which, we know, might pre-date when some of our readers were born).

With such rapid job growth and the recent boom in professional opportunities, a career in healthcare can be a promising and enticing option for anyone, particularly those who have great listening skills, a knack for patience, and a strong sense of empathy. But what about the “other” side of healthcare? If you’re a business savvy, organized, people person, you could hold an administrative position overseeing and even improving how clinics, programs, and hospitals run. And earning your master of healthcare administration (MHA) could help you to get there.

MHAs certainly have their benefits, but before jumping head-first into graduate studies, you’ll want to make sure that pursuing such a program is worth it for the time, energy, and money you’ll spend earning your degree. The more you know about the benefits (and potential downsides) to an MHA degree, the better you’ll be able to decide whether getting this degree is worth it to you.

Job market, got it. What about career opportunities?

One major benefit of earning your master of healthcare administration is that this degree prepares you for a huge variety of career paths, with management and leadership opportunities available in work environments such as long-term care facilities, public and private hospitals, and managed care corporations. You might oversee a department, or your MHA can qualify you for a CEO position in a healthcare organization.

According to Healthcare System Careers EDU, you’ll have the option to pursue many different roles, including:

  • Medical office administrator
  • Public health information officer
  • Health services manager or administrator
  • Health human resources manager
  • Patient services manager
  • Nurse administration manager
  • Managed care executive
  • CEO of a practice

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Earning potential? In this economy?

Because you can hold so many different positions with an MHA once you graduate, your salary could vary widely. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2018, the median wage for health service managers was $99,730 per year, with the highest 10 percent in the field earning over $182,600 in base pay.

Different industries and roles carry different wages. The industries that carried the highest median wages as of May 2018 were:

  • Nursing and residential care facilities: $84,260
  • Offices of physicians: $90,920
  • Outpatient care centers: $92,390
  • Hospitals (state/public, local, and private): $108, 730
  • Government: $110,460

Additional factors like your geographical location, company size, industry, and amount of hands-on experience can also affect your salary. Below are a few common careers you could pursue with your MHA, along with their average salaries:

Even better, though, is that the demand for healthcare administrators continues to increase because of the expanding nature of the healthcare industry. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for health services managers is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2026. This growth is much faster than growth for other occupations and is partially prompted because as baby boomers age, their healthcare needs increase.

What will my program cover?

From one college or university program to the next, MHA degree courses will prepare you for the unique demands of holding a management position within the healthcare industry. Careers in Public Health states that an MHA is similar to a master of business administration, though MHAs have a strong focus on the healthcare industry. Your degree will focus on the business side of healthcare, and you’ll grow your understanding of ethics, policy, and legal systems, and use that information throughout your career.

While each MHA graduate program differs slightly, you can expect to take courses such as:

  • Quality management and performance
  • Marketing and strategic planning
  • Accounting
  • HR management
  • Healthcare administration leadership
  • Hospital or nursing home administration
  • Accounting
  • Healthcare financial management

Most MHA programs take about two years to complete. Many of the programs are available online and offer scheduling flexibility so that you can earn your degree while continuing to work full-time, take care of family—or maybe a combination of all three.

According to Healthcare Administration EDU, most MHA programs require you to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Many program applicants hold undergraduate degrees in public health, but a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, health administration, or even a healthcare-related field will also ensure that you’re well-prepared for an MHA program.

It all boils down to you.

Earning your master of healthcare administration has many benefits. It can increase your earning potential, help you qualify for a variety of administrative positions, and even give you the chance to make positive changes to the standard of healthcare. If you’re a go-getter who loves a challenge, has excellent people skills, and can see both the big picture and every last detail, pursuing a career in healthcare administration may come naturally to you.

As for downsides? While getting completing an MHA program (most commonly over the course of two years), you’ll need to balance your education with your work and life commitments. There’s also the matter of financing your education, which may mean taking out student loans. Of course, a higher salary, in the long run, could make it easier to pay off those loans—but it’s important to make sure that an MHA is an investment that you truly want to make.

Healthcare administration positions require a special set of skills as outlined by Public Health Online. If you’re considering this career path, think carefully about your strengths in these areas:

  • The ability to work with a variety of personalities while also maintaining a sense of peace and cohesiveness within a team
  • The ability to listen and make decisions while prioritizing the best interests of a team
  • Strong analytical skills and a detail-oriented focus
  • Phenomenal communication skills
  • The ability to come up with unique solutions, often under pressure
  • Leadership skills, largely the ability to inspire and motivate

Ultimately, you’re the only one who can determine if getting your MHA is worth it. So, what now? Get started by thinking about the career and positions you want to hold—and how (or if) an MHA could help you to get there.

Questions or feedback? Email

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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Categorized as: Healthcare AdministrationNursing & Healthcare