Healthcare Administration

What Do Master’s in Healthcare Administration Jobs Look Like in 2020?

What Do Master’s in Healthcare Administration Jobs Look Like in 2020?
Thinking of joining the ranks of healthcare administration leaders? Expect to put in your time at school. Image from Unsplash
Mairead Kelly profile
Mairead Kelly May 26, 2020

Whether you're interested in working with healthcare providers, insurance organizations, policy advocates, or something else entirely, an MHA will open doors to a well-paying career that suits your needs and interests.

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According to the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) annual survey, 6,146 hospitals operated within the US in 2019, admitting over 36 million patients and spending over $1.1 trillion on operational costs. Their expenses covered everything from purchasing medications and compensating staff to updating clinical software and conducting lab work.

Because of the large number of people that hospitals serve—and the even greater amount of money they spend—there is an increasing need for qualified healthcare administration professionals. Healthcare administrators not only manage medical facilities and employees but also develop and implement processes to improve efficiency and eliminate waste.

Thinking of joining the ranks of healthcare administration leaders? Expect to put in your time at school, most likely in pursuit of a Master’s in Health Administration (MHA). While other degrees can lead to careers in this field, the MHA is the primary conduit to success. MHA degree programs cover a broad range of subjects, including accounting, human resources, ethics, law, and health administration. They also teach critical problem-solving and management skills.

While many MHA graduates choose to work in hospitals, that’s hardly their only career option. An MHA creates opportunities across a wide variety of healthcare-related organizations. Whether you’re interested in working with healthcare providers, insurance organizations, policy organizations, or something else entirely, this degree opens doors to a career that suits your needs and interests and offers comfortable pay. Let’s look at those opportunities in more detail.

What do masters in healthcare administration jobs look like in 2020? We’ll discuss that question in this article by covering:

  • Possible career paths for a Master’s in Healthcare Administration
  • The highest-paying jobs for Master’s in Healthcare Administration graduates in 2020
  • Prerequisites for a Master’s in Healthcare Administration
  • Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration programs

Possible career paths for a Master’s in Healthcare Administration

While an MHA can help people advance in the ranks of traditional healthcare systems and move into C-suite roles, this degree is increasingly applicable to a range of fields, such as:

Consulting

Consultants offer an outside perspective to organizations. In healthcare, this could mean working in one sector, such as medical equipment or pharmaceuticals, or taking the long-view and offering an overall management perspective.

Government

There are many government jobs in healthcare administration, including running state facilities.

Health information systems

According to the World Health Organization, “the health information system provides the underpinnings for decision-making.” Professionals gather and use data to make decisions and improve health functions. There are many health information systems of all sizes.

Health insurance

In the insurance field, health administrators may run an entire insurance company or focus on a niche area, such as complying with laws and regulations.

Health policy

An administrative background can help you land a position developing and implementing healthcare policies on a local, state-wide, or national scale. Alternatively, you may help an organization comply with health policy.

Home healthcare

Home healthcare is a growing trend, especially for elder and hospice care. Administrators may coordinate specific services like billing or take on an overall management position.

Hospital administration

Hospital administrator responsibilities may include organizing staffing, managing finances, and offering a macro perspective on care.

Infection prevention

Infection prevention is the process of stopping the spread of diseases; it can involve risk assessment, creating and following a set of precautions, and implementing action plans to mitigate the impact of infected people.

Long-term care administration

In this role, you may run a long-term care facility, such as an assisted living facility or retirement home.

Maternal and child care

An administrative position in this field may involve working for an organization like the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, which operates and funds programs based on the organization’s directive.

Medical supplies

Medical supplies are a crucial component of care. You may work in the medical supply chain, either getting supplies to organizations and patients or ensuring your organization has adequate supplies.

Mental healthcare

Administrative positions in mental healthcare are like those in other organizations, except you’ll work in a mental health facility.

Pharmaceuticals

You may work as an administrator for a pharmaceutical company, including overseeing new developments and formulating strategies to increase profits.

Veterans health administration

These administrators may work for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, including at VA Hospitals.

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Health administration undergraduates sometimes start out in admissions, marketing, risk management, managed-care analysis, or other non-clinical staff positions and work their way into higher-level administrative roles. While it’s possible to work in healthcare administration without an MHA, it can take a lot longer to climb the managerial ladder without a master’s degree. (source)

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. 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. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

The highest-paying jobs for Master’s in Healthcare Administration graduates in 2020

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare industry will continue to experience strong growth for the foreseeable future, with a projected employment increase of 16 percent through 2030. That’s about 2.6 million new jobs. These offer the highest pay for MHA graduates.

Regulatory Affairs Director, Medical Devices

Average income: $153,650

Regulatory affairs directors are responsible for ensuring manufacturers’ compliance with applicable global legislative and regulatory requirements at each stage of product development. In the medical device industry, these professionals are responsible for overseeing phases such as research and development, clinical trials, regulatory submissions, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution, among other developmental processes.

Hospital CEO

Average income: $153,862

Hospital CEOs double as both business leaders and politicians by blending diplomacy with advocacy, business management, and financial expertise. They’re responsible for a hospital’s long-term planning. On a day-to-day level, this may require helping individual departments meet their objectives and comply with rules and regulations, securing their organizations’ short- and long-term financial goals, developing and implementing new programs and objectives, and representing their organizations in outside communities.

Insurance Director

Average income: $95,125

Insurance directors leverage insurance contracts with healthcare providers to produce optimal financial results. They play a pivotal role in building relationships with a variety of medical organizations as well as drafting, reviewing, negotiating, and finalizing all contracts with all healthcare providers within their organization’s network. Other duties may include ensuring compliance with contract guidelines, preparing financial projections, facilitating membership growth, overseeing insurance claims for accuracy, customizing fee schedules, and reporting to their organization’s executives.

Clinical Informatics Manager

Average income: $95,746

Since healthcare providers adopted electronic medical records (EMRs), the need for professionals who can help bridge the gap between clinical and IT work has risen drastically. As leaders in the health informatics realm, clinical informatics managers are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the clinical information systems at healthcare facilities. They oversee and train staff, monitor budgets, and ensure all information systems comply with state, federal, and professional regulatory standards, with the ultimate goal of managing costs while improving patient outcomes and ensuring patient privacy.

Nursing Home Administrator

Average income: $92,580

Nursing home administrators are responsible for supervising the clinical and administrative affairs of nursing homes and related facilities. Typical duties also include overseeing staff and personnel, financial matters, medical care, medical supplies, facilities, and other tasks required for operation.

Hospital Administrator

Average income: $87,093

Hospital administrators organize and oversee the health services and daily activities of a hospital or healthcare facility, including managing staff and budgets, communicating among departments, and ensuring adequate patient care. Their responsibilities reach beyond the walls of their immediate work environment, too. Hospital administrators may foster partnerships with the wider population and work with both public and private sector organizations on matters of policy, research, and cooperation. They may also collaborate with other administrators to share best practices and data to better serve patients and decrease costs.

Healthcare Consultant

Average income: $79,002

Healthcare consultants strive to help medical organizations and hospitals cut costs and increase revenue through better, more efficient practices that benefit their customers, staff, and patients. They typically partner with a healthcare organization’s administration and leadership teams to uncover problems and offer ways to solve them. Creating big-picture solutions to problems may require them to interview personnel, conduct onsite observation and job analysis, analyze observation and business data, and plan studies of organization work and information flow.

Clinical Director

Average income: $79,190

Clinical directors at all types of healthcare organizations typically spend their days developing policies and goals, evaluating staff, and setting budgets. However, the specific duties of this role can vary depending on the type of healthcare facility they work for, the particular department they oversee, and the size of their team. In a large hospital or clinic, a clinical director is often responsible for managing a department, such as mental health, surgery, or rehabilitation. In a physician’s office, they’re more likely to manage the entire facility.

Healthcare Lobbyist

Average income: $77,168

Lobbyists are primarily responsible for developing strategies that persuade legislators at the regional, federal, and international levels to create and support specific policies in the interests of the healthcare-related organization they represent. These professionals may work for private individuals, large organizations, the general public, or other special interest groups who hope to encourage members of Congress to vote a certain way on a particular topic. For example, lobbyists may advocate against certain taxes, such as those on insurance companies, or encourage funding for programs, such as those that treat narcotics abusers. While healthcare lobbyists are more likely to come from a Master of Public Health or Master of Public Policy background, MHAs hold unique expertise in the operation of healthcare facilities that could prove valuable in lobbying.

Prerequisites for a Master’s in Healthcare Administration

Although the application requirements vary depending upon the school, most MHA programs expect applicants to have earned a 3.0 GPA as an undergraduate student. Others will require a GPA of well over 3.0. Additional prerequisites may include:

Letters of recommendation

You typically need three letters of recommendation to get into graduate school, usually from former professors or employers.

Resume or CV

A good resume should emphasize your relevant experience, including internships and work history, plus academic achievements.

Statement of purpose

The personal essay allows you to make a case for why you should get into the program, including your career goals.

Transcripts

You need to provide transcripts from your undergraduate degree and any previously completed graduate programs.

Programs can also require applicants to submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and/or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) that are less than five years old. Others may make them optional or not require them at all. Previous work experience in healthcare or healthcare administration also may be required.

Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration programs

According to US News and World Report, the best healthcare management programs in the US include:

Cornell University

Cornell offers a two year MHA program—the first one ever created—that prepares students to take on leadership positions in a variety of organizations. Cornell undergraduates can apply to the five year BS/MHA joint program

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins is a good option for those who are “early careerists interested in managerial and leadership positions.” They can have a variety of specialties after graduation, including consulting and management. Students get paid to complete a residency, which lasts 11 months and provides relevant administrative experience.

Ohio State University Main Campus

Students at Ohio State learn to become innovators in healthcare delivery through a mix of practical and classroom experience. Completing a summer residency improves their management ability.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

This 33-month program focuses on helping students apply their learning immediately. Students can complete an internship in addition to their paid nine-month to a year-long residency.

University of Iowa

Iowa students receive a “comprehensive understanding of patient-centered health care as well as the skills needed to navigate complex administrative and management systems.” They complete volunteer work and an internship and have access to a mentorship program.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Michigan’s Master Of Health Services Administration offers core coursework in marketing, finance, and management. Though the school does not provide financial aid, over 40 percent of students receive merit scholarships.

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota program is open to students with little healthcare management experience. According to the program website, every student typically secures a job or fellowship by July of their graduation year.

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

UNC offers two formats for its MHA: residential and executive, which is designed for those with existing healthcare management experience. Students complete work in five core competencies, including communication, management, and finance.

Rush University

Rush offers a Master of Science in Health Systems Management. The program follows a “teacher-practitioner model” meaning you’ll learn from people who have reached the highest level of the business.

Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU gives students “both the executive and technical skills needed to be well-rounded leaders.” Students can access a top-flight research department and enjoy a high job placement rate after graduation.

What about online programs?

A growing number of colleges and universities now offer online MHA programs. This track is an ideal pathway for students who wish to study from home or need to juggle other responsibilities like full- and part-time jobs or family and childcare obligations.

The “best” online MHA track is always the one that aligns with an individual’s career goals and existing commitments. The programs listed below all meet strict accreditation standards set by a regional accrediting agency, health administration-specific accreditation organization or both—and allow students to shape their education around their passions, interests, and needs:

Florida International University, Master of Business Administration in Healthcare

FIU offers an accelerated MBA that students can complete in a year and a half. The program “focuses on the complex real-world challenges facing healthcare administrators.”

George Mason University, Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management__

George Mason’s program is designed for working professionals looking to advance their careers and maintain them at the same time. Students complete leadership, communication, and problem-solving coursework and spend months at a healthcare facility completing their capstone.

George Washington University, Master of Health Administration__

Students can complete this program full-time in two years, or take longer as part-time students. You will need to complete in-person immersion programs in Washington, DC and elsewhere.

Georgetown University, Master of Science in Health Systems Administration – Executive__

Georgetown students complete this curriculum in under two years. It’s not offered entirely online but is delivered “in a dynamic hybrid format of online, synchronous coursework paired with on-site campus and thematic global comparative immersions.”

New York University, Master of Health Administration__

NYU’s part-time online MHA is designed to produce graduates that can lead organizations and improve the healthcare through “data and evidence-based management practices.” Students complete online lessons both live and at their convenience.

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus, Master of Health Administration__

This program focuses on giving current professionals the business skills necessary to advance their careers and gain leadership positions. It’s a part-time program designed for students who want to keep working during their degree.

Seton Hall University, Master of Healthcare Administration__

Based in New Jersey, Seton Hall boasts proximity to New York and New Jersey, allowing students—even online—to network in the regions’ excellent pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sector. Expect to complete in-person coursework as part of the hybrid component.

Texas State University, Master of Health Administration__

Students can complete “the majority of this program online.” To apply, they must have a undergraduate degree, including required coursework in areas like economics and finance, plus an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75.

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Master of Health Care Administration

The executive Master of Healthcare Administration is offered online, though the program includes five campus visits during the 25 month program.

University of Scranton, Master of Health Administration__

This program is completely online and students are allowed to choose between global health and health informatics concentrations during their degree. The program is “based on the ACHE Healthcare Leadership Alliance competency model” and focuses on developing high-level management skills.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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