By Iris Stone
In this ranking, we highlight the top 10 best online MHA programs for 2015.
Online master’s in health administration and online public health degrees have risen in popularity in recent years, in large part due to the high demand for qualified professionals in the medical industry. While it’s common knowledge that doctors require several years of advanced schooling, people often give less thought to the demanding careers of those on the administrative end of the medical field. Professionals must have comprehensive knowledge of digital data files, insurance claims, billing issues, staffing needs, financial management, and public relations in order to contribute positively to hospital and clinic operations.
If you think you don’t have the skills to make it in the industry, it probably just means you should consider getting a graduate degree first. Students with only a bachelor’s degree often have a harder time breaking into top leadership positions. But never fear: you can earn an advanced degree without sacrificing any of your current obligations. By going to school online you can continue working full-time and complete classes on your own time.
Methodology for Ranking the Top 10 Best Online MHA Programs 2015
There are many great programs out there, but of course not all are created equal. In this ranking, we aim to give you a solid starting point in your search by offering you ten of the best online MHA programs in the nation. We determined our top ten based on the following factors:
Number of Related Degree Programs: In order to determine just how focused each school is on healthcare administration, we counted the number of related degree programs at each university. We considered majors in management, public health, community health, health informatics, finance, economics, and others, based on the idea that schools with the greatest breadth of coursework in management and health topics are able to provide MHA students with the best possible selection of classes to inform their careers. (Weighted 30%)
Work Experience: Another important aspect of online MHA programs is how strongly they emphasize practical, hands-on experience. Distance education programs sometimes fall short in this area because all interactions occur online. However, some schools have overcome this problem by instituting internship, residency, practicum, or field experience requirements for their students. As such, we gave schools more points for mandating some version of work experience for their students before graduating. (Weighted 25%)
Accreditation: Of course, all reputable universities tout some type of general accreditation from a national or regional agency. However, top programs also take the time to develop high quality classes that meet the standards of more specific accrediting bodies. One such example is the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, which awards universities accreditation status for meeting their rigorous curriculum requirements. Schools with CAHME programs received more points than those with only general accreditations. (Weighted 30%)
Cost: Lastly, we put a minor focus on universities’ tuition rates. While affordability is not synonymous with quality, we wanted to consider cost as an element in our ranking because we understand that most students have a somewhat limited budget. We collected this data from College Navigator (a subset of the National Center for Education Statistics) using the most recent, graduate-specific rates available. We took both in-state and out-of-state rates into consideration, but please note that some institutions may offer special online discounts, scholarships, or aid packages that alter the amount you will actually owe per year. (Weighted 15%)
*We listed each school with the total score they received as the sum of the above categories. The maximum possible score was 100, and out of all 80+ colleges we researched the scores ranged from only 56 points at the very low end to nearly 80 at the high end (ranked as the #1 school below).
10. University of Missouri
Online Health Services Management: Executive Master’s Degree
The University of Missouri’s online MHA program is a practical, two-year degree that targets healthcare professionals with three to five years of experience in the field. Students who already have some clinical or administrative practice under their belts can take the next step with this “executive” program, which serves as the perfect building block for a career in upper-level management. Coursework is CAHME accredited and includes additional certificate options in Health Ethics or Health Informatics. Alternatively, online learners can enroll in the graduate degree in Health Informatics if their interests lean toward information technology and data digitization.
Tuition: $8,213/yr (In-state) $21,206/yr (Out-of-state)
9. Bellevue University
Online Master of Healthcare Administration
Students who have at least two years of experience in healthcare and currently work 20 hours or more a week in a relevant field can apply to Bellevue, a distance education college with one of the best online MHA programs. The flexible degree format allows students to continue working on a part-time basis while studying through the online portal. BU’s curriculum meets all the standards of the Healthcare Leadership Alliance (HLA), which ensures that graduates have all the skills they need to deliver quality healthcare services. The university’s “active learning” model uniquely encourages students to grow outside of the classroom as well as in it; all students complete a research project and participate in weekly activities separate from traditional lectures and homework.
8. Liberty University
Online Master of Business Administration – Healthcare Management
Liberty University is one of the largest online institutions in the country, offering more than a dozen degrees in health and business topics. The school’s online master’s in healthcare administration is one such option. 45 total credit hours covering accounting, operations management, economics, health policy, and grant acquisition prepare students for work in offices and public health departments. The degree focuses heavily on general business practices, but healthcare “concentration” courses and a class in Christian ethics offer more specific training that health professionals can use to inform proper behavior in the workforce. Liberty’s tuition is also one of the lowest available, providing an additional incentive to budget-conscious graduate students.
7. Midwestern State University
Online Master’s in Health Administration
Midwestern State University offers a number of related programs in administration and health services, including an MPA in Health Services Administration and an MHA online. Both programs provide students with the leadership training and medical knowledge they need to excel in an increasingly complex industry. Students can attend class online or face-to-face and can easily structure their classes to accommodate a full-time work schedule. Regardless of whether or not students are working while studying, they are required to complete a residency in “Health Administration Problems” and a graduate seminar in “Advanced Research.”
Tuition: $3,627/yr (In-state) $4,797/yr (Out-of-state)
6. Pennsylvania State University
Online Master of Health Administration in Health Policy and Administration
Most people recognize “Penn State” for its expansive network of public campuses throughout Pennsylvania, but the university has a robust distance education program as well. Students can choose from master’s degrees in business administration, project management, public administration, organizational development, or of course can earn an MHA degree online. The health administration program supports an ideal mix of management and policy studies, with classes in finance, economics, law, marketing, information systems, and clinical issues. Penn State’s program is CAHME accredited and requires students to complete two face-to-face “intensives” at local healthcare facilities.
5. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Online Executive Master of Public Health/Healthcare Administration
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is well known as one of the most elite colleges in the nation, having achieved success across both academic and athletic arenas. While most of its programs are in traditional, face-to-face formats, UNC does offer a select number of degrees via distance education, including a master of health administration online. Unlike many other similar degrees, UNC’s coursework straddles managerial and public health topics. For example, within the same curriculum students can take classes in Community and Public Health Security, Emergency Management, Medical Journalism, Information Systems, and Policy Issues. Students also have the opportunity to tackle projects not available at other schools, such as producing a scientific documentary or writing journalistic stories for media outlets.
Tuition: $8,343/yr (In-state) $25,554/yr (Out-of-state)
4. University of the Incarnate Word
Online Master of Arts in Administration: Healthcare Administration
Like many of the other schools listed here, the University of the Incarnate Word boasts a top, CAHME-accredited graduate program in health administration. This particularly comprehensive degree includes concentration options in Applied Administration, Organizational Development, Communication Arts, and Industrial and Organizational Psychology. In addition, students can augment their training by pursuing a graduate certificate in International Business or Organizational Development, while online learners at all levels might consider a health specialist certificate in Cardiac Rhythm Analysis, Billing and Coding, Electronic Health Records, or Medical Administrative Assisting. An MAA Capstone course is required for graduation to ensure that aspiring professionals have the knowledge they need to be successful.
3. University of Illinois at Chicago
Online Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Administration
The University of Illinois at Chicago is a popular choice for graduate students who want to experience the “Windy City,” but plenty of people seek out distance education options at U of I as well. The MHA program online has CAHME approval and puts equal focus on issues of administration, policy, and community health. The interdisciplinary major also covers law, communication, and ethics, giving students substantial opportunities to customize their coursework to their own interests. All program members must complete a field experience with an approved local agency and participate in a “Capstone Experience” that allows them to showcase what they have learned about the industry.
Tuition: $12,796/yr (In-state) $22,897/yr (Out-of-state)
2. Southern New Hampshire University
Online MSM in Healthcare Administration
Online learners are flocking to Southern New Hampshire University in growing numbers, and for good reason. The school earns the most points for its wide array of related degree programs, counting more than a dozen in business- and health-related subjects. In addition, SNHU’s plethora of certificate options can help graduate students build special skills in Community Mental Health, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, International Business, Nonprofit Organizations, Marketing, or even Social Media. Students who choose the online MSM in Healthcare Administration complete 10 core courses and then sign up for electives in interesting topics such as conflict management and corporate social responsibility.
1. Concordia University Wisconsin
Online MBA: Healthcare Administration
Concordia University Wisconsin secures the number one spot on this list because of its well-rounded, comprehensive approach to education. CU offers graduate degrees in Corporate Communication, Finance, Marketing, Public Administration, Risk Management, International Business, and of course Healthcare Administration. The program actually comes in two tracks, one for transitional health professionals who are interested in learning more about business, and one for current medical practitioners who want to move into leadership positions. The MBA masters in healthcare administration online holds accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education and has received multiple accolades from GetEducated.com for its affordability and quality.
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This concludes our ranking of the top 10 best online MHA programs for 2015.
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