By TMHA Staff
February 2017 (updated)
Welcome to our ranking of the best online master’s programs in healthcare administration.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for Medical and Health Service Managers are expected to grow by 17% between 2014 and 2024. That’s much faster than the national average! The reasons for this job growth include an increased number of people near or at retirement age, longer life expectancy, and the widespread use of informatics and digital records systems to track health data (which creates a demand for IT-knowledgeable managers). In other words, there has never been a better time to get your master’s degree in healthcare administration!
Ranking the Top 30 Best MHA Programs
There are several factors that we considered when ranking the best master’s programs in healthcare administration. First, we only considered schools that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). CAHME is the premier accrediting agency in this field and works not only to set criteria for excellence in healthcare management education, but also to advise schools that wish to meet or exceed these criteria in their own programs. Because we wanted to focus specifically on traditional (aka residential) MHA programs, we did not consider online degrees, executive programs, or any other types of graduate degrees (including MBAs, MPAs, or MPHs).
We then ranked all the qualifying schools in five areas:
- Length of Accreditation: the length of time a program has consistently maintained accreditation status
- Graduation Rate: the percentage of students who complete the program in the expected amount of time
- Employment Rate: the percentage of students who are employed or in residencies/fellowships within 90 days of graduation
- Peer Assessment: the rating of academic quality (scale of 1-5) that administrators from other schools gave the program on a U.S. News survey
- Overall Cost:* the total cost (to our best approximation, including tuition and fees) of attending the program from matriculation to graduation
*Please be advised that these totals are only approximations. We used values provided on each program’s AUPHA profile as well as any expense information we could find on the school’s website. The accuracy of the data is dependent on the information we can find, the clarity and transparency of that information, and the manner in which a program calculates total cost of attendance. In addition, it’s always possible that a student could encounter additional fees or that tuition rates could change during their enrollment. Be sure to contact a program representative before you apply to get a more accurate assessment of what you personally should expect to pay.
All of these factors held equal weight in calculating the final result. We used schools’ performance in each category to give them a final score out of 100 points. No program earned a perfect score, but there are plenty that came close! The list below represents our 30 top master of health administration degrees for 2017.
30. Columbia University
New York, NY
|Accredited Since: 2009||Graduation Rate: 97%||Employment Rate: 96%|
In almost any other ranking, Columbia University would be near the other end of the list. But this accredited MHA program doesn’t rank 30th due to any lack of quality or opportunity. The competition is just that tough! If there is anything hurting Columbia’s overall score, blame a fairly new (within the past decade) accreditation and a higher-than-average price tag. Then again, everything is so much more expensive in New York City that you might actually be getting this degree for a steal! That’s especially likely when you consider the value it offers; over two years and four semesters, you’ll boost your healthcare knowledge through impactful courses like “Health Economics” and “Comparative Strategic Analysis.”
Total Program Cost: $77,000
28. University of Central Florida (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 2004||Graduation Rate: 89%||Employment Rate: 88%|
Technically, this degree is a little bit different than your typical MHA in that it’s actually an MHSA degree program. However, in reality the MHSA (which stands for Master of Health Services of Administration) and MHA are very similar, with plenty of overlap in coursework. The MHSA curriculum at the University of Central Florida demonstrates this perfectly – classes examine topics like “Health Information Systems,” “Managerial Epidemiology,” and “Health Care Quality Management” – in other words, everything you’d need to know as a healthcare administrator! And of course, this 51-credit program also includes an internship, which requires students to spend at least 240 hours on the job and complete a final project for their organization.
Total Program Cost: $51,600
28. George Mason University (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 2009||Graduation Rate: 87%||Employment Rate: 95%|
The 46-credit MHA in Health Systems Management from George Mason University is geared toward business professionals early in their careers. As such, applicants must have between 1-3 years of recent experience in healthcare (or a related management/tech field) to be eligible for the program. Course scheduling also caters to the needs of working adults by providing evening and weekend classes, and many program members attend part-time. And because students in this affordable master’s program in healthcare administration come from similar professional backgrounds, the curriculum forgoes a full-fledged internship experience in favor of a three-credit Capstone Practicum and non-thesis project.
Total Program Cost: $47,270
26. Armstrong State University (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 2005||Graduation Rate: 88%||Employment Rate: 86%|
Unlike GMU, Armstrong State University doesn’t have specific work experience requirements for those applying to its Master of Health Services Administration. However, the points-based admissions standards indicate that applicants with absolutely no relevant job history will need a strong undergraduate GPA and a high GRE or GMAT score to qualify. But don’t let that discourage you; the curriculum does plenty to help novice healthcare professionals get their foot in the door. For example, the two-part “Professional Seminar” course series will guide you through practical assignments like drafting a resume and searching for internships. Qualities like this indicate that ASU’s is likely one of the best MHSA degree programs for new entrants to the healthcare field.
Total Program Cost: $33,900
26. University of Oklahoma (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 2002||Graduation Rate: 86%||Employment Rate: 100%|
As far as admissions go, the University of Oklahoma has relatively broad criteria for its MHA program, in that it considers all the typical academic factors but does not identify any need or preference for minimum work experience. If you’re a young student just out of college, this is great news. In only two or three years, you’ll gain in-demand knowledge in subjects like “Healthcare Law and Ethics,” “Marketing of Health Services,” and “Health Policy and Politics.” Plus, the curriculum includes a summer internship that means graduates will enter the workforce with a minimum 400 hours of experience already under their belts.
Total Program Cost: $47,900
23. University of Scranton (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 1997||Graduation Rate: 85%||Employment Rate: 96%|
The University of Scranton is no stranger to top MHA programs rankings. Not only is it one of the few schools with a CAHME-approved distance ed version of its program, but it took first place on our online version of this ranking. But Scranton’s residential degree has just as many perks to offer, if not more. It also has the flexibility to accommodate students of all backgrounds and may require you to complete a one-credit externship, three-credit internship, or eight-credit residency based on your prior experience. And although it may take more work, completing a residency through Scranton’s program definitely pays off; possible sites include the Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Cleveland Clinic.
Total Program Cost: $49,120
23. University of North Carolina-Charlotte (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 2007||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 82%|
Although it’s rare for a top degree ranking, the University of North Carolina actually appears on our list twice! Technically, both locations (Charlotte and Chapel Hill) are part of the same school system, but the the campuses are so distinct that they deserve to appear separately. And while UNC-Charlotte has only had an accredited MS in healthcare administration for about 10 years (Chapel Hill has held that claim for more than three decades), the school has wasted no time carving out its place in the community. For one, the program seems to attract an especially diverse membership; students range from 20-59 years of age and have undergraduate degrees in everything from nursing to sociology.
Total Program Cost: $59,410
23. California State University-Long Beach (Tied)
Long Beach, CA
|Accredited Since: 2002||Graduation Rate: 84%||Employment Rate: 88%|
Of all the reasons to attend CSU Long Beach for your degree, one is obvious: it has one of the most affordable MS in healthcare administration programs of all accredited* schools nationwide. But be careful not to confuse affordable with cheap, as CSULB’s program is anything but. The 45-credit curriculum includes everything you’d expect from a more expensive degree, including classes in healthcare economics, quality improvement, information systems, and financial management. And although an internship is not required to graduate (but is available as an elective), you should be prepared for a final project that includes writing your own business plan!
*This program currently has probationary accreditation, and CAHME will reassess its status following a progress report due in September 2017.
Total Program Cost: $27,680
22. Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ
|Accredited Since: 2013||Graduation Rate: 99%||Employment Rate: 96%|
Like the University of Scranton, Seton Hall has both online and on-campus versions of its accredited MHA program. But Seton Hall also happens to have the only accredited program in the state of New Jersey, so locals should feel particularly grateful to have such a high-quality residential option in their neighborhood. If you choose to attend campus physically instead of logging on virtually, you’ll benefit from small class sizes, dedicated faculty, and top-notch resources. These resources include the Seton Center for Community and Population Health, which works with students and community organizations to improve health throughout the state.
Total Program Cost: $50,570
21. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
|Accredited Since: 1982||Graduation Rate: 89%||Employment Rate: 100%|
When it comes to the most affordable master of health administration degrees, it doesn’t take a math genius to see that the University of Southern California doesn’t quite make the cut. But education is as much about value as it is about upfront savings. And USC certainly offers enough extra perks to make the extra cost worth it. One of the curriculum’s more unique features is that it allows students to choose from one of five specializations, such as “Health Policy Analysis,” “Quality of Care,” or “Health IT.” Even the required residency includes two pathways: a 1000-hour “Leadership Track” for those without professional experience and a 500-hour “Career Enhancement” for current professionals who want to investigate a specific project.
Total Program Cost: $83,000
20. Weber State University
|Accredited Since: 2012||Graduation Rate: 91%||Employment Rate: 96%|
Having earned accreditation from CAHME just four years ago, Weber State University is one of the youngest schools on our list, outranking only Seton Hall in terms of age. But you probably wouldn’t think so if you didn’t have the data right in front of you, as this affordable MHA program apparently runs like a well-oiled machine. In fact, WSU survey results from the past two years indicate that four out of five MHA alumni say their degree has helped them “implement their strategic career plan” and either find a job (or a better job) or get promoted.
Total Program Cost: $35,000
19. University of Florida
|Accredited Since: 1993||Graduation Rate: 95%||Employment Rate: 100%|
Whether you’re researching top MHSA degree programs or the best MHA degrees, you’ll probably notice that the basic curriculum doesn’t change much between schools. This is partly due to strict accreditation requirements, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined for a cookie-cutter experience. In fact, the University of Florida stands out precisely because it breaks the mold on coursework. Yes, you’ll take standard classes on health economics, finance, and performance management. But you’ll also benefit from less typical coursework like “Healthcare Data Analytics” and “Medical Terminology,” plus an entire class on the all-important (and completely complicated) “US Health Insurance System.”
Total Program Cost: $77,170
18. Johns Hopkins University
|Accredited Since: 2004||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 94%|
If top healthcare rankings were like a popular bar, Johns Hopkins University would be everyone’s favorite regular. So while its accredited MHA program may be just over a decade old, JHU enjoys a long and successful history of providing higher (and truly superior) education in medicine and the health sciences. Of course, the private university also tends to be quite pricey, but healthcare administration students enjoy a serious break on costs. After paying around $50k for one full year of classes, all second-year program members receive a Master’s Tuition Scholarship – which translates to an automatic 75% discount on tuition!
Total Program Cost: $63,300
17. Tulane University of Louisiana
New Orleans, LA
|Accredited Since: 1971||Graduation Rate: 97%||Employment Rate: 90%|
Whether you’re seeking a truly standout MHA or an accredited MHSA degree program that’s a little different from the rest, Tulane University may have what you need. It’s not the degree itself that distinguishes this program, but rather its location within Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, which happens to be the oldest in the country. Nearly 50 years of experience in public health has enabled the school to develop some particularly robust offerings, including dual degree programs in law (MHA/JD) and business (MHA/MBA). Time has also cultivated a robust curriculum that includes a 54-credit core and six credits of electives.
Total Program Cost: $80,930
16. Texas State University
San Marcos, TX
|Accredited Since: 1990||Graduation Rate: 96%||Employment Rate: 95%|
Falling almost directly at the midpoint of this MHA and MS in healthcare administration degrees ranking, Texas State University may offer an ideal combination of cost and quality. With below-average tuition rates but far above-average accolades from sources like U.S. News, Healthcare-administration-degree.net, and the Healthcare Management Degree Guide, TSU seems to have struck the golden balance on value. Even the curriculum itself allows students to weigh their options and choose from a Thesis Track (ideal for program members who already have work experience) or Non-Thesis Track, which includes a six-credit practicum, internship, or residency requirement.
Total Program Cost: $43,810
15. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, AR
|Accredited Since: 1991||Graduation Rate: 95%||Employment Rate: 89%|
As the only such program with CAHME accreditation in the state, the University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s Master of Health Administration degree has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the most valuable opportunities for medical personnel in the Midwest. Over the last thirty year, UAMS’s 21-month program has produced a multitude of healthcare executives with an equally staggering range of responsibilities; from finance and insurance to regulation and provision of care, UAMS graduates are fully prepared to face the challenge of modern healthcare administration. This is reflected in this top MHA program’s job placement rate, which in 2016 rose to an impressive 100%.
Total Program Cost: $33,960
14. Texas A&M University Health Science Center
|Accredited Since: 2008||Graduation Rate: 98%||Employment Rate: 92%|
Nationally ranked by US News and featured as one of the National Center for Healthcare Leadership’s ten demonstration sites, Texas A&M University Health Science Center’s affordable master’s program in healthcare administration offers a prestigious avenue to those looking to get their start in this challenging field. The curriculum is also more comprehensive (and larger) than most, consisting of 57 credits in total. But the extra effort is well worth it; you’ll gain both theoretical and hands-on experience in healthcare administration through coursework in management, policy, and strategy – and of course, a required internship.
Total Program Cost: $23,080
13. University of South Carolina
|Accredited Since: 1991||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 96%|
The University of South Carolina offers a world-class, accredited master’s program in healthcare administration that is affordable for students of all backgrounds. Thanks to the Arnold School of Public Health’s supportive “Earn While You Learn” initiative, MHA students at USC can network with healthcare organizations in the greater Columbia area and participate in paid graduate assistantships (GA) that contribute towards their tuition. And since nearly all MHA students find a GA within their first semester, prospective applicants are all but guaranteed not only an affordable degree, but invaluable experience to go along with it.
Total Program Cost: $48,580
12. University of Memphis
|Accredited Since: 1991||Graduation Rate: 96%||Employment Rate: 91%|
Like the University of Arkansas, the University of Memphis is home to the only CAHME-accredited program in its state. But that’s hardly all this affordable MHA program has going for it. In addition to making US News’ 2015 “Best Healthcare Management Degree Ranking,” Memphis also appeared on Modern Healthcare’s 2014 list of “Top 20 MHA Programs.” What’s all the fanfare about? It might have something to do with the program’s longstanding history in the field (note it was first accredited in 1991) or the 300 hours of internship experience it requires – which proves how dedicated U of M is to graduating career-ready, success-prone individuals.
Total Program Cost: $30,900
11. Saint Louis University
Saint Louis, MO
|Accredited Since: 1984||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 92%|
The accredited MHA program at Saint Louis University may not be the cheapest option out there, but we’re willing to wager students will get what they pay for. As one of the oldest and most venerated healthcare institutions in the country, this program inaugurates graduates into a nationwide network of healthcare executives who recognize the tremendous value of the education they share. SLU demonstrates this value through a set of robust core competencies that it develops in every pupil: communication; critical thinking; leadership; management, political and community development; and science and analysis.
Total Program Cost: $64,500
8. University of Pittsburgh (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 1968||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 87%|
The University of Pittsburgh’s MHA program is multifaceted, customizable, and highly respected in the healthcare community. Not that this is surprising – with an accreditation that dates back to the Nixon administration, Pittsburgh’s program has had plenty of time to perfect its coursework. Over the years, it has produced some of the foremost healthcare executives in the country – in fact, many participants in the prestigious Executive in Residence program (which connects MHA candidates with CEOs and presidents of major health organizations) are actually Pittsburgh alumni! Tack on the joint degree options and student practicum placements, and you have a clear list of reasons why this is one of the country’s a top MHA programs.
Total Program Cost: $66,700
8. University of Michigan (Tied)
Ann Arbor, MI
|Accredited Since: 1968||Graduation Rate: 99%||Employment Rate: 90%|
At the University of Michigan – the Midwest’s foremost “Public Ivy” – MHSA candidates enjoy access to a wealth of opportunity, knowledge, and experience. With required coursework in everything from economics and statistics to health policy and epidemiology, Michigan’s top MS in healthcare administration all but guarantees that graduates enter the workforce as experts in a range of fields both diverse and challenging. And career development won’t wait until your last semester; as an MHSA student at Michigan, you’ll complete a 10-12 week internship in the summer after your first year, giving you plenty of time to reflect, build upon this hands-on experience, and emerge as a leader by graduation.
Total Program Cost: $88,580
8. George Washington University (Tied)
|Accredited Since: 1968||Graduation Rate: 96%||Employment Rate: 100%|
Founded in 1959, George Washington University’s accredited MHA program has paved the way for many of the other excellent schools on this list. But for the most ambitious and enterprising students, there is no substitute for a degree from GW. Here’s just one statistic to attest to that claim: of the program’s over 3,500 alumni, some 2,400 have reached the status of CEO in their careers. This is at least partially due to GW’s unique residency program, which requires all MHA candidates to complete a full year of administrative work even after their coursework is finished in order to earn their degree.
Total Program Cost: $75,000
7. Medical University of South Carolina
|Accredited Since: 1985||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 92%|
The Medical University of South Carolina is home to one of the oldest and most affordable master’s programs in healthcare administration in the country. MHA candidates at MUSC receive instruction in a handful of invaluable core competencies that include communication and management; leadership; and business and analytical skills – all of which prepare them for the evolving demands of the healthcare field. And the delivery methods are just as diverse as the courses themselves; from case competitions and real-world projects for local organizations to guest lectures from industry leaders, no two days in a row at MUSC are ever the same.
Total Program Cost: $49,440
6. University of Washington
|Accredited Since: 1972||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 84%|
At the University of Washington, interactive learning transforms undergraduates and novice healthcare workers into masters of health administration. UW’s top MHA program employs a variety of didactic methods to achieve this goal, including mandatory summer-long internships, capstone projects, and even a mentor program that connects students with local healthcare executives for networking and career guidance. But you don’t even need to go off campus to find expert advice, as the university’s own MHA faculty includes leading medical researchers, veteran executives, and experienced clinicians—all of whom are eager to share their skills and knowledge with the next class of aspiring healthcare superstars.
Total Program Cost: $55,480
5. University of Minnesota
|Accredited Since: 1968||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 100%|
For many schools, earning the 5th spot on any best master of health administration degree ranking would be a huge accomplishment. But the University of Minnesota, which regularly appears near the top of U.S. News’ own list of “Best Healthcare Management Degrees” will likely take this achievement in stride. And UM certainly deserves this level of confidence, considering the advantages it has to offer its students. Not least among these is its location in Minneapolis, the largest city in a state widely known as a healthcare hub, with hundreds of companies led by graduates of this very program. Other perks include UM’s small class sizes, the program’s 30+ faculty members (all actively conducting research), and innovative curriculum.
Total Program Cost: $74,480
4. Cornell University
|Accredited Since: 1968||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 97%|
Cornell University’s Sloan Program in Health Administration may not receive all the acclaim of schools like Minnesota or Michigan, but in our estimation its flexibility and diverse range of degree offerings put it in a class of its own. With four degree options (MHA/MBA, MHA/MPA, BS/MHA, and the standard two-year program) – or more than double what most other top master’s programs in healthcare administration provide – Cornell allows MHA candidates to augments their career prospects significantly. Combined with Cornell’s already estimable resources and opportunities, it’s easy to see why so many are willing to spend up to $70,000 for this degree!
Total Program Cost: $66,400
3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
|Accredited Since: 1981||Graduation Rate: 100%||Employment Rate: 98%|
Even without our ranking, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is easily recognizable as a front-runner in healthcare administration education – and as the home to one of the best MHA programs in the country. Where its competitors routinely list four to six competencies on their websites, UNC Chapel Hill lists a whopping 25 across categories like Leadership, Policy, Management, and Professional Skills. The program implements this ambitious agenda by encouraging you to take ownership over your own learning, which means participating in a 12-week internship and three semesters of professional training- all before choosing the focus of your final capstone project.
Total Program Cost: $47,300
2. Xavier University
|Accredited Since: 1969||Graduation Rate: 93%||Employment Rate: 100%|
With a total cost under $40k, Xavier University offers one of the most affordable MHSA degree programs in the country. But don’t let the price tag fool you into thinking this program is also cheap in quality. Like GW, Xavier features a paid yearlong administrative residency for all MHA candidates, the size and scope of which easily dwarfs the summer internships common at other universities. And while this alone would certainly place Xavier among the top schools for healthcare administration, its small class sizes and extensive (read: 1,600+) alumni network help push it over the top.
Total Program Cost: $36,860
1. University of Alabama-Birmingham
|Accredited Since: 1968||Graduation Rate: 98%||Employment Rate: 100%|
Combining the administrative residencies of Xavier and Michigan with the progressive cohort model of Minnesota, the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s affordable master of health administration degree really offers the best of all worlds. It’s also worth noting that the cost of an MHA degree from UAB clocks in well below average for this list – plus, the school’s Student Workforce initiative can help further subsidize your tuition. Between this work in the UAB Health System, summer internships, and the aforementioned administrative residency, there’s scarcely an idle moment for MHA candidates at Alabama.
Total Program Cost: $47,250
Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA)
U.S. News: Best Healthcare Management Programs Ranking
Bureau of Labor Statistics
This concludes our ranking of the best master’s programs in healthcare administration for 2017. Not what you’re looking for? Check out more top master’s in healthcare rankings here.