If you're like many people who are considering a career in the field of healthcare, you're probably aware of the upshots: Flexibility, strong hiring within the industry, the ability to help others when they are in their greatest moments of need, and high job satisfaction. And with a master's degree in Healthcare, the chance to play an exciting role in the management and policy of hospitals, insurance companies and clinics, among other businesses, is a factor that draws many students to this challenging path through life.
- The Top 10 Best Online Master's in Healthcare Administration Programs (MHA) 2016
- Top 10 One-Year Online MHA Programs 2016
Understanding the Gatekeepers
What you're probably wondering, if you're considering this career road, is what sort of requirements you'll need to get started. The truth is that this point can be answered in any number of ways: GPA, for example, can be a tricky thing to standardize — but what you'll be wanting to look for is accreditation in your undergraduate institution and grades that at least (even if they are less than the required amount) show an upswing in your performance in school.Minimum GPA will often depend on a couple factors, including your undergraduate major. If you were a Chemistry or Engineering major, for example, your GPA might be relatively low because of the lack of grade inflation and difficulty of classes. How a program in Healthcare is ranked can also affect what GPA you'll be shooting for. A good rule of thumb is that programs prefer grades between 3.5 and 4.0 but understand that sometimes students have struggles that can explain a GPA at or below 3.0. A student with such grades will probably need to demonstrate other reasons why they'll be able to handle the work load of a master's degree, such as work and volunteer experience or high grades in their major. Remember not to count yourself out if your grades are a bit on the low side.
What to Do if Your Grades Weren't Where They Should Be
Some things to consider, when discussing your grades in your application — if, say, your grades dip below a 3.0 or so — is whether there were any factors that made it difficult to achieve the kind of performance you were capable of. If a close relative was sick, or there was a personal problem that made approaching your school work difficult, sometimes explaining how you overcame that period (especially if you were able to bring your grades up afterwards) can show schools that you're capable of the work load.
GPA — especially minimum GPA's — can sometimes be approached a bit flexibly. Some schools do have minimum cut offs for GPA that are said to automatically nullify an application if a student does not reach them, but contacting the program you're applying to and asking if an addendum to your application can help explain a low GPA can help you understand what you'll need to do to be competitive.
See What Other Applicants Are Doing
It's probably occurred to you already, but applications for graduate school can be maddeningly vague. It's easy to imagine other applicants as 4.0 students with perfect resumes taking spots left and right. But the truth is, you'd probably find that a good number of applicants are just like you: Doing well, but struggling with the same challenges. Taking a look at sites like the Student Doctor Network or Reddit's Healthcare forum can give you an "on the ground" view of the challenges facing students, and how they've maximized their chances of success.
So if you're looking to go into the challenging area of healthcare for a career, know that with a bit of effort and thought, entrance to a good program doesn't have to be stressful. Know your strengths, and appeal to admissions committees with them. Show why you should be admitted, and how you'll perform — and provide evidence. For many, it's a life-changing experience that allows them to better society and better their own lives.