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Best Master's in Health Services Administration Degrees

Nov 04, 2021

What Is a Master's in Health Services Degree?

Health services administration spans the divide between healthcare and financial services. It encompasses aspects of both fields. A bachelor's degree is often the key to entry-level positions in the area, with a master's degree unlocking access to more senior management and leadership roles. Graduates will be involved in administrating the delivery of healthcare. This includes budgeting, resource allocation, strategic planning, service coordination, and all other aspects of financial management. This qualification is suited towards those wishing to work in various settings, from smaller private medical practices right through to extensive hospital facilities.

Opportunities within healthcare are abundant, with the number of positions exceeding the people qualified to fill them in most areas. With the baby-boomers reaching retirement age and the population generally living longer, demand for health service administrators has been steadily building in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased this demand. The consensus is that the method of healthcare delivery will need to change in the coming years to enable the population's needs to be met, making this an exciting time to be working in the field.

The Best Masters Degree Programs in Health Services Administration

School Tuition* Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
1 University of California-Los Angeles $12953 12% 92% 61% Yes Yes AP Credits
2 University of Pennsylvania $40182 8% 96% 59% Yes Yes AP Credits
3 University of Washington-Seattle Campus $19293 52% 84% 57% Yes Yes AP Credits
4 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities $19221 57% 83% 81% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
5 University of Baltimore $15404 78% 41% 97% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
6 University of Wyoming $6289 96% 60% 93% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
7 Tufts University $53658 15% 94% 45% Yes Yes AP Credits
8 University of Detroit Mercy $29268 77% 67% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits
9 University of Kansas $11045 93% 67% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits
10 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus $14468 77% 71% 75% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
11 University of Rochester $52711 30% 87% 81% Yes Yes AP Credits
12 University of North Texas $7788 74% 56% 82% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
13 Brown University $58180 7% 96% 56% Yes Yes N/A
14 Robert Morris University $0 84% 65% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
15 D'Youville College $18732 88% 63% 100% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
16 Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus $12744 93% 56% 92% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
17 Eastern University $13264 61% 59% 99% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
18 Marywood University $11438 78% 68% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit our ranking methodology page.

*Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Common Undergraduate Degrees for Health Services Administration

A number of schools offer undergraduate degrees in health services administration, healthcare administration, and health services management. These undergraduate degrees provide graduates with an excellent foundation to build upon at a post-graduate level. These programs tend to provide students with an understanding of economics, financial management, and statistics as they relate to the delivery of health services.

Students with degrees in finance, economics, accounting, and health sciences are also well placed to pursue a master's in health services administration. Graduates in law and legal studies at an undergraduate level may also consider a Master's in Health Services Administration.

Admissions Requirements for Health Services Administration Master's Programs

Entrance into master's programs is competitive, with students generally needing a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their undergraduate degree. It is not a requirement that students undertake any specific degree to enter master's programs in health services administration. The standard prerequisite is a bachelor's degree; however, students should be aware that some programs require courses specific to financial management to have been included as part of the undergraduate program. Most programs require the student to have completed their undergraduate study at an accredited school. Most master's programs require an admission essay and letters of recommendation. The weight given to each component varies from school to school.

Less universal requirements may include relevant work experience and scores from standardized testing.

Most programs are looking for candidates with a demonstrated aptitude in data analysis and strong interpersonal skills. Leadership skills and having high moral and ethical standards are also qualities that admissions committees look for in candidates.

Why Should I Get a Health Services Administration Master's Degree?

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors, with this growth showing no sign of slowing. The ongoing prospects for a career in this industry are excellent. With a master's degree in health services administration, students are well placed to move into leadership roles within the field. The opportunities for graduates are seemingly limitless, with positions encompassing all aspects of healthcare management, including regulatory compliance, policy development and implementation, financial control, media and public relations, and service development and implementation. For those students with an interest in healthcare technology, there are master's programs that focus on this aspect of the industry.

Students will need skills and aptitudes that include good problem-solving abilities, a sound knowledge of technology, legal knowledge, strong leadership capabilities, and a sound understanding of business principles.

Different programs offer classes that focus on different aspects of healthcare administration. Master's degrees in the field are available on campus and online to enable students to find a program that best meets their schedules.

How to Choose a Master's in Health Services Administration Program

The program content of master's degrees in health services administration varies, with different programs having different strengths. Students should be mindful of this when choosing a master's program and ensure they select a program that includes classes relating to the specialist area in which they wish to base their future careers.

Some of the areas that the different programs focus on include:

  • Healthcare policy
  • Hospital management
  • Marketing and public affairs
  • Health informatics

Another factor that students should be aware of when selecting a school is the cost of tuition. Students attending an in-state school will pay considerably less than students attending an out-of-state school.

Heath Services Administration Master's Degree Courses

A Master's in Health Services Administration will typically require students to achieve between 30 and 36 credits, depending on the program. This can usually be accomplished with two years of full-time study. Part-time options are available for students who have work or other obligations outside of their studies. Students electing to pursue a master's degree part-time must be aware of the minimum number of credits they are required to complete each semester and ensure they can meet these requirements.

When undertaking a master's degree, students will need to complete core and elective classes. They will be able to focus on the areas that interest them when they choose the elective courses. If further study is being considered, students must ensure that the study's prerequisites are included in their elective choices.

Some master's programs offer the option to complete a thesis or include work experience as part of the elective options. Both options have value, depending on the student's proposed career path. For students who have not previously worked in the field, an internship as one of the electives chosen may prove valuable when applying for jobs in the future.

Health Services Administration Foundational Courses

Although there is some variation between schools, most programs have core courses that include the following:

  • Law and ethics are becoming increasingly important in light of the technological advances in the field and ongoing privacy concerns. This course will provide students with the foundation to understand their professional obligations in this area.
  • Financial management will provide students with a sound grounding in all aspects of the financial management of healthcare facilities and hospitals.
  • Healthcare policy covers content that teaches students the role policy plays in delivering healthcare and finding solutions to legislative changes.
  • Entrepreneurship and marketing includes material that will ensure students are equipped with the skills necessary to understand the consumer and promote the businesses they are responsible for.
  • Strategic management teaches students how to plan and develop strategies that will ensure the success of the organizations they manage.

Health Services Administration Specialist & Elective Courses

There is considerable scope in most master's programs for students to pursue study in the areas they are most interested in. Some of the common elective courses include:

  • Grant writing will provide students with the foundation required to succeed in one of the critical aspects of an administrator's job, securing ongoing funding.
  • Health information technology covers all aspects of storing and managing the data of patients and other ways technology is likely to impact future roles.
  • Public health policy discusses how public health goals impact healthcare facilities and the development of relevant law.
  • Hospital management is targeted at students who intend to manage large healthcare facilities in the future and aims to equip them with the necessary skills.

Licensure & Certification in Health Services Administration

There is no requirement that health services administrators be licensed when working in the US. The exception is those administrators responsible for nursing homes who must be licensed in the state they work in. The requirements to become licensed vary from state to state. Some of the common requirements to obtain a license include:

  • The candidate is 21 years of age.
  • They are of good moral character.
  • When studying they have completed classes in nursing home administration, financial management, legal issues in healthcare, gerontology, and personnel management.
  • Experience in the field.
  • Passing an examination.

There are a large number of certifications available in the field of health services administration. One of the most common certifications is from the American College of Healthcare Executives, which offers a fellowship. The fellowship requires a minimum educational qualification of a master's degree in the field and evidence of continuing education. Candidates will also need to pass an examination to prove they have the skills necessary to undertake senior roles in the area.

Post-Graduate Options After Master's in Health Services Administration

There are two options available if a student wishes to pursue further study after completing their master's degree.

  • Post-graduate certificates in health services administration are available to students who have completed a master's degree. These programs allow students to pursue areas of study that they do not have expertise in. These certificates usually take 18 months to complete, with many courses of study available online.
  • There are two doctorate programs available to students in this field. A Doctorate in Healthcare Administration is typically the choice of those who wish to pursue a career in the field, offering the students a range of specialist courses to include in their course of study. A Ph.D. is more suited to those looking to pursue a career in research or teaching at an academic facility. Both programs will usually require the student to complete a thesis and a combination of core and elective classes.

Health Services Administration Professional Organizations

A number of professional organizations are available to those working in health services administration. These organizations offer a range of benefits to members. The most common benefits include continuing education seminars and conferences, the opportunity to network with fellow professionals in the field, professional support, and advocacy for members. Professional organizations will also often provide resources and advice for career development.

Some of the most popular professional organizations in the health services administration area include:

  • The American College of Healthcare Executives has over 48,000 members. It operates charters at a local level that provide in-person continuing education opportunities.
  • The Healthcare Financial Management Association caters to members who focus on the financial management aspects of the field. Professional membership costs $495, with a trial membership for 30 days available to those considering joining. The organization also hosts a job bank and extensive resources to assist in career planning.
  • The American Health Information Management Association focuses on those responsible for the storage and management of health data. In addition to the core services, the organization offers eight different certifications on various aspects of health information management.

What Can I Do with a Health Services Administration Master's Degree?

A master's degree will unlock the door to positions at the top of this field. These include positions of responsibility such as CEO, COO, and CMO at some of the largest hospitals and medical facilities.

It also opens up opportunities within the government as a senior policy analyst who determines the future direction of healthcare through the development of healthcare policy.

Senior positions in health informatics are an option for those who have completed coursework in this specialty. The degree has universal applicability, which offers graduates the chance to work on the global stage.

Graduates can also work in public health developing and implementing programs to improve health at a population level.

Job Outlook for a Master's in Health Services Administration

The healthcare industry as a whole is experiencing growth well above the national rate, and there is nothing to suggest this will change in the immediate future. COVID-19 has added to the demand for administrators in this field.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that the rate of growth in medical and health management will increase by 32% over the ten years between 2019 and 2029, illustrating there is plenty of capacity within the industry to accommodate recent graduates in the field. The increased use of electronic health records and telehealth is also fueling growth in the area of health informatics. The use of these technologies will create demand for policy analysts in the field with several ethical and professional issues demanding resolution.

How to Become a Public Health Manager

A public health manager is responsible for managing large healthcare facilities. Their role may entail managing staff, coordinating the delivery of healthcare services, carrying out public relations for the organization, and ensuring the facility complies with laws and health policy.

A public health manager receives an average annual salary of $115,160; however, this is influenced by the size of the organization they manage and its location. Public health managers in the District of Columbia, New York, Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts are paid the highest rates.

In addition to hospitals, public health managers may work in private medical clinics, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and specialty treatment centers.

How to Become a Health Policy Analyst

Another career path for those with a master's degree in health services administration is as a health policy analyst. Health policy analysts usually work in government. This may be at a state or federal level. Larger healthcare organizations may also employ policy analysts to ensure they are complying with current health policy. Their job includes reviewing and evaluating the current healthcare policy and making recommendations as to the future direction of the policy. This incorporates the model under which healthcare is delivered and the services that are considered a priority.

According to Payscale, health policy analysts receive an annual salary of $59,477. A senior health policy analyst can expect to receive $77,664. Policy analysts fall under the political scientist category in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has a predicted growth rate of 6%. States employing the most policy analysts include the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Texas.

Master's in Health Services Administration Program Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources

Financial aid is available at a state and federal level for students wishing to study for a Master's in Health Services Administration. Aid is typically granted on the basis of need with the details available on the website of the relevant state and federal authority. It is important to apply well in advance of course start dates to ensure the necessary arrangements are in place when the semester starts. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available to many potential students with financial need and would be a good place to start exploring options.

A range of scholarships are available in the area of health services administration. The Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship is available to master's program students. It is awarded based on need. Up to 20 scholarships of $5,000 are awarded each year. Students need to have their application submitted by 31 March. The Bachrach Family Scholarship for Excellence in Health Care Administration is awarded to a student with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Preference is given to students who are the first in their family to pursue a graduate qualification and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The award is between $1,000 and $5,000, with the deadline for applications 1 May.

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