Online Healthcare Management Degree Overview
Online healthcare or hospital management degree and certificate programs are readily available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs are intended to provide students with a well-rounded background in the healthcare system and further develop their leadership and management skills. Graduates of these programs can take on a wide range of leadership and management positions in various areas of healthcare. Explore each level of these online degree programs in the field below.
Online Associate Degrees in Healthcare Management
Online associate degree programs in healthcare management are typically available as Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degrees. Some of these programs can be completed in as few as 18 months (most take about 2 years) and may require around 64 to 66 credits. Students typically take general education courses, core courses in healthcare management, and a few electives. Graduates with this degree may be prepared for some entry-level positions in healthcare management, such as case coordinators or medical records technicians.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Healthcare Management
Online bachelor's degree programs in healthcare management are very common and are usually offered as Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees. It is also common for schools to offer an online BS in Business, BS in Business Administration, or BS in Healthcare Administration degrees with a concentration in healthcare management. Typically, these degree programs take around 8 semesters (4 years) to complete and may conclude with a hands-on practicum experience, capstone or senior project, or other culminating experience of some sort. Graduates with a bachelor's degree can pursue healthcare management positions like assistant administrator, medical office manager, admissions coordinator, and more.
Online Master's Degrees in Healthcare Management
Students interested in earning their master's in healthcare management online can typically choose from a Master of Science (MS) degree or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in healthcare management. In general, these programs are designed to help students further advance their careers and take on mid- to upper-level management positions in healthcare. These programs may require around 30 credits and may offer additional areas of concentration. Depending on the program, students can usually earn their degree in 1 to 2 years if attending full-time. Most of these programs conclude with a final project of some sort, such as a thesis, capstone, or master's project.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Healthcare Management
Doctoral degrees are usually offered as a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Healthcare Management or a Doctor of Management with a concentration in healthcare management and leadership. Some online doctoral programs in the field can be completed in as few as 3 years. These programs may have some in-person requirements, such as symposiums and residencies. Many require students to complete a dissertation or doctoral research project. Depending on the program, students may need to take between 60 and 100 credits; usually, these degrees are highly customizable to allow students to build a degree that fits their interests.
Online Certificates in Healthcare Management
Online certificate programs in healthcare management are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some programs can be completed in 1 year or less, while others may take up to 15 months to complete. Graduate certificate programs in the field commonly require around 12 credits of core coursework, while undergraduate certificate programs may require around 18 to 20 credits. These programs are designed to provide students with an introduction to the subject and further develop leadership skills.
Healthcare Management Specializations/Concentrations
Healthcare management may be a concentration area itself in related business administration or business leadership degree programs. Although different concentration areas may be more common in healthcare administration degrees, there are some healthcare management degree programs that may offer a few. Usually, these degrees are at the master's level and may help students further focus their studies and prepare for a specific career with concentrations in areas like:
- Healthcare leadership
- Healthcare informatics
- Healthcare innovation
- Patient safety
Curriculum/Coursework for a Healthcare Management Degree
Coursework for healthcare management degrees at the undergraduate level typically includes general education courses, core courses in healthcare management, and some electives. At the graduate level, coursework is more focused on healthcare management and may allow students to individualize their degree with concentrations and/or elective courses. In general, a hospital management course helps students develop the leadership skills necessary to oversee health-related programs, departments, and/or organizations. Many of these degree programs conclude with some kind of culminating project, such as a practicum, thesis, or a research project, that requires students to apply what they have learned throughout the program to a specific issue in the field. Some common courses for these degree programs may include topics in:
- Healthcare technology
- Healthcare economics
- Healthcare finance
- Healthcare operations/management
How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Management?
Although online bachelor's degree programs in healthcare management typically take about 4 years to complete like a traditional on-campus program, there are ways for students to complete their degrees faster. Some programs offer options that allow students to complete the program at their own pace. Other factors, like transfer credit or already having an associate's degree, can help some students finish their online degree in as few as 10 to 24 months. Although it may take students around 5 years to complete, some schools may provide students the chance to earn their bachelor's and master's in the field through an accelerated master's pathway.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Management Degrees
Many schools that offer online bachelor's degree programs in healthcare management are regionally accredited to help ensure that the programs they offer are of top quality. However, some healthcare management degree programs may have an additional level of accreditation specific to the field. Usually, students can be sure they are receiving a quality business and management education if the healthcare management program is accredited by groups like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). There are also some healthcare management programs that specifically design the curriculum according to the standards set by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) to help ensure that students have all the necessary skills to be successful in the field.
Healthcare Management Licensure & Certification
While there is not one over-arching license or certification for healthcare management, there are several different licensures and certifications; these are based on the type of position within healthcare management. For example, all states require nursing home administrators to hold a state license, but requirements vary by state. Usually, these administrators need to meet education and training requirements and pass an exam. Some positions in a specific field may require licensure in that field, such as managers overseeing nurses may need to be a registered nurse (RN). There are also various certifications by practice area, like certifications offered by the American Health Information Management Association or the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.
Other related positions may also require or encourage different certifications. For example, those with a background in healthcare management could also work positions like administrative services managers. Some employers may prefer for these managers to have certification within their given area of work, such as records and information managers having certification from the Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM).
Healthcare Management Career Information
Most students who are interested in working a hospital management career may work as a medical or health services manager, which includes titles like clinical managers, nursing home administrators, healthcare executives, and more. While some of these managers may work their way up from positions as financial clerks, medical records and health information technicians, or administrative assistants, many students with a bachelor's degree or higher can enter into leadership positions. Those with skills in healthcare management may also be qualified and able to work other related managerial positions, such as:
- Administrative services managers
- Financial managers
- Human Resources managers
- Social and community service managers
- Top executives
Job duties, salaries, and education requirements vary by each of these positions. For example, the salaries for healthcare jobs with an associate's degree may vary drastically from those with a master's degree. Learn about a couple of career options in more detail below.
How to Become a Medical or Health Services Manager
Students wondering how to become a healthcare manager should know that they typically need to begin by earning at least a bachelor's degree. Some employers may prefer those with a master's degree, but the amount of work experience in a given field is also usually a factor. Licensure or certification requirements for medical or health services managers vary by position.
These managers are largely responsible for planning and overseeing the operations of various health services within their department and/or organization. This requires them to perform a wide range of administrative duties, including making schedules, ensuring compliance with regulations, managing records, and communicating with their staff. As of 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical or health services managers had a median annual salary of $100,980 and a job outlook of 32% from 2019 to 2029.
How to Become an Administrative Services Manager
Administrative services managers also usually need at least a bachelor's degree, but some may enter the field with a high school diploma. Work experience is also a must to demonstrate leadership and administrative skills. Although certification is not usually required, some employers may prefer it; certification is usually available in specific specialty areas, such as facility management, records and information, or information governance.
Administrative services managers take care of a wide range of administrative duties to ensure that their organization is running as smoothly as possible. They may be responsible for maintaining facilities, overseeing staff, managing records, and examining procedures or policies for possible improvements. The BLS reported that these managers made a median annual salary of $96,940, as of 2019, and had a job outlook of 6% from 2019 to 2029.
Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Healthcare Management Degrees
Every student needs to figure out a way to pay for their education and that process usually begins by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This process helps determine what financial aid students may be eligible for, such as loans and grants. While loans have to be repaid, some students may opt for grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid. There are many scholarship options based on a lot of different factors and these may be available at the local, state, or federal levels.
In the case of healthcare management, there are also subject-specific scholarship options available at various schools. For instance, junior or senior students at the Metropolitan State University of Denver who are majoring in healthcare management can compete for the AUPHA/McGaw Scholarship. Florida International University offers several different scholarships specifically for students in the Healthcare MBA program, such as the Corris Boyd Scholars Program, as well as for specific populations in healthcare, like the Health, Lifestyle and Health Care System Scholarship, which is designed for Native American students.
How to Choose a Healthcare Management School and Program
There are many factors that go into choosing the right healthcare management school for you. Students may need to consider everything from affordability and flexibility to the quality of the curriculum and the faculty. When comparing the cost of a program, students should examine tuition rates and fees, as well as any financial aid and scholarship opportunities available. School financial aid offices are a good place to find out how much your program might cost you.
Students also need to think about how an online healthcare management program will fit in their schedule and if they need a self-paced program, one with a specific start date, or one that gives them the flexibility to work while they attend school. Most school's webpages will offer information on how the program is set up.
Accreditation is also important. Students may want to give higher consideration to programs that have management-specific accreditation and/or follow healthcare-related guidelines from AUPHA so they know they are the best prepared for a career in the field as possible. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs can help you locate the school-wide and programmatic accreditations at your target schools.
Enrolling Online in a School for a Healthcare Management Bachelor's Degree Program
While the enrollment process for online bachelor's degree programs in healthcare management varies by school, most students should be able to fill out an online application form. Some schools may not require any application fees or entrance exams, while others may have additional requirements. There are some schools that allow students to complete the entire enrollment process online by selecting a program, creating a profile, and making the necessary payments. Students can typically reach out to a healthcare management advisor with any questions or help they may need.