The health care industry is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As medicine advances and the population ages, there is a growing need for qualified doctors, nurses and other practitioners. However, these professionals can only do their jobs well with a team of administrative staff behind them. From front desk receptionists to facility managers, health care administrators and assistants keep the medical system running smoothly.
What's more, new administrative positions are being added as medicine evolves. Technology such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality is shifting how care is delivered, and Becker's Hospital Review notes many medical practices are rolling out new high-level administrative positions to assist with that transformation. Workers with titles such as chief data analytics officer and chief nursing informatics officer are being hired to oversee the implementation of digital tools.
Education requirements for health care administration jobs can vary depending on the position. Many schools offer certificates and associate degrees in the field. For those planning to seek management positions, a bachelor's degree is the preferred level of education for many employers while high-level administrative positions may require a master's degree.
Fortunately, online health care administration programs allow busy adults the opportunity to advance their careers while continuing current jobs. More than 500 schools offer distant learning programs in health and medical administrative services, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Keep reading to learn more about the best schools for on-campus and online health care administration degrees as well as scholarship opportunities and job prospects in the field.
Best Colleges for Health Care Administration Degree Programs 2019-20
To find the best schools for health care administration, we used a methodology that considered factors such as the prominence of a program within a school as well as its tuition, support services and graduation rate. Based on these and other factors, the following institutions have top health care administration programs.
James Madison University regularly makes the rankings of top schools in the nation. It is noted for the quality of its education, strong retention and graduation rates and the success of its alumni. The school says 95 percent of its 2017 graduates were employed, in graduate school or involved in other career endeavors within six months of graduation. James Madison University was founded in 1908 and enrolls more than 20,000 students annually.
Health care administration programs at JMU: Undergraduate students can earn a bachelor's degree in health services administration from JMU. The program uses cases studies and applied learning activities to prepare students for entry-level administrative jobs in health care facilities of all kinds. The curriculum includes a mix of health, business and general education classes.
As one of the first universities in the nation and the only public institution to grant degrees in the 18th Century, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a reputation for excellence in academics and research. It can claim two Noble Laureates, 49 Rhodes Scholars, 47 Goldwater Scholars and more than 270 Fulbright Scholars.
Health care administration programs at UNC-Chapel Hill: Graduate students can earn a Master of Healthcare Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill. The MHA degree is designed for those who want to work in management positions and may lead to jobs in the health care, insurance or government sectors. An executive master's program allows students to earn their degree largely online although six on-campus sessions are required over a two-year period.
With more than 68,000 students enrolled, the University of Central Florida is one of the largest schools in the nation. The Orlando-based institution is also a good value, and 44 percent of graduates leave with no educational debt. The University of Central Florida offers hundreds of degree programs that are taught and supported by more than 13,000 staff members.
Health care administration programs at UCF: Both undergraduate and graduate programs in health care administration are available at UCF. A bachelor's degree in health services administration can be earned fully online as well as on campus. For graduate students, there are two options. The traditional Master of Health Administration program offers a mix of online and on-campus courses while the fully online executive MHA is intended for those with health care management experience.
Brigham Young University-Idaho offers robust education programs both on its Rexburg campus and online. The school is known for its affordable tuition and offers dozens of degree programs, many of which can be earned by distance learners without ever setting foot on campus. Affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University-Idaho was founded in 1888.
Health care administration programs at BYU-Idaho: A bachelor's degree in health services administration is available at BYU-Idaho. Students should be prepared for entry-level jobs upon graduation. The program is designed specifically to prepare graduates to work in administrative and management positions at smaller healthcare facilities. Students can also use the program as a foundation for a Master of Health Administration.
As a top-tier research university and one of the largest institutions in the nation in terms of enrollment, Florida International University has a reputation for excellence. Its diverse student body has access to educational opportunities not found elsewhere, such as the world's only underwater ocean laboratory and the Wall of Wind storm simulator.
Health care administration programs at FIU: FIU offers health care administration degrees on campus and online, and undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Health Services Administration. This program includes a 60-credit upper level curriculum that focuses on systems engineering and financial management. An optional internship is also offered. For graduate students, there is a Master of Health Services Administration that culminates in either an administrative residency or a research project.
The University of Florida says it takes great students and makes them even greater. The school has top-tier faculty including two Pulitzer Prize winners, and students can choose from hundreds of educational programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The University of Florida has an excellent retention rate and strives to be affordable, allowing 56 percent of students who start at UF to graduate with no student loan debt.
Health care administration programs at UF: The University of Florida offers a Master of Healthcare Administration within its College of Public Health and Health Professions. This on-campus program can be completed in two years by full-time students or three years by part-time students. A MBA/MHA dual degree option is also offered at UF.
John Hopkins University holds the distinction of being the nation's first research university. The school's name is synonymous with cutting-edge medical research, and the work of its faculty and students have led new medicines and surgical techniques. However, John Hopkins University is about more than medicine. Its notable alumni include Pulitzer Prize winners, journalists, CEOs and President Woodrow Wilson.
Health care administration degrees at John Hopkins: Graduate students can earn a master's degree in health care management from John Hopkins. Offered by the university's Carey Business School, the program can be completed in one year by full-time students or in two years by part-time students. The degree is offered online as well. The curriculum at John Hopkins combines business and health care classes with project-based experiential learning opportunities.
The University of North Florida has a reputation for offering a quality education at an affordable price. It is a military-friendly institution that offers degrees both on its Jacksonville campus and online. Students at the University of North Florida are often academically gifted, and they are taught in small classes and offered the chance to pursue research, internships and other hands-on learning opportunities.
Health care administration programs at UNC: The Department of Health Administration at UNF offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. These include a Bachelor of Health Administration, Master of Health Administration and a graduate certificate in global health administration. If you're looking for an online health care administration program, UNF offers an executive master's degree for working professionals that is delivered largely online.
Personalized instruction, great value and a vibrant campus life are all hallmarks of Ohio University. Located in Athens, the school has a 17:1 student-faculty ratio and hasn't raised its tuition in the past four years. It can boast of 41 Pulitzer Prize winners and, in 2017-2018, had 10 Fulbright Award winners.
Health care administration programs at OHIO: OHIO offers two degree programs for students interested in health care administration. The first is a bachelor's degree in long-term health care administration. The degree is designed to meet the unique needs of those who plan to work as administrators in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and continuing care retirement communities. There is also an online Master of Health Administration for working professionals that can be earned without ever setting foot on campus.
Known simply as Penn State to many people, Pennsylvania State University is considered by some to be among the top 1% of universities worldwide. It has cutting-edge facilities and 17,000 faculty and staff members spread across 24 campuses. The World Campus provides fully online degree programs that allow students everywhere the opportunity to access the school's quality academic programs.
Health care administration programs at Penn State: Health policy and administration programs are housed within the Penn State College of Health and Human Development, and degrees are offered both online and on-campus. Undergraduate programs include a major, minor and honors studies. There are master's and doctoral options for graduate students. Penn State also has an integrated program that allows students to earn a bachelor's degree and Master of Health Administration in five years.
Health Care Administration Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Health care admin degrees and careers can be numerous. Here's an idea of the different degrees you can earn in health care administration, as well as corresponding careers for each degree level.
Health Care Administration Program Accreditation
The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is the only accrediting organization for graduate programs in health care administration. It accredits residential, accelerated and executive programs at colleges and universities across the country.
There is no specific accreditation agency for undergraduate programs in health care administration. However, the Association of University Programs in Health Administration does certify bachelor's degrees. Although the certification process is similar to accreditation, it does not include a site visit.
Health Care Administration Certification and Licensure
Unless you plan to work as the administrator of a long-term care facility, you shouldn't need a state license for a career in health care administration. You may, however, want to earn a voluntary credential that can demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.
Here are a few of the health care administration certification options available:
- Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives: Becoming FACHE-certified is considered one of the highest distinctions in the health care administration field. To earn this credential, you'll need to hold a master's degree, have at least five years of executive experience, participate in volunteer activities, complete continuing education requirements, submit two references and pass an exam.
- Certified Medical Manager: Offered by the Professional Association of Healthcare Office Management, this certification is available to those with at least 12 credits of post-secondary education in health care administration or management and two years of work experience in a patient care support role.
- Certified Compliance Technician: This is only one of the certifications offered by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management. The CCT designation is intended to meet the annual compliance training needed of all workers handling patient accounts. Other AAHAM certifications focus on the revenue cycle and revenue integrity.
Career Outlook for Health Care Administration Majors
As with other occupations within the medical industry, job opportunities for health care administrators are expected to be robust in the years to come. Here's a closer look at the career outlook for some popular occupations within the field.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$115,160||394,910||17.6%|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$38,090||604,780||16%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships for Health Care Administration Degree Programs
Financial aid is available to many students, regardless of whether they are earning on-campus or online health care administration degrees. Much of this assistance is provided through government programs or directly from a college or university. However, there are private scholarships available, particularly for students at the graduate level, from organizations such as the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Renewable for up to four years if recipient continues to meet eligibility requirements. Recipient must reapply for renewal.
Renewable for two additional years if recipient reapplies.
Q&A with an expert
Why would you encourage someone to consider a degree in health care administration?
People think healthcare consists of just doctors and nurses which are vital, but administration is what works to ensure a patient is actually seeing a doctor covered by their insurance provider. Medical Office Administrators (MOAs) are relied upon to be the liaison between the patient, the healthcare team and the insurance company.
What are the usual educational paths for those interested in health care administration?
There is no formal training required to become an MOA but, with the increased complexity of health care administration, employers prefer to hire people with training in areas such as medical vocabulary, customer service, coding and billing, record keeping and insurance coverage, to name a few. Such training programs typically require 9-12 months for a diploma or 15-21 months for an associate degree.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points:
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Median debt of completers, College Scorecard, 2017
- 3-year loan repayment rate, College Scorecard, 2017
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Full-time retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2016-17 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017