Is a Master's Degree in Health Care Administration Worth it?
Health care in the United States is an extensive and evolving industry that touches on multiple sectors – from audiology to veterinary medicine – and continues to grow at a rapid pace. That’s led to increased hiring at hospitals, HMOs, and other employers who are in need of educated professionals to care for patients, manage departments, and navigate the frequent changes in policies and regulations.
“In health care, they want you to be more diverse and innovative as a manager,” explains Dr. Kecia Edwards, a 20-year veteran of the industry who serves as program chair for Ashford University’s Bachelor and Master of Arts in Health Care Administration programs. “Employers will say, ‘These are the problems that we have, what is your solution?’ or ‘Are you able to apply critical thinking and find an answer? And if there’s not an answer, how innovative can you be?’”
A desire to be a problem solver and a leader in such a complex but critical field is what drives Ashford students to the master’s program, she adds.
What Is the Master of Arts in Health Care Administration?
Ashford University’s Master of Arts in Health Care Administration examines operational, policy, and procedural management skills in the health care industry, and when, where, how, and why those skills are applied.
The program is comprised of 12 courses, totaling 36 credits, and incorporates integration and application of healthcare theories and concepts across the domains of organized healthcare. Though the courses help students build a foundation of industry and leadership knowledge, Dr. Edwards and her staff are constantly updating lessons and learning materials in order to offer the most relevant information and training. This gives graduates the ability to, among other things, apply health care financial and accounting concepts in organizational planning and decision making, use health care information technology and statistical reasoning, and apply legal and ethical standards to whichever role they pursue in the industry.
“We are not a program that believes in just one way of doing things,” Dr. Edwards says. “We are very innovative, and we make sure students can apply what they’re learning to what they’re doing.
“We’re incorporating different aspects of health care, so that regardless of where you work, your education is applicable.”
Additionally, Dr. Edwards has evolved the program to include the participation of professionals in a “Health Care Learning Community” that can be accessed through the student portal, and “The Pulse,” a learning workshop that allows students to ask questions and gain valuable insight into the industry.
“The material in the course is current, and our health care partners are able to provide students with case studies, white papers, and other resources,” she says. “We’re able to discuss current events, breaking news, we show TED Talks, and we’re able to incorporate real-time situations that apply to our weekly classroom objectives.”
What Will I Learn in the Master of Arts in Health Care Administration Program?
Pulling lessons and theories from current events, the courses that comprise Ashford University’s Master of Arts in Health Care Administration touch on topics that are vital to your career. Throughout the program, students will be immersed in critical concepts that include:
- Quality improvement
- Risk management
- Health policy
- Strategic planning
- Information systems
- Statistical reasoning
- Human resources
“All of these are important to health care leadership, and we discuss the ethical applications of your skills,” Dr. Edwards says.
The program also trains you in the communication and presentation methods used by today’s health care professionals. As an Ashford University student, you’ll learn how to write your papers in the American Psychological Association (APA) format, but the Master of Arts in Health Care Administration also challenges you to learn how to write executive summaries, policies, presentations, and the SWOT analysis. This is necessary to give students the business acumen they need for their careers, Dr. Edwards says.
Many of those writing lessons are taught early in MHA 601 Principles of Health Care Administration. Other courses in the program include:
- MHA 616 Health Care Management Information Systems
- MHA 620 Health Policy Analysis
- MHA 622 Health Care Ethics and Law
- MHA 626 Strategic Planning and Marketing in Health Care
Dr. Edwards points to MHA 620 as a critical course in the program, because students need to understand how policies impact day-to-day operations, how quickly things change and why; and which direction the industry is heading.
Ashford graduates not only finish the Master of Arts in Health Care Administration with advanced knowledge of HIPAA laws, compliance procedures, and other essential topics, they also emerge as leaders capable of finding solutions to existing and unexpected problems in the health care hierarchy.
What Can I Do With a Health Care Administration Degree?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates nearly 1.9 million new health care jobs will be created through 2028 as a result of an aging Baby Boomer population and advancing technologies that are used to treat patients.
With your Master of Arts in Health Care Administration, you will be in a position to compete for many of these positions, notably:
- HMO administrator
- Contract negotiator
- Administrative services director
- Hospital administrator
- Clinical department manager
- Consultant health care administrator
- Health care program director
As the health care industry evolves, an education that prioritizes leadership, technology, and ethical decision-making will prove essential and make you marketable to employers in organizations of all sizes. If you’re ready to take a giant leap forward in one of today’s largest industries, contact an Ashford University advisor about your Master of Arts in Health Care Administration.
Written by Ashford University staff