Is Earning a Healthcare Administration Master's Degree Worth It?
Whether you work in the administrative or the patient-focused side of healthcare, you may have considered pursuing a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA). Like with any big life decision, you want to make sure this is a smart move and that all of the time, effort and expense that comes with earning a Master’s degree will be worth it in the long run.
While the answer to that is going to depend heavily on your individual circumstances, you can still take into account some of the potential benefits and what it takes to succeed in an MHA program. To do that, we’ve asked Rasmussen University instructor Dr. Merle Point-Johnson to provide perspective on the potential benefits and challenges that come with earning an MHA.
What are the potential benefits of earning an MHA?
One benefit that should not be overlooked is the versatility of the degree. Dr. Point-Johnson believes that an MHA is a versatile path for those looking to advance in the healthcare space, regardless of whether they work in a direct patient-care role or not.
“The MHA is a popular, highly sought-after degree,” Point-Johnson says. “Those who work in healthcare often seek the MHA as a means of furthering their careers and taking advantage of the growth opportunities in this setting.”
The healthcare field is on solid ground overall, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting employment growth across many roles.1 That translates to higher-level administrative positions as well, with the BLS projecting employment of medical and health services managers to grow by 32 percent from 2019–2029.1 This includes roles like:
- Clinical director
- Hospital administrator
- Health services manager
- Practice manager
- Program director
No matter the specific role, most will require candidates with a strong blend of healthcare operations knowledge, financial planning and leadership skills—all of which are a focus in the Rasmussen University Master of Healthcare Administration program curriculum. These skills can help you round out your skill set and provide a clear indicator to potential employers that you have what it takes to succeed in advanced management roles.
“Having an MHA can help to increase your value to the organization,” Point-Johnson says. “An MHA demonstrates your competence in many areas of the health field, including finance, marketing, policy, quality and organizational leadership.”
While advancement into one of these roles is by no means a given, there are clear potential financial benefits to working in a medical and health services management role. The BLS reports that the 2020 median annual salary for medical and health services managers was $104,280—a figure that may make the effort toward advancement worthwhile.1
What to keep in mind when pursuing an MHA
Whether you’re working in direct patient care or have more of an administrative background, there are certain personality traits that Dr. Point-Johnson sees as critical for success in an MHA program.
“Patience, a sense of accountability and confidence,” suggests Dr. Point-Johnson. “An individual must also have a sense of empathy [and] the unique and unwavering ability to maintain an open mind and view situations and challenges from the perspectives of others.”
High-level healthcare administrators are often balancing the needs and concerns of multiple departments. That means you’ll need to keep an open mind and consider the big-picture implications of new ideas and policies, even if your experience to date centers on one department.
“Successful students in the MHA program must have critical-thinking skills and must be analytical,” Dr. Point-Johnson adds. “They’re willing to engage in research and have a tremendous sense of personal accountability.”
Getting comfortable with exploring and developing new areas of expertise within healthcare can be one of the biggest challenges for MHA students.
“The program is rigorous in part because it encompasses various disciplines from finance to operations,” Dr. Point-Johnson explains.
The dynamic nature of the healthcare industry has much to offer those driven to pursue excellence when it comes to healthcare delivery and positive patient outcomes.
“The last decade has really helped to contextualize the challenges facing the health system,” Dr. Point-Johnson explains. “Because resources are finite, it is important that leaders have the requisite skills needed to address gaps in the quadruple aim of healthcare. The industry has shifted from volume-driven care to value-driven care and is more reliant upon technology and evidence-based decision-making.”
Prepare yourself for the next step
Managing the billing systems, IT needs, practitioner personalities, budgets and more that come with running a successful healthcare facility is no small task. This field needs capable and confident leaders to step up and set a positive course for patients and providers alike—and earning a Master of Healthcare Administration degree can be a viable way to show employers you’re up to the task.
As you weigh your education options and explore the Master of Healthcare Administration degree program at Rasmussen University, know this: This fully online program can be completed in as few as 18 months and is affordably priced at as low as $10,000.2, 3
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed July, 2021] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
3Tuition for the MHA is $155 per credit. Students in the program must maintain continuous enrollment to remain eligible for the tuition pricing of $155 per credit. A student who withdraws and re-enrolls will be required to the tuition price offered at the time of their re-enrollment. Students who receive the tuition price of $155 per credit cannot use any additional discounts, grants and/or scholarships. If a student needs to retake one or more courses in the degree program, the total cost of the program will exceed $10,000. Program cost breakdown: $7,440 in tuition + $2,460 in fees = $9,900 in program cost. Program availability varies by campus and state; please see the Rasmussen University Catalog for details.