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Is a Master's in Healthcare Administration Worth It?

Now, more than ever, the rapid pace of technology, evolving regulations and procedures, and healthcare’s ever-prominent place in the national conversation put healthcare organizations in need of innovative leaders.

“Healthcare administrators are constantly being asked to do more with less,” says Dr. Leslie Mathew, Chair of Franklin University’s Master of Healthcare Administration program. “They’re tasked by their organizations to facilitate a higher level of care at a lower cost. That drives a need for professionals who understand finance, have deep problem-solving skills and are strategic thinkers.”

It's clear leaders who desire these positions need to prepare themselves and differentiate to win the best jobs. A Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) is a specialized degree that teaches strategic management within the context of healthcare, giving you the skills to understand and navigate this extremely complex industry.

An MHA takes a lot of energy, effort and investment. Here are six reasons why it will pay off.

Stay Competitive and Increase Job Prospects with a Specialized Degree

Healthcare administration is a career on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for healthcare administrators will grow by 17% between 2014-2024, with an average of 7% growth year-over-year. 

With this trajectory, it’s no surprise that educational attainment for healthcare administrators continues to escalate. Master's completions for healthcare administration have grown 28.5% since 2013, while online completions increased by more than 60%. 

Graph showing rise of Master of Healthcare Administration degree completions over time

A master’s in healthcare administration can have an immediate impact on your career. From day one, you’re learning skills you can apply to your day-to-day job responsibilities, while preparing you to take on new challenges. Whether you want to move to a new department or organization, or rise through the ranks, an MHA prepares you for the next step in your career.

As you interview for new positions, an MHA can be a key differentiator, especially against professionals with a more generalized education, like an MBA.  While these professionals also have a master’s-level education in strategic management, their degree lacks the specific healthcare application of an MHA, which helps you not only increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness, but also improve patient outcomes. The specialization an MHA provides makes you a top candidate among similarly educated peers.

Gain Critical Insights into the Dynamics of Healthcare Leadership 

Many healthcare administrators focus in a specialized area—from finance and operations to emergency services and cardiac care. For professionals who want to advance to management, leadership or executive levels, you need more than specific expertise. You need to understand the entire continuum of care.

A master’s in healthcare administration will help you gain the breadth of knowledge to address operational challenges at all levels of healthcare. As part of a master’s in healthcare administration curriculum, you will explore big-picture topics like:

  • Healthcare law and the ethical responsibilities of healthcare organizations
  • Developing, implementing and evaluating healthcare management strategies
  • Healthcare data, analysis and information governance
  • Finance and accounting for healthcare organizations 
  • Managing healthcare operations and supply chains

From the laws governing healthcare practices to how healthcare is delivered, managed and billed for, an MHA degree gives you foundational knowledge in every major area of healthcare operations. These critical insights allow you to break down silos and work across departments to create meaningful change in healthcare organizations.

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Develop Skills That Will Prepare You For Tomorrow's Healthcare Challenges

A master’s in healthcare administration not only gives you technical knowledge of the healthcare industry, it helps you develop professional skills that are essential for leadership and executive roles. Through coursework, team assignments and professional networking you’re consistently challenged to grow.

An MHA degree will advance skills like:

  • Big picture thinking: As a healthcare administrator, you can’t isolate challenges—they are inherently interrelated and can have ripple effects throughout an organization. You need to be able to go above and beyond departmental or functional thinking and make strategic decisions that will create a positive impact in both the short and long term. An MHA gives you the opportunity to grow and practice these skills as you gain a deeper understanding of how healthcare organizations operate.
  • Critical problem solving: Every decision a healthcare administrator makes has a real impact on people’s lives. An MHA forces you to examine problems in a real-world context and address them with comprehensive solutions.
  • Adaptability and flexibility: Healthcare is constantly changing. An MHA helps you succeed by giving you the tools to navigate uncertainty and become comfortable adjusting to new regulations, policies and procedures and consistently deliver a high standard of care. 
  • Teamwork and leadership: Every day is a team effort at a healthcare facility. An MHA helps you harness the power of diverse skill sets to solve large-scale challenges, while giving you the strategic management skills to inspire the best work from those around you.

What do all of these skills add up to? To Dr. Mathew, these skills speak to professionals who can make a real impact in healthcare organizations.

“Organizations want people who are agents of change, who can be innovative and work with moving targets,” Mathew said. “An MHA instills skills that create leaders who aren’t just ready for what’s happening today, but what will happen tomorrow.” 

Get Access to Networking Opportunities That Can Advance Your Career

An MHA increases access to other professionals in your field, opening up new pathways to advance your career through networking opportunities. For example, at Franklin University, students in the MHA program can become members of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the preeminent professional association for healthcare administrators. Through this association, Franklin offers job shadowing opportunities at the C-Suite level, as well as conferences and networking opportunities at the national level. 

“With over 80+ chapters and 5,000 members nationwide, ACHE membership provides a huge networking opportunity,” explains Dr. Mathew. “We take every chance to expose our students to professional events and meetings, allowing them to connect with other successful professionals in the field.”

Increase Short- and Long-Term Earning Potential

A master’s in healthcare administration prepares you to advance faster and to higher levels in an organization, which can open the door to salary increases in your current role and over your lifetime. 

According to Payscale, the average salary for someone who holds a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration is $58,000, while the average for someone with an MHA is $75,000— a nearly 30% salary increase. 

Looking at the field as a whole, the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes healthcare administrators within the designation of medical and health services managers. The median annual wage for these professionals is $99,730, with the top 10% of medical and health services managers earning more than $182,600. A master’s degree is key to reaching the executive-level positions that occupy top salary ranges.

Other factors, like workplace, also play a large role in salary. An MHA gives you foundational knowledge and transferable skills that can help you succeed at any of the industry’s top-paying employers. 

5 of the top paying jobs for MHA degree holders

Identify the Right MHA Program for Your Professional Goals

“Many people think healthcare administration and immediately equate it to hospitals,” says Dr. Mathew, “but opportunities exist along the entire continuum of care. From health systems to long-term care facilities and physicians offices, these organizations are all undergoing change and need qualified healthcare administrators.”

Getting a master’s in healthcare administration can be extremely valuable, but finding the right program is key to ensuring your success. If you’re a mid-career or working professional, you need a program tailored to your needs. Franklin University provides flexible, online coursework in a real-world context, helping you become more effective at your job while preparing you for advancement.

Explore Franklin University’s Master of Healthcare Administration degree to see how it can help you take the next step in your career.

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