Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Educating Future Healthcare Officials: The Masters in Health Administration

By John LempPublished November 8, 2013

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With the growth of the healthcare industry in the United States, there has been a significant increase in the demand for healthcare officials. The Masters in Health Administration is a professional degree that prepares our nation's future healthcare leaders to better serve the needs of the American people.
By John Lemp, published 11/08/2013


The field of healthcare is becoming a larger and larger sector of the present-day American economy.  With this in mind, many undergraduate students aspire to work in the medical field as doctors, nurses, and practitioners.  Yet, another avenue for a career in healthcare exists for those with an interest in policy and those with a business-minded mentality.  Healthcare administration, also referred to as health administration, is a rapidly growing area of the healthcare industry and the career prospects are overwhelmingly positive.  The Masters in Health Administration (MHA) is a professional degree that serves as a gold standard for those working at health policy organizations, health and life insurance companies, healthcare providers, and even healthcare suppliers.  The comprehensiveness of MHA programs allows graduates to pursue a wide variety of careers in the healthcare industry.

            As of October 2012, 17.6% of the United States GDP was devoted to healthcare costs.  Further, the healthcare industry employs approximately 11% of Americans, with that figure expected to increase to as high as 14% over the next decade.  Yet, not all of the people working in the field of healthcare are medical doctors, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians, etc.  As has been frequently quoted over the last several months, during this time of healthcare reform and to the implementation of the ACA, "healthcare is a business" and most argue that it should be run like one.  Those equipped with a Masters in Health Administration thus are able to use their professional education to apply a business-minded approach to organizing and providing healthcare solutions. 

            People with a MHA have the potential to oversee an assortment of essential activities in the healthcare industry, ranging from financial matters to policy making to regulation and legal compliance.  The curriculum of the MHA program includes coursework in policy analysis, healthcare accounting and finance, and compliance and regulation.  There are employment opportunities for MHAs upon graduation, with many electing to work in healthcare facility management (hospital administration) and healthcare policy (think tanks, government organizations, and insurance companies).  Additionally, employment opportunities are available with healthcare providers and healthcare suppliers.  Positions such as Executive Director, Director of Risk Management, and Vice President of Patient Safety are some of the positions within healthcare providers (hospitals and clinics) that require an MHA degree.  Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, on the healthcare supplier side, are two industries in which MHAs can apply their extensive knowledge of operations, consumer safety, and supply chain management.  Healthcare consulting, a highly lucrative field within the consulting industry, provides yet another avenue for MHAs with strong analytical and problem-solving skills. 

            During this time of change and reform in the healthcare industry, the MHA degree is perhaps one of the most relevant and practical degrees that an individual could pursue.  Healthcare employment is only expected to increase over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the U.S. population begins to age due to the baby boomer generation.  This versatile degree allows individuals to apply their comprehensive business education with a focus on the healthcare sector to specific problems within the industry.  According to Monster.com, individuals interested in applying to MHA programs and pursuing a business career in the healthcare industry are encouraged to gain work experience in healthcare administration, as an administrative assistant or clerk.  Wherever an individual begins their career in the industry has the potential to instill within them a passion for healthcare policy, which the United States could certainly use more of.