What are the Pros and Cons to a Traditional v. Online Master’s Degree in Health Administration?

Students who have decided to pursue a graduate degree in health administration naturally want to compare the benefits and drawbacks of the relatively new online format versus the traditional classroom curriculum. Since deciding to go back to school and earn a degree is a tremendous time and monetary investment, it is prudent for students to weigh all aspects of each program type before enrolling in a particular program. Here are some of the advantages and benefits for both online and traditional programs.

Curriculum: Online Versus Traditional Graduate Health Administration Programs

Online programs have become increasingly popular with students who want convenient, schedule-friendly curricula that allow completion of degree programs at one’s own pace. Many of these degree programs have proven effective so much so that many traditional degree programs felt the need to compete by offering their own online versions of some of their traditional degree offerings. This is the case with Vanderbilt, Seton Hall and Ohio Universities that have top ranked online master’s of health administration degree programs in addition to traditional university offerings.

Online master’s of health administration degree curricula have consistently improved because of the efforts of university staff to stay competitive with other degree programs. Advancements in online learning tools and techniques have increased the interactive nature of the courses as well. However, many HR managers, employment managers and other hiring gatekeepers still view the learning method as inferior to traditional classroom study in many cases. When asked in surveys, these people doubted the ability of the virtual classroom environment to provide the peer-to-peer and student to professor interaction that is needed to adequately learn academic concepts. Also, many of the top ranked Master of Health Administration degree programs include a faculty guided, paid residency work requirement that many online programs do not include in their curriculum.

Cost Differences Between Online and Traditional Health Administration Degree Programs

The cost of an online graduate degree in Health Administration is often less expensive than its traditional counterpart. The length of the program can be considered a reason for the discounted rate. A traditional Master of Health Administration at a top ranked university could take up to four years of full-time study with an additional year’s residency work requirement to graduate. While some online universities boast that students can complete their master’s degrees in health administration in as little as 18 months.

Perceived Reputations Between Online and Traditional Educational Products

Most employers realize that online education is a viable platform for obtaining a degree in the modern era. According to a survey report conducted by the University of West Georgia’s Distance Learning Center, some employers do not require applicants to disclose whether they earned their degree traditionally, online or through a combination of both methods. They do, however, check the accreditation status of the school or its program; accreditation becomes the main factor in determining a program’s reputation for quality.


Although advancements in information technology has made e-learning feasible for many academic subjects, strictly online health administration degree programs have many challenges to overcome before they are considered by some as on par with traditional classroom programs. Students who choose between the two must also be aware of how they plan to use the degree. For example, a senior level healthcare professional who wants to move up in a company may choose an online degree program for its convenience and affordability. While other students who are just beginning their careers opt for the perceived higher quality, traditional programs to impress hiring managers.