What is Entailed in a Graduate Program in Healthcare Management?

A healthcare management graduate program provides a course of study that prepares students holding a bachelor’s degree for a position in the business, administrative or executive field of managing a healthcare facility. Healthcare managers may choose to pursue a general degree that will provide them an understanding of the overall workings of an organization or they can pick a specialty area of interest like geriatrics, community health or office management.

Kinds of Graduate Degrees

At minimum, a Master’s degree is usually necessary to become a healthcare manager of any kind. The degree traditionally chosen in the past was a Master’s degree in healthcare administration or in public health. More recently, however, students are branching out by electing to enroll in business or public administration degrees with a focus on healthcare management. Other combinations are possible such as a joint degree in both business and public administration or even a healthcare management degree combined with one in law. The chosen degree will ultimately depend upon the student’s end goal or area of concentration chosen.

Expected Coursework

No matter what healthcare management graduate program they choose, students will need to take certain fundamental coursework in order to be fully prepared to manage a medical facility of any type or size. Courses in law and healthcare policy can be expected requirements. Other common topics of coursework include healthcare financing, organizational behavior, marketing and human resources among others. Some sort of hands-on experience may be required, depending on the program of choice. This could be in the form of an internship, residency or fellowship.

Licenses, Registrations and Certifications

A professional wishing to manage a healthcare facility of any kind will need some sort of license in most states. It is usually required that the person sit for and pass a licensing exam, in addition to acquiring the necessary degree. A license may not be required for the management of other healthcare settings such as physician’s offices or clinics. Students will need to check with their individual state for specific requirements.

Optional certifications may be a desired consideration for many students. Obtaining a certification in your area of healthcare management may go a long way toward setting you apart from job market competitors. Examples of certifications include the Certified Nursing Home Administrator or Certified Assisted Living Administrator certificates offered through the American College of Healthcare Administrators. Certification in health information management or medical management can be obtained from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.

Professional Association

Beyond the two aforementioned organizations and others focusing on specific areas in healthcare management, the most well-known and overarching professional association is the American College of Healthcare Executives. The ACHE is a professional society that represents healthcare executives across the country, but it also offers student memberships. Benefits of membership include resume assistance, online job bank for resuming posting, continuing education, professional journal subscription and access to the latest research studies and other industry publications. The organization also provides internship and fellowship opportunities for its student members.

If you’re thinking about entering a healthcare management graduate program, there are definitely a number of opportunities to obtain a fulfilling career within the administrative umbrella. Take a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook to learn more.

For more information, please see “Why Earn a MHA Degree?“.