Online Master’s in Healthcare Management
Nurses have a plethora of graduate programs to choose from that can open many doors of leadership, specialty and practice pathways. Selecting the best school is only one piece of the puzzle when one considers the bigger picture of which career pathway route will lead to the desired goal. For example, a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) is required if the goal of a master's program is to teach nursing students in an academic setting. While there are many similarities in the coursework between the Master of Science in Healthcare Management and the MSN, there are defining differences.
The Master's of Science in Nursing:
- Requires a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (many programs offer an RN to MSN pathway where the BSN is earned during the coursework).
- Requires a set number of clinical rotation hours, depending on the focus area
- Has numerous specialty areas such as nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, education, informatics, public health nurse and leadership
- Coursework includes patient-related assessments are care planning, depending on the focus area
The Master's of Science in Healthcare Management:
- Does not require a BSN, which is a good option for nurses with an ADN or nursing diploma and a BS in another field
- Does not include clinical rotation hours
- Does not specialize
- Coursework includes healthcare delivery systems, strategic operational planning, managing patient-care outcomes and health policy.
- Can often be completed in a shorter time, compared to the MSN
Both degrees have tremendous value in the space of healthcare and, depending on the career goals of the nurse, translate well to numerous executive roles such as Chief Executive Officer. In addition to the opportunity to help patients and take a leadership role in a healthcare organization, a career in medical and health services management offers a median pay of $99,700 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are some key things to consider when looking into MS in Healthcare Management programs. Checking into the following will help prospective students make the best decision:
- Program Accreditation – The most important first step in choosing a program is to ensure that the healthcare management program is accredited, meaning that a third-party organization has vetted the educational content, validity, and length of the program by the standards established by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
- On-Campus vs. Distance Learning – One of the most significant considerations for nurses when choosing a program is what fits best into their lifestyle and career obligations. For example, Michigan State University offers a program that is 100% online with each 5-week module being offered around-the-clock in order to work the learning and projects around family, friends, and work. In contrast, at the Master of Science in Healthcare Management degree at Cal State LA in Los Angeles, CA, students can choose between on-campus courses or an online/campus hybrid model.
- Sample Coursework – Most schools offer the ability to view coursework in a program through the website. Nurses seeking graduate programs should review the listed courses of a program to ensure the areas of study are pertinent to the career goals of the prospective student.
- Time Commitment – Most Master's of Science in Healthcare Management degrees can be completed in 2 to 3 years, depending on the institution and the commitment from the student. For example, the Master of Science in Healthcare Management at Cal State LA boasts a 24-month hybrid program where students complete many courses online as well as on-campus in Los Angeles, CA.
- Program Cost – The tuition and textbook cost for a Master's of Science in Healthcare Management program will vary greatly from one school to another and can be influenced by location, length of program and format of learning. Nurses must consider all costs associated with a master's program including textbooks and residency fees charged by the school.
Online (or distance learning) programs have become a very common method of earning a Master of Science in Healthcare Management degree in the past decade. Reasons for the increased popularity in online degree programs include:
As online MS in Healthcare Management programs become more commonplace, more schools are offering competitive pricing for the MS in Healthcare Management degree programs in order to entice students to enroll. Although tuition rates vary greatly from school to school, online degree programs have the advantage of portability without the cost of commuting, parking, and housing.
Flexible Schedule & Program Length
Most nurses who are pursuing a graduate education are planning to continue to work at least part-time, if not full-time, while balancing life, work, and school. Nurses also tend to work at all times of the day, including weekends and holidays. Having an online MS in Healthcare Management program that allows a nurse to flex the education piece with the rest of the schedule is advantageous. Programs that offer self-paced learning is also optimum for students who wish to complete the degree at a faster pace.
The curriculum for a Master's of Science in Healthcare Management prepares the nurse as an expert in healthcare leadership. Course work includes variations of health and healthcare-focused modules including leadership in healthcare, U.S. health systems, organizational behavior, and health economics.
As an example of program curriculum, the following courses are included in the University of Memphis' Master's of Science in Healthcare Management program:
- History of Policy & the Organization of Health Services
- Human Resources Administration
- Healthcare Finance
- Administration of Health Services Organizations
- Health Economics
- Health Planning
- Managerial Epidemiology
- Healthcare Law
- Healthcare Quality
- Healthcare Modeling
- Leadership & Organizational Change
- Health Administration Information Systems
In addition to the above coursework, students are also required to complete a capstone project to prove integration of learning to practice.
As mentioned above, the cost of a Master's of Science in Healthcare Management can vary greatly based on a number of factors. In addition to tuition, the cost of textbooks and other fees such as housing and parking can add up quickly. Nurses should calculate the overall cost of each program to the potential value in opportunities that will be available to nurses who earn a master's degree. For example, the average graduate tuition rate for the MHA program at The University of Memphis is published as $9,000 per year compared to $30,780 per year at The George Washington University.
Nurses who hold a Master's of Science in healthcare management have numerous career options to consider. While there are some regulatory requirements for select nursing positions such as a nursing instructor in an accredited nursing school, most executive-level positions accept either a master's of science in nursing or a related field. Nurses with a Master's of Science in healthcare management can serve as:
- Nurse Executive: A nurse executive is a leadership role in which the nurse leader creates, implements and enforces healthcare policies and procedures and helps to oversee the practice standards and working conditions of a group of nurses
- Nurse Consultant: Nurses with extensive knowledge and skills in a particular area, such as informatics or law, can serve in a consultative role to advise health systems on best practice standards and performance improvement.
- Healthcare Manager: This role falls on the operations side of healthcare. Healthcare managers oversee numerous aspects of healthcare organizations, to include hospitals, medical centers, and also third-party vendors who support healthcare operations.
- Nurse or Healthcare Administrator: Closer to the daily operations of a healthcare system, the nurse administrator acts as a direct line manager such as a Charge Nurse, Assistant Nurse Manager or Manager to ensure quality delivery of care. Healthcare administrators hold similar roles, managing personnel, budgets, and more, though they may work with departments beyond nursing.
- Director of Nursing: In this role, the Director of Nursing acts as the nursing scope of practice leader as well as providing oversite to multiple departments or a facility.
- Chief Nursing Officer: Nurses in the Chief Nursing Officer role oversee nursing administrators and consultants to bridge the gap between nursing and hospital operations.
- MSN – Healthcare Policy
- MSN – Health Systems Management
- MSN – Executive Nursing Leadership
- Dual MSN/MBA
- Dual MSN/MPH
- Dual MSN/MHA
Jump to Your State Listings
Phoenix, AZ 85021
Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.