Health administrators and managers lead health care organizations by developing and allocating resources for clinical programs and enterprises committed to providing high level quality and service, improving community health, and serving the medical needs of patients and their families.
The degree one pursues to prepare for a career in health administration/management is the Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree. MHA programs tend to be housed in Schools of Business or Public Health. The University of Washington MHA Program is housed in the School of Public Health under the Department of Health Services.
What type of education is required?A plan to prepare for an undergraduate health professional program.
Recommended undergraduate coursework
To prepare for graduate studies in health administration/management, you are encouraged to complete coursework in the following areas:
- Introduction to statistics, accounting, and microeconomics
- The behavioral and social sciences
Graduate programs in health administration/management require that applicants have a bachelor's degree. They are interested in applications from students with varied backgrounds and interests, so applicants from all majors are welcome.
- Many MHA programs offer concurrent degree options, for example, MHA/MBA, MHA/MD, MHA/MPA, and MHA/JD. To apply, you are typically required to apply to both degree programs, using their respective admissions forms and requirements.
- Your application to MHA programs will be greatly strengthened by pursuing experiences in health care. You are encouraged to work or volunteer in a health care organization to gain exposure to the environment, and learn about the issues involved in health care today. Be committed, and make your work or volunteer time significant in length and quality.
- You are also encouraged to pursue opportunities for leadership development, either through extracurricular or career development activities. If you have the chance to pursue supervisory or management-oriented roles, it is recommended that you take advantage of those opportunities.
- Build relationships with professors, supervisors, and mentors who are aware of your career and educational goals. These relationships will serve you well when you are seeking recommendations for your MHA program applications.
The required application materials for most MHA programs include:
- Application form
- Recommendations (3)
- Written statement(s)
- Official transcripts from all colleges attended
- Official GRE or GMAT test scores (sometimes MCAT and LSAT scores are also accepted)
- Official TOEFL scores for international applicants
In addition, some programs require an on-site interview.
Professional organizations & resources
If you are considering a career in health care management, it is valuable to know about related professional organizations and resources for learning more. Following are some recommendations:
- Association of University Programs in Health Administration
- American College of Health Care Administrators
- American College of Healthcare Executives
- American College of Physician Executives
- American Organization of Nurse Executives
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
- Medical Group Management Association
- National Association of Health Services Executives
- Haddock, Chapman, and McLean (2002), Careers in Healthcare Management: How to Find Your Path and Follow It
- Kovner and Channing (2000), A Career Guide for the Health Services Manager, 3rd Edition
- Snook (2006), Opportunities in Hospital Administration Careers
- Gawande (2007), Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance