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Graduate Degree Programs in Hospital Administration Overview

Majors Overview May 15, 2017

This article talks about graduate degree programs in hospital administration and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and certification choices.

Overview of Graduate Degree Programs in Hospital Administration

Training in the business and leadership skills necessary for an administrative career in the healthcare industry is available through health systems management programs at the graduate certificate and master’s degree levels. The program is devised to train graduates to take the exam for licensing as a nursing home administrator, as well as for other healthcare administration roles. Advanced training in the field is available through doctoral programs to students seeking college level teaching jobs or careers in high-level government or corporate administrative positions.

Certificate Programs in Health Systems Management

This compact certificate program aimed at working professionals with a degree is available at some schools along with a master’s degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). Schools typically offer health systems management certificate programs in part-time formats to facilitate attendance by working professionals.

Education Requirements

Akin to the majority of master’s degree programs, admission criteria related to this program require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. They must also have work experience in the field of health care management.


Program coursework is about 15 or so credit hours and covers topic areas such as:

•Policies and challenges of U.S. healthcare systems
•Management of Nonprofit Organizations
•Laws relating to healthcare
•Healthcare organization and delivery
•Managing health care accounting

Career Options

While the program aims at management-level professionals, it may also prove beneficial to other healthcare workers, such as physical therapists or nurses seeking management level career advancement. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Nursing home administrator
•Clinical Manager
•Hospital manager
•Health care management consultant

Continuing Education and Certification Options

Licensure for nursing home managers is mandatory in the majority of states, and most states require a license to manage an assisted living center (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Credentialing programs are available for healthcare executives by professional organizations such as the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Master of Health Care Administration Programs

In this graduate degree program, a solid business foundation is combined with unique issues in the healthcare field. Students can expect to become adept at dealing with new healthcare technology, new insurance policies, and changing healthcare laws. This program is also offered at some schools as part of a dual degree option, in combination with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Juris Doctor (J.D.), or similar program. Program graduates may seek management, consulting or leadership roles at a large hospital, a public health department or a large health management organization (HMO).

Education Requirements

Admission criteria related to this program require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, albeit not necessarily in a related field. Students are also required to meet an undergraduate GPA standard of 3.0 or higher.


Program coursework has a healthy focus on internship work experience. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Health service delivery and the law
•Healthcare management and the spread of disease
•Information systems in health care
•Human resource management in health services
•Health services financial management

Job and Wage Outlook

Qualified hospital and healthcare administrators are expected to see a faster-than-average job growth of 17%, over the 2014 – 2024 decade (BLS). While wages vary by organization size and type; in May 2016, medical and health services managers brought in an average annual wage of $96,540 (BLS).

Continuing Education and Certification Options

While state licensure is mandatory for nursing home administrators, it is not mandatory for any other management position. However, those who are in these positions may undergo a certification process, including an exam offered by the American College of Healthcare Executives. Health information managers can also obtain certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator offered by the American Health Information Management Association (BLS). Those seeking careers teaching healthcare administration at the college level, serving on an advisory board or managing a college-level program, would benefit from earning a Ph.D. in Health Care Administration.

Ph.D. Programs in Health Care Administration

Students can pursue a Ph.D. program in the field to prepare for careers in research and academia, whereby they can teach healthcare public policy and healthcare delivery methods to prospective leaders of the future.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, though successful applicants commonly hold a graduate degree. An applicant’s graduate and undergraduate GPA may also find consideration. Coursework in health systems and health services may have to be completed by incoming students without a prior background in health services.


The program coursework that involves a dissertation or thesis has a heavy focus on research findings. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Health services financing and policy research seminar
•Health insurance and managed care
•Health data analysis for research
•Disease research methods
•Growth and development of the U.S. health care system

Job and Wage Outlook

A Ph.D can enable a prospective college professor to get hired (BLS). In May 2013, health specialties instructors at universities and colleges brought in an average annual wage of $85,030; administrators at colleges or universities earned about $87,410 per year, on average (BLS).

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