From developing public health initiatives to training medical staff and improving their work environment, healthcare administrators have a tremendous impact on the health of their communities. Add to that the emotional rewards of helping others receive the best healthcare possible, and you have a career that is both satisfying and exciting. With a 32% increase in medical and health services management positions in the next 10 years, earning a master’s in healthcare administration can be a smart step towards a field with ample room to grow.
If an MHA sounds like the degree for you, first thing is first. You’ll have to earn admissions to an accredited program. While not all master’s in healthcare administration programs are exactly the same, many will have quite similar requirements for admissions. That means you can start to prepare early in order to increase your chances of receiving that coveted acceptance letter. Find out what measure you can take to look good on your application and get information and advice on each step of the admissions process.
General Admissions Requirements
Applying to a graduate program usually requires first supplying general academic information before then supplying information to the specific program you want to pursue. Some schools have two separate processes, first to the school and then to the program, while others combine them into one admissions process. This section discusses the elements involved in general graduate school admissions, including your undergraduate degree, GPA, GRE scores, and prerequisites. We’ll also look at options for paying for graduate school.
Graduate School Admissions
Funding Your Tuition
Financial aid is available to graduate students through scholarships, government loans, work-study programs, and employer assistance. Scholarships may have their own application process, or you may be automatically considered for this financial aid based on your school application information. In addition to a program’s potential scholarships, MHA students should investigate scholarships offered through associations whose purpose is to promote the healthcare administration field.
Graduate students should also fill out the government FAFSA early in the application process before the yearly deadline. A FAFSA tells you if you qualify for Federal financial aid programs and helps schools determine which students are most in need of financial assistance.
Work-study programs may also be available. These programs help graduate students find part-time jobs on or off campus to help pay for program costs, and your eligibility for them will be indicated on your FAFSA results.
Employer tuition assistance is another option for graduate students. Many employers agree to pay for a portion or all of an employee’s tuition in return for a set period of employment after the degree is earned. Discuss this possibility with your employer as early as possible to help you determine any funding you’ll still need.
Program Admissions Requirements
Some schools ask for both an application to the school and another application to their Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program, though sometimes the application process incorporates both. The program-specific application usually requires more specific information than that which you submitted for the school’s application, and you’ll probably need to reach out to mentors for recommendations, update your resume, and document your intentions for this part of the process.
MHA Program Requirements
Although every MHA program will have slightly different admissions standards, the requirements listed below are a good indication of what you’ll be asked for come time to apply.
Program Admissions Interview
Competitive applicants may receive an invitation to talk to the program director, a current MHA student, and/or a faculty member. Program interviews are either online or in-person, and some schools set aside a “Visit Day” for students for on-campus personal interviews.
An interview with the program director may be lengthy since they’ll want to get to know your personality and learn about your academics. An interview with current MHA students is a great opportunity to learn about the program’s culture. An interview with an MHA professor would probably focus on how well you might fit into the program.
Regardless of who you interview with, treat them with respect and take time to give thoughtful answers. Some questions to be prepared to answer include:
- Why do you want to go into healthcare?
- What areas of healthcare interest you?
- Why do you want to pursue an MHA?
- How will an MHA from our school give you an advantage?
- What courses are you looking forward to taking?
- What type of leadership position do you assume in a group?
- Tell me about a time when you cared for someone.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how confident are you and why?
- What large problem do you currently see in the healthcare industry that you would like to take on personally?
Prepare for an interview by learning as much as possible about the school’s program and gaining as much experience in the healthcare industry as possible. Know what classes are included in the curriculum, be confident in your goals and aspirations, and come prepared to discuss leadership in the healthcare industry.
Does My Undergrad Degree Matter?
It doesn’t matter what undergraduate degree you have as long as it’s from an accredited university. Students enter healthcare administration with backgrounds in healthcare, business, biology, chemistry, humanities, and others. Most likely, your undergraduate degree will help you achieve your goals in healthcare administration in some way. A Bachelor’s in English, for example, gives you strong written and verbal communication skills that will not only help you in graduate school but also as a healthcare supervisor.
If you haven’t started your undergraduate studies yet, take time to consider which one might pair well with an MHA and your ultimate career aspirations. Though most undergraduate degrees are acceptable for MHA students, you may want to take statistics, microeconomics, and accounting courses before starting graduate school. This is especially helpful if you have little to no finance or business background.
Other Things to Think About
There are a lot of factors to consider when applying for a graduate degree program. In addition to the specific requirements discussed above, you’ll want to know the program’s policy on transfer credits and whether the program you are looking at is fully accredited.
ACHE is a professional society for healthcare leaders. It provides networking opportunities, credentialing, research, scholarships, and more.
AUPHA promotes university-based management education and works to improve health services through education. It offers certification, scholarships, career help, and more.
This student page on the CAHME website provides information on scholarships, accredited programs, and certain post-grad fellowship opportunities.
Learning about the ethical standards of the healthcare industry can help you understand the relevance of many of the classes you’ll be asked to take in an MHA program.
This article discusses challenges in healthcare that are motivating many to earn their MHAs after years of working in the field.
This article discusses what healthcare administrators do and the education and skills they need.
An article discussing the needs of the healthcare system, you’ll also discover how to become a healthcare administrator. It includes information on certification, professional affiliations, and job prospects.
This student association at the University of Wisconsin offers services – including workshops, healthcare tours, funding opportunities, and service opportunities – to students in its MHA program. Be sure to see if your school has a similar association.
This non-profit association promotes the advancement and development of Black health care leaders.