Best MHA Programs in
California: Online and
On-Campus

Discover top grad schools in California for earning your MHA degree and see how they can help you take the next step in your healthcare management career.

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Written By

Michael Hoffman

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A former practicing attorney, Michael Hoffman has years of experience as a freelance journalist specializing in the research and writing of higher education content – from online learning to financial aid, and everything in between. Michael is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael practiced for several years as a civil litigator in Los Angeles and worked in Santa Monica, California as a development executive for a major film producer.

last updated

08/01/2022

The healthcare management field is experiencing tremendous growth. That’s especially true in California where over 18,000 new positions are expected to be created over the next decade in addition to openings from turnover in current jobs. Whether you already work in healthcare administration and are looking to move up the ladder or are pivoting from a different field, you can take advantage of this high demand by earning your master’s in healthcare administration (MHA).

This guide offers a comprehensive look at online and on-campus MHA programs in California. It includes a list of the best programs and many useful resources, information, and advice to help you succeed in an MHA program and as a professional in the healthcare management field. Keep reading to start your path towards earning your MHA from a quality and affordable program in California.

Spotlights: Top MHA Programs in California for 2022

Below we spotlight the top MHA programs in California. Our selections are based on several important program features including affordability, study convenience, faculty quality, and access to support services. There are many excellent MHA programs in California, and these spotlights provide you with a good idea of the features to expect when searching for the best program fit for you.

California State University East Bay

Convenience and affordability are major features of the Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration from California State University East Bay. The program is designed for current health care professionals and offered entirely online with a tuition cost of $16,286. Students in this 34-unit program complete two courses per semester over four consecutive semesters (fall and spring with no summer session), allowing them to earn their MHA degrees in two years. Cohorts begin each fall.

Admission requirements for this online MHA program include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university with a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students with lower GPAs will not be considered. Applicants must also possess at least two years of full-time, paid healthcare-related work experience (e.g., hospital, long-term care facility, pharmaceutical company, health insurance company, etc.) in the U.S. Prospective students without the minimum work experience can apply to the on-campus MSHA program at Cal State East Bay’s Hayward campus. Neither GRE nor MAT test scores are required for either MHA program.

California State University Long Beach

California State University Long Beach offers two program options for healthcare administration master’s students. The campus-based Master of Science in Health Care Administration (Traditional) program is designed for beginning healthcare professionals and new undergraduates intending managerial careers in the healthcare industry. The 45-credit curriculum includes core coursework in essential management functions and critical aspects of U.S. healthcare systems along with electives in specialized healthcare subjects and related academic disciplines. The program has both full-time and part-time options, and most students complete their studies in two to three years.

The cohort-formatted Master of Science in Health Care Administration (Accelerated) program is designed for experienced healthcare professionals seeking to advance their careers into management and administration positions. The accelerated program combines online and in-person weekend courses presented in a specific course sequence that allows students to earn their degrees in two years. Admission into the accelerated program requires a minimum of five years of work experience in the healthcare industry.

Both program options are programmatically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

University of California Los Angeles

The Online Master of Healthcare Administration program offered by the prestigious Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California Los Angeles is designed to prepare current healthcare professionals to lead healthcare organizations by developing skills in areas like management, marketing, finance, and analytics. The 66-unit curriculum combines asynchronous online components (e.g., readings, video lectures, etc.) with weekly one-hour, online live sessions with peers and faculty. Students also participate in on-campus immersion experiences and a capstone field project. Full-time students can complete the degree in as little as two years. Part-time study is also available.

UCLA’s MHA program costs $59,400, making it more expensive than most public university MHA programs but less expensive than some private school programs. External scholarships and other financial aid opportunities are available to most students to help mitigate program costs.

Admission into UCLA’s Online MHA program requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university comparable in content and standard to a University of California bachelor’s degree. Other requirements include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and three years of professional experience in the healthcare field.

Frequently Asked Questions About MHA Programs in California

What knowledge and skills do you learn in MHA programs in California?

MHA programs in California provide graduates with the competencies required to lead effectively in professional roles within the healthcare field. Specific areas of competency include:

  • Professionalism and ethical standards.
  • Knowledge of the history and current environment of the healthcare industry, particularly in California.
  • Knowledge and skills in budgeting, finances, and business management.
  • Human resource management skills.
  • Written and oral communications skills.
  • Analytical skills leading to effective decision-making, greater operations efficiency, and better health outcomes.

Are there CAHME-accredited online MHA programs in California?

There are three MHA programs in California accredited by the CAHME that feature online study: Cal State Long Beach’s partially-online Accelerated MS in Healthcare Administration, USC’s partially-online Executive MHA, and Concordia University’s fully-online MHA.

What are the admissions requirements for MHA programs in California?

Specific admissions requirements for MHA programs in California vary from program to program. However, you can expect most programs to include requirements similar to the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university with a stated cumulative minimum GPA, commonly 3.0 with exceptions like Cal State East Bay’s 2.5 minimum requirement.
  • Work experience in the healthcare field. Anywhere from two to five years is not uncommon. Some programs, like Cal State Long Beach’s Traditional MHA, have no work experience requirement.
  • GRE/GMAT scores are sometimes required, though there is a trend away from this requirement for MHA programs.

Additional application requirements typically include a current resume or CV, letters of recommendation, and personal statements and/or statements of purpose.

How long do MHA programs in California take to complete?

Specific admissions requirements for MHA programs in California vary from program to program. However, you can expect most programs to include requirements similar to the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university with a stated cumulative minimum GPA, commonly 3.0 with exceptions like Cal State East Bay’s 2.5 minimum requirement.
  • Work experience in the healthcare field. Anywhere from two to five years is not uncommon. Some programs, like Cal State Long Beach’s Traditional MHA, have no work experience requirement.
  • GRE/GMAT scores are sometimes required, though there is a trend away from this requirement for MHA programs.

Additional application requirements typically include a current resume or CV, letters of recommendation, and personal statements and/or statements of purpose.

How long do MHA programs in California take to complete?

Most MHA programs in California can be completed with two to three years of full-time study. Two-year, full-time programs are the most common. Examples include the Cal State East Bay and UCLA MHA programs spotlighted above. The University of California San Francisco’s program, which can be completed in as few as 12 months, is one exception to this typical length.

Part-time students should expect to make a three to four-year commitment to complete their programs. Possibly the most flexible program in California, in terms of length, is the MHA program at Loma Linda University, which offers two, three, and four-year completion time options as well as a one-year option for clinical students studying in the medical, dental, pharmacy, or other clinical fields.

How much do California MHA programs cost?

Price tags for MHA programs in California vary substantially. The schools below provide an idea of the full range of program costs of California MHA programs, especially in comparison to the more affordable programs from public universities, such as those in the California State University system. Several primary factors impact cost, including whether the program is offered by a public or private institution, the prestige of the program or school, and whether it’s full-time or part-time.

Concordia University Irvine

Master of Healthcare Administration

Total Credits: 40

$615/credit

University of California San Francisco

Master of Science in Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership

Total Credits: 36

$1,614/credit

University of Southern California

Executive Master of Health Administration Online

Total Credits: 36

$2,035/credit

Can I get financial aid to help pay for my MHA program in California?

There are several types of financial aid available for MHA programs in California. These include scholarships, grants, veteran’s benefits, and employer tuition reimbursement programs. There are also student loans like those available from the federal government. Many schools, like Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, also offer scholarships and other funding opportunities exclusively for their healthcare administration students.

Regardless of your financial situation, it is always worth contacting your school’s financial aid office to ask about available funding opportunities. For more information on funding your MHA program, visit EduMed’s list of healthcare administration scholarships and guide to financial aid.

Inside Look at Online MHA Programs in California

Several online MHA online programs in California feature fully online coursework, including those at Concordia University Irvine and California Baptist University, while others feature a mix of online and on-campus components. Cal State Long Beach, for example, offers an accelerated program that combines online coursework with weekend classes at their main campus, and UCLA’s Online MHA program mixes asynchronous elements with live synchronous class sessions. Many online programs, such as the one through UCSF, also include multiple two-day on-campus immersion sessions and/or culminating capstone projects that integrate work experiences at a student’s current place of employment.

Before you enroll, have a clear understanding of which parts of a program are completed online and which aren’t. The substance of your studies – subjects covered and competencies gained – is the same regardless of whether a program is entirely online, entirely on-campus, or hybrid.

Earnings and Job Outlook for MHA Graduates in California

Regardless of which program you choose, knowing what to expect from the job market after you graduate is important. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about earnings and job outlook for MHA graduates in California.

Are healthcare managers with an MHA degree in high demand in California?

Healthcare administration for professionals working in California and throughout the nation is one of the hottest career fields and is expected to remain so for many years. As the U.S. Department of Labor figures below indicate, job growth for medical and health service managers, including healthcare administrators, is expected to increase by more than 30% in the U.S. overall and 35% in California through 2030. Compare that to job growth estimates of 9% for all other management occupations and 8% for all occupations combined for the same period.

Job Outlook for Medical and Health Services Managers in California (2020-2030)

New JobsJob Growth RateAvg. Annual Openings
California18,30035.5%6,430
United States139,60032.5%51,800

Source: Projections Central

How much do healthcare managers with an MHA make in California?

For a professional occupation in such high demand, salaries of healthcare administrators are robust in the U.S. generally and in California specifically. This is evidenced by the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics salary estimates for medical and health services managers presented in the chart below. Salaries for healthcare managers in California are slightly higher but in line with those in the nation overall. The exception is for median salaries, which are nearly 20% higher in California compared to the nation overall.

What you’ll earn as a graduate of an MHA program in California depends on a combination of factors, including your specific employer, job title, geographic location, and level of professional experience in the healthcare field. Review the chart below to learn more about what you can expect to earn in your area.

Annual Earnings for Medical and Health Services Managers in California

Location 10th Percentile Median 90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

Additional Resources for MHA Students in California

EduMed’s guide for finding and landing valuable scholarships to help you pay for your healthcare administration master’s degree includes descriptions of many school-based and external scholarships, advice on how to make your scholarship application stand out, and information on additional financial aid opportunities.

The WHA is a nonprofit professional organization with more than 200 members employed in leadership positions with health care providers, payers, support services organizations, and regulatory agencies throughout Southern California. WHA activities and services include educational and professional development forums, networking opportunities, and an annual scholarship for health administration graduate students.

This association for southern California health care professionals specializing in communications-related disciplines like public relations, business development, investor relations, community relations, and public affairs is an affiliated chapter of the Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development.

The ACHE is a professional association of healthcare managers and administrators dedicated to healthcare leadership excellence. There are three ACHE-affiliated chapters located in California: the San Diego Organization of Healthcare Leaders represents professionals in San Diego and Imperial counties, the ACHE of Southern California represents professionals in all other So Cal counties, and the California Association of Healthcare Leaders represents professionals in the Northern and Central California Regions.

The UPD is a national honor society dedicated to academic excellence in the study of health care management. There are currently five California schools with UPD chapters: Cal State Chico, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Northridge, UCLA, and USC.