You probably already know the benefits of earning an MBA. The leadership, business, and finance experience can open the door to a wide range of potential careers. However, if you want to narrow your focus to a career in healthcare, pursuing a healthcare management MBA could result in an even bigger payoff. Rather than laying a broad foundation that can be applicable to any number of businesses, zeroing in on healthcare management can transform you into an ideal candidate for high-level healthcare leadership roles. But before you can start thinking about what you can do with a healthcare management MBA, you first have to get accepted into a degree program.
Just like any other degree, the admissions requirements for a healthcare management MBA programs will differ from school to school. That means it’s important that you start doing your research early. Knowing what to expect in the admissions process and feeling prepared each step of the way can make a big difference when time comes to apply. Learn what makes a standout candidate, find out about admissions eligibility and requirements, and get key information on each step of the process from applying to the school to getting accepted into the program.
General Admissions Requirements
When you were an undergraduate, you probably encountered one of two types of admissions methods. If you dealt with a centralized admissions system, you probably remember applying directly to the institution, receiving an acceptance letter, and enrolling in courses. If you applied to a school with a blended admissions system, then you may remember having to apply to the specific department of your major once you’d already been admitted to the institution.
Similarly, not all graduate schools go about admissions in the same way. When preparing to apply to your healthcare management MBA program, it’s important to know whether your school employs a centralized system, a blended system, or a decentralized system where you apply directly to the specific program without having to first apply to the institution.
While students applying to schools with decentralized models will only have to focus on program admissions, those applying to institutions with centralized and blended models will typically need to submit the following in order to gain acceptance.
Graduate School Admissions
Before being admitted into an MBA in healthcare management program, you first must meet general admission requirements set by the graduate school. Review these common components to get a sense of what to expect but remember that every school is different and it’ll be key to research the specific requirements for the schools on your shortlist before applying.
Funding Your Tuition
With the cost of graduate school rising each year, funding your tuition can be a challenge. Many schools decide if they’ll give you additional funding based on information provided by your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), so filling this out should be your first step. Within the application, you can list any school you plan to apply to, and the U.S. Department of Education will send each one the results of your application. As part of your FAFSA, you can qualify for a federal loan with lower interest rates than those offered by private lending entities. It will also tell you if you qualify for any federal grants or work-study programs. Some schools automatically consider you for additional funding through the school itself, while others require you to apply separately to individual scholarships, grants, or fellowships/assistantships.
In addition to university-specific funding, you should also use the months before enrollment to apply for funding awards offered by professional healthcare management associations, non-profits and foundations, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and state/local governments. Even if each award is small, bundling several can add up quickly.
Program Admissions Requirements
While school applications look for more generic benchmarks to ensure a student can contend with an institution’s level of rigor, program admission requirements make sure prospective students possess the training and focus needed to thrive in a specific MBA program. In addition to general requirements like official transcripts, GPA, and standardized test scores, programs may also set requirements like minimum GMAT score. Programmatic requirements also include more personalized components like essays or personal statements, letters of recommendation, and information on volunteer and/or professional experience.
Program Admissions Interview
Competitive MBA in healthcare management programs often use interviews to identify top-tier candidates and make final decisions about who they accept. These interviews used to always take place in person, but the COVID-19 era has made telephone and virtual interviews far more common.
Interviews typically consist of departmental faculty, including the dean of the program and the admissions director. Questions vary based on individual programs, but you can prepare by considering why you want to study this topic, why you want to attend a particular program, and how you see yourself using the degree after graduation. Common questions you may be asked include:
- What drew you to this particular MBA in healthcare management program?
- How do you see the next 5-10 years of your professional life playing out?
- What makes you a good candidate for this particular program?
- What strengths and weaknesses will you bring to the program?
- What questions do you have about the program or the department?
Making it to the interview portion of the admissions process is a great sign, so do your research and walk into the interview feeling confident about your efforts thus far.
Does My Undergrad Degree Matter?
While students with undergraduate degrees related to healthcare management will naturally have taken classes that overlap with or provide a foundation for advanced study in this area, MBA programs also value learners with different perspectives and knowledge bases. If you studied English in your undergraduate degree, for example, you may not have taken as many business classes, but your understanding of how to communicate with various stakeholders is probably more advanced compared to other candidates. A combination English undergraduate and MBA can even make you more appealing to employers who want someone who can communicate with customers and other employees well. In fact, almost 60% of MBA students at Harvard Business School come from other undergraduate disciplines like engineering, social sciences, arts/humanities, or math/physical sciences.
To help express why your undergraduate studies make you a strong MBA candidate, consider the unique qualities you bring to the table based on your undergraduate degree and include those in your essay/personal statement. If you studied science, for instance, you’ll have a better understanding of some of the challenges healthcare providers on the clinical side face. Engineers may have a better perspective on the more technical and industrial aspects of how a large organization operates. Admissions panelists want to see that you know how to use your degree in versatile ways and that you can transfer existing knowledge into an MBA in healthcare management program.
Other Things to Think About
In addition to all the factors already discussed, remember that a lot of other things impact the application process. Before ever starting the process or thinking about enrolling, make sure you’ve considered some of the other key points highlighted below.
AAHAM offers members access to certification opportunities, virtual and in-person events, and information on the discipline.
Joining ACHE offers access to regional chapters, education programs, career advancement services, and networking with more than 10,000 members.
Formed in 1928, AHIMA acts as the leading voice for professionals in this field. It provides certifications, education, career information, and events.
GE Healthcare provides this in-depth look at what a hospital administrator position involves and how to feel adequately prepared for the role.
YouTuber Lolgesell shares her experience of completing the first month of her MBA in healthcare management at Western Governors University.
HFMA acts as a professional association for healthcare managers working in financial positions and provides a variety of membership benefits.
Hear firsthand about one student’s experience in this innovative program and what you can expect if you follow this path.
Members of NAHAM can take advantage of certifications, professional toolkits, featured articles, and online conferences.