Healthcare represents a large, complex, and growing sector of the economy in which there are many business opportunities and many managerial and administrative challenges. Businesses operating in the healthcare sector must contend with changes in government health policies, private health insurance providers, technological innovations in patient-care services and medical record systems, and a range of specific legal and ethical considerations pertaining to patient rights and privacy. As a result, many of the fundamental aspects of business administration, including sales, marketing, and human resource management, function differently in healthcare than in other areas of the economy.
While MBA programs provide training in areas relevant to running healthcare businesses, specialized instruction in the application of business leadership and management skills in healthcare is typically only available to MBA students through elective coursework and in programs that have a designated track in healthcare management or administration. These programs provide students with two or more courses relevant to businesses operating in the healthcare sector and are often referred to as MBA in healthcare management or MBA in healthcare administration degree programs.
An MBA in healthcare management or healthcare administration is a Master of Business Administration degree that has a well-defined specialization or track for students who want advanced training in the intricacies of healthcare business operations. Students in these programs complete a general MBA curriculum, which includes coursework in accountancy, finance, marketing, project and personnel management, and organizational communication and leadership. In addition to this core MBA curriculum, students who opt for a concentration in healthcare management and administration take two-to-six courses that address issues specific to this area of specialization. These courses usually take the place of what would otherwise be general electives in business administration and management and provide students with knowledge and skills that have specific applications in healthcare businesses.
Online MBA programs utilize distance-learning technologies to offer students what is often considered to be a more convenient and flexible alternative to a traditional, campus-based MBA program. The online instructional platforms used by these programs allow lectures and other course materials to be accessed and assignments to be completed and submitted by students from anywhere with a secure Internet connection. This can be especially advantageous for students who anticipate working full-time while earning an MBA degree, for those who cannot relocate or would prefer not to commute to a college campus for classes, and for applicants looking for a specific MBA specialization, like healthcare management, that is not offered by a school in their geographical region. An online MBA in healthcare management and administration provides all or most of its coursework online through a learning management system (LMS), which typically also supports student discussion groups and interactions between students and instructors.
MBA programs with a specialized track in healthcare business management and administration are generally designated in the following ways:
OnlineEducation.com conducts independent research into these programs and classifies them based on several factors. To be included on the side, an online MBA program must be offered by a regionally accredited, non-profit college or university. To ensure the program meets recognized standards for training and instruction in business administration, MBA programs on the site must be offered through a business school or department that has programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). Finally, these programs must offer all or most of their coursework online. Programs that require a limited number of on-campus sessions are listed on the site. However, programs that require students to attend more than two campus visits per year are not.
Most of the coursework in an MBA program is fairly standardized in that it addresses proficiencies in general areas of knowledge that are central to effective business management and administration. These areas include accounting and finance, sales and marketing, personnel and project management, and organizational communication and leadership. A specialization track in healthcare management and administration typically consists of two or more courses that introduce students to the unique circumstances faced by businesses operating in the healthcare sector, the legal and ethical concerns attached to healthcare businesses, and the challenges faced by business leaders in the field. In addition, most MBA programs include a capstone project in which students apply what they have learned to analyzing and addressing an issue or problem in the real world of business operations. Students in healthcare management and healthcare administration MBA programs generally examine a healthcare business issue as part of their final project.
The specific curricular components of MBA in healthcare management and administration programs vary. Healthcare specializations typically include two or three core courses in the business of healthcare, and may extend to several additional electives or required courses in advanced topics related to healthcare business management and administration. The table below provides and overview of some of the types of classes that are often part of a healthcare management and administration track.
|Course Title||Course Description|
|Topics in Healthcare Management||An overview of the political forces in healthcare, as well as professional, socio-cultural, and economic forces that exert pressure on the current system, including the growing demand for care, the changing role of the government, and the introduction of new technological innovations.|
|Leadership in Healthcare||Applying the tools of organizational science to leadership in healthcare organizations, specifically in areas such as human resource management, quality control, and resource allocation.|
|Legal & Ethical Issues in Healthcare||An examination of current standards of care and other legal and ethical concerns in healthcare, including patient rights, informed consent, and life support systems.|
|Healthcare Informatics||An overview of the information systems and technologies used in healthcare to deliver and track patient care, assess outcomes, and improve quality in various settings.|
|Marketing of Public Health||The application of marketing theories and practices to products and services in the healthcare sector.|
Students interested in applying to an online MBA program with a healthcare specialization must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and furnish transcripts from that degree program. In addition, MBA programs may require applicants to submit a personal goals statement, two or more letters of recommendation, written answers to one or more essay questions, and/or standardized tests scores (usually the GMAT). There are also programs that prefer or require students to have a minimum undergraduate GPA, and programs that consider a candidates prior professional experience as part of the admissions process. While an undergraduate degree in business is generally not a requirement, some programs may have bachelor’s-level course prerequisites in mathematics, statistics, and/or economics/business. Application requirements and admissions criteria vary by program, so potential applicants should research each program carefully to ensure that they qualify for admission and can complete the application requirements.
Another area of variation in online MBA programs with a healthcare management and administration specialization concerns the format of the program. Prospective applicants should familiarize themselves with three format variations that can impact the relative convenience and flexibility of an online MBA program and affect the learning experience. There are two primary mode of delivering online instruction: synchronous and asynchronous. There are also different enrollment options that allow students to enroll full-time or part-time. Finally, some online MBA program hold on-campus sessions that students are required to attend, while others offer all of their coursework online. For a more detailed look at these format variations, refer to OnlineEducation.com’s Online MBA Programs page.