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Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Programs (BHA/BSHA)

Businesses and organizations that operate in the healthcare sector contend with many of the same managerial and administrative challenges as other types of businesses and organizations. Accounting, budgeting, marketing, personnel and operations management, and strategic planning are concerns that apply to hospitals, physician practices, medical centers, clinics, and other for-profit and non-profit health and healthcare-related businesses. However, managing healthcare organizations poses a number of unique challenges in areas like bioethics, patient rights and privacy, risk management and quality control, data management, government policy, and insurance reimbursements. These are just some of the complex features of the healthcare industry that managers and administrators must be familiar with in order to operate effectively. Undergraduates who are interested in pursuing careers in hospital administration, clinical practice management, and other administrative areas of the healthcare industry can receive training and instruction in these areas through bachelor’s in healthcare administration degree programs.

What Is a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Degree?

A bachelor’s in healthcare administration is a four-year college degree program that provides students with a designated major or concentration of courses in subjects relevant to healthcare management and administration. This typically includes coursework in the primary business functions of finance, marketing, accounting, human resource management, and logistics, as well as specialized coursework in healthcare economics, healthcare regulations, and the ethical foundations of healthcare. Students who major in healthcare management typically learn about the healthcare system, healthcare policy issues, and research methodologies in the field. They may also take courses in epidemiology and population health issues, healthcare data systems, and patient safety concerns. In addition to coursework within the major, students in bachelor’s programs must also complete a range of general education requirements in the arts, sciences, and humanities. This may include classes in English composition, mathematics, statistics, social and behavior science, physical science, history, philosophy, and/or cultural values.

Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Programs

Online bachelor’s in healthcare administration programs provide what are generally considered to be more convenient and flexible alternatives to traditional, campus-based programs. An online bachelor’s program utilizes distance-learning technologies to provide all or most of its general education and specialized coursework online through a learning management system (LMS). An LMS is a computer platform that supports the streaming of lectures and other interactive course activities. Students in an online bachelor’s program can typically contact instructors through the LMS, participate in online discussion forums, and access supplemental materials like library resources. While online bachelor’s in healthcare administration generally do not require students to attend on-campus sessions, some online degree program incorporate a limited number of campus visits into their curriculum. Similarly, some online bachelor’s in healthcare administration programs require students to complete a supervised internship at an approved location, which must be done in-person at a local work site rather than through online learning.

How Identifies and Classifies Online Bachelor in Healthcare Management Programs researches online bachelor’s programs and identifies programs that offer a healthcare management major based on program curricula. These programs may have different designations, but they all offer a concentration of courses that cover relevant topics in healthcare management and administration. Common names for such programs include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Innovation
  • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Coordination

Programs included on the site must be offered by regionally accredited, non-profit colleges and universities and, excluding any internships, they must offer all or most of their instruction online. Programs that require more than two campus visits per calendar year are considered hybrid or campus-based programs and are not currently listed on the site.

What Students in an Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Learn

In addition to a general education curriculum consisting of required and elective coursework in the arts, sciences, and humanities, an online bachelor’s in healthcare administration curriculum provides students with knowledge and training in a range of areas relevant to the management of healthcare organizations. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA), an organization of colleges, universities, faculty, and professional groups dedicated to health management education, offers voluntary certifications and curricular guidance to schools that have a bachelor’s in healthcare administration program. Its Criteria for Undergraduate Program Certification provides a list of competency areas for undergraduate training, which include:

  • The US healthcare system and health policy
  • Population/community health
  • Organizational development/organizational behavioral theory
  • Operations assessment and improvement
  • Management of human resources and health professionals
  • Healthcare law
  • Statistical analysis and application to decision making
  • Healthcare economics
  • Healthcare marketing
  • Financial analysis and management
  • Ethical business and clinical decision-making
  • Quality assessment for patient-care improvement

The AUPHA curricular guidelines are consistent with the types of training and instruction offered by most online bachelor’s in healthcare management programs.

Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Courses

While curricula vary by program at the undergraduate level, the core bachelor’s in healthcare administration curriculum generally covers topics in healthcare policy and organizational systems; legal and ethical issues in healthcare; the business of healthcare; and evidence-based, data-driven decision making. The table below provides an overview of typical courses in a healthcare administration major.

Course TitleCourse Description
Healthcare Delivery SystemsAn overview of the US healthcare system, with a focus on costs, funding, accessibility of services, governmental policy, the role of private industry, and a range of ethical issues.
Healthcare EconomicsThe economic principles healthcare administrators use as a framework for understanding government policies, legislation, pricing, profitability, market supply and demand, and risk issues.
Foundational Concepts in Healthcare InnovationA framework for understanding change and innovation in the healthcare system and integrating finance, policy, and technological considerations.
Healthcare LegislationAn overview of federal and state health policies, how they are interpreted and enforced, and their effect on health professionals and delivery of services.
Policy & Financial Principles in Healthcare CoordinationAn in-depth look at the history of healthcare policy in the United States from World War II to the present, with a focus on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.
Healthcare FinanceAn introduction to accounting and financial management procedures in healthcare organizations.
Healthcare MarketingPrinciples of marketing applied to the development, implementation, and coordination of marketing efforts in the healthcare sector.
Healthcare Research & Evaluation MethodologiesMethodologies for collecting and evaluating data, creating statistical models, and making evidence-based assessments of organizational needs, patient care programs, and improvements in healthcare quality and delivery. 
Principles of EpidemiologyAn examination of population health using the tools of epidemiology.
Healthcare Quality ManagementOperations management explored from the perspective of quality control measures, risk reduction strategies, and advanced methods for improving the delivery of care.
Healthcare Data ManagementAn examination of medical and patient care database systems and their design, with an emphasis on the management of patient information, quality improvement measures, and compliance with HIPAA and the HITECH Act.
Healthcare Literacy for ProfessionalsStrategies for promoting consumer health literacy and for communicating healthcare information to the public.
Human Anatomy & PhysiologyAn examination of the structure and function of the human body, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, lymphatic/immune, endocrine, renal, digestive, and reproductive systems.
Healthcare Administration CapstoneAn applied project in the field of healthcare administration.

Admissions to Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Programs

Online bachelor’s in healthcare administration programs are designed for students who have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Eligible applicants may be asked to submit SAT scores, letters of recommendation, and/or a written statement of purpose along with their high school transcripts. Selective programs may weigh high school class rank and grades in relevant high school coursework along with other materials submitted by applicants. These policies vary by program and may differ for students transferring into a program with prior college credits. Potential applicants should check with a program administrator to determine specific admissions requirements.

Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Program Formats

Online bachelor’s in healthcare administration programs offer all or most of their instruction online. However, there are some important variations in how online programs are structured that may be important considerations for potential applicants. These variations often impact the relative convenience and flexibility of an online bachelor’s program. They include the method of online instruction, enrollment options, and whether or not there are required campus visits.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: There are two modes of online instruction: synchronous instruction and asynchronous instruction. Online courses that require students to be logged on to a school’s LMS at regularly scheduled times in order to view lectures and/or participate in other course activities utilize synchronous instructional methods. Online courses that allow students to log on to a school’s LMS at their own convenience to view lectures and complete assignments utilize asynchronous instructional methods. While all online learning involves asynchronous instruction, some programs employ synchronous instruction in some or all of their courses, and others do not. Prospective students should be aware of this difference and may want to take it into account when choosing a program.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time Enrollment: Online programs are generally designed to accommodate a range of students who may be working or who may have other significant commitments while attending college. A typical bachelor’s degree takes four years or eight traditional academic semesters to complete for full-time students who enroll in five or six classes per semester. This is also true for online bachelor’s programs, although students can often graduate in three years by taking courses year round. In contrast, students who would prefer to take fewer courses per semester by enrolling part-time will extend their time to completion by a year or more. Part-time enrollment may entail taking two or three courses per semester. A part-time enrollment option may be a relevant consideration for prospective applicants who cannot maintain a full-time course load due to other responsibilities.

Campus Visits: The online bachelor’s in healthcare administration programs included on this site offer all or most of their instruction online and do not require more than two campus visits per years. In fact, most online bachelor’s programs do not incorporate mandatory campus visits. However, on-campus orientation and instructional sessions, sometimes referred to as immersions or intensives, are a required part of some online degree programs. These sessions generally do not last more than a week, and they can provide online students with a valuable opportunity to meet face-to-face with instructors and classmates.