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Question: Does the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) Accredit Online Master of Health Administration (MHA) Programs?

Answer: Yes, CAHME provides accreditation to various types of master’s in healthcare management and administration degree programs, including online master’s programs with a health administration curriculum. CAHME accreditation is available to Master of Science (MS) in healthcare management and administration, Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Business Administration (MBA) in healthcare management, Master of Health Service Administration (MHSA), and Master of Health Administration (MHA) programs that are offered by colleges and universities with regional accreditation. CAHME-accredited programs must meet certain additional criteria for training and instruction in the professional practice of healthcare management. While programmatic accreditation from CAHME is not required, it serves as an indicator and provides assurance that a program has the resources to prepare students for careers in the field of healthcare management.

What Is CAHME?

CAHME represents an interdisciplinary coalition of healthcare educators and administrators, including the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American Hospital Association, the Medical Group Management Association, and the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. It is the only organization recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to grant accreditation to master’s programs that offer professional training in healthcare management. It is also a member of the Association of Specialized & Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

The primary function of CAHME is to set standards for graduate training in healthcare management and assess the ability of individual programs to meet those standards. Through its work with public and private healthcare organizations, schools that offer graduate training in healthcare administration, and leaders in the healthcare field, CAHME establishes guidelines that programs must meet in order to receive accreditation. These guidelines are designed to promote the quality and effectiveness of master’s programs that prepare students for the administrative challenges of managing hospitals, nursing homes, medical groups, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, government health agencies, and other businesses and organizations in the healthcare sector. Graduating from a CAHME-accredited MHA program or another type of master’s program accredited by CAHME may be advantageous for career advancement, as some employers prefer candidates who hold a master’s degree from a CAHME-accredited program.

CAHME Accreditation Standards

CAHME accredits several different types of master’s programs that have different goals and purposes. For example, MHA curricula differ from MPH curricula in a number of important ways. Both provide training for leadership in the field of public health. However, an MHA focuses primarily on operational and administrative solutions to problems and challenges in healthcare, while MPH programs devote more time to public policy issues and epidemiological research. As a result, the accreditation standards established by CAHME are more concerned with the overall integrity and effectiveness of a particular program than with specific courses offered by the program.

CAHME’s Criteria for Accreditation and its Self-Study Handbook for Graduate Programs in Healthcare Management Education list eleven eligibility requirements for accreditation. These include:

  • The university will have established healthcare management as a major course of study leading to a master’s degree.
  • Programs will be a part of an institution of higher learning that has achieved regional accreditation or equivalent recognition.
  • If the program is in a specialized graduate school or schools (such as a medical school, school of public health, or school of business administration) within the university, the school(s) should be accredited by the appropriate recognized specialized accrediting agency.
  • The program will require full-time study beyond the baccalaureate level of not less than the equivalent of two academic years as defined by the university.
  • The program in healthcare management will have graduated at least two classes.
  • The program will require at least 120 contact hours of synchronous instructional time. This may be accomplished online or in a non-university setting, as long as students are synchronously learning course material under the supervision of and in learning sessions that are facilitated directly by program faculty.
  • The program will ensure that facilities, equipment, and supplies are sufficient to support quality and achieve the program’s mission, goals, and objectives.
  • There will be no discrimination on the basis of gender, age, creed, race, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation in any aspect of the program’s activities.
  • The program will have a process for handling formal student complaints and use these complaints, where appropriate, for program evaluation and improvement.
  • University polices will provide time and support for faculty development, research, and/or scholarship and service.

Additional CAHME Resources

As the only formally recognized accrediting body for MHA programs, CAHME functions as a central resource for information about accredited programs offered online and in hybrid and campus-based formats. The CAHME website includes information for students about various types of healthcare management degree programs and careers in the field, as well as more details about the accreditation process. In addition, CAHME maintains a directory of accredited programs by state, which may be useful for potential applicants who know what type of degree they are interested in pursuing.

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