Question: How Long Is an Online MHA Program? Are There Online MHA Programs That Can be Completed in One Year to 18 Months?
Answer: The minimum time to completion for many online MHA programs, including online Master of Science in Health Administration programs and other similar programs, is 15 to 18 months, depending on a program’s structure, academic calendar, and curricular requirements. There are a limited number of online Master of Health Administration (MHA) programs that can be completed in one year of full-time, year-round enrollment. It is also not uncommon for students to take two or more years to complete an online MHA program.
What Is an Online MHA Program?
MHA is the formal designation for Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree programs. It may also be used to refer more broadly to Master of Science (MS) programs in health/healthcare management and administration, which are generally equivalent to an MHA program. These programs, regardless of how they are named and whether they are offered online or on a university campus, provide master’s-level training and instruction in healthcare policy, the economics of the healthcare industry, and the various functional aspects of managing businesses and organizations in the healthcare sector. Students in an MHA program study the US healthcare system and learn about financial management, personnel management, and technology management in healthcare. While curricula and course names vary by program, a typical MHA program includes instruction in organizational behavior, human resource management, finance, marketing, informatics, and legal issues.
Online MHA programs and online MS programs in health/healthcare management and administration offer all or most of their coursework through distance learning technologies, which allows students to complete the degree requirements without attending campus-based classes. The core coursework and graduation requirements for an online MHA program are generally the same as for a campus-based MHA program. Typically, the only major difference between an online MHA program and a campus-based program is the mode of instruction.
Length of Online MHA Programs
The length of an MHA program, from initial enrollment to graduation, depends on several factors, including the structure of the program, the program’s curriculum, and the number of courses a student completes per term. A typical online MHA curriculum includes ten or 12 courses that may or may not be sequenced in a particular order. The time it takes to complete an online MHA program may partially depend on when these courses are offered and how many courses a student can enroll in per term.
The structure of a program may also play a role in the completion time for an online MHA program. Some online MHA programs adhere to a traditional academic calendar, with fall and spring semesters that are 15 or 16 weeks long and a summer term that may be shorter (ten to 12 weeks). Full-time students in an online MHA program that uses the trimester system may be able to graduate in less than two years by taking three or four courses per semester and completing one or two courses over the summer. However, many online programs utilize alternative academic calendars, dividing the year into more than three or four terms (e.g., quarter system). For example, an online program may hold six eight-week terms or as many as ten to 12 four-week terms per academic year. Full-time students in programs that are structured in this way generally enroll in one or two courses per term, which may lead to graduating in as few as 12 or 15 months.
Some online MHA programs also provide flexible enrollment options, allowing students leeway regarding the number of courses completed per semester or term. Students who are able to commit to full-time enrollment in an online MHA program are often able to earn their degree in less than two years, while students who are working or who have other significant commitments outside of school progress more slowly through the program by taking fewer courses per semester or term. A reasonable expectation for the time it will take to complete an online MHA program as a full-time student is between one and two years. Students who enroll part-time can generally expect to graduate in two to three years.
One-Year Online MHA Programs
While there are a number of online MHA programs that can be completed in less that two years of full-time, year-round enrollment, there are a limited number of programs from which students may be able to graduate in one year. For example, Louisiana State University Shreveport (LSUS) has a 30-credit online MHA program comprised of ten core graduate courses that can be completed in 12 months by students who enroll in two courses per eight-week term (six terms per year) and receive a passing grade in those courses.
In order to complete an online MHA program like the one offered by LSUS in one year, students should be prepared to devote up to 40 or more hours to coursework per week and have undergraduate training in business, including courses in accounting, finance, economics, and statistics. Students who have not taken undergraduate courses in these subjects may be advised or required to take one or more foundation courses in preparation for the program’s core graduate curriculum, thereby increasing the time to graduation by several months.
It is important to note that the time it takes to complete an online MHA program is often dependent upon the student. A self-motivated student who can commit to full-time enrollment and who has adequate academic preparation for graduate-level coursework in health administration may be in a position to earn an online MHA in one year. However, full-time students more commonly take a minimum of 15 to 18 months to complete an online MHA program and some programs take up to two years to complete with full-time enrollment.
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