Health Services Administration Degree Program Information
Individuals who are interested in managing and overseeing the operations of healthcare facilities might consider enrolling in a degree program in health services administration. A few popular degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration, a Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA) and a Ph.D. in Health Administration.
Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration
Bachelor's degree programs related to health services administration are interdisciplinary, taking the basic concepts found within a business administration or management degree program and tailoring them to the healthcare field. Students enrolled in such programs learn about human resources management and organizational theory while also studying healthcare policy and regulations.
In order to declare a major in health services administration, high school graduates must first gain admission into a 4-year college or university. They are then required to take college-level courses in mathematics, health sciences, natural sciences and social sciences.
The courses most typically found within a bachelor's degree program in health services administration provide students with a strong background in public health, business and general studies. Some such courses include:
- Business administration
- Healthcare organization
- Social work
- Aging and health
- Information systems management
- Human resource management
Popular Career Options
Bachelor's degrees in health services administration suffice for entry-level positions in the field. While most health services administration jobs require graduate degrees, the following positions can be obtained with a B.S. in Health Services Administration:
- Health information manager
- Physician's office manager
- Health maintenance organization administrator
- Health insurance agent
Master of Health Services Administration
Master's degrees in health services administration are often offered through the public health or health sciences departments of 4-year universities and colleges. Such programs are designed to provide graduate students with the knowledge of business administration, organizational management, finance and marketing necessary to oversee entire staffs of hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory agencies and more. Many health services administration degrees offered at the graduate level require students to complete a thesis project or paper exploring one particular theory of the field.
Some appropriate bachelor's degree programs that might serve as prerequisites for master's degrees in health services administration include those related to health sciences, business administration, biostatistics or public health. Many schools also require that students submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation and grade transcripts.
The courses most often found within a graduate program in health services administration cover particular policies related to healthcare as well as basic management theories and principles. Courses commonly address these topics:
- Healthcare policy
- Health services systems
- Managerial accounting
- Health economics
- Project management
- Health care finance
- Health and law
- Health policy development
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Approximately 271,700 health services managers worked in the United States in 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov). The majority of these individuals worked for general and surgical hospitals, while others worked for physicians' offices, nursing homes and home health care services. The median annual wage for the profession in 2009 was about $81,850, and those working in the District of Columbia earned more than those working in any state.
While all states require licensure for the directors of long-term nursing home facilities, they do not require other health services administrators to gain licensure. Certification in the field is available through organizations such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) and the American Hospital Association.
Doctor of Philosophy in Health Administration
A Ph.D. program in health administration primarily prepares students to conduct research into the field of healthcare administration or teach the subject at the collegiate level. At the doctoral level, students choose a subspecialty or emphasis in the field that most interests them. Although all doctoral students in a health administration program study research methods and statistics, some might choose to explore certain areas, such as biostatistics or aging and health. Each doctoral student must complete a dissertation before graduation.
A bachelor's and master's degree in such fields as health administration, public health or healthcare management are appropriate educational prerequisites for entering into a Ph.D. program in health administration. Students will need to have a solid understanding of both administration policies and the healthcare industry before they embark upon a research-heavy program in the field.
The main seminar courses often included in a Ph.D. program in healthcare administration focus on advanced topics and contemporary issues in the subject. Some of these seminars might include:
- Public health history
- Healthcare politics
- Advanced topics in health administration
- Research methods
- Dissertation research
Popular Career Options
One of the most common career paths for a graduate of a Ph.D. program in health administration is to become a professor or associate professor in health science and administration at a 4-year college or university. Another common career path is to gain a position in the research sector or accept a leadership position at an organization such as the AAHAM.
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