Online Masters Programs in Health Science

ASO Staff Writers
Updated July 27, 2023
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A master’s degree in health science presents several professional opportunities both clinically and in the field of research or academia. There are five general areas to explore with a post-baccalaureate degree in this broad field: diagnostic services, therapeutics, health informatics, support services, and biotechnology research and development. Each area encompasses several career paths that provide the chance to make an impact in this vital and dynamic professional arena.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 18% growth rate from 2016-2026 for the healthcare sector. As a health science practitioner, you can expect to enter a robust job market after earning a degree in this field.

What to Know About Online Master’s in Health Science Coursework

Responding to the rising demand for highly trained healthcare professionals, several accredited colleges and universities now offer online health science master’s programs. Many full-time healthcare professionals prefer to pursue online programs because it gives them the chance to earn their master’s degree while still fulfilling professional and personal obligations. Most master’s in health science programs total 30 credit hours and typically take between 18-24 months to complete.

A well-planned master’s curriculum in health sciences gives opportunities to gain a broad view of the healthcare field as a whole and of a specialization area in particular. The specific skills and training provided by each master’s program largely depends on the specialization area chosen to pursue. As a rule, however, an accredited online master’s program in health science provides opportunities to develop research, communication, and technical writing skills, often in addition to coursework that strengthens a student’s abilities in program management and in patient and/or community relations.

What Common Courses are Offered in a Master’s in Health Science Program?

Online master’s degrees in health science offer varying courses, depending on the overall focus of the program. Even similar programs available from different schools often follow unique academic paths. However, most online health science master’s programs offer some foundational coursework for students to build on as they select and pursue a specialization area. Some basic health science courses follow below.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Colleges and universities that offer master’s in health sciences online programs typically give their students a thesis or non-thesis option. Students who pursue the non-thesis option need to enroll in additional classes to meet increased credit requirements, as opposed to a thesis option master’s in health sciences program.

Some online master’s programs in health sciences require students to complete a capstone course prior to graduation that summarizes the key learning components of the program and may comprise a practice-driven research project. Several online health sciences master’s programs require students to pass a comprehensive exam prior to beginning a thesis or capstone requirement.

How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master’s in Health Science Program?

While researching online master’s programs in health science, keep a school’s accreditation at the top of your list of requirements. Accreditation assures you that an institution meets the standards set by an industry-recognized accrediting body. Search the websites of the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to find out the accreditation status of a school.

There is no single accrediting body that accredits multiple health science programs. Instead, several distinct accrediting bodies grant programmatic or regional accreditation to different fields of study that comprise the health science arena. Examples include diet and nutrition programs accredited by the American Dietetic Association, pharmacy programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, and healthcare management programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management.

In addition to accreditation, also examine a program’s other components, such as graduation and retention rates, the credentials of faculty members, and whether or not they offer unique specializations.

Career Opportunities With a Master’s in Health Science Degree

The projected 18% growth rate for the healthcare/health science sector through 2026 translates to the addition of 2.4 million jobs. While employment opportunities exist for health science practitioners at practically every level, master’s degree holders usually qualify for top managerial positions and leadership roles. The positions below represent a small segment of professional opportunities typically requiring a master’s degree in a health science field.

Career Profiles


As public health professionals, epidemiologists collect and analyze data on public health problems and make recommendations based on scientific research and empirical data. They also plan, implement, and evaluate public health programs, lead health education campaigns, and communicate significant findings to policymakers, stakeholders, and health practitioners.

Healthcare Administrator

The responsibilities of a healthcare administrator often depend on both the size and type of facility they manage and the healthcare services provided therein. Most healthcare administrators set policies and procedures that improve the quality and delivery of services, ensure the facility is compliant with industry and state regulations, maintain current and accurate financial records, and manage personnel.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners, also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), typically analyze test results and alter treatment plans accordingly, perform and/or order diagnostic tests, provide primary and preventive care, and make referrals when necessary. APRNs often specialize in the care of a particular demographic group, such as children, patients with mental health disorders, or the elderly.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists work with injured or disabled patients to help them regain or maintain motor skills such as walking or getting dressed. They often work with accident victims, children with developmental delays, stroke patients, and elderly patients with a variety of medical conditions.

Physician Assistant

Working with doctors and other healthcare professionals, physician assistants perform multiple functions, including examining and treating patients, prescribing medicine, and educating patients on treatment protocols and wellness issues. Physician assistants can specialize in one of several medical disciplines such as surgery, pediatrics, gerontology, or infectious diseases.

What’s the Expected Job Growth for Health Science Careers?

As stated above, the outlook for health science careers remains positive overall. Health science practitioners, especially in healthcare positions requiring post-baccalaureate degrees, enjoy a median annual salary of $64,440, higher than the general median annual salary of $38,640. Healthcare support occupations, however, have an annual median wage that is lower than most other occupations at $29,740. Educational attainment, the professional field and scope of responsibilities, and job location all impact median annual salary.

Professional Organizations for Careers in Health Science

Professional associations for health science professionals offer several member benefits, including network building, mentoring opportunities, and discounts for regional and national conferences. Health science practitioners can also gain valuable industry insights, learn of the latest developments and advancements in their field, and take advantage of employment and collaboration opportunities through professional organizations.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Health Science Degree

Federal funds and/or private scholarships can cover the majority of costs for a master’s in health science online degree. Government agencies and professional associations both realize that in order to meet the rising demand for well-trained healthcare professionals, the field needs to attract more of the right type of students. Begin the search for financial assistance with the funding opportunities below.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

This scholarship opportunity falls under the Health Resources & Services Administration and is reserved for graduate students pursuing a primary care health degree, such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, and other reasonable educational costs. Scholars also receive a monthly stipend to help cover living expenses. In return, scholars serve in a designated health professional shortage area for at least two years.

American Respiratory Care Foundation

ARCF administers two award programs with the National Board for Respiratory Care: the Gareth B. Gish Postgraduate Education Recognition Award ($2,500) and the William F. Miller Postgraduate Education Recognition Award ($1,500). Applicants must be respiratory therapists pursuing a postgraduate degree. Both awards also cover the cost of airfare, accommodation, and the registration fee for the annual American Association for Respiratory Care Congress.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Foundation Scholarships

The HIMSS Foundation awards two scholarships every year, each one worth $5,000. Undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in healthcare information are encouraged to apply. In addition to the $5,000 scholarship, winners receive a trip to the HIMSS Global Conference and Exhibition and a $200 Honoraria.

Medical Group Management Association

Both undergraduate and graduate MGMA student members qualify to apply for several scholarships sponsored by the American College of Medical Practice Executives. Applicants must be pursuing a degree relevant to the medical practice management field such as healthcare administration or public health management. Scholarship amounts range from $1,000-$5,000.

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