Earning an Online Healthcare Administration Bachelor's Degree
Often interchangeable with healthcare management, healthcare administration focuses on the business and managerial aspects of the industry. An online healthcare administration degree opens doors for learners who want to navigate, contribute to, and improve the healthcare industry. Online healthcare administration programs combine coursework on healthcare institutions and policies with leadership training and business skills.
Choosing the right program can help learners foster their personal interests and professional goals. Online bachelor's degrees in healthcare administration prepare students to work with clients, patients, and healthcare professionals. With practical knowledge, students can enter the healthcare industry and advance to leadership positions. An online healthcare administration degree also sets the foundation for continued study in the field.
Overview of Healthcare Administration Degrees
Online healthcare administration bachelor's degrees include 120 credits of general education, field-specific classes, and elective coursework. Students study a comprehensive curriculum designed to integrate theory and practice of healthcare administration. Most online degrees in healthcare administration offer all classes online, providing students with flexible schedules. Some programs may require students to complete internships toward the end of their studies to gain real-world experience.
The increasing demand for healthcare and healthcare administration professionals makes an online degree in healthcare administration highly lucrative. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare industry will see an estimated 18% growth in jobs between 2016 and 2026. Medical and healthcare administrators are projected to see even higher growth at 20%. The demand for healthcare and healthcare administration workers will result in almost 2.5 million new jobs by 2026.
Healthcare administration degrees online offer students information related to patient care, business practices, and healthcare regulations. Students learn to communicate with patients and clients, assess policies and regulations, and manage data and software technologies as they gain insight into the healthcare industry. Coursework on the business aspects of healthcare, including accounting, budgeting, and finance, teaches learners skills relevant to their future careers.
Application requirements for online healthcare administration programs vary, but all schools require a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must submit transcript information to potential schools, and there may be GPA requirements for admission. Often colleges and universities grant provisional or conditional admission to students contingent upon performance during part or all of their undergraduate degree.
Institutions may require applicants to take the ACT or SAT. Students can submit their scores directly to potential schools when they take the exam or have them sent later. Colleges and universities have different requirements for scores on these exams; check with your school before submitting your application.
Fees accompany applications, although many schools offer fee reduction and waiver programs to applicants who demonstrate financial need.
Generally, there is no prerequisite coursework for online bachelor's in healthcare administration programs. Transfer students can often apply some or all of their previous credits to their degrees.
What Will I Learn?
Online healthcare administration degrees incorporate 120 to 180 credit hours of general education, degree-specific, and elective coursework. Programs include between 30 and 45 credit hours of general education classes in English, the humanities, and the sciences that prepare learners for advanced coursework in aspects of healthcare administration.
Learners complete 30 to 60 credits of core and major-specific classes to hone competencies in various aspects of healthcare management and administration. Classes in healthcare administration emphasize the business of healthcare, managerial and leadership skills, and data collection and analysis in healthcare fields. Programs also include capstone and thesis courses designed to synthesize degree content through research projects, papers, and presentations. Some degrees also provide learners with internship and practicum opportunities as part of their healthcare administration course requirements.
Degree concentrations and electives give students the opportunity to tailor their programs further. Students can complete up to 90 credit hours of coursework in specializations like information technology and public policy or take electives in other subjects.
Coursework in healthcare policy focuses on the decisions, plans, and procedures implemented to improve healthcare at local, state, and federal levels. Students learn to read and analyze policies within healthcare organizations and institutions as well. Classes give learners the opportunity to assess policies as they relate to issues, problems, and improvements in the healthcare industry.Healthcare Informatics
Healthcare informatics classes explore the relationship between healthcare and information technology. Students learn theories of maintaining data and privacy and explore options for information management procedures. With hands-on experience, learners acquire skills for information collection, storage, and analysis.Accounting and Finance in Healthcare Organizations
Accounting and finance classes in healthcare administration programs introduce learners to the terminology, theory, and practices used in the field while training them to analyze data and produce reports. Accounting and finance coursework provide students with experience developing budgets, keeping financial records, and forecasting economic needs within healthcare organizations.Managed Care and Health Insurance
Classes on managed care and health insurance include information on the design, management, and implementation of managed care and health insurance policies and procedures. Coursework looks at public and private healthcare delivery systems, payment and accountability, and quality control within healthcare coverage. Students also assess structures of managed care and health insurance organizations as they evaluate potential changes and improvements.Management and Leadership in Healthcare Organizations
These classes introduce learners to the theories of management and leadership as they apply to the healthcare industry. Students explore topics including staffing, communication, negotiation, and collaboration in healthcare organizations to better understand the needs of healthcare professionals, patients, and clients. Through case studies and experiential learning activities, students develop critical-thinking and decision-making skills to prepare for managerial and leadership positions.Strategic Planning in Healthcare
Coursework on strategic planning in healthcare trains students to identify long-term goals within healthcare organizations. Learners develop competencies in establishing a plan to meet goals by setting benchmarks, implementing practices and procedures, and enacting change.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration?
An online bachelor's degree in healthcare administration prepares learners for entry-level supervisory positions within the healthcare industry. Learners develop communication and managerial skills to work with medical professionals, clients, and patients. They also gain competencies in data management, business economics, and ethics. Through coursework that prepares learners to analyze the efficacy and efficiency of healthcare organizations and institutions, students can continue on to careers in clinical and community healthcare.
A healthcare administration degree online helps learners develop organizational, analytical, and critical-thinking skills. Through coursework on business, finance, and economic aspects of the healthcare industry, students learn to assess accounts, manage budgets, and coordinate expenses. They also learn how to streamline processes in medical offices and healthcare organizations.
Management and leadership training prepares healthcare administration students to work with others. By developing verbal and written communication skills necessary in a workplace, learners gain competencies in team-building and collaboration. They also explore issues related to human resource management, staffing, and managing employees.
Healthcare administration programs place policies, regulations, and guidelines into the hands of students, training them to read and analyze these documents. Learners gain the ability to apply written documentation to healthcare situations and settings. They also learn about compliance and quality-control in healthcare.
Students learn how the healthcare industry works, which helps them understand ways to navigate the system. This teaches learners to be patient advocates and promote innovation and change.
Potential Careers and Salaries
The healthcare administration field offers many careers for online bachelor's of healthcare administration students. The BLS predicts a 20% increase for medical and healthcare administrators between 2016 and 2026. Medical and healthcare administrators earn an annual mean salary of almost $100,000, above median wage across all occupations.
With a degree in healthcare administration, graduates can work in hospitals, private care facilities, and other clinical settings. Students can also pursue careers in healthcare organizations, insurance companies, and governmental agencies.
An online bachelor's degree in healthcare administration provides students with specialized knowledge and field-specific competencies that help them excel in the field. As health information specialists, patient information managers, and medical office administrators, healthcare administration learners apply business and managerial training to the healthcare industry while employing organizational, communication, and critical-thinking skills.
Health information managers collect and maintain patient and client information within healthcare practices and organizations. They use computer software and other electronic tools. Health information managers monitor privacy protocols and regulations related to information management.
$54,158 per year
Hospital administrators may oversee the entire hospital but can also work within individual hospital departments to oversee financial, ethical, and human resource procedures. Hospital administrators supervise staff and implement trainings, policies, and quality assurance initiatives as needed.
$89,179 per year
Nursing home administrators supervise the operations of nursing home facilities. They oversee staffing, budgetary decisions, and facility management while monitoring patient care. Nursing home administrators follow regulations and standards of care at nursing home facilities and must hold state licensure. State licensure requirements vary by state.
Medical office managers oversee the day-to-day operations of private practice medical offices. Some may work in more than one location if their employer has multiple offices. They keep track of communications, supply purchasing, and patient and staff schedules. They may also work directly with insurance companies and pharmaceutical drug representatives.
$48,286 per year
Clinical managers work within a healthcare organization or institution, supervising one department or clinical environment. By focusing on a specialized subset of healthcare such as psychiatry, geriatric care, or surgery, clinical managers have unique job requirements. They also keep track of policies, goals, staffing issues, and budget information.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Healthcare Administration?
With an online bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, graduates can enter the healthcare field as supervisors and managers in clinical and community settings. An undergraduate program in healthcare administration also provides students with the ability to continue onto graduate study. Earning a master's degree or Ph.D. in healthcare administration is not necessary for career advancement in the healthcare industry, but it opens up executive and leadership opportunities. Graduate degrees in healthcare administration also give learners the competencies to teach and research in healthcare.
Healthcare administration professionals interested in career advancement can earn certifications through professional organizations and pursue continuing education opportunities without pursuing a graduate degree.
Accreditation for Healthcare Administration Bachelor's Programs
Most colleges and universities in the U.S. are nationally or regionally accredited by an organization or association recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Neither CHEA nor the ED accredits academic programs, but they oversee the standards and policies of accrediting bodies. National accreditation indicates that a school provides career-oriented, technical, and vocational programs while regionally-accredited institutions offer research-based and more academically-rigorous degrees. When applying to an online healthcare administration program, accreditation is important to consider. Many regionally-accredited institutions do not accept transfer credits from nationally-accredited programs. Financial aid opportunities may also be affected by accreditation status.
In addition to national and regional accreditation, departments and degree programs may hold programmatic accreditation. Programmatic accreditation is awarded through a field-specific agency or organization. Healthcare administration programs that focus on health information technologies may hold programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
Healthcare Administration Professional Organizations
Membership to a professional organization for healthcare administration provides students and professionals with networking opportunities, continuing education programs, and field-specific resources. With access to job boards and career mentorship opportunities, students and recent graduates can connect with experienced healthcare administrators and gain valuable insights into the field. Professional organizations and associations offer webinars, publications, research updates, and other benefits to members. Through collaborations and advocacy initiatives, professional organizations and associations build communities of like-minded healthcare administration educators, practitioners, and leaders.
AAHAM brings together healthcare administrative management professionals to build relationships and foster professional growth. AAHAM provides resources on education, advocacy, and information in the healthcare administrative management field. Members have access to AAHAM's certification programs, publications, discounts at events, job listings, and an association-only listserv.
AHCAP unites administrative healthcare professionals from across the industry, providing committee and group opportunities for members to collaborate, advocate, and advance in the field. AHCAP holds the only professional development conference for administrative healthcare professionals. Members receive free webinars, newsletters, online networking opportunities, and access to professional development programs.
Founded in 1980, HCAA supports third-party administrators and self-funded entities working in the healthcare industry. Through education, networking, and advocacy, members have access to information on how to improve the quality, implementation, and value of self-funding in healthcare. Members have access to events, publications, and advertising discounts.