Online MHA Programs: Going to School Online vs. Campus for Your Healthcare Administration Master’s Degree
There are significant opportunities in healthcare administration for professionals to build promising careers. If you’re a healthcare professional or have aspirations to pursue an advantageous career in the healthcare industry, you may have considered pursuing a master’s degree in health administration (MHA) to help further your academic and professional credibility. Choosing to pursue a master’s in healthcare administration is a challenging endeavor, but a worthwhile investment for those looking to advance their career and increase their earning potential. Completing an MHA program will open the door to new leadership positions and senior decision-making roles that are often not accessible to those without a master’s level education.
Before making the difficult decision of returning to school, you must assess your future goals and career trajectory to determine whether a degree program will be an essential asset for helping you achieve your aspirations. Given the great time and monetary investment of a master’s degree, there are many life considerations one must weigh before making the decision to go back to school.
When considering which type of master’s in healthcare administration program is right for you, you will want to think about going to school online versus learning on a college campus. Naturally, there are benefits and drawbacks of both a new, but increasingly popular online format, as well as for a traditional on-campus program. To guide you through this deliberation for your master’s in healthcare administration degree, we’ve highlighted some of the pros and cons of online degrees, as well as what you can expect from the best online MHA programs.
Online Master’s vs. Campus Programs: Key Differences
Historically, online learning has been perceived as less favorable than the on-campus learning experience. However, this perception has evolved in recent years.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted one of the greatest benefits of online learning: that it’s an essential tool in ensuring education is accessible and convenient for all types of students. Not only are employers recognizing the logistical and financial benefits of online degree programs, but they’re also taking notice of the positive outcomes. In the healthcare field, employers have found online MHA programs to be just as credible as traditional campus learning. A 2018 survey found that healthcare was among the most popular fields of online study at the graduate level.
As a healthcare professional weighing the options for your master’s degree, you have likely begun to consider what the difference might be for an online MHA vs classroom learning. Here are some of the key takeaways from comparing the two learning environments.
It’s no surprise that cost is one of the biggest deciding factors when choosing whether or not to pursue your MHA. A graduate degree is a significant financial investment, and so as you explore programs, it’s important to consider tuition and fees, payment options, and financial aid programs.
Online MHA degrees tend to be significantly more affordable than campus programs. Not only is tuition itself usually lower, but additional savings come by way of lower-cost learning materials, such as e-books. And, because online MHA degrees are completed remotely, you won’t have fees related to relocating or room and board.
One of the greatest advantages of online MHA programs is the flexibility of self-paced learning. For adult learners and working professionals who are already managing a busy schedule, committing to the restrictive schedule of campus learning might not be a viable option.
Most online programs are offered in both synchronous (fixed) or asynchronous (flexible) schedules. Asynchronous programs give students the flexibility to manage their coursework around their already busy schedule to meet broader deadlines.
Online degrees often have shorter completion times than traditional campus programs, which means working professionals can earn their master’s degrees at an accelerated pace - and can start advancing their career sooner.
While many online programs are truly 100% remote, some online MHA degrees require an in-person residency or on-site clinical experience. This is an important aspect to take note of when researching online master’s programs.
These are valuable learning experiences, so it’s no wonder many of the top-ranked master’s of health administration degree programs offer a faculty-guided residency as part of their curriculum. Residencies - which can be offered on campus, at a healthcare facility, or both - give you a chance to apply practical knowledge and skills from your coursework to real-world scenarios.
Residency work also allows you to explore new positions or different healthcare disciplines, which can be instrumental in helping you define your future career plans. Finally, campus-based residencies allow you the chance to build connections with faculty members and classmates from various professional backgrounds.
However, if you are already working in the healthcare administration industry and have years of experience under your belt, this form of experiential learning may not be a priority for you.
Some of the benefits of a traditional on-campus MHA program include the immediacy of learning and deeper connection with faculty and fellow students that comes more naturally with in-person communication. While face-to-face learning has often been considered more engaging and more conducive to networking opportunities, online learning has come a long way in creating a more collaborative and inclusive experience. Increased accessibility, more user-friendly functionality, and improved learning management and video-conferencing platforms have all made online programs more seamless and interactive.
There are certain campus amenities and resources, such as lab facilities, that are not available for students participating in remote learning. Some students also benefit from the rigid class structure of on-campus learning to keep them on track with their work. A traditional campus-learning environment might be better suited for students right out of an undergraduate program, who are looking for a more traditional classroom environment that aligns with their undergraduate experience.
Online master’s programs are ideal for all students, given the accessibility and lack of geographic limitations, but they are especially fitting for working professionals and adult learners looking to advance their careers in the midst of their day-to-day professional lives.
What to Expect from an Online MHA Degree
Champlain’s Master’s in Healthcare Administration
The online master’s in healthcare administration program offered by Champlain College Online (CCO) is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and ranked among the best online graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report.
Focusing on the real-world application of the program curriculum, the online MHA degree equips students with the technical knowledge, interdisciplinary strategies, and best practices for initiating positive change within healthcare organizations. Taught by experts in their field, CCO’s online MHA program is designed to reflect current industry needs and teach the in-demand skill sets necessary to succeed in healthcare administration positions.
This interdisciplinary degree program includes courses relating to healthcare and finance, law, information systems, project management, leadership, and innovation. As a 100% remote program, the online master’s in healthcare administration degree is specifically designed with accessibility in mind.
If you are a healthcare professional looking to pursue an online MHA degree, you may have concerns related to the level of time and effort required to successfully complete your degree. You may be asking yourself, how hard are online master’s degrees? With a time commitment of only 15-20 hours a week, the online master’s in healthcare administration program is designed to fit the busy schedules of working professionals. Students can return to school without having to leave their current job, and can begin applying the practical knowledge from the curriculum in their everyday professional lives from day one.
Champlain’s Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Administration
If you are interested in enhancing your credentials and advancing your career in healthcare, but are not in the position to currently pursue a master’s degree, consider advancing your expertise with an online certificate program. CCO’s online graduate certificate program in health administration pulls key learning outcomes and courses from the master’s degree program to provide an advanced and integrative core curriculum.
This graduate certificate can be embedded in Champlain’s online MHA program if you decide to pursue a master’s degree in the future. The credits from the certificate program will transfer into the master’s program so you will be able to earn your master’s degree even quicker.
Healthcare Administration: Job and Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare administration occupations is projected to grow by 18 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all fields. Additionally, the median salary for professionals with a master’s degree is $72,800.
With a valuable combination of healthcare expertise and the critical soft skills needed in advanced roles, graduates of Champlain's master's in healthcare administration program will be prepared to pursue leadership roles in the field, where jobs are both in abundance and financially rewarding. Some of our MHA alumni have found career opportunities in the following roles:
- Director of Materials Management
- Director of Performance & Productivity
- Radiology Supervisor
- Healthcare Consultant
- Health Services Manager
- Hospital Administrator
- Nursing Director
- Program Manager
Learn more about Champlain College Online’s online MHA program, including course learning outcomes, program curriculum, costs, and how to apply.
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