Bachelors in Health Administration
The field of healthcare administration is growing fast, and so is the demand for qualified candidates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field is projected to grow by 20% between 2016 to 2026 — which is much faster than the average.
While years ago, anyone with a general business degree or a strong employment record could easily find work opportunities, today employers seek people with specific credentials in their field. A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration is almost mandatory for all but the most entry-level jobs.
A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration is designed to prepare you for leadership and management positions within the healthcare field. The goal is to build your skills in human resources, organizational leadership, operations, and finance. Regardless of where you want to work or what you want to do in the field, the path almost certainly begins with a degree in healthcare administration.
This page provides an overview of what to expect from a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, including:
- What you can do with a bachelor’s degree
- How to get a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration
- The difference between a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts in healthcare administration
- Degree admission requirements
- The types of courses to expect in a degree program
- How to choose a program
- Online degree programs
- Licensure and certification requirements
- Resources for students and professionals in the field
What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration?
Career opportunities for a bachelor’s degree in health administration (or healthcare administration) are diverse and varied, offering career paths for many different skill sets. Most of the careers available to someone with a bachelor’s degree are entry-level. While there are plenty of opportunities for growth within a position, a master’s degree may be necessary to advance in the field — and a bachelor’s degree is the best way to begin.
Different Career Paths in Healthcare Administration
The following are examples of just some of the career paths available in healthcare administration. A bachelor’s degree in health administration will prepare you for entry-level positions in these fields.
- Administrative services management: Administrative service professionals deal with the day-to-day operations of medical offices.
- Human resources management: Because much of the healthcare system involves hiring and managing people, human resources is an essential aspect of healthcare administration.
- Finance: With the increasing complexity of medical billing systems, there is a strong need for professionals with a healthcare-specific financial background. In this profession, you might work in healthcare finance, which focuses on Medicare, Medicaid, third-party payors, etc., or business finance, which deals with managing the finances of the institution you work in.
- Health Informatics: Health informatics allows healthcare and IT to intersect and is an emerging aspect of the field. (You will most likely need IT training as well.)
- Public health: Public health is a wide field, but at its core, it’s about working at the community level to prevent illness and manage diseases.
- Public policy and administration: The public policy aspect of the healthcare sector works with systemic issues regarding how policy affects healthcare delivery.
- Healthcare management: Hospitals and clinics are large institutions. A healthcare administration degree provides a foundation in organizational, operations, and systems management.
- Long-term care: With an aging population, nursing homes need professionals who can manage operations within their facilities.
How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
The healthcare industry is projected to grow 18% from 2016 to 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Along with this growth, the complexity of healthcare systems is increasing, and the need for professionals with bachelor’s degrees in health administration is expanding. A 120-credit bachelor’s program (which could take four years to complete full-time) will put you on a path to entry-level positions within the field.
Bachelor of Arts vs. Bachelor of Science
There are some subtle differences between Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs.
A B.A. in healthcare administration usually involves more liberal arts credit requirements such as humanities and social sciences, which are designed to create well-rounded critical thinkers. If you’re looking to work in health policy, public health, or management, the liberal arts coursework will bolster your learning around societal contexts of healthcare.
A B.S. in healthcare administration typically focuses on technical skills related to the field. If you’re interested in working in health IT or with medical records, this might be the path to take.
There are some additional variations on these degree titles, such as a Bachelor of Healthcare Administration (B.H.A.), which could refer to either a B.S. or B.A. but might also be a standalone degree.
Admission requirements vary by school and program. Because you’re pursuing an undergraduate degree, you’ll need to be admitted by the college or university in general, but you may also be required to submit an additional application to the healthcare administration program.
Minimum GPA requirements are often between 2.5 and 3.0. You’ll need to submit all (or most of) the following: an application for admissions, transcripts, letters of recommendation, your ACT or SAT scores, and an application fee.
Types of Courses You Will Take
While the required coursework varies by program, the following are examples of the types of courses you might expect from a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration:
- Economics of healthcare: This type of course explores how economic theories apply to the healthcare industry.
- Healthcare ethics and law: You’ll gain an introduction to the healthcare laws governing the field and an overview of the relevant ethical and moral issues.
- Healthcare finance and accounting: Courses in finance look at the overall financial operations of healthcare institutions.
- Public policy and healthcare: Public policy focuses on the historical, political, economic, and social aspects that determine the current (and future) healthcare systems in the country.
- Public health (or population health): These courses introduce healthcare in the context of a community and the idea of social determinants of health — or how social status, physical environment, and location lead to health impact.
- Human resources management: Courses focus on managing a variety of healthcare professionals.
- Marketing and communications in healthcare: Some courses might focus more on the business of communications and marketing within the healthcare system, while others focus on the leadership components of communications.
How to Choose a Program
There are a variety of factors that come into play when deciding on a program. Here are a few things to take into consideration:
- Accreditation: Accrediting bodies are dedicated to ensuring the quality of programming and education across specific degree programs. For healthcare administration degrees, the top groups that assess for quality and credibility include the Association of University Programs in Health Administration and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. Note that degree programs only need to be accredited by one body, so the absence of one shouldn’t be a mark against the program.
- Bachelor of Science vs. Bachelor of Arts: As noted previously, the course of study differs slightly between a B.S. and a B.A. If you’re looking for a more technical degree leading to a career in informatics/IT in healthcare or statistics, a B.S. may be the way to go. For a more holistic perspective on healthcare, a B.A. might be the best option.
- Concentration or program area: Think about what type of healthcare career you want to pursue or what kind of skills or knowledge you’re drawn to when researching programs and look for ones that offer coursework or concentrations that match your interests. For example, you might focus on project management, quality management, disaster emergency management, just to name a few.
- Online vs. in-person: Not all schools offer online degree programs, and not all people are suited to them. Consider some of the information in our “Online Bachelor’s Programs” to determine whether an online course is right for you.
- Financial aid/tuition: Sometimes it mostly comes down to finances. Some programs are less expensive than others or may have more robust financial aid options. Look beyond the typical loan offerings and see if there are work-study options to help offset your tuition costs. Other options might include grants, scholarships, and employee tuition programs.
Online Bachelor’s Programs
Online bachelor’s programs in healthcare administration are growing increasingly and are opening up educational opportunities to anyone interested in the field. Although most online programs also require real-world application, they might still be the better choice for you.
Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online coursework.
Advantages of an online program:
- They are more flexible. You can easily adapt your class schedule to your household responsibilities and your work or family obligations.
- You will learn with students globally rather than just locally.
- You can take your classes and study from anywhere. While occasionally you might have to participate in an online live course, you can do it from your dining room table or even a coffee shop.
- With access to more than the programs in your geographic region, you’re more likely to find the program that’s right for you without having to make a move.
- Because you can continue to work and you’re not spending money on transportation or moving costs, more of your money can go directly to your education.
Disadvantages of an online program:
- You will have less face-to-face time with faculty and fellow students.
- You need a degree of self-discipline and good time management skills to thrive in such a flexible school environment.
Licensure or Certification
Licensure and certification aren’t necessarily required across all careers within the healthcare administration field. Most healthcare administrators aren’t required to earn a license — an exception is for nursing home administrators who are subject to federal guidelines. However, some states might require licenses and/or certifications for specific jobs; in general, the requirements apply more to senior-level positions.
However, there are advantages to getting certified, even if your state doesn’t require it. With certification, you will stand out more as a candidate. And there might be some employers who have more stringent guidelines and require certification, regardless of state requirements.
Examples of post-baccalaureate certifications include Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM), Certified Medical Manager (CMM), American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) certification, and Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS).
Take a look into specific career options and make sure to determine whether certification is required for that career.
Resources for Healthcare Administration Students and Professionals
Whether you’re on your way to achieving your degree or you’re already working in healthcare administration, there are many resources that can help you take the next steps in your career. See our Healthcare Administration Resources page for more information about organizations, tools, and other resources that can help you make the most of your education.
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