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If you’re seeking high-level positions in health services with the opportunity to make lasting impacts on the field, finding the right master’s in health services degree program is crucial. The best programs are designed to cultivate leadership, strategic management, and healthcare policy analysis skills to prepare graduates for successful careers. Many graduates pursue careers as Medical and Health Service Managers, earning a median salary of $110,680 annually.

With average completion times ranging from 18 months to two years and an average cost of $19,749, these programs provide a significant return on investment for those dedicated to improving healthcare systems.

How to Choose a Master’s in Health Services Program

Choose your area of study

For many individuals, choosing a specialization for your master’s in health services degree program is essential. It allows you to further center your academic pursuits around your career goals, making you a more competitive hire in specific sectors.

For example, students interested in leveraging technology to improve healthcare delivery may thrive in health informatics, preparing for roles that use data-driven insights to enhance patient care. Those passionate about shaping policy and managing healthcare organizations may enjoy specializing in health policy and administration, where they will eventually pursue careers as healthcare administrators or policy analysts. Meanwhile, students interested in addressing broader public health issues will excel in a concentration like population health management, preparing to take on roles as public health program coordinators or community health workers.

Research schools and programs

With your specialization in mind, you can begin researching schools and programs that can support your interests. You may come into this process with some questions of your own, but here are a few to help guide your research further:

  • Does a reputable accrediting body accredit the program?
  • What is the reputation of the program and the institution?
  • What are the faculty’s credentials, and can they support my academic interests?
  • What is the average class size and student-to-faculty ratio?
  • What are the career outcomes for graduates, and what support services are provided for career development?

Most of this information will be readily available on program websites, but many students also benefit from contacting an admissions counselor or attending an information session.

Prepare for tests and applications

Once you’ve narrowed down your potential schools, it’s time to begin preparing for tests and applications. Start by gathering necessary materials — like transcripts and letters of recommendation — as these can take longer than many students anticipate. Getting these in order at least three months in advance will help you stay ahead.

Next, devote ample time to writing your personal statement, highlighting your academic achievements and career goals. For programs requiring GRE scores, enroll in a test prep program well before your planned test date. These programs are proven to boost scores and can ultimately make you a more competitive applicant.

Select your program

The arrival of acceptance letters is always exciting, but it also means that you may have a big decision: which school will you ultimately attend?

You can make this decision easier by revisiting your initial research criteria to evaluate which program best aligns with your goals. Examine how well each school performs in the areas that matter most to you — whether that’s specialization availability, curriculum relevance, or the faculty you’ll learn from.

This is also a prime opportunity to assess the total cost of attendance and compare it with available financial aid options, which will help ensure that your ideal program is financially feasible.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

At the outset, obtaining graduate-level education may seem expensive, but many financial aid resources can help you fund your degree without incurring a debt burden.

Start by prioritizing scholarships and grants, as they don’t require repayment. If you’re seeking part-time work, consider assistantships — these typically provide a stipend while gaining resume-boosting experience. Those currently employed and planning to stay in the same field may be eligible for employer tuition reimbursement, which can significantly reduce costs. Lastly, if you need additional financial help, seek federal loans for their more favorable terms — including lower interest rates and more flexible repayment plans.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Health Services Programs

Best Master's in Health Services Degree Programs_2024 badge

University of Central Florida

The University of Oklahoma

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

University of Arizona

Xavier University

University of Michigan

Mississippi College

Northwestern University

Mercy University

University of South Carolina

Russell Sage College

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

We reviewed many master’s in health services degree programs, including both Master of Science (MS) and Master of Health Science (MHS) programs. Online, on-campus, and hybrid options are all included.

Each school in this list has regional accreditation, and a number of these options also have programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Attending an accredited program guarantees the quality of your education.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Health Services Program?

A master’s in health services offers a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of healthcare systems, preparing students for several different roles in healthcare. Throughout these programs, students delve into various aspects of health services management, policy, economics, and analytics. You’ll learn to navigate complex healthcare systems, analyze data to improve patient outcomes, and develop leadership skills to drive organizational change.

While some programs may offer the option of completing a thesis, many emphasize practical experience through additional coursework or a capstone project. This hands-on approach allows students to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world challenges, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Typically, completing this degree takes 18 months to two years, depending on the program’s structure and individual course loads.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in health services program

  • Health Services Administration: A cornerstone in most curriculums, this course provides an overview of healthcare management and administration principles. Students learn about organizational structures, strategic planning, budgeting, human resource management, and quality improvement in healthcare settings. Lessons may involve exploring care studies and engaging in discussions to understand the challenges facing healthcare administrators and the skills to address them effectively.
  • Health Policy and Advocacy: In this course, students examine the development, implementation, and evaluation of health policies at local, national, and global levels. They analyze policy-making processes, stakeholders’ roles, and the impact of policies on healthcare delivery and population health. Through discussions, debates, and policy analysis projects, students learn to assess healthcare policies critically and advocate for changes to improve health outcomes.
  • Healthcare Analytics: This course uses data analytics and statistical methods to inform decision-making and improve healthcare delivery. Participants learn to collect, analyze, and interpret healthcare data to identify trends, predict patient outcomes, and optimize resource allocation. They gain hands-on experience with data visualization tools and predictive modeling techniques, improving their ability to drive evidence-based decision-making in healthcare organizations.
  • Quality Improvement in Healthcare: Often deemed an elective, this course explores strategies and methods for assessing and improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare services. Students learn about quality measurement frameworks, performance metrics, and continuous improvement methods such as Lean and Six Sigma.

Master’s in Health Services Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in health services degree program?

While some admission requirements will vary depending on the institution, many programs share some common criteria — including the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Official transcripts from all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework
  • Letters of recommendation, usually two to three
  • A statement of purpose
  • GRE scores, if required

Don’t hesitate to contact an admissions counselor before applying. They can help ensure that you understand program requirements, admission criteria, and any specific application instructions.

How much does a master's in health services degree cost?

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the average tuition for graduate programs was $19,749. However, this figure can fluctuate based on whether the institution is public or private and whether students qualify for in-state residency, which often reduces tuition prices significantly.

In addition to tuition, you’ll want to budget for other expenses like housing, commuting, textbooks, and course materials. These costs can add up over time and should be factored into your overall budget for pursuing higher education.

How long does it take to earn a master's in health services degree?

The time it takes to earn this degree will vary depending on whether you enroll part-time or full-time. Most full-time students can complete the program in 18 months to two years, while part-time students may take three to four years or longer.

Considering each program’s required credits is important, as this can significantly impact completion timelines. Generally speaking, the more credits required — the longer it’ll take to complete.