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Individuals who earn an online master’s in health science degree can work in clinical or nonclinical settings. Some supervise entire hospital departments, physicians’ offices, or rehabilitation facilities, while others ensure safe workplaces. Others might work for local governments, host community health seminars, or provide training to prevent and treat athletic injuries.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 28% (much faster than average) for medical and health services managers from 2021 to 2031, with a median annual salary of about $101,000 in 2021 (the most recent statistics available). The BLS predicts a 5% job growth for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians, earning a median annual salary of about $75,000. The field of athletic trainers has a projected growth of about 17%, with a median yearly salary of about $49,000.

Most schools estimate their online master’s degrees take one to two years to complete, but this depends on the number of credits and how many you take each year. An online master’s in health science takes about 30 to 45 credits, with costs ranging from about $370 to $1,300 per credit. You’ll find tuition costs vary between public and private institutions and that some schools also charge higher tuition for out-of-state students. Generally, graduate tuition for the 2020-2021 term costs around $19,750.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Health Science Program

Choose your area of study

The first step in choosing an online master’s in health science program is deciding on specific goals. Graduates can work for hospitals, consulting firms, community health organizations, governmental organizations, nonprofits, and private companies.

Some students pursue an online master’s in health science because they’re interested in a future medical school career or doctoral program in biomedical sciences. Those programs integrate several disciplines, such as anatomy, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, immunology, microbiology, and medical ethics.

Others are drawn to the administrative side of health and pursue a program to foster leadership skills to help them promote healthy policies and behaviors.

Research schools and programs

Check whether any potential school or program is accredited by a reputable entity, such as the U.S. Department of Education, the Council on Education for Public Health, or the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Programs. Accreditation ensures that a program meets specific educational standards. It also affects whether the school receives federal financial aid.

Also, take note of other requirements for the degree. Some online programs integrate modern distance teaching methods and have no in-person requirements. Others have campus-based meetings or internships. How does the school help online students meet these requirements and other obligations? Could your current job fulfill this requirement?

Lastly, to have a well-rounded learning experience, look at what other support services the school offers for online students. Is there a mentoring program or career services? Are there networking opportunities, such as an alum association? Check the school’s website, social media profiles, and marketing materials for this information, and also talk with program representatives.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each program varies in its application requirements and process. However, most online master’s degree programs in health science require:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Transcripts from previous colleges
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from professional and academic references
  • A resume or record of employment history
  • A personal essay or statement of purpose describing your plans and achievements

Some competitive programs require an interview. In addition, some programs require students to submit standardized test scores, such as those from the GRE. Applicants who need to take the GRE should prepare and sit for the exam while researching schools.

Select your program

Some students submit applications to several schools to boost their chances of acceptance, while others target a single program that aligns with their interests and needs. Whatever you decide, be aware that most schools’ application fees can add up. Contact the school about a fee waiver if you need financial assistance.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Every school with an online master’s in health science program should specify the financial support students can receive, including grants, fellowships, scholarships, assistantships, and work-study. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for federal student loans and need-based institutional aid.

Students currently employed in the healthcare field can check whether their employer’s tuition assistance benefits can offset their costs. For more detailed information about how to pay for your degree, consult with your school’s Financial Aid office.

The Top 50 Online Master’s in Health Science Programs

Best Online Master's in Health Science Programs Badge

University of South Florida

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

University of Florida

Rutgers School of Health Professions

Florida Gulf Coast University

University of Central Florida

Western Carolina University

Cleveland State University

University of Missouri

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Saint Francis University

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Liberty University

Northern Kentucky University

Bellarmine University

George Washington University

Excelsior University

Nova Southeastern University

Lock Haven University

Touro University Worldwide

Northern Illinois University

Indiana State University

Otterbein University

University of Central Arkansas

University of Mississippi Medical Center

University of Texas at Tyler

Oregon Institute of Technology

Arizona State University

University of Maryland at Baltimore County

University of Alabama

Radford University

Lindenwood University

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How We Rank Schools

Standard options for this program are a Master of Science in Allied Health, a Master of Science in Health Informatics, and a Master of Science in Health Sciences. You may also see a few arts programs, such as a Master of Arts in Nutrition.

Most online master’s in health science programs are accredited regionally, meaning that a regional organization looks at the curriculum to ensure it meets the needs of those entering these careers. Accreditations to look for include the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSCHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Health Science Program?

Online master’s in health science programs vary based on the school, but students can expect a core curriculum covering healthcare research, science, regulations, communication, and leadership skills.

Some programs might focus more on medical science, offering concentrations such as women’s health, molecular medicine, anatomy, aging, neuroscience, and research. Other programs might integrate this with administrative issues, such as legal and regulatory issues, managing personnel, overseeing budgets, and designing systems to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in health science degree program

  • Health Sciences Ethics. Students learn about fundamental ethical medical issues, such as informed consent. They also discuss considerations that general and clinical sciences must address.
  • Healthcare Systems Management. A course like this provides an extensive overview of the healthcare system in the United States, including contemporary and historical perspectives. Expect to learn more about regulatory guidance, financing, insurance, managed care, and personnel issues.
  • Introduction to Medical Sciences. Students preparing for medical school might encounter a course like this one based on medical cases that students review in small groups with a faculty member. Each case involves a series of traditional didactic lectures and learning strategies.
  • Research Methodology. This course prepares students for responsible conduct when doing research. Students also learn how to formulate research questions and find quality sources.
  • Health Science Leadership. A course like this familiarizes students with leadership models and strategies in a healthcare setting. Students also review case studies of real-world examples.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Health Science Degree?

Career outlook

Many occupations within the health sciences umbrella are forecasted to see much faster-than-average job growth through the next decade. Available positions for athletic trainers are expected to increase by 14%, and jobs for occupational health and safety specialists are expected to increase by 13%. Management positions in the health sciences, such as health services managers, are expected to see a whopping 28% job growth through 2032. Expected average salaries for jobs in this field range widely, from an average of $53,840 per year for athletic trainers to an average of $104,830 per year for health services managers.

Career paths

The health science field offers a variety of career paths, so you can choose a job that fits your strengths and interests.

Students can choose to work directly with patients or pursue a concentration that is focused more on operations. Potential industries graduates are suited for include healthcare, business, and management.

Those with a master’s in health science degree who have real-world experience may also be suited for teaching positions.

  • Athletic trainer — evaluate immediate injuries, provide first aid, and help athletes prevent future injuries through customized programs
  • Occupational health and safety specialist — evaluate working environments for potential safety and health risks and provide recommendations for improvements
  • Health services manager — manage operations, staffing, and financial health of health care services organizations
  • Athletic coach — mentor athletes in specific sports, including physical conditioning, sports-specific skills, and mental toughness
  • Exercise physiologist — evaluate clients’ physical health and provide customized exercise programs to increase cardiovascular health and strength

Athletic Trainer

Earning Potential: $39,670-$78,000 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in health science, exercise science, sports medicine, kinesiology, or related fields

Athletic trainers work directly with athletes and are responsible for reducing the risk of injury and helping athletes rehabilitate after an injury. They can work with student-athletes or those at the professional level. Athletic trainers attend practices and games and are there to immediately assess injuries and render first aid. They will call emergency medical services if necessary for more serious injuries. Athletic trainers also have some administrative duties, including staying up-to-date on changing sports regulations and ensuring the athletes and team are in compliance.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Earning Potential: $47,160-$121,150 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in health science, occupational health and safety, or related fields

Occupational health and safety specialists help make work environments safer for employees and ensure that the workplace is adhering to industry health and safety regulations. They evaluate all types of work environments, including assessing the safety of equipment and operating procedures. Occupational health and safety specialists must be familiar with the most recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and be able to provide recommendations on compliance. They often investigate safety incidents to determine what contributed to the accident and reduce the chances of it happening again.

Health Services Manager

Earning Potential: $64,100-$209,990 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in health science, healthcare administration, business, or related fields

Health services managers are focused on the operations of healthcare organizations and facilities. They are responsible for determining the short- and long-term goals of the organization, including those related to budgeting, operational efficiency, and patient care. A health services manager’s duties generally include overseeing staffing decisions, including onboarding, training, and developing current and new employees. They are involved in upper-level management meetings, which may include presenting to board members or investors, and responsible for documentation and record keeping for state and federal laws.

Online Master’s in Health Science Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in health science degree program?

Application processes vary by school. Check your potential school’s application webpage. Some schools establish an online portal for accepting applications. Others coordinate with a streamlined admissions application system, such as the Common Application or Common App, which allows students to upload their materials and apply to multiple schools.

Be sure to collect electronic or digital versions (PDFs) of all required information, such as college transcripts, letters of recommendation, work experience, and test scores. Talk with a school admissions counselor if you’re concerned about or having trouble uploading any documents.

How much does an online master’s in health science degree cost?

Costs will vary depending on the costs per credit, the number of credits per course, fees, and other expenses, such as books. Some schools charge about $370 per credit, while others charge about $1,300, depending on whether it’s a private or public institution. Some charge more for out-of-state students.

In general, for the 2020-2021 terms, graduate tuition costs around $19,750, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). An undergraduate degree costs about $25,900 a year, including tuition, fees, room, and board.

The average tuition for a private institution was about $26,000, roughly double that of a public institution at about $12,400 a year, these records show.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in health science degree?

While this depends on the curriculum, most schools estimate their online master’s programs in health science take about one to two years to complete. Attending full-time or part-time affects this timetable, as does the total number of credits. That said, you might find an accelerated program that suits your needs or a hybrid program that offers the flexibility of in-person and online learning.

Is an online master’s in health science worth it?

Pursuing an online master’s degree in health science can provide several benefits. It provides the advanced education you need for management positions and leadership roles in various industries. And these higher-level roles usually come with higher salaries. The average annual salary for someone with this degree is $81,000, but some positions can go well into the six-figure range.

A master’s degree in health science gives students the opportunity to participate in internships and capstone projects that let them apply their skills and knowledge to real-world situations. This helps build confidence and ensures graduates are ready to enter the workforce. Online degree programs still offer collaboration with other students and professors, providing networking opportunities that can be beneficial when it’s time to start applying for jobs.

Those pursuing management positions where colleagues may be remote or working asynchronously will also already have experience in these areas.

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