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Students who graduate with a master’s degree in health services are qualified to pursue various careers in the healthcare industry. They can seek employment as a health consultant, health information manager, social and community service manager, healthcare financial manager, hospital CEO, medical staff director, medical coding and billing manager, patient advocate, and other positions in the healthcare space. Graduates can look for work in hospitals, private practices, specialty clinics, nursing homes, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, and public health agencies.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for health service managers in 2021 was $101,340. Individuals who rise to the level of hospital executive can earn a median annual salary of $98,980. In 2020-21, the average cost of a master’s program at a public university was $12,394, while average tuition at private institutions was $26,621, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Completing this degree takes one to two years of full-time study.

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

Choose your area of study

Since those holding a master’s in health services are qualified to work in many different areas of health care, students planning to pursue this degree should know their desired career path before choosing a program.

For example, various programs offer concentrations in gerontology, data analytics, health information, business administration, financial management, policy analysis, information technology, social and professional media, and more. Additionally, most programs require an internship or field experience, and these could be in a private or public health facility. It’s important to make sure such internships are available locally.

Research schools and programs

After deciding on a specific area of study, it’s time to start researching various schools and programs. Look for those that offer concentrations and internships that align with your career path. Start by going to the school’s website and navigating to the page for the program you’re interested in. You’ll find that university websites vary quite a bit; some have many details about their programs, while others ask you to fill out a form to receive more information via email or telephone. You may also want to contact an admissions counselor for any specific questions you have.

Gathering information about the academic components of programs is essential, but there are other factors to consider as well:

  • Is the school accredited? As important as academic criteria are, you should first check the school’s accreditation. Apply only to those accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. If the school isn’t properly accredited, you won’t be eligible for federal financial aid via grants, loans, and work-study programs. You could also have a problem with future postsecondary programs you apply to, as most institutions only accept degrees from accredited universities. Regarding employment, your degree will open many more doors if it’s from an accredited school. Students may also want to seek out programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  • What is the cost of the program? Before diving into research on a program, check the tuition costs. You should have an idea of how much you can spend on your degree, and if the tuition of a certain program is significantly more, you may want to focus on other options.
  • What is the learning format? Online programs come in three formats — synchronous, asynchronous, and a combination of both. If you need maximum control over your schedule, then an asynchronous program is the best choice, as this format doesn’t have any scheduled classes. Synchronous means classes are held in real-time at pre-designated times. Some students prefer this, as it allows them to interact more closely with other students and instructors. Other programs combine both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Determine which format is best for you.
  • Where is the school located? Although you plan to study online, you may wish to participate in on-campus activities such as in-person orientations, career days, student clubs and organizations, sporting events, and other activities. Additionally, some universities offer a hybrid format only, where students must attend some classes on campus. Because of these factors, the school’s location may be something to consider when choosing a master’s program.

Prepare for tests and applications

Most schools offer detailed information about their admissions processes on their website, but if you need clarification on requirements or deadlines, contact the school’s admissions office. Also, check to see if there is a deadline to submit applications and supporting documentation or if the program takes applications on a rolling basis.

For a master’s program, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some colleges require that the degree is in a related field or that students completed prerequisite undergraduate coursework.

A standard master’s degree application includes the following:

  • Completed application and fee
  • Official transcripts from previously attended colleges
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Resume
  • GRE scores

Select your program

Once you’ve determined your area of study and done your research, use the information you gathered to compile a list of programs you want to apply to. Arrange them in order of preference. Instead of applying to just your favorite, apply to all that are on your list. This degree has rather stringent admissions requirements, and there is a lot of competition for places, so keeping your options open is a good idea. From the acceptance letters you receive, choose the program that ranks highest on your list.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

You may be eligible for financial aid from the U.S. government through grants, loans, and work-study programs, but to be considered, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Some universities offer financing, or it may be possible to pay for each course separately as you work through the program. Students with previously earned college credits beyond a bachelor’s degree may be able to transfer their credits, thus reducing the number of courses needed for the degree. Scholarships and fellowships may be available from the institution or outside organizations. Past and present military members can often get tuition at a reduced rate. If you’re working while earning your master’s degree, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance benefits.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Health Services Programs

Best Online Master's in Health Services Degree Programs

MSU Broad College of Business

University of Rhode Island

University of Central Florida

Saint Joseph's University

Medical University of South Carolina

Oklahoma State University

Regis University

Colorado State University Global

University of Cincinnati

Mississippi College

University of Denver

Ohio University

Boston College

Purdue University

University of Southern California

Azusa Pacific University

Seton Hall University

Concordia University Irvine

Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Clarkson College

Florida International University

Drexel University

Liberty University

University of North Texas

University of Southern Mississippi

Central Michigan University

University of Detroit Mercy

Robert Morris University

American University

Simmons University

FAU College of Business

GW University Milken Institute School of Public Health

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of West Florida

University of Massachusetts

Penn State College of Health and Human Development

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Weber State University

University of Missouri

California State University at Long Beach

Saint Louis University

University of Saint Francis

University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Columbia Mailman School of Public Health

Georgetown University

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How We Rank Schools

We concentrated our research on programs that offer master’s degrees in health services or a related field. The most common types of degrees granted in this field are a Master of Health Science (MHS) or a Master of Science (MS).

All of the programs on our list can be completed fully or primarily through distance learning. In some cases, schools offer students the option to complete their degree through a combination of in-person and online classes.

As a measure of quality, all of the schools on our list have regional accreditation. Several programs are also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

We evaluated the programs based on their flexibility, faculty, cost, outcomes, and reputation. Then, we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

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

The curricula in most master’s in health services programs place emphasis on managing a healthcare business, but there is a growing trend toward introducing a health science-based approach, where students receive industry-specific training for a more well-rounded education. Coursework can be challenging, as it covers a range of subjects from legal issues and planning strategies to funding, staff development, and risk management. Students must learn about both business and healthcare and understand how these two different disciplines intersect and work together.

Online students receive course material via an online learning management system (LMS). Among the most popular are Blackboard, Canvas, D2L Brightspace, and Moodle, but some universities have their own proprietary system. This is where students can access their course syllabi, schedules, reading and audio-video material, class assignments, announcements, grades, and message boards or chat features to communicate with classmates and instructors.

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

  • Health delivery systems. In this course, students examine various health delivery systems that operate in the United States. They learn about how these function in both the public and private sectors as well as current issues that will change and shape these systems over the next few years.
  • Healthcare data analytics. Data analytics is a vital part of any healthcare system, and this course teaches students how to select, prepare, analyze, interpret, evaluate, and present healthcare data in order to improve both performance and effectiveness. The course also covers various technologies and tools that are common in the industry today.
  • Ethical and legal issues in health administration. Students learn about how healthcare has evolved along with the legal landscape over the years. The course covers patient rights, malpractice, contracts, liability, consent, and how healthcare administrators can navigate these elements to benefit patients and healthcare institutions.
  • Financial management of healthcare systems. Students are prepared to move into executive positions in healthcare institutions, including creating and implementing policies related to budgeting, capital financing, investing, auditing, and other financial matters.

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

Career outlook

A master’s in health services prepares you for a variety of leadership and management roles in healthcare. That’s a solid career position to set yourself up for, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the job market for medical and health service managers is expected to grow at a rate of 28% through 2032. That’s much faster than the average for all other jobs in the nation.

Salaries are also competitive in this field. The median annual pay for medical and health services managers is $104,830. Those in administrative services or facilities management make around $101,870 per year. Individuals who eventually rise into executive roles can experience salaries in the healthcare field of about $169,440 per year, and many experienced leaders make much more.

Career paths

Health services degrees can open doors to flexible non-clinical career paths within the medical field. This often allows students to leverage existing experience, such as working as a nurse or a background in medical records or billing.

Organizations that employ individuals with master’s degrees in health services range from hospitals and large clinics to pharmaceutical companies and research labs. Government and public agencies, nursing homes, mental health and rehab facilities, and medical schools may also be interested in such candidates.

Potential jobs you might qualify for with this degree depend on the hiring organization. Some possible health services career paths include:

  • Hospital administrator – oversee the day-to-day operations of a hospital, including managing policies and procedures and supporting the quality of patient care
  • Medical office director – manage the front- and back-end departments associated with a hospital, clinic, or other medical organization, including patient registration, claims billing, and insurance verification
  • Healthcare consultant – offer your knowledge and experience to healthcare organizations to help improve patient outcomes or improve processes to save costs

Hospital Administrator

Earning Potential: $222,865 to $328,080 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in Health Services, Business Administration, Health Science or another relevant degree

Hospital administrators are responsible for daily operations across various departments, if not the entire facility. They work with both clinical and non-clinical department heads and create strategic plans to ensure efficient financial operations while supporting optimal patient care. Hospital administrators are often involved in decisions related to vendor selection and implementation, supply management, and staffing. This leadership position may be staffed by someone with a clinical background, but that is not always the case. However, anyone stepping into this role would need comprehensive knowledge of hospital processes as well as an understanding of medical billing and healthcare accounting.

Public Health Program Manager

Earning Potential: $68,024 to $92,627 annually
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s in health services or another relevant degree

The exact duties of a public health program manager depend heavily on the type of organization they are working for. In general, these healthcare leaders oversee programs within communities to support overall health and wellness, raise awareness for certain diseases, or provide medical care for at-risk populations. In these roles, public health program managers may oversee others, work on fundraising initiatives, collaborate with marketing staff, support clinical volunteers and staff, report to sponsors or charity leaders, and act as a liaison for professionals or others within the community. Public health program managers may oversee entire facilities, individual departments, or projects related to grants or programs.

Healthcare Consultant

Earning Potential: $73,963 to $111,582 annually
Education Required: Master’s in Health Services, Business, Operations, or another relevant field

Healthcare consultants offer their expertise to a variety of medical and wellness organizations. The exact nature of a healthcare consultant’s job depends on their background. For example, someone with an IT background and a master’s in health services may offer consulting that bridges the gaps between healthcare facility cost, patient care, and technical needs. Likewise, a former nurse manager might leverage a master’s in health services to provide clinical consulting to support better patient outcomes, improved healthcare education, or better compliance. Often, healthcare consultants work to help organizations reduce risks, increase patient satisfaction, minimize cost, or leverage new payer opportunities.

Online Master’s in Health Services Degree Frequently Asked Questions

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

Students can typically submit their applications and supplemental materials online. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is required. While it may not have to be in a related field, some universities require applicants to have some work experience in the healthcare sector. All transcripts from previous postsecondary education should be submitted, and there is a minimum GPA requirement, generally between 2.7 and 3.3.

Along with the application and transcripts, applicants should be prepared to submit their resumes, one or more letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay explaining their professional experience, goals, and reasons for wanting to take this program.

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

An online master’s in health services costs between $16,000 and $33,000. A school’s status as a public or private university will influence its base tuition rate and a student’s state of residency. Online students can also expect to pay fees for technical support, books, supplies, and university services.

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

Depending on the university, this program requires up to 48 credit hours and can usually be completed in one or two years with full-time study. Part-time options are available at some schools, and part-time students can complete the degree within three to five years.

Is an online master’s in health services degree worth it?

If you have a heart for patient care or enjoy complex administrative puzzles, an online master’s in health services degree can help you step into the next chapter in your career. These programs prepare students to become leaders in the medical and healthcare fields and provide the knowledge and skills required to use existing experience for added impact in that space.

Salaries related to this degree can range from $60,000 to $300,000 or more, depending on the role you end up in and what type of organization you work for. For example, the average hospital director salary in the United States is $108,028, and that’s just one of the many positions a health services degree prepares you for.

An online master’s in health services degree is often customizable so students can dig deep into the areas of health services and management they’re most interested in. Coursework tends to cover topics such as healthcare data management and analysis, healthcare revenue cycle management, healthcare human resources and staff management, compliance, and ethics. You’ll also likely learn about public health issues, policy and management, and the growing trends in global health systems.