Health Services Degree & Career Guide

What to expect from a health services degree program

A health services career opens the door to many versatile and rewarding careers, offering students a comprehensive understanding of healthcare administration, policy, and management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow much faster than average, adding 1.8 million jobs each year. Graduates frequently pursue various healthcare-related careers, such as nurses, medical and health services managers, healthcare administrators, and medical assistants.

Degrees in health services range from associate degrees for roles like medical assistants to bachelor’s degrees for healthcare management and master’s or doctorate degrees for advanced positions such as nurse practitioners or healthcare executives.

Types of health services degrees

Associate degree

An associate degree is ideal for students committed to patient care who prefer a shorter academic path. Graduates can secure entry-level positions as medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, or nursing assistants. Most curriculums include foundational anatomy, medical terminology, and healthcare ethics courses, with hands-on clinical experiences to provide practical skills. This degree often serves as a stepping stone for students eager to start their careers and, later on, pursue higher-level qualifications if needed.

  • Degrees available: Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)
  • Minimum credits: 60
  • Average length of program: 2 years full-time

Bachelor’s degree

Designed for those aspiring to take on leadership roles in the healthcare sector, a bachelor’s degree in health services prepares students for various positions, such as healthcare administrator, health services manager, and public health analyst. The curriculum typically includes coursework in healthcare policy, finance, and organizational behavior, and students often engage in internships or supervised fieldwork to gain practical experience in real-world healthcare settings. These experiential components, combined with academic work, equip graduates with a comprehensive skill set to navigate the everyday intricacies of healthcare management.

  • Degrees available: Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration or Bachelor of Health Administration (BHA)
  • Minimum credits: 120
  • Average length of program: 4 years full-time

Master’s degree

Catering to individuals seeking advanced leadership roles in healthcare administration, policy development, and strategic management, a master’s degree in health services is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in a related field and a passion for shaping the future of healthcare delivery. Graduates often pursue careers as healthcare executives, health policy analysts, or health services consultants. Curriculums include advanced topics like healthcare economics, quality improvement, and strategic planning. Some programs may involve a capstone project or internship, providing hands-on experience and a practical application of learned skills.

  • Degrees available: Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science (MS), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Minimum credits: 36
  • Average length of program: 2 years full-time

Doctorate degree

For highly motivated students seeking the pinnacle of expertise in healthcare leadership, research, and academia, a doctorate in health services can be an excellent way to achieve a significant goal. This program is geared towards those with a master’s degree in a related field and cultivates advanced skills for executive positions, policy formulation, and scholarly contributions. Graduates typically transition into roles such as healthcare executives, chief medical officers, or professors, shaping the next generation of healthcare leaders. Most programs emphasize original research, advanced health policy analysis, and a substantial dissertation in their curriculums. While clinical or internship requirements may vary, many programs integrate practical experiences, enabling students to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world healthcare challenges.

  • Degrees available: Doctorate of Health Administration (DHA), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Minimum credits: 60
  • Average length of program: 4 years full-time

Specialization options

Pursuing a health services degree can bring many opportunities within this dynamic field. Whether you’re drawn to the administrative side, passionate about community health, or eager to dive into cutting-edge technologies, the health services industry offers a spectrum of specializations.

  • Healthcare Administration: This concentration involves managing and coordinating healthcare services, overseeing facility operations, and ensuring efficient delivery of patient care. Students may pursue careers as healthcare administrators, medical and health service managers, and hospital executives.
  • Health Informatics: This field integrates technology and data analysis to enhance healthcare information systems, improving patient outcomes and organizational efficiency. Graduates often seek roles such as health informatics specialists, health IT managers, or clinical informaticists.
  • Public Health: This specialization concentrates on community health, disease prevention, and health promotion at the population level, often involving policy development and advocacy. Individuals typically pursue roles as epidemiologists, public health analysts, health educators, or community health advocates.
  • Health Policy and Management: This field explores the development, implementation, and evaluation of healthcare policies, as well as strategic management in healthcare organizations. Graduates pursue careers as health policy analysts, healthcare consultants, or policy advisors.
  • Global Health: This concentration addresses healthcare challenges worldwide, including infectious diseases, health disparities, and international healthcare policy and delivery. Students often seek roles as global health researchers or international health consultants.

The Best Health Services Degree Programs

This list features some of the best health services degree programs in the U.S. The schools on this list are non-profit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with high standards for post-secondary education.

We evaluated each degree program on tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and student resources as well as admission, retention, and graduation rates. We also compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, including U.S. News & World Report. Using this data, we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Online Associate Degrees

Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Online Master’s Degrees

Online Doctorate Degrees

What Can I Do With a Degree in Health Services?

At any degree level, health services graduates can pursue multiple career paths crucial to healthcare. Associate degree holders often enter entry-level clinical roles like medical assisting or pursue further education. Bachelor’s degree graduates may find opportunities in health administration, research, or public health, while master’s and doctorate holders often seek leadership roles, policy analysis, or advanced clinical practice.

The job outlook for health services careers is mainly positive, with the demand increasing due to evolving healthcare needs, technological advancements, and an emphasis on preventative care.

Some of the fastest-growing occupations include the following:

Medical Assistant

Median annual salary: $38,270 
Job outlook: 14% increase through 2032

Medical assistants are crucial in healthcare settings, supporting administrative and clinical functions. Their responsibilities include recording patient histories, measuring vital signs, assisting with examinations, and handling administrative tasks like scheduling appointments and managing medical records. While some individuals enter this role with a certificate, many employers prefer candidates with an associate degree.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Median annual salary: $104,830
Job outlook: 28% increase through 2032

Individuals in this role are vital to the efficient operation of healthcare facilities for their ability to oversee and coordinate various healthcare services. Their responsibilities encompass managing staff, ensuring compliance with regulations, and optimizing the delivery of patient care. They may also be involved in budgeting, strategic planning, and implementing policies to enhance the overall efficiency of healthcare organizations. To pursue this career, you typically need a bachelor’s degree.


Median annual salary: $78,520
Job outlook: 27% increase through 2032

Epidemiologists are public health professionals who specialize in investigating patterns and causes of diseases and injuries within populations. These experts collect and analyze data to understand the spread and impact of diseases, identify risk factors, and develop disease prevention and control strategies. Typically, a master’s degree is required for this role.

Student Resources and Organizations

Deciding on a degree in health services is a significant decision. For further information on health services degrees, consider exploring the following resources:

High school students may benefit from joining organizations like HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), which allows students to explore healthcare careers through competitions, leadership development, and community service. Additionally, involvement in science clubs or volunteering at healthcare facilities can improve their understanding and commitment to the field.

Certificates offer a focused and accelerated option if you’re considering alternative pathways. Certificate programs in health service provide specialized skills in areas like medical assisting or healthcare administration, allowing quicker entry into the workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions: Health Services Degrees

Should I get a health services degree in person or online?

Whether to pursue your degree online or in person will depend on your preferences and lifestyle, as both options have their merits. In-person programs provide face-to-face interaction, which may suit those who thrive in structured settings. On the other hand, online degrees offer flexibility, enabling students to balance their academic endeavors with work or other commitments. Ultimately, this decision will hinge on your learning style and time constraints, as both formats can lead to successful careers.

Is a health services degree worth it?

A health services degree is worth the investment, given the expanding opportunities and positive return on investment (ROI). Graduates often experience substantial job prospects and competitive salaries in various healthcare roles. Positions in healthcare administration, management, and specialized fields offer financial rewards and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on public health. Therefore, the growing demand for healthcare professionals and the versatility of health services degrees contribute to a favorable ROI.

How much does a health services degree cost?

The cost of a health services degree can vary widely depending on the degree level and institution. As of the 2021-2022 academic year, undergraduate tuition averaged $26,901, while graduate tuition averaged $19,749 based on the most recent National Center for Education Statistics data.

It’s important to remember that these figures are general averages, and actual costs can differ significantly between universities and degree programs. Be sure to contact a financial aid advisor at your institution to discover exact tuition prices and any financial aid options available for you to reduce educational expenses.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.