What Is an MHA Degree? Career Outcomes and Salary

When reviewing their options for postsecondary education, health care professionals must ask themselves, What is an MHA degree? In short, the answer is it’s a Master of Health Administration (MHA). It provides graduates with detailed knowledge of health care systems, potentially making them competitive candidates for management-oriented roles in medical facilities. By developing advanced skills, MHA graduates are able to take on more responsibility, and increase autonomy within their roles.

Pursuing an advanced degree, such as an MHA degree, allows health care providers to specialize in their field, gaining valuable knowledge and improving the lives of patients. To fully understand the benefits of earning an MHA degree, health care providers, such as registered nurses, should educate themselves about the full range of opportunities that experienced MHA degree holders may qualify for.

What Is a Health Care Administrator

Health care administrators are responsible for managing health services in their respective workplaces. The extent of this responsibility could be limited to coordinating medical services within a single clinical department, or be as broad as directing an entire facility (or multiple facilities). Therefore, health care administrator is not a single role within the field, but instead it’s a category of occupations that work at every level of a health care organization.

A health care executive meets with a doctor.

Regardless of rank or role, each health care administrator is tasked with contributing value to their employer by improving the quality of service their facility offers to patients. Whether they work in a research-oriented facility, government-based health administration department, or in a long-term care facility, an educated health care administrator needs to be capable of performing several complex administrative tasks to optimize their organization’s efficiency.

Some of the more common job functions of health care administrators are as follows.

  • Verifying compliance with current laws and regulations
  • Recruiting, training, and managing health care professionals
  • Creating budgets, managing finances, and monitoring spending to ensure financial goals are met
  • Developing goals for each department and tracking progress toward these objectives
  • Communicating with other health care administrators to strategize potential solutions to issues that may limit patient outcomes

Why Earn an MHA Degree?

Health services managers are highly skilled and organized leaders in health care. Directing staff and operations of health care facilities and organizations, administrators are the experts who ensure nothing gets overlooked and that the delivery of care runs smoothly. For those already in the medical field, understanding what an MHA degree is able to provide in terms of career advancement is crucial. This is especially true when choosing an advanced level program, and discovering how it can aid in reaching professional goals.

While many health care managers enter the field with a bachelor’s degree, many coveted upper-level roles require either extensive experience or an advanced degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical and health services managers is expected to increase by 32% over the next 10 years, significantly higher than the average for all occupations. By gaining targeted knowledge, increasing skills and in-depth knowledge of procedures and technologies, MHA graduates are often better able to set themselves up for success.

MHA Degree Requirements

Health care providers who hold an MHA are experienced and highly-trained professionals. To qualify for an MHA, candidates must complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field. While many programs may seek a resume with prior work experience or a GRE to apply, that is not the case for all programs. Depending on whether a student chooses to study full- or part-time, an MHA can be completed in as little as 24 months.

MHA Education and Certification Pathway

What’s unique about an MHA degree is that it provides a variety of pathways to future careers for health care managers and leaders. While many of the initial steps may be similar, graduates who are seeking specializations have a broad range of careers available to them. Some of the main requirements to consider are:

  • Earning a high school diploma
  • Earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • Gaining supervised clinical hours or workplace experience as a manager or administrator
  • Providing a personal statement and letters of recommendation

Depending on which area of medical administration, management, or health care services a graduate wishes to pursue, there are further certifications they can obtain from foundations. The majority require the completion of an MHA. One such certification is from the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE). For those seeking an exciting new career, more job autonomy, or have professional goals involving upper-level positions with greater responsibility, an MHA can be a valuable step toward success.

Career Opportunities for MHA Graduates

To understand what an MHA degree is useful for, it’s helpful to know which fields of practice graduates may be able to enter. Depending on their specific interests, MHA graduates may qualify for roles within the following career paths.

Health Care Providers

The most common route for health care administrators to take involves leading teams of medical professionals within a health care facility. Some possible work environments are hospitals, medical clinics, outpatient centers, mental health care facilities, and nursing homes. As their experience progresses following their graduation, these professionals usually expand their expertise, allowing them to attain senior administrative roles such as health care executives.

Health Care Executive

Health care executives apply their knowledge of system-level health care to oversee all operations within their institution for the purpose of identifying any opportunities to make improvements. When necessary, they develop and implement new policies to enhance their facility.

Health Care Policy

The government would be unable to properly regulate the health care industry and solve national health issues without the aid of experienced health care administrators. In this field of health care administration, professionals collaborate with public health agencies or nonprofit organizations to create policies that help advance health care. An example of a career in the field is:

Public Health Researcher

This role is centered on gathering data and conducting research to determine how current health care policies can be improved. These professionals often work with academic institutions and public health organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to identify concerning patterns within population health statistics.

Health Care Supply

Without business professionals who understand the health care industry, medical facilities would be unable to source the essential supplies, equipment, and services that keep their operations running smoothly. With finance, technology, staffing, and training often being outsourced to third parties, health care administrators can be employed to facilitate this process. While the administrator may be an employee hired by the buyer to arrange the purchase of a product or service, they are also frequently employed by health care suppliers, such as consulting firms, pharmaceutical organizations, educational organizations, and companies that distribute health care supplies/equipment. An example of a career in the field is:

Health Care Buyer

A health care buyer is responsible for administering the entire process of procuring supplies and services for a health care organization. Excelling in this career requires the administrative capacity to capitalize on advantageous buying situations by recognizing the employer’s supply needs, and creating an ordering strategy that fulfills them.
In the U.S., there is a growing demand for health services that parallels the expansion of the national patient population. A 20% growth in available health care administration jobs is expected within the next ten years, making it very appealing to pursue a Master of Health Administration. With this degree, health care professionals can learn the key business techniques that will allow them to organize and manage the essential medical services that health care organizations need to successfully improve patient outcomes.

MHA Degree Salary

Health care administrators play a vital role by coordinating, planning, and directing health providers. While health services managers have at minimum a bachelor’s degree and years of workplace experience, many candidates who are seeking leadership roles also pursue a master’s degree to set themselves apart. According to the BLS, medical and health services managers earned a median annual salary of $104,000 as of May 2020.

Make a Positive Impact with an MHA

The medical field is constantly advancing. From new medical research to expanding health care centers and resources, highly educated and passionate leaders have never been in higher demand. By pursuing an advanced degree, candidates can set themselves up for success, gaining valuable skills and preparing for the future of health care administration.

Regis College gives you various pathways to pursue your goals in health care administration. As a dedicated leader of health administration education, Regis welcomes ambitious, self-motivated professionals from all health care settings.

Gain special insight into areas such as management, communications, health informatics, and health policy through the online Master of Health Administration program. Discover the positive impact you can make through a career in health care administration.

Recommended Readings

3 Things to Know About National Patient Safety Goals

Future of Health Informatics for Health Professionals

Telemedicine: An Emerging Medical Advancement


American College of Health Care Executives, About ACHE

Materia Socio-Medica, “Management Knowledge and Skills Required in the Health Care System of the Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina”

Nursing Management, “The Role of the Corporate Chief Nursing Officer”

The Princeton Review, Health Care Administrator

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Epidemiologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, Medical or Health Services Manager

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents