A health care management degree is a type of business degree awarded to students who have finished a college, university, or business school program with a focus on health care management. This program of study is designed for individuals who want to manage aspects of healthcare organizations. Some examples of management tasks in healthcare organizations include hiring and training staff members, making finance related decisions, meeting stakeholder demands, acquiring appropriate technology to provide effective health care services, and developing new services to serve patients.
Although curriculum can vary depending on the program and level of study most health care management degree programs include courses in health care policy and delivery systems, health insurance, health care economics, health care information management, human resources management, and operations management. You may also take courses in health care statistics, ethics in health care management, health care marketing, and legal aspects of health care management.
In this article, we'll explore types of health care management degrees by a level of study and identify some of the things you can do with a health care management degree after graduation.
Types of Health Care Management Degrees
There are four basic types of health care management degrees that can be earned from a college, university, or business school:
- Associate Degree in Health Care Management - An associate degree program in health care management typically focuses more on general education courses but will also include several classes devoted specifically to health care management. These programs usually take two years to complete. After earning an associate degree, you could seek entry-level employment in the health care management field or go on to pursue a bachelor degree in health care management or a related area.
- Bachelor Degree in Health Care Management - A bachelor degree in health care management will take approximately four years to complete. While enrolled in the program, you will take a core set of general education courses in addition to courses focused on health care management topics.
- Master Degree in Health Care Management - A master degree in health care management focuses specifically on health care management topics. Depending on the program you attend, you may have the opportunity to choose your electives so that you can specialize in a particular area of health care management. Most master programs take two years to complete. However, there are accelerated MBA programs available through some business schools.
- Doctorate Degree in Health Care Management - A doctorate degree program in health care management involves intense study, a great deal of research, and a thesis. These programs usually take three to five years to complete. However, program length can vary.
Which Degree Should I Earn?
A degree of some kind is almost always required to work in the health care management field. There are some entry-level positions that can be obtained with a diploma, certificate, on-the-job training, or work experience. However, it will be much easier to pursue and secure most management, supervisory, and executive positions with some type of degree in health care, business, or health care management.
A bachelor degree is the most common requirement for a health care manager, health services manager, or medical manager. However, many people in this field also hold a master degree. Associate degree and Ph.D. degree holders are less common but can be found working in many different positions.
What Can I Do With a Healthcare Management Degree?
There are many different types of careers that can be pursued with a health care management degree. Every health care operation needs someone in supervisory positions to handle administrative tasks and other employees. You could choose to become a general health care manager. You may also decide to specialize in managing specific types of health care organizations, such as hospitals, senior care facilities, physician's offices, or community health centers. Some other career options may include working in health care consulting or education.
Common Job Titles
A few common job titles for people who hold a health care management degree include:
- Medical Office Manager - Medical office managers, also known as medical practice managers and medical office administrators, oversee daily operations in medical practice. They may be responsible for scheduling, staffing, supervising employees, supply ordering and inventory, and accounts receivable and payable.
- Health Services Manager - Health services managers, also known as health care managers and medical managers, oversee operations and employees at health care facilities. Depending on the size of the facility, responsibilities may include employee supervision, financial management, risk management, record management, and communications management.
- Health Information Manager - Health information managers oversee the maintenance and security of patient records. Their responsibilities may include securing databases, maintaining confidentiality, and communicating changes in health care laws and regulations.
- Health Care Project Manager - Health care project managers are increasingly in demand. These professionals are charged with overseeing specific projects and teams. They may be responsible for project planning, scheduling, budgeting, risk management, and much more.