Penn State introduces online master's degree in health administration

This Penn State World Campus program aims to help working professionals prepare for management careers in the growing health care industry

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The first of the 76 million baby boomers turned 65 this year. As this generation ages, it will place significant demands on an already strained health care system. To meet this challenge, medical and health services managers -- an occupation projected to grow 16 percent in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- will need the latest knowledge and skills. Penn State's new master of health administration degree, delivered online, can help working adults prepare for health care management careers.

"We're already experiencing shortages of nurses, physicians of all kinds, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, radiologists and other medical technicians," said Chris Calkins, executive director of the online master of health administration (MHA) program. "The baby boomers and the 32 million who will become insured under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will further challenge the health care system."

Penn State's program is designed for working adults who want a health care career and for those already working in health care who want career advancement. The College of Health and Human Development offers the program in collaboration with Penn State Harrisburg. The program is delivered online through Penn State's World Campus.

Dennis G. Shea, professor and head of Penn State's Department of Health Policy and Administration, said, "We have offered this program at University Park campus since 1987. Our goal in making the program available online is to take our faculty's expertise and deliver a high-quality professional master's degree program for people who can't relocate."

The current residential MHA program at Penn State is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education and emphasizes strategic thinking, financial management and communication. That same curriculum will now be delivered online, helping students gain a broad understanding of the U.S. health care system and managing organizations, as well as complete a capstone project. When they graduate, they are prepared to help solve pressing health care issues.

"One of the biggest challenges is balancing increasing demands of patients, families, government agencies and health insurance organizations for improvements in the quality of care with limited resources," Shea said.

Penn State plans to have one cohort of 30 students each fall. Students will progress together through the courses.

Applications are being accepted for fall 2012 for the master of health administration program. Visit the website online or via smartphone for information.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 70 of Penn State’s most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. Founded in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the University’s 25th campus serving more than 10,300 students in all 50 states and around the world. World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 115 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated January 18, 2012