VCU Health Administration Ranked Third in Nation for Healthcare Management Programs

U.S. News & World Report places VCU up two spots from previous year

RICHMOND, VA (APRIL 25, 2023) — The Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Health Administration has been ranked among the top healthcare management programs in the nation, according to new rankings out today from U.S. News & World Report. VCU is ranked as a No. 3 program in America for 2023, moving up from the No. 5 spot in the previous rankings from 2019.

“It is a true honor to be viewed so favorably among our peers. We’ve built our reputation on developing graduates who can readily step into health system leadership roles and positively impact their organizations and communities,” said Paula H. Song, Ph.D., the Richard M. Bracken Chair and Professor of VCU Health Administration. “This ranking is a testament that our program is delivering the high caliber of leaders that healthcare systems need to successfully navigate the ever-growing challenges they face today. We continue to refine our curriculum so that our students are prepared to immediately step in and make a difference.”

VCU has consistently been ranked among top healthcare management programs since the 1990s. U.S. News rankings reflect how peers view VCU Health Administration and its two, jointly accredited graduate degree tracks: the three-year Master of Health Administration (MHA), which includes rigorous business and management training within the context of healthcare along with a third-year administrative residency, and the Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA), an executive-style program designed to provide a flexible environment for healthcare professionals pursuing the advanced degree.

VCU secured the No. 3 spot in a tie with Rush University College of Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“It is a crowded field at the top, which shows the strength of the healthcare management education field and is a great sign for the profession at-large. Collectively, our peers at health administration programs have really taken note of the strength and diversity of our faculty leadership, their research and teaching experience. With each new faculty hire, we deepen our program and broaden our profile,” said Song. “That bears out with equally diverse and talented students, the strength of our unique third-year residency program, and the excellent job placement of our graduates.”

At the same time, the past three years of pandemic operations drew greater attention to the need for effective leadership to navigate the complexities of responding effectively to COVID-19 and other global, disruptive emergencies. That reflects directly on the MHA’s singular focus on healthcare delivery organization leadership.

“COVID-19 spotlighted the critical need to prepare healthcare leaders who are flexible and responsive to meet the needs of the community they serve and continue to deliver the best patient care and maintain the vitality of the organization,” said M. Paige Powell, Ph.D., the department’s MHA/MSHA program director and associate professor.

In the past year, the Department of Health Administration expanded its certificate programs, with offerings in health equity and financial management joining the existing certificate in aging studies. “Innovation is bringing more flexible ways for our students and those in other departments to pursue more specialty tracks in areas highly relevant to healthcare today, while also building knowledge in topics that are important to them,” Powell said.

As part of a College of Health Professions-wide mission, VCU Health Administration has also made diversity, equity and inclusion a focal point in recruitment and culture. In 2021, VCU hired Stephan Davis, DNP, MSHA, as executive director of Inclusive Leadership Education in the department. He also serves as interim associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at the College of Health Professions and School of Nursing.

“Truly committing to DEI takes intent and hard work to attract and retain students from underrepresented communities. And it means curating an academic culture where people feel they belong, have a voice, and the support they need to thrive,” Song says. “Most importantly, it’s evident that leaders and clinicians who share experiences and backgrounds with their patients play an essential role in reducing health disparities and improving the patient experience.”

Several recent program designs are better meeting student needs. The MSHA provides options for attending full- or part-time students to complete the degree in two to four years, with more virtual coursework that reduces required travel. In addition, reduced credit requirements in some foundational classes that did not require as much depth offers students flexibility to pursue electives of interest or certificate programs to meet the overall credit requirement for graduation, which has not changed.

Other program hallmarks include an Executive-in-Residence initiative, where students get a direct link to healthcare leaders who will mentor students and come to VCU at least once during the year. Faculty also are helping to revamp the Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), which will give students more professional development opportunities. Partnerships continue with the Central Virginia Healthcare Executives Group and Richmond Medical Group Management Association chapter, which provide mentorship, guidance, and growth opportunities for students.

“We are fortunate to find so many quality programs in health administration,” Song added. “It’s an honor for VCU to be ranked among the strongest healthcare leadership programs in the nation.”

About the VCU College of Health Professions

The VCU College of Health Professions is a nationally recognized leader in the education of health providers and cultivates an interprofessional approach to training across nine fields. The College offers curricula at the baccalaureate, master's, post-graduate and doctoral levels designed to prepare health care professionals for roles in a variety of clinical, teaching, and community health and wellness settings. All of our programs are approved or accredited by the appropriate professional or educational organizations. A leader in distance learning, we offer the only interdisciplinary, internet-based doctoral program for health professionals in the country, the Ph.D. Program in Health Related Sciences. Read more about the VCU College of Health Professions.

About VCU Health Administration

The VCU Department of Health Administration is a premiere research department geared toward creating the most innovative, compassionate, and business-savvy leaders to reimagine healthcare. We have access to the amenities of a large institution with a small and student-centric atmosphere. We teach our students both the executive and technical skills needed to be well-rounded leaders. See the department’s latest news.

About U.S News & World Report Rankings

The U.S. News Best Health Schools rankings are based on the results of peer assessment surveys sent to deans, other administrators or faculty at accredited degree programs or schools in each discipline. Only fully accredited programs in good standing during the survey period are ranked. U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives and communities. More than 40 million people visit each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Learn more at US News and World Report.

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