Master of Health Administration (MHA)
Ranked among the best health administration programs by US News and World Report and other external rating agencies, our Master of Health Administration (MHA) program is an “industry specific” MBA program — which means you will have rigorous business and management training while learning about the unique context of the health care and nonprofit sectors.
The VCU MHA differs from other top-ranked programs by our singular focus on healthcare delivery organization leadership. Our goal is for every graduate to be "Leadership Ready" in hospitals, physician practices, health systems and long-term care. Those who hire our graduates say they bring an exceptional executive presence to complement their content knowledge and skills. Successful applicants show evidence of personal achievement, scholarship, intellectual ability, compassion, and professional promise for a career in health services administration.
Within 90 days of graduation, VCU MHA graduates have a high rate of job placement over the last five years (95.6%):
- 2018: 100% (21 of 21 students)
- 2019: 100% (20 of 20 students)
- 2020: 90% (19 of 21 students)
- 2021: 94% (16 of 17 students)
- 2022: 94% (17 of 18 students)
Meet our current students!
Learn more about the VCU MHA Program:
Please note: The GRE/GMAT requirement has been waived for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle.
If you really want to work in the health care service delivery industry, a master’s degree in health administration provides knowledge you need, and develops skills necessary for a leadership role in organization, financing, marketing, planning and management of health care services.
The advantages of a traditional Master of Health Administration (MHA) program include:
- A core curriculum of business management coursework with health care content throughout, rather than just a few elective courses specific to healthcare, as is typical in MBA programs; and
- The opportunity to apply health care focused knowledge immediately, recognizing that health care services are unique, for the treatment of persons often experiencing one of the most difficult situations in their lives.
Distinctive features of management positions in health care include:
- Legal, regulatory, and reimbursement intricacies of, and differences between, for-profit, not-for-profit and government subsidized health care;
- The core business of patient care, and how quality health care services are conceptualized and measured;
- The moral basis inherent in the delivery and support of health care services; and
- Practice settings dominated by clinical professionals.
Here are some great reasons why you should choose the MHA at VCU:
- Reputation – We are consistently ranked in the top 5 in health administration programs by U.S. News and World Report.
- Administrative Residency – MHA students are guaranteed a 12-month paid administrative residency with senior level healthcare executives.
- Cutting-Edge Curriculum – Our carefully planned curriculum and real-world learning experiences reflect the rapidly changing healthcare industry, and authentically prepare students for success.
- 100% Job Placement – Most of our MHA graduates are offered an entry-level placement with the organization where they completed their administrative residency upon graduating.
- Outstanding Alumni – Our students gain access to a network of over 2,500 alumni representing every sector of American healthcare.
- Affordable Tuition – Tuition and fees are lower than non-resident tuition for comparable top-ranked programs.
- Internationally-Renowned Faculty – Faculty members provide exceptional teaching while conducting nationally recognized and funded research programs.
- Location – Richmond provides exposure to multiple major health systems and innovative care models in an urban learning environment.
- Student Life – Our student-centric atmosphere and small class sizes allow students to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with faculty, staff, and alumni. Students entering our program are welcomed into a close-knit and caring community.
Admissions is all about the right fit. We want you to be in the right health management program for your background, career goals, learning style and personal interests. The program selects highly qualified applicants with 1-2 years of work experience, shadowing, internship, etc. preferred. If this describes you, we encourage you to attend an information session (virtual, held monthly) and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The Department of Health Administration uses a rolling admissions process -- we begin reviewing applications as soon as they are deemed complete. Applications open annually on September 1. The first interview days are held in November of each year and continue monthly until the class is full.
The application deadline for Fall 2023 applications has been extended to April 1, 2023!
- Complete HAMPCAS Application
- Request official transcripts
All applications for the MHA program must be submitted via HAMPCAS, the national centralized service that allows applicants to apply to health management programs across different colleges and universities throughout the U.S by way of a single, web-based application.
To start the HAMPCAS application process visit the following link www.hampcas.org.
A complete application must include the following items (all submitted via HAMPCAS):
Transcript: Your transcript should show a conferred or in-progress baccalaureate or graduate degree from a fully accredited college or university. An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4-point scale in undergraduate work and/or evidence of achievement in a substantial amount of graduate-level work is required. Transcripts from all postsecondary institutions (including community or junior colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs) are required.
Resume: Your resume should demonstrate evidence of personal achievement, scholarship, intellectual ability and professional promise for a career in health administration.
Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose: Your personal statement is your opportunity to highlight your background, interests, plans, and decision to pursue a MHA degree. Most importantly, this is your opportunity to communicate your passion for the field of health administration and demonstrate why you are a good fit for the program and VCU. Applicants can also use the personal statement to explain any inconsistencies in other components of the application. Please limit personal statements to no more than two typed pages.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Prompt: You will be asked to respond to a DEI prompt where you will share what this topic means to you and how you envision integrating it into your future work.
Three Letters of Recommendation: You must submit three letters of recommendation, preferably from academic and/or work supervisors who can speak to your character and leadership ability.
Standardized Test Scores: The GRE/GMAT requirement has been waived for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle.
Next Steps: Interview
Eligible applicants will be invited to an on-campus interview day. The day includes meeting with three members of the Admissions Committee (consisting of faculty, students, and alumni/ae), question and answer sessions with current students, and a tour of the campus and our building. If you are selected for an in-person interview based on your application materials, you will be notified and an interview will be scheduled between November and March, depending on when you complete your application.
Information for International Applicants:
International students add a valuable perspective to the Department of Health Administration and enhance the educational experience for all. We embrace diversity in our student body and encourage aspiring health care administrators from outside of the U.S. to apply.
- Prospective students who have studied outside of the U.S. must provide an external credential evaluation as part of the admissions process. This report should be unopened with a seal and sent directly to international admissions. All official transcripts and relevant credentials (e.g., diplomas) will be required if admitted. Common examples of accepted evaluations include those from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, World Education Services and Educational Credential Evaluators.
- There is a required third-year residency for the MHA Program, which must already be identified and secured as all international applicants apply to the MHA Program. There must be a person in an accredited health care facility that agrees to oversee the third year residency requirement in an applicant’s home country where they hold citizenship.
- A minimum computer-based TOEFL score (Test of English as a Foreign Language) of 250 should be submitted through the international graduate student application.
Learn more about applying to VCU as an international graduate student at the VCU International Admissions website.
The required application materials are expected of all applicants.
Virtual Information Sessions for Prospective Students
Learn from current MHA students and faculty about why the VCU program is the right fit for you! Join us for a one-hour virtual information session where you can learn about the curriculum, our administrative residency program, admission requirements, and more.
- Tuesday, March 14, 5-6 pm
MHA students are required to complete a total of 59 semester hours (including transfer credit, if any) to qualify for the Master of Health Administration degree. This requirement includes 48 hours of core coursework plus at least three semester hours of elective studies in health administration and related disciplines, such as business administration, public health, urban and regional planning, and gerontology. In addition, eight semester hours of practicum course work are required as a part of the administrative residency. The graduate program is designed to provide a balanced combination of academic studies and field experience to enable students to achieve the program’s educational goals and become well-prepared to enter the field of health administration.
The core curriculum of the graduate program in health administration consists of 19 courses totaling 51 semester hours that must be completed by all MHA degree candidates. These courses represent an integrated series of learning experiences designed to provide students with a common body of knowledge and skills which are considered to be essential to completion of the administrative residency.
First Year (Fall)
Health System Organization, Financing and Performance (HADM 602, 3 Credits)
Managerial Epidemiology (HADM 609, 2 credits)
Health Care Organization and Leadership (HADM 646, 3 Credits)
Executive Skills I (HADM 682, 1 credit)
Data Skills Basecamp (HADM 691, 2 credits)
Approved Elective Course from another department or Independent Study in Health Administration. Independent Studies are offered to students who wish to explore areas of special interest and are conducted under the guidance of a faculty sponsor.
First Year (Spring)
Health Care Managerial Accounting (HADM 606, 3 Credits)
Health Analytics & Decision Support (HADM 610, 3 credits)
Management of Health Care Organizations (HADM 647, 3 Credits)
Strategic Management in Health Care Organizations (HADM 648, 3 Credits)
Executive Skills II (HADM 683, 1 credit)
Second Year (Fall)
Financial Management in Health Care Organizations (HADM 607, 3 Credits)
Information Systems for Health Care Management (HADM 612, 3 Credits)
Health Care Politics and Policy (HADM 615, 3 Credits)
Health Economics (HADM 624, 3 Credits)
Second Year (Spring)
Seminar in Health Care Finance (HADM 608, 3 Credits)
Health Care Law and Bioethics (HADM 611, 3 Credits)
Health Care Marketing (HADM 614, 3 Credits)
Human Resources Management in Health Care (HADM 649, 3 Credits)
Clinical Concepts and Relationships (HADM 681, 2 Credits)
Third Year Residency
Practicum in Health Care Administration I, II (HADM 694, HADM 695, 8 credits)
Required 3rd Year Administrative Residency
The residency is a ten-month, paid administrative practicum, in which students complete academic coursework and gain hands on experience in a health care setting under the mentorship of a senior level executive. All MHA students are required to complete the residency. Dual-degree students substitute the residency for a 400-hour internship.
The MHA administrative residency allows students to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in a health care setting, gain a greater understanding of the context in which health administration is practiced, and strengthen personal and professional values. In the past, the residency was a common graduation requirement for health administration programs. VCU has maintained its commitment to requiring the residency, believing that it is the hallmark which distinguishes true professional preparation in the field.
Residency site selections are made through a facilitated match process in which the Program invites organizations within our network to interview students on campus. Through this process, VCU students compete for sites of their choice and preceptors compete for students of their choice. This is in contrast to other programs in which students must compete for fellowships through a post-graduation process that is student-initiated, rather than facilitated by the program prior to graduation.
Residencies ordinarily begin June 1, after the completion of on-campus coursework, and are completed by the following May, just before graduation ceremonies.
Past Administrative Residency Preceptors/Placements
The Department of Health Administration is grateful to our past preceptors who have accepted administrative residents in their organizations. This list is reflective of placements made in 2020 and 2021 and is organized by-state.
HCA Inc. - ASC
HCA Healthcare - Doctors Hospital Augusta
Piedmont Atlanta Hospital
Wellstar Health System
LifePoint: St. Francis Hospital
LifePoint - Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland, KY
NHCA Mission Hospital
Siemens Healthineers - HQ
Vidant Medical Center
HCA Healthcare - Strategy and Innovation
HCA Tristar - Centennial Medical Center
Baylor, Scott, & White
UHS Edinburg Regional Medical Center
LifePoint - Sovah Health
Inova Health System
Falls Church, VA
Bon Secours Mercy Health
Hampton Roads, VA
Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters
Sentara Health System
Riverside Health System
Newport News, VA
Bon Secours Mercy Health
Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU
HCA Inc. - Henrico Doctors’ Hospital
Hunter Holmes McGuire
VCU Health System
Vibra Hospital of Richmond
LifePoint: Raleigh General Hospital
The competency model utilized by the VCU MHA Program is operationalized in curricular offerings in the development of learning objectives for individual courses. MHA graduates exhibit 25 essential leadership competencies. These competencies, developed in and out of the classroom throughout the students' tenure in the program, cut across five domains: communication and relationship management, leadership, professionalism, knowledge of the healthcare environment, and business and analytical skills.
Five Competency Domains
Communication and Relationship Management: Interpersonal Communication (Build collaborative relationships and develop negotiation skills), Writing Skills (Prepare effective business communications), Presentation Skills (Demonstrate effective oral communication and presentation skills)
Leadership: Leading and Managing Others (Hold self and others accountable for organizational goal attainment), Change Management (Promote and manage change), Ability for Honest Self-assessment (Demonstrate reflection through self-assessment), Systems Thinking (Be able to assess the potential impacts and consequences of decisions in a broad variety of situations), Problem-solving and Decision-making (Apply evidence-based decision making techniques to healthcare questions)
Professionalism: Personal and Professional Ethics (Adhere to ethical business principles and exhibit ethical behaviors; fulfill one’s commitments), Professional & Community Contribution (Participate in community service; balance professional and personal pursuits), Working in Teams (Create, participate on, and lead teams, including inter-professionalism)
Knowledge of the Healthcare Environment: Healthcare Issues and Trends (Explain and discuss important issues in healthcare, including circumstances causing major changes and reform in U.S. health care delivery), Healthcare Legal Principles (Discuss and critically analyze health-related legal principles including standards, regulation, and risk management), Health Policy (Articulate the impact of health policies on the delivery of health services), Population Health and Status Assessment (Understand and explain the major factors in population health status)
Business and Analytical Skills: Financial Management (Ability to compile and analyze financial data), Human Resources (Apply methods and techniques related to the management of health care organizations, employees and professional staff), Organizational Dynamics and Governance (Articulate and explain the roles, responsibilities, structures, and influence governing bodies hold in health care organizations), Strategic Planning (Ability to perform environmental analysis and develop strategic alternatives; discern competitive strategy; formulate business strategy based on evidence), Marketing (Analyze and assess markets, market segmentation, strategy, change and innovation), Information Management/Understanding and Using Technology Skills (Apply techniques and methods to plan, design, implement and assess information management and communication), Quality Improvement/Performance Improvement (Identify relevant problems and apply concepts of process improvement and patient safety), Quantitative Skills (Analyze data and interpret quantitative information), Planning and Managing Projects (Design, plan, implement and assess projects and develop appropriate time lines related to performance, structure and outcomes), Economic Analysis and Application (Analyze and apply economic theory and concepts and decision making)
Students must apply separately and be accepted by both programs of interest in order to pursue the dual degree.
We offer three dual degree programs that afford students the opportunity to simultaneously complete two degrees with a reduced course load. Students wishing to pursue a dual degree must apply to both programs and be admitted separately. An admissions decision in one program does not affect the admissions decision in another program.
Law & Health Administration (MHA/JD)
The Health care industry is becoming increasingly more complex in both the delivery of services and in organizational structure. Along with this has come competition among providers to a degree heretofore unheard of in health care. As the nation's third largest business sector, the health care industry accounts for about 15 percent of our GDP. As leaders of one of the most regulated industries in the United States, health care executives require extensive knowledge of state and federal regulations, reimbursement, insurance, medical ethics, contract law, mergers and acquisitions, tax laws, and antitrust laws, to name but a few areas. This has created a vigorous demand for legal experts who understand the intricacies of the health care industry as well as health law. To meet the demand for health law experts, VCU developed a dual degree program in law and health administration in partnership with the University of Richmond School of Law, a program established in 1986. Created as a cooperative venture between the universities, the program addresses legal issues that affect organizations, financing, and delivery of health services.
Program Schedule & Curriculum
The JD/MHA can be completed with a minimum 4 years of coordinated study and a minimum 123 credit hours instead of 146 credit hours. Students accepted into this program will be permitted to count 11 credit hours from the JD program towards the requirements of the MHA program and 12 credit hours in the MHA program towards the requirements of the JD program, for a total savings of 23 credit hours.
The 49 semester hours to be completed in health administration include 46 hours in core curriculum, and at least three credits to be earned during a ten week summer administrative internship. Dual degree students complete this internship in lieu of the 12-month residency.
Career Opportunities for Graduates
Graduates of the MHA/JD program may choose either to work in health administration or to practice law. Choices include positions in corporate offices of multi-institutional health care systems or careers in the public sector, working with various government departments that deal with health care. Many health attorneys are pursuing careers as general in-house counsel or specialty areas such as risk management or hospital personnel. For those who choose to practice health law, opportunities abound: antitrust, employment and labor law, tax law, corporate law, reimbursement consultation, fraud & abuse, administrative law, and litigation in medical malpractice are a few examples. Given the fast paced growth of the health care industry and the increasingly complex legal issues that have evolved, students will be assigned a faculty advisor from each school to help them plan a specialized program to meet their individual interests and needs. Each school has developed specialty "tracks" to help students choose elective courses that will enable the students to achieve a high degree of specialization in health administration law.
In health administration these tracks include:
- management of hospitals and hospital systems
- long-term care administration
- health planning and policy
- health care finance.
In law the tracks include:
- labor and employment law
- hospital corporate counsel
- litigation and medical malpractice
- general health law.
The University of Richmond School of Law
Founded in 1870, the University of Richmond School of Law combines a rigorous academic program with an extensive selection of clinical placements and experiential learning opportunities to create an extraordinary legal education. The Law School’s highly regarded faculty of teacher-scholars includes nationally and internationally recognized experts, and its low student-faculty ratio reinforces a culture of professional mentoring and mutual support. Through individualized attention aimed at maximizing the personal potential of each and every student, we equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need, preparing them to make valuable contributions to the legal system. The school is located on the beautiful 350-acre campus of the University, just seven miles west of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s MCV Campus.
Each program in the cooperative arrangement is fully accredited. The graduate program in health administration is one of only a few in the nation to have been granted the maximum seven year accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The University of Richmond Law School partner is fully accredited by the recognized standardizing agencies in the United States. U of R is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and on the approved lists of the American State Board of Bar Examiners and the Virginia State Board of Bar Examiners. A law degree from U of R qualifies the holder to seek admission to the bar of any state in the nation.
Students applying for admission to the Dual Degree Program must meet the standards and be accepted by both the Department of Health Administration and the University of Richmond School of Law. Students may either 1) apply to both schools in the dual degree program simultaneously, and upon acceptance into both programs, select, with the assistance and approval of both schools, which school to start in, or 2) enroll in one of the two programs first, and then apply for the other program during that first year of study. However, applying under this latter scenario does not guarantee acceptance into the other school. For more information about the MHA application process, see the MHA Admissions Requirements section.
The two most important considerations in evaluating a candidate for admission to the University of Richmond School of Law are the candidate's Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the candidate's undergraduate performance. The admissions committee at UR also take into consideration an applicant's leadership potential, extra curricular activities, recommendations, employment experience, maturity, motivation, and character. Interested students may familiarize themselves with the admissions standards applied by UR by reviewing the statistical information about median grade point average and median LSAT score in the Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, published annually by the American Bar Association and the Law School Admission Council.
Medicine & Health Administration (MHA/MD)
Integration of administrative functions with clinical domains is necessary to deliver the most efficient and highest quality care. As health care organizations evolve in response to environmental pressures, physicians will be sought to lead these organizations. To meet the demand for physician leaders, VCU's Department of Health Administration and VCU's School of Medicine developed a Dual Degree Program in Medicine and Health Administration. This innovative program satisfies the demand for budding physicians who know early in their careers that they wish to pursue administration in tandem with a medical career. In five years, students complete both the MHA and MD degrees and are trained for roles as healthcare executives and medical care leaders who are knowledgeable about the organization, financing, and delivery of health services.
Program Schedule & Curriculum
After acceptance in the MHA/MD Program, the student meets with the MHA Program Director to design an appropriate course of study. The bulk of MHA courses are taken during full-time matriculation in the student's fourth year of study (Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters). The remaining courses are arranged during the final year of medical school. To allow maximum flexibility, a few courses may be taken in either the traditional MHA or the hybrid online MSHA. Medical school courses are counted as electives in the health administration portion of the curriculum.
Admissions Requirements & Application Timeline
Students applying for admission to the Dual Degree Program in Medicine and Health Administration must meet the standards and be accepted by both the Department of Health Administration and the VCU School of Medicine. Typically, students apply to the MHA portion of the program by February 1 during any of the first three years of medical school.
Before beginning the health administration portion of the Program, the student must purchase and complete prerequisite modules in accounting and economics by July 1 (unless the student has taken these courses within five years). This is a self-directed process wherein the student purchases the learning materials and works at their individual pace. Following this self-study, the student is required to complete a web-based competency exam in each discipline. Details regarding modules will be provided upon acceptance to the program.
Health Administration & Information Systems (MHA/MSIS)
Our three year dual MHA/MSIS degree integrates technical IT expertise with healthcare management skills to give graduates access to these and other positions within the healthcare field. The didactic coursework is complemented by a 10-week summer internship in a healthcare organization during which students apply their classroom knowledge to practical IT management challenges.
National policy changes, technology innovations, and pressures for increased value create an urgent need for individuals skilled in healthcare information technology management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 51,000 healthcare IT professionals will be needed in the future for the nation's healthcare providers to successfully become meaningful users of healthcare IT. The Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT notes the need for:
- Practice workflow and information management redesign specialists
- Clinician/practitioner consultants
- Implementation support specialists
- Implementation managers
- Technical/software support personnel
- Health information management and exchange specialist
Students must apply and be accepted to both programs. Students may either apply to both programs prior to starting either, or they may apply to the second program after matriculating into the first. All prerequisites for each program must be satisfied prior to starting the program.
MHA Prerequisites: basic preparation in microeconomics, financial accounting, and statistics as well as working knowledge of college-level algebra.
MSIS Prerequisites: evidence of competence in selected prerequisite areas of information systems including: application programming, systems analysis and design, database, telecommunications, and hardware/software. Evidence of this competence may include formal course work, comparable training within a work environment, or significant, relevant and recent work experience in the field. Students enrolled as majors in the program who do not have formal background or equivalent training must take the appropriate undergraduate courses to satisfy the prerequisites prior to taking program courses. The required undergraduate courses are: INFO 300, INFO 350, INFO 360, INFO 361, INFO 370, INFO 364 and a course in calculus.
The curriculum allows students to earn both the MHA and the MSIS in a total of 78 credits rather than the 89 credits that would be required to obtain the degrees separately. Students in the combined degree program will follow the same schedule as regular MHA students, including the two lockstep years.
Students will take all courses required for the MHA, all core courses required for the MBA, and nine additional courses in the MS in Information Systems program, including INFO 610, INFO 620, and INFO 630. Students whose undergraduate degree is not in Information Systems may also be required to take additional undergraduate prerequisite courses before taking the graduate Information Systems courses, as determined by the program advisor. A 3-credit, ten-week internship is required and must have substantial global, entrepreneurial and/or experiential components related to both degrees. The six Information Systems courses to be taken in addition to INFO 610, INFO 620, and INFO 630, must be approved by the program advisor.
Congratulations on your acceptance to the VCU MHA program!
If you accept our admission offer, you will receive a link with an email to complete the VCU Supplemental Information Application. This step requires a fee that is separate from the Hampcas application. Please DO NOT complete this step unless you have been notified of acceptance to the program.
Additional information will follow by email from the Department of Health Administration and the VCU Graduate School to prepare you for your arrival this Fall!