Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA)

The Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA) is designed in a convenient, online format — combined with six on-campus sessions — so that full-time health care professionals can earn a MSHA from anywhere in the U.S. at any time in a matter of 22 months.

This program attracts clinicians, executive-level managers and mid-career managers from a variety of health care fields with at least five years of professional experience. Typically, successful applicants demonstrate diversity in their educational, work, and life experiences, as well as a capacity to pursue a rigorous course of professional graduate study and assume increasingly responsible positions in the healthcare industry.

Student Success

MSHA graduates (2019, 2020, 2021) have a 100% job placement rate within 90 days after graduation.

Meet the MSHA students!

Learn why the VCU MSHA program is the right fit for you! Join us for a one-hour virtual information session where you can learn about the curriculum, admission requirements, and more.

Upcoming Sessions:

  • Thursday, November 17 - 5-6 pm
  • Tuesday, December 20 - Noon-1 pm

Sign up today!


Admission Requirements

The Professional MSHA Program – Online admits students with diverse educational, work, and life experiences who have demonstrated a capacity to pursue a rigorous course of professional graduate study and assume increasingly responsible positions in the health care industry. Class sizes are kept small to facilitate interaction among faculty and students and to ensure individual attention throughout the entire course of study. Applications to the MSHA Program are evaluated on the basis of several factors: grade point average (GPA), professional work/life experience, and standardized test scores.

Previous Educational Experience

Applicants must possess an earned baccalaureate degree from a recognized college or university. No particular major course of study is required. Applicants with a GPA less than 2.75 may be considered for admission with exceptional professional experience. 

Professional Work Experience

Applicants should have a minimum of five years of post-baccalaureate experience in a healthcare or related organization. Preference in application decisions is given to those with management/supervisory experience. Consideration may be given to those applicants who return to school to complete a baccalaureate degree who have at least five years of management/supervisory experience. A professional resume is an important element of the application materials and should be included with other application materials.

Graduate Studies Aptitude Tests

NOTE: Standardized tests score requirements will be waived for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. All applicants are required to submit standardized aptitude test scores. The Program accepts scores on either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Applicants who have taken the GRE or GMAT in the last five years may submit previous scores.

The GRE and GMAT are administered on a variety of dates in many locations throughout the country. Applicants should make arrangements to take the examination of their choice no later than the February before the application deadline.


No specific previous course work is required for application to the Program. Upon formal acceptance, students complete a non-credit independent-study module in accounting. 


The 2023-2024 application opens October 1. To apply, complete an Application for Graduate Studies through Graduate Admissions and include:

  1. Resume/CV
  2. Personal Statement
  3. Three Letters of Reference
  4. Official Transcripts
  5. GRE/GMAT scores (optional)

Admission to the Program is competitive and is granted on a rolling basis; therefore, applicants are encouraged to apply prior to the deadline. Direct any questions regarding application status and processing to Cameron Parkins at

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.
  • 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.

Equipment Requirements

All students admitted to the Program must have access to a modern personal computer. Detailed specifications for new and existing computers are available on the Student Computer Initiative specifications page. In addition, students must have a regular internet connection throughout the course of the program. The Microsoft Office suite (including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) is also required. For more information about this and other software, visit the Technology Services website. Additional software may be required during the course of the program, which will be made available to you under appropriate licensing arrangements. 

Although students can use a personal computer at the office, we strongly recommend that they have one at home. Students will be instructed in the use of the Canvas course management system during the first on-campus session.

Here are 10 reasons why you should choose the Professional MSHA Program -Online at VCU if considering a distance learning graduate degree in health administration.


VCU's Department of Health Administration is one of the oldest providers of health administration education in the nation. For over 70 years, the Department has maintained its mission of educating people to lead complex health care organizations. Consistently ranked by US News & World Report as one of the nation's top 10 health administration programs, VCU is viewed by education and health care leaders as a leading program in health care administration.


As a distance-learning program, health care professionals can earn an MSHA degree from any location and at any time (asynchronous learning). The Program combines web-based and other distance learning technologies long weekend virtual and in-person sessions. Individuals working full-time, residing anywhere in the United States, can complete the Program in just 22 months.

Part-time Options

Recognizing the challenge that full-time enrollment brings to busy careers and personal lives, the Department offers part-time options in the MSHA Program. 

Immediate Relevance to Job Setting

Whereas MBA graduates need time and experience to translate general MBA-knowledge to the health care setting, MSHA graduates are prepared to immediately apply knowledge-gained to their health care roles. There is little to no lag-time between "classroom" learning and real-life application.

Experience in Distance Learning

Unlike many distance-learning programs, the Department has many years of experience offering the MSHA degree through distance learning, having entered the first class in 1988. The Department was also one of the first to use the Internet for instruction.

Accomplished Colleagues

Learning is enhanced by the diversity of health care professionals enrolled in the MSHA Program. The Program attracts clinicians, executive-level managers, and mid-career managers from a variety of health care fields. Students bring their diverse experiences into the distance learning and on-campus sessions. They are encouraged to interact with and draw upon the experiences of each other - augmenting the curriculum with a variety of real-life examples.


The MSHA Program maintains full national accreditation status with the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).  Accreditation by CAHME demonstrates that the MSHA Program involves students in appropriate areas of decision making and evaluation, maintains a rigorous and current curriculum, and ensures applied and integrative learning.  Currently, the Program has been awarded the maximum seven years of accreditation.   


Classes are taught by the Department's full-time and several part-time faculty members. Faculty provide exceptional teaching and also conduct nationally recognized and funded research programs.


The MSHA curriculum is carefully planned and frequently updated to reflect the rapidly changing health care industry. All courses are designed with application to diverse health care settings and ownership types (not-for-profit and for-profit organizations). Learning methods include case studies, lecture, group projects, community projects, and experiential learning.

Location of On-Campus Weekends

The twice/year on-campus weekends take place in Richmond, Virginia-a 2 hour driving distance from the ocean, mountains, and Washington, DC. Classes are held in the state of the art College of Health Professions building on the Medical College of Virginia Campus of VCU. 

Program Structure

Full-time students enroll for 22-months and participate in four semesters.

Part-time students are enrolled in a three-year program, taking two classes per semester.

Both full-time and part-time MSHA students experience a mix of in-person (on-campus) and virtual-synchronous sessions in addition to their asynchronous, online coursework for much of each semester. These are mandatory sessions.

Virtual Weekends

During virtual, synchronous weekends, students will begin and end each semester in an intensive Thursday-Saturday format via Zoom. For new students, virtual orientation will take place during their first virtual weekend semester in August.

On-Campus Weekends

During on-campus sessions (annually in October and March), which take place in a Thursday-Saturday intensive format at the College of Health Professions in downtown Richmond, VA, students attend a mix of in-person classes and professional development sessions. Students have ample opportunity to interact with fellow classmates, faculty, and visiting scholars and practitioners. Organized class sessions are typically held during the day and are designed to facilitate effective and efficient learning. Evenings are reserved for study, group project work, informal interaction with fellow students, and social events. 

Off-Campus Study

During each off-campus semester, students continue course work at their home/work site using a carefully planned array of distance learning technologies, using Canvas Learning Management System. Each course has its own separate "electronic classroom" which serves as the primary channel to conduct seminars and discuss assignments and projects. With a full-time load of 3 courses, a minimum of 15 to 20 hours of work per week is necessary to complete off-campus seminars and course assignments.


The program’s courses are designed to meet the distinctive needs of the experienced health care professional. Courses develop business skills for the unique health care environment so that students are prepared to meet the challenges of the health care marketplace. Classes draw upon the knowledge of the faculty and the diverse group of experienced professionals enrolled. The competency model utilized by the MSHA Program is operationalized in curricular offerings in the development of learning objectives for individual courses. 

The curriculum consists of 14 courses listed below that must be completed by all degree candidates. All courses are three credits unless otherwise noted.

The competency model utilized by the VCU MSHA Program is operationalized in curricular offerings in the development of learning objectives for individual courses. MSHA 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)

Quick links to VCU resources:

Synchronous Weekend Dates 

Fall 2022:

  • August 18-20 (via Zoom)
  • October 13-15  (in-person) 
  • December 15-17 (via Zoom)

Spring 2023:

  • January 19-21 (via Zoom)
  • March 16-18 (in-person) 
  • May 11-13 (via Zoom)

Fall 2023:

  • August 17-19 (via Zoom)
  • Oct 19-21 (in-person) 
  • Dec 14-16 (via Zoom)

Spring 2024:

  • January 18-20 (via Zoom)
  • March 21-23 (in-person) 
  • May 2-4 (via Zoom)