Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA)
We have developed the Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA) program as a professional program providing a convenient, online format — combined with six on-campus sessions — so that health care professionals working full time 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.
Information sessions for students interested in the VCU graduate programs are held monthly throughout much of the year. To schedule a personalized virtual information session for a student group at your undergraduate institution or place of employment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All in-person information sessions are held in the College of Health Professions Building located at 900 E. Leigh Street Richmond, VA 23298.
Below are 10 reasons why you should choose the Professional MSHA Program -Online at VCU if considering a distance learning graduate degree in health administration.
MSHA Class of 2018 had a 100% on-time graduation rate and 100% job placement within 3 months of graduation.
VCU's Department of Health Administration is one of the oldest providers of health administration education in the nation. For 60 years, the Department has maintained its mission of educating men and women 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 Internet-based and other distance learning technologies with six one-week on-campus sessions. Thus, individuals working full-time, residing anywhere in the United States can complete the Program in just 22 months.
Recognizing the challenge that full-time enrollment brings to busy careers and personal lives, the Department now offers part-time options in the MSHA Program. Part-time schedules are determined in consultation with the Program's Director to meet individual student's needs.
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.
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 Sessions
The six one-week sessions take place in Richmond, Virginia-a 2 hour driving distance from the ocean, mountains, and Washington, DC. Classes are held in a pre-Civil War mansion on the Medical College of Virginia Campus of VCU. It is fitting that the Grant House (as it is named for the family that first lived in the house) was the home of Sheltering Arms Hospital for nearly 100 years before being renovated by the generous donations of the Department's alumni/ae. Classrooms, computer laboratories, and student common areas have state-of-the-art technology and instructional equipment.
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 on provisional status with exceptional professional experience. Provisional status will be removed after the first semester is satisfactorily completed or after 9 credit hours are successfully completed if enrollment is part-time. If an applicant has completed any graduate studies (whether or not a degree was awarded), performance in such course work will be considered in the admission decision.
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
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 non-credit independent-study modules prior to the first on-campus session. The modules are in three areas: microeconomics, accounting, and statistics. These modules include books, articles, programmed instruction handbooks, and computer-aided instructional material. A fee is assessed to cover the costs of the materials. Completing these independent study modules precludes the need for taking prerequisite course work before admission. Applicants with acceptable previous course work in accounting, economics, or statistics completed within five years of entering the Program may not be required to complete these independent study modules.
To apply, complete an Application for Graduate Studies through Graduate Admissions and include:
- Personal Statement
- Three Letters of Reference
- Official Transcripts
- GRE/GMAT scores
Admission to the Program is competitive and is granted on a rolling basis; therefore, applicants are encouraged to apply prior to the deadline, which has been extended for this admission cycle to May 15th. The Admissions Committee may consider applications received after the deadline if there is sufficient evidence that the applicant can complete the prerequisite modules and submit standardized test scores in time to begin the Program. These applicants may be admitted for part-time enrollment.
The application process will be supported by interviews with finalist applicants. Direct any questions regarding application status and processing to the Program office at (804) 828-0719.
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 (link opens in a new window). 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 (link opens in a new window). 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 BlackBoard course management system during the first on-campus session.
In 2000, several changes were made to the Program's structure to lessen time away from home and work and enhance the off-campus sessions. First, the schedule of on-campus sessions and classes was revised to reduce on-campus time to six one-week sessions. Second, enrollees take fewer courses at a time than previously and in a somewhat shorter semester. Third, in recognition of the growing importance of information technologies, more course work in information systems was added. Fourth, part-time enrollment options were made available.
Full-time students enroll for 22-months and participate in four semesters of study with six on-campus sessions. Each semester is comprised of both on and off-campus sessions. The mix of on-campus and off-campus study is designed to minimize time away from employment and home as well as travel expenses. During the six one-week on-campus sessions, students attend classes on the Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Part-time schedules are determined by the Program's director to meet individual students' needs.
During on-campus sessions, students attend lectures, participate in seminars, and use the Department's learning laboratory, computer facilities and library. 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.
During each off-campus semester, students continue course work at their home/work site using a carefully planned array of distance learning technologies. The Program uses the World Wide Web as the primary mode of communication during off-campus periods. This technology allows students and faculty to communicate with one another asynchronously through personal computers equipped with Internet access. Thus, courses can be accessed anywhere via a local Internet provider or online service.
Each course has its own separate "electronic classroom" which serves as the primary channel to conduct seminars and discuss assignments and projects. These electronic classrooms are also used to distribute announcements, hold meetings, and facilitate informal communication among faculty and students. 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.
There is a heavy emphasis on computer communications. Proficiency with the use of personal computers is necessary. Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are used extensively throughout the program. Training on the Program's communications and other software is done during the initial on-campus session.
Tentative course schedules for MSHA Classes of 2020 and 2021
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. A description of the competency model for the MSHA program can be found here.
Each semester is composed both of on-campus and off-campus sessions. During the six one-week on-campus sessions, students attend professional program classes on the MCV Campus. During the off-campus session of each semester, students continue studies at their home or work site, employing a carefully planned array of distance-learning technologies. Students are required to complete a total of 41 semester hours (including transfer credit, if any) to qualify for the Master of Science in Health Administration degree. The curriculum consists of 14 courses listed below that must be completed by all degree candidates. All courses are three credits unless otherwise noted.
Full Time Enrollment
First Semester (Fall)
Second Semester (Spring)
Third Semester (Fall)
Fourth Semester (Spring)
Part Time Enrollment
Recognizing the challenge that full-time enrollment brings to busy careers and personal lives, the Department now offers part-time options in the MSHA Program. Part-time students generally enroll in 6 or 7 credit hours per semester and spend an additional 10 months in classes in the Program. The recommended part-time schedule is shown below. All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.
Health System Organization, Financing and Performance (HADE 602)
Health Economics (HADE 624)
Health Care Managerial Accounting (HADE 606)
Management of Health Care Organizations (HADE 647)
Spring 1 - Part 2
Health Care Politics and Policy (HADE 615)
Financial Management in Health Care Organizations (HADE 607)
Health Care Organization and Leadership (HADE 646)
Health Analytics & Decision Support (HADE 610)
Human Resources Management in Health Care (HADE 649)
Managerial Epidemiology (HADE 609, 2 credit)
Health Care Law and Bioethics (HADE 611)
Information Systems for Health Care Management (HADE 612)
Strategic Management in Health Care Organizations (HADE 648)
Health Care Marketing (HADE 614)