Overview and philosophy

The Master of Health Administration program is designed to prepare persons for administrative roles ultimately leading to top-level executive positions in complex health services organizations. The curriculum emphasizes strategic and operational management, thus orienting students toward the broad spectrum of managerial problems and functions likely to be encountered by health services organizations.

The program’s educational objectives and content are based upon the premise that a large number of students who select this curriculum aspire to become senior executives of health care organizations at some point in their careers. The graduate M.H.A. program is designed for full-time students.

The M.H.A. program was accredited initially in 1968, one of the first programs in the United States to achieve that status. It has continuously maintained its national accreditation status and in 2017 the program was awarded a seven-year accreditation..

The administrative residency/internship is an integral part of VCU’s M.H.A. program. The basic purpose of the residency/internship is to provide students opportunities to apply and further develop their administrative knowledge and skills through a period of applied experience in an operational setting. The administrative residency/internship is supervised directly by experienced executives who serve as the students’ preceptors.

Through a carefully selected and organized residency/internship experience, students strengthen the foundation of general knowledge and skills gained through the core curriculum and develop further insight and expertise in their selected concentrations. Students serve their residency/internship in the type of health care organization in which they wish to gain specialized knowledge, skills and experience. Overall policies and guidance for the administrative residency/internship are established by the Department of Health Administration and are included in the administrative residency handbook.

Students become eligible for entrance into the administrative residency/internship after completing specified course work and achieving an overall GPA of 3.0. Students on academic probation or with any incomplete grades during their final on-campus semester prior to their residency may be, at the discretion of the faculty, prevented from entering their residency although their overall GPA is 3.0 or higher. In addition to meeting the academic requirements, the student must, in the judgment of the faculty, present evidence of readiness for a clinical experience by demonstrating sufficient academic proficiency in the core areas of the curriculum and by demonstrating professional maturity. The director of the M.H.A. program or designee has the responsibility to coordinate residency placements. In making these assignments, the director will consider the preferences of the students, the preferences of the preceptors and the recommendations of faculty advisers.

Program goal

The specific mission of the Master of Health Administration program is to prepare early careerists for management and leadership positions within complex health care organizations. The program is nationally accredited and has been consistently ranked in the top five programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

The overall purpose of the Department of Health Administration in which the M.H.A. is housed is to provide top quality education, research and service related to the organization and administration of health care services. The department also has a major research program and is involved in a wide range of public service activities, including professional development programs for health services administrators and other health professionals. 

The mission of the Department of Health Administration is to prepare, support and connect exceptional leaders who shape the health care industry. This is accomplished through:

  1. Educating the next generation of health administrators and enhancing the skills of the present generation
  2. Preparing a new generation of health services researchers and educators
  3. Creating and disseminating basic and applied knowledge about the management, organization, financing, function and performance of the health care system
  4. Serving people in the public and private sectors of the health care system

These activities, when mutually reinforced among all key people — faculty, staff, students, alumni — elevate the department to a premier status in the United States.

Student learning outcomes

Goal/domain Competency Description/learning outcomes
Communication and leadership management
Interpersonal communication Build collaborative relationships and negotiation skills
Writing skills Prepare 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 health care questions
Professionalism
Personal and professional ethics Adhere to ethical business principles; exhibit ethical behaviors
Professional and community contribution Participate in community service; balance professional and personal pursuits
Working in teams Create, participate in and lead teams, including interprofessionalism
Knowledge of the health care environment
Health care issues and trends Demonstrate knowledge of circumstances causing major changes and reform in U.S. health care delivery
Health care legal principles Discuss and critically analyze health-related legal principles including standards, regulations and risk management.
Health policy Articulate the impact of select health policies on the delivery of health services
Population health and status assessment Understand and explain the major factors in health status to health care professionals
Business and analytical skills
Financial management Demonstrate the ability to compile and analyze financial data; develop capital, operating and cash flow budgets; analyze investment data; pro forma development
Human resources Apply methods and techniques related to the management of health care organization employees and professional staff
Organizational dynamics and governance Understand and be able to explain the roles, responsibilities, structures and influence governing bodies hold in health care organizations
Strategic planning Ability to perform environmental analysis; 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 flow and communication
Quality improvement/ performance improvement Apply concepts of process improvement and patient safety to relevant problems
Quantitative skills Analyze data and interpret quantitative information
Planning and managing projects Design, plan, implement and assess projects related to performance, structure and outcomes of health services
Economic analysis and application Analyze and apply economic theory and concepts to business decisions
 

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Other information

All enrolled students will be provided a handbook at orientation.