Master’s in Health Science

A Diverse Degree Option for Health Professionals

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Health Science Resources:

One of the country’s largest and most complex industries, health care is an integrated system of patient care provision, research, technology, health administration, policy, advocacy and education. The future of health care in the U.S. is dependent on educating the next generation of health professionals. Graduate education is essential to preparing tomorrow’s leaders to meet the demands and challenges of a rapidly changing and growing industry.

As a very broad area of graduate study, health science enables prospective health care professionals, working administrators and practicing clinicians to expand their skill sets in specialized areas of study, ranging from health policy to environmental health, community health to integrative health and wellness. This guide provides a high-level overview of master’s degree options in health sciences, areas of study, specific curriculum and career opportunities, as well as an interview with a professor in a Master of Health Science degree program.

Sponsored Listing

The George Washington University

The George Washington University offers online graduate programs designed to prepare leaders in the areas of health policy, administration, informatics, translational research and regulatory compliance:

Online Master of Public Health - Simmons College

Simmons’ online Master of Public Health program, MPH@Simmons, is designed to give you the real-world skills you need to address health inequity on a local, national, and global scale. You’ll learn core public health methodology, leadership, and advocacy skills needed to improve population health equity. Request Information.

MPH & DrPH Online - Capella University

Capella University's online MPH and DrPH programs prepare future community health leaders with practical knowledge in epidemiology, biostatistics, public health administration systems and more. Scholarships are available. Request more information.

Top Master’s in Health Science Programs: 2016

The best master’s in health science programs offer rigorous academics, advanced training in new technologies and a full staff of dedicated professionals to help students achieve their dreams of a master’s degree. The schools listed here have been ranked as having the very best master’s in health sciences programs in the country, using a variety of stringent specifications – like class size and graduation rate – so that those on the search for the right program have a solid place to start. Discover which school’s master’s in health science program might be the right fit for your needs.

For details on the methodology for this ranking, please visit our methodology page.

Score:

97.34

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Oklahoma

Diverse master's degrees are conferred in health sciences and allied health. Professionals with prior health services experience may choose the Master of Public Health program. Up to 11 tracks are offered, including biostatistics, public health preparedness and terrorist response, health administration and environmental health. The curriculum totals approximately 44 credit hours. Focal areas of classes include principles of epidemiology, health law and regulations, healthcare policies, quality management and health economics. A seminar, on-campus research projects and a practicum are necessary to finish some degree tracks. Academic and career advising are available for University of Oklahoma students.

Score:

97.06

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Utah

Utah State University's degrees in health science and allied health range from health and human movement to health promotion. The university's numerous degree programs prepare graduates who plan to work as physical therapists, community health educators, fitness instructors or public health managers. A graduate degree in fitness promotion offers specializations in health education, sports medicine and exercise science. Coursework covers sport in society, human anatomy, physiology, biophysical aspects of physical activity and fitness as therapy. Research, creative projects and internships expand learning. Part-time students can finish coursework and other requirements within about three years, as opposed to two years for full-time students.

Score:

96.44

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Texas

The health sciences master's degree program can give students skills and knowledge to promote community health and educate the public to reduce the spread of disease. Graduates may manage health service organizations, conduct research in the field or advocate for healthcare improvements inside or outside of political circles. The school operates on a semester basis. The 36 credit hours required include courses like research design, health behavior theories and models, allied health sciences and statistics. Master's degree candidates have the option of completing a thesis or an internship, which requires a background check. The University of Texas at Tyler offers academic and career counseling.

Score:

96.23

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Utah

The University of Utah's Master of Science in Public Health is designed for those interested in research, education or advanced studies for a doctorate degree. Graduate health science degrees can be earned in fields such as public health or occupational and environmental health. The Master of Public Health has less of an emphasis on research and it targets individuals who want to work in administrative or managerial roles. It can take two to three years to finish the 45-credit program. Biostatistics, foundations of public health, clinical research methods and healthcare administration are core classes that students take while pursuing either public health specialization.

Score:

96.23

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Arkansas

Master's degrees offered through the Health, Human Performance and Sports Management Department range from exercise science to health education and promotion. Students take nine credit hours of core courses in subjects including biostatistics, human anatomy, nutritional therapy and managing healthcare plans. An additional 27 credit hours are earned in the student's elected concentration. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock emphasizes learning opportunities through community service and behavioral research. The admission requirements for the health science graduate program include a statement of intent, three reference letters, GRE scores and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Score:

95.73

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

California

California State University-Fresno offers a Master of Public Health degree, with many graduates going on to careers in government service. Among these career fields are public and environmental health professionals, allied health specialists and occupational health specialists. Accredited by the Council of Education for Public Health, the program's curriculum includes classes like program planning, applied research and community service in underserved areas. The Fresno campus program is taught on a part-time basis. Because of this, students should expect to take three years to graduate. Applications are accepted once a year.

Score:

95.73

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

California

The Master of Public Health at California State University-Long Beach aims to teach students how to use statistical techniques to find solutions to community health problems. Other skills gained include how to manage and administer public health programs, understand public policies and working with people from diverse cultures. Courses in the graduate program include advanced community health statistics, research in health disparities, environmental health and risk reduction and health promotion. A seminar and a thesis are also built into the curriculum. Total credit hours are between 42 and 43, 18 of which are electives. Students complete an internship prior to graduation.

Score:

95.66

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Florida

Healthcare administration is the focus of the University of Central Florida's master's degree program in health sciences. An executive track is available for professionals who have at least three years of experience working in health services as managers or clinicians. A minimum of 44 credit hours are required for the executive program, with a culminating capstone course in strategic management. The traditional master's degree program comprises 51 credits with a final project and internship. Core classes include statistics and research, quality and risk management, healthcare law and ethics and epidemiology. The university emphasizes independent yet interactive learning through inquiry and dialogue.

Score:

95.34

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Florida

Florida Gulf Coast University's Master of Health Science has two concentrations: health professions education and health services administration. The focus of the curriculum centers on topics like comparative policy studies, applied analytics, occupational health, environmental health and organizational management. Upon graduation, students should know how to review legal and ethical issues to improve healthcare policies and practices. They should also know how to study and comprehend healthcare statistics. A minimum of 36-credit hours and at least a 3.0 GPA are needed to graduate. One capstone project and an internship are also required.

Score:

95.02

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Florida

The University of North Florida's health sciences degrees are administered through the school's Brooks College of Health. Master's level degrees range from healthcare management to public health. Concentrations are also available in areas such as exercise physiology and epidemiology. Some of the courses that make up the curriculum are biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health and advanced financial management. Applications for some programs are only approved for the fall semester. It takes about two years to complete the 39 to 54 credit hours for the various graduate programs on a full-time basis and requirements typically include a thesis or an internship.

Score:

94.90

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

New Jersey

At New Jersey City University, the master's degree in health science prepares adults to service members of underrepresented communities from a public health perspective. Students can choose to specialize in areas such as health administration and school health education. The curriculum explores occupational and environmental safety and health, research methods, epidemiology and community nutrition. Other subjects of study could include fiscal management, trends in mental health treatment or managed healthcare plans. It usually takes 36 credit hours to complete graduation requirements. Applicants for this selective program need a minimum 2.75 out of a 4.0 GPA, and there are instances when the school requires an interview with applicants.

Score:

94.23

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

New York

Varied graduate programs in allied health and health science include a master's degree in health and human performance. Those enrolled in the program can focus on topics such as rehabilitation, physical conditioning and health promotion. Research projects and laboratory work are performed by instructors and students at the school's Human Performance Center. Classes include epidemiology, research strategies, nutrition, exercise therapy, cardiopulmonary pathophysiology and disease prevention. The Jesuit community at Canisius College encourages students to engage in reflection and self-assessment as they build their professional skills. Graduation requirements include core courses and internships or a thesis, and classes follow an 8-week schedule.

Score:

94.14

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Ohio

The university confers a Master of Science in Allied Health that allows students to focus on areas such as leadership or education. Studies at Otterbein University are meant to improve skills for scientific and clinical practice, research methods and curriculum design. Depending on the choice of academic emphasis, prerequisites include financial accounting, anatomy, physiology and statistics. The curriculum covers 36 credit hours with courses available in program planning, ethics, health and wellness, allied healthcare administration and athletic training. Time of completion varies depending on students' availability and whether they enter the program with an associate degree or a bachelor's degree.

Score:

93.02

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Pennsylvania

Drexel University's Master of Health Administration is a 45-credit graduate program. The program is designed to prepare students to enter senior management roles. Students benefit from having an existing management or administrative background before they start the program. Emphasis areas include financial accountability, transformational leadership, managing teams, human resources management and problem solving. Course pace options allow students to complete the program in two or three years. During the 5-day residency, a management scenario is reenacted. In addition to a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Score:

92.30

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

yes

State:

Illinois

The numerous health science graduate programs available through Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine cover a range of disciplines. Studies at the master's level offer specializations such as the healthcare quality and patient safety degree, which is geared toward clinicians and non-clinicians alike. Ten core courses on topics like healthcare administration and quality improvement are built into this program. Experiential learning is the focus of a mentored capstone course that requires the design, implementation and assessment of a project focused on quality or safety improvement. The university emphasizes interactive lessons, with an intensive class schedule that includes a two-week introductory session and a week-long summer session.

Score:

90.31

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

no

State:

South Carolina

The Medical University of South Carolina's Department of Public Health Sciences offers a Master of Science in Biostatistics and a Master of Science in Epidemiology. The school's biostatistics program emphasizes methodology research, and students work with the Data Coordination Unit to design clinical trials and analyze data. Illnesses and diseases that graduates should be prepared to study and help develop treatment programs for include Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's and mental health illnesses.

Both the biostatistics and the epidemiology program require students to complete a thesis. Records needed to apply include Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, transcripts, three reference letters and a purpose statement.

Score:

90.17

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

no

State:

Ohio

The Master of Arts in Integrative Health Studies at Antioch University-Midwest is an interdisciplinary program. Adults who are interested in working as life coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs or caregivers are best suited for the program. Skills people with these interests learn focus on the mind, body and spirit connection. In addition to research and academic writing, there are a series of core courses to complete. Among these core courses are health communication, systematic ways of knowing, body mind healing and social responsibility. Thirty-six credit hours or 12 courses are the minimum graduation requirements. Before completing a thesis, the option must be approved by an academic advisor.

Score:

90.08

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

no

State:

Tennessee

This Master of Science in Public Health degree focuses on the scientific knowledge needed by health service professionals. Meharry Medical College's program gives students skills to analyze health statistics, interpret government policies and engage members from diverse communities to educate the public. However, the main aim of the program is to prepare graduates to serve children and adults from underrepresented areas. Biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, research and health administration are focus areas of the curriculum. The MS program consists of 45 credit hours divided between core courses and electives. Prior to graduating, students complete a 400-hour externship.

Score:

89.92

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

no

State:

California

At Loma Linda University, students may choose from 11 different specialization options when pursuing their master's in public health degrees. Biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, global health, maternal and child health and population medicine are among concentration options. While many of the concentrations contain a research project, some also require submission of a thesis prior to graduation. Students can expect to complete to program in two to three years and may enter into fields like healthcare education, consultation, research and public policy management. Three letters of recommendation, a statement of intent and undergraduate transcripts must be submitted during the application process.

Score:

88.64

Academic/Career Counseling:

no

Placement services for completers:

no

State:

New Jersey

With the restructuring of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, health science programs are now available through the Rutgers School of Health Related Professions. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, offers an array of on-campus graduate programs in allied health. Web-based courses make up part of the health science master's degree program, which has areas of concentration such as education or integrative health and wellness. The core curriculum includes classes on disease management, healthcare informatics, statistics, dietetics and public policy. It takes approximately 30-33 credit hours for students who hold bachelor's degree to earn these credentials, and those attending part-time have a maximum of five years to complete requirements.

Score:

89.57

Academic/Career Counseling:

yes

Placement services for completers:

no

State:

Nevada

The Master of Science in Occupational Health at Touro University Nevada offers training for professionals working with children and adult clients who are dealing with an array of challenges, including autism, spinal cord injuries, chronic illnesses and addictions. Potential career paths include therapists, consultants and healthcare educators. Studies could cover clinical reasoning, foundations of occupational therapy, social justice, assistive devices and movement analysis. Labs and field work constitute other curriculum components. Minimum admission requirements include an associate or bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a 3.0 GPA and completed prerequisites in areas such as psychology, humanities, anatomy and human development.

Breaking Down the Master’s in Health Science

The Master of Health Science (MHS) is one of the most commonly pursued graduate degree paths for both current health science and health care professionals and students transitioning from a bachelor’s degree to master’s degree program of study. Inherently flexible, the MHS can help current working professionals enhance their existing skill sets, while also preparing students for new careers in a range of health care arenas. The sections below dive deeper into details of the MHS, including its value, curriculum structure, areas of specialization and outcomes.

ROI of a Master’s in Health Science

Before enrolling in a master’s of health sciences program, prospective students should get an understanding of the total cost, which is more than just financial resources. Whether the student is a practicing nurse looking to move into administration or a recent psychology graduate who wants to pursue a career in community health policy, the question is the same: “Is an MHS degree worth it?” Below are some important factors to consider:

Time

Most MHS and MSHS programs require students to complete between 30 and 36 credit hours of study to graduate. Roughly, that comprises two years of full-time study. Can the working professional commit that much time to complete the degree? Can they sacrifice time at work or with their family?

Educational Match

The master’s degree in health science is, by nature, a broad degree program, which means it actually may not be the right degree for some health professionals. Students should determine if the philosophy and principles of the MHS program align with the type of professional training they are seeking. Depending on their area of practice or interest, students may find a Master of Public Health, Master of Nursing or Master of Health Administration to be a more appropriate graduate degree program.

Cost

On the financial cost front, the average in-state graduate tuition for general MHS programs was $14,695 in 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, calculating the cost of attending graduate school goes beyond tuition, books and fees. There’s a soft opportunity cost associated with completing a master’s degree. Students should also consider how their commitment to their graduate studies may affect their work and family situations.

On the other hand, completing a master’s degree in health sciences can impact employment opportunities and potential career earnings. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), approximately 31 percent of individuals in health-related fields earn a graduate degree at some point in their career, and experience an average earnings increase of 50 percent.

In a recent 2015 study, CEW also found that graduate degree holders in health-related fields had some of the lowest unemployment rates, a mere 2.0% nationally. Additionally, health care and health-related occupations have some of the best career prospects nationally, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, below is a list of five health-related occupations projected to grow by at least 15% nationally between 2012 and 2022.

health-related fields unemployment rates
Community health workers 25%
Healthcare administrators 23%
Health educators 19%
Registered nurses 19%
Environmental scientists 15%

Of those in general medical and health services professions, 37% go on to earn a graduate degree, boosting their median earnings76% to $79,200

MHS Programs & Coursework

Because of their transformative natures, health care and health sciences both require patient care clinicians, administrators and researchers to have dynamic, adaptable skill sets. Although vigorous, the Master of Health Sciences is a highly customizable program that can be adjusted to meet the requirements of numerous professional health care specializations. The MHS builds upon a foundation of various areas of undergraduate study, such as psychology, nursing, biology, public health or education. In turn, the degree is a viable option for any number of individuals, such as working nurses pursuing leadership as a clinical department supervisor, recent bachelor’s degree graduates preparing for a career in health care management, or health educators desiring a director-level position.

Within that larger context, prospective students should gain an understanding of the degree itself. The section below offers a review of the different types of MHS programs, coursework, and how the degree can be applied to various career paths in the health sciences.

MHS Programs

Health science master’s degrees can be divided into two graduate-level paths: a Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) and the Master of Health Science (MHS). Generally speaking, there are minimal differences between the two degree tracks. However, both the MHS and MSHS may offer academic- or professional-based curricula, designed to either prepare students to continue into doctoral programs of study or to advance their careers as public health practitioners.

Master of Science in Health Sciences

Typically, the MSHS is a research-based graduate program of study that develops critical inquiry skills through research methods, quantitative data analysis and evidenced-based review of scientific literature. Students complete a broad set of core courses in the health sciences, such as health behavior, statistics for health sciences, research design, public health epidemiology and health service administration. Through electives, students can specialize their program of study in different public health specializations, including health care management, health care policy, disease management, public health, health education and others. Designed to accommodate students from diverse educational and professional backgrounds, the MSHS can serve as a starting point for future doctoral training.

Master of Health Sciences

The MHS degree is designed to prepare students to conduct research, advance their current careers or continue into doctoral training programs in specific public health disciplines. These degree programs offer a significant level of flexibility, allowing students to craft a plan of study that includes core course and electives that match their educational background and professional area of practice. Broadly, curriculum includes generalist coursework in areas such as research methods, health care ethics, health policy and management, biostatistics and trends in health care. Specialized coursework may include the study of risk management, public health, health services leadership, health policy, health education and more.

What You Can Do with Your Master’s in Health Science?

With its vast target audience, the master’s in health science degree can serve students from health care fields (such as nursing, medicine and allied health) as well as broader health-related areas, including community health, education and public health. It is a valuable degree because students from multiple educational and professional backgrounds can leverage a single graduate program of study.

The MHS offers numerous concentration areas that enable working professionals to develop specialized skills, while also preparing bachelor’s degree holders to pursue any number of health-related occupations. Below is a list of some common subject concentrations from campus-based MHS programs around the country.

Health Policy

An interdisciplinary track, health policy brings together the study of public administration, health science and economics. Students are introduced to theories of organizational management, health economics, health policy issues, public policy administration and more.

Careers in Health Policy

Career 1: Health Officer

Career 2: Health Policy Analyst

Health Services Administration

Designed to emphasize leadership qualities from each arena, the administration track exposes students to multiple academic disciplines, such as health science, economics and business management. Students receive extensive training in topics such as negotiation theory, health leadership, conflict intervention, strategic planning, health economics and more.

Careers in Health Services Administration

Career 1: Director, Patient Care Services

Career 2: Hospital Administrator

Community Health

In this track, students study the underlying cultural, social and psychological factors that impact health-related behaviors and practices of individuals and communities. Students are introduced to major concepts in social action theory, biological and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, training and development, community organization and more.

Careers in Community Health

Career 1: Community Education Specialist

Career 2: Director, Institute for Community Health

Environmental Health

This track studies the connection between environmental and occupational issues and human health. In this dynamic program of study, students receive training in health research, public health biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental analysis and more.

Careers in Environmental Health

Career 1: Environmental Health Specialist

Career 2: Solid Waste Specialist

Risk Management

In this educational track, students develop an understanding of the major concepts behind risk management and compliance in health care. Focused on patient safety, the coursework in this specialization covers subjects such as quality assurance, regulatory compliance in health care, health care management and more.

Careers in Risk Management

Career 1: Risk Management Specialist

Career 2: Health Risk Analyst

MHS Coursework

At its core, health science is concerned with the study of many different facets of human health and health care. Students are introduced to the intricacies of public health and its complex relationship to the health care system, the local community, patient care providers, and more. MHS programs are designed to introduce students to the conceptual framework of public policy, as well as statistical and research methods, teaching them how to integrate both into real-world applications in numerous health-related occupations. Below is a list of example coursework from various master’s in health science degree concentrations.

RISK MANAGEMENT

  • Health Care Quality Assurance

    In this class, students will examine two major topics of study: risk management and quality assurance in the U.S. health care system. Students will study performance management, quality improvement, research methods and more.

  • Regulatory Compliance in Health Care

    This course covers concepts such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). Students learn about creating effective compliance programs, discuss the role of health care compliance and explore ethical case studies.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

  • Environmental Analysis

    Students are introduced to various techniques and approaches to environmental hazard identification, reduction and compliance. Topics of study include environmental hazard assessment, air and water sampling, living systems and more.

  • Biostatistics for Public Health

    This course covers various biostatistical methods and topics such as probability theory, statistics and more. In addition to developing inferential analysis skill building, students also learn to use statistical software packages, such as SAS.

HEALTH POLICY & ADMINISTRATION

  • Healthcare Trends

    In this course, students become acquainted with the major cultural issues and trends in health care, and how they impact the delivery of health services, patient care, and organization of the health care system.

  • Ethics of Healthcare

    Through this course, students examine ethical issues facing patients, patient care providers and the community. Topics of study include resource allocation, informed consent, right to life and more.

  • U.S. Health Policy

    Students explore the history of health care policy in the United States at the local, state and federal levels. There is an emphasis on analyzing health policy process, from creation to implementation, impact to analysis.

  • Health Care Management   Principles

    The instruction in this course examines different management principles and how they relate to modern health care professionals in different settings. Subjects of study include organizational management, conflict resolution, resource management and more.

Selecting an MHS: What to Consider

Graduate degrees are designed to develop a student’s expertise in their field and to bolster their professional reputations. Finding the right match between student and school is paramount to ensuring an optimal result.

Students should pursue universities and specific departments that graduate respected professionals in their area of practice. If the department or faculty are not committed to student success or are not graduating students into leadership positions within health-related fields, the program may not be a good fit. Below is a list of four additional factors that prospective MHS students may want to consider when reviewing potential programs.

1.
Community Relationships

Students should ask about the program’s and faculty’s relationship to the community. Does the program have a positive relationship with the local health care system, such as hospitals, physicians and nurses? Are graduates landing positions with those organizations? Does the program offer internship or residency options for students in the MHS program?

2.
Faculty Mix

Many students tend to overlook faculty during the review process, but it’s important to understand who is teaching the courses. What is the educational and professional background of faculty members? Do faculty in the desired concentration area have solid experience in that field?

3.
Available Concentration

Not all MHA programs offer an array of concentration options. Students should seek out departments that allow them to create a tailored program of study and that have concentrations available in their desired field of study.

4.
Thesis or Non-Thesis Options

Depending on the specific program, students may be asked to complete a thesis or capstone project prior to graduation. This factor is a personal preference, based on the student’s desire to complete a comprehensive writing or project-focused assignment.

Timeline of the Master’s in Health Science

After becoming acquainted with the program’s concentrations, curriculum and coursework, students should develop some expectations as to the actual graduate school experience. Students should expect to spend at least two years completing 30 to 36 credit hours of study in their MHS program. The hypothetical timeline below describes a two-year MHS program in community health.

Step 1: Prior to Application

  • Create a list of target schools
  • Arrange an in-person meeting with the program director
  • Review the school’s and program’s websites
  • Request informational materials about the school and program
  • Speak to alumni of the program, if possible

Step 2: Collect Materials & Prepare Application

Although specific items vary by program, below is a list of materials and requirements students may need in order to apply to an MHS program.

  • GRE scores
  • Resume or CV
  • Personal Statement
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Written test (program specific)
  • Interview

Degree Timeline

  • Semester 1 (Fall)
  • Meet with faculty advisor
  • Take course: Research Methods in Health
  • Take course: Program Planning in Health Education
  • Take course: Introduction to Health Behavior
  • Take course: Health Care Policy
  • File a graduate plan of study
  • Semester 2 (Spring)
  • Take course: Introduction to Health Promotion
  • Take course: Quantitative Analysis of Community Health
  • Take course: Health Administration
  • Take course: Leadership Skills
  • Begin research for thesis or capstone project
  • Semester 3 (Fall)
  • Take course: Health Care Systems
  • Take course: School Health Trends and Modern Issues
  • Take course: Health Care Marketing and Strategic Planning
  • Begin writing thesis or capstone project
  • Semester 4 (Spring)
  • Complete program evaluation
  • Complete comprehensive examinations
  • Defend thesis or capstone project

Student Profiles

Registered Nurse

Samantha H. is an RN with nine years of experience in a family medicine private practice. By customizing a program of study in community health, she can develop a suite of skills and knowledge that complement her longstanding nursing experience, potentially leading to a director position in a community health agency setting.

Student 2

Mark R. is a health care risk analyst with a bachelor’s degree in business and five years of field experience. Seeking advancement to risk manager, he can use the MHS degree to enhance his existing experience and gain exposure to advanced topics of study in risk management, preparing him for post-graduation certifications and credentials.

Interview with Brian Raming, Assistant Professor at Western Carolina University

What’s your current role and position at WCU?

I am an Assistant Professor within the Master of Health Sciences – Management Concentration at Western Carolina University. My teaching load includes graduate-level courses with a few health care management related undergraduate courses (e.g. health care law, management and health care systems).

Could you briefly tell us about your career path? How did you end up in the field and why did you choose academia?

I graduated with a baccalaureate in Emergency Medical Care in 1992 from Western Carolina University. I then went to work full-time as a street paramedic and taught certification courses part-time. After five years, a fellow graduate and friend contacted me and asked if I would ever consider teaching for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Sciences at a NC Community College and I took the position.

I continued to work part-time as a street paramedic. Eventually, I ended up becoming the Program Director. In 2001, the friend that asked me to come teach decided that he wanted to get his MBA in Health Care Management. So I, too, enrolled in the MBA – Health Care Management program through the University of Phoenix. I loved the online environment and the program and ended up being one of the founding faculty to push for online education at the Community College where I was teaching.

During the MBA program, I took a course in Organizational Behavior and fell in love with the topic. I found that the EMS world would really benefit from some of the OB constructs I was learning. In 2004, I graduated with an MBA in Health Care Management. I wanted to continue with the Organizational Behavior area, so I began my search for a PhD program. During the search, someone suggested looking into Psychology with a focus on Industrial and Organizational Psychology because I really found the motivation, job satisfaction and employer/employee relationship to be the most interesting aspects of OB.

I ended up choosing that route, as it also broadened my potential teaching areas to psychology. I enrolled in the PhD in Psychology with specialization in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program through Capella University, graduating in 2009. As I was finishing my dissertation, another friend called and asked if I would be interested in being the Program Director for a new baccalaureate program – Health Care Administration and Informatics – that Western Carolina University was attempting to start up. I interviewed and was offered the position. Due to budget issues in the North Carolina University System and the hiring of a new Chancellor and Provost for the University, the College of Health and Human Sciences at Western Carolina University decided to indefinitely table the proposal after a year of planning.

Because of my academic background, the College of Health Sciences asked me to stay on in the Emergency Medical Care program, teaching both medical courses in paramedicine and the management courses required for some of the other medical degree programs that use health administration courses. This lasted for about two years. In 2013, I was asked to move full-time into the Master of Health Sciences program and continue to do some undergraduate health care administration/management courses, which is where I am now.

Do you have any advice for prospective students considering a master’s degree and/or career in the health sciences?

The most significant piece of advice I can offer would be for a student to find a program with characteristics that best contribute to their success and enjoyment. Some programs are traditional seated programs, where the student attends a campus for classes, while others are partially or fully online. Some programs have faculty that are professionals and teach part-time, and some have full-time professors that have managerial work experience. There are programs with big class sizes that promote collaboration and networking, and some with smaller class sizes and more personal attention. With all the choices out there, it is important that each student researches aspects such as program delivery, courses offered/required and faculty experience/background to find the best fit.

What types of careers do graduates of the health sciences at WCU pursue?

Many of our students in the Master of Health Sciences program at Western Carolina University are already working professionals in a wide variety of health care areas. Most of these professionals are looking to move up into management within their current organization. The program also has some students who are looking to change organizations or geographic locations, and see a horizontal move into management as a logical step. Being that health care management programs are so highly competitive these days, it’s rare that we get a student at the master’s level looking to break into health care from another professional area. Positions that our students pursue run the gamut from shift supervisor to unit manager to top organizational administrator.

Master’s in Health Science Program Spotlights

There is a wealth of educational options for potential master’s in health services students around the country. This diversity can make it challenging to identify the best program and assess the quality of its faculty and curriculum. We have reviewed institutions that offer master’s degree programs in health science and compiled a list of the schools that provide the highest caliber of training and graduate education opportunities.

Boise State University

Located in Boise, Idaho, Boise State University offers a Master of Health Science program through its College of Health Sciences. The MHS provides students with a comprehensive background in public health issues. It is designed for two audiences: 1) The bachelor’s degree holder desiring additional training prior to entering the profession and 2) The working professional seeking advanced training in their practice area. Students in the MHS program can select from one of four concentration areas of study:

  • Evaluation and Research
  • Health Policy
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services and Leadership

Applicants are expected to have a background in health issues in their undergraduate programs of study, in subject areas including psychology, biology, nursing, public health, education or other health-related areas. Students can typically complete the 36-credit program degree in two years of full-time study.

Duke University

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University offers a Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Leadership. This 42-credit program is designed to prepare health care professionals for leadership positions in the field. An interdisciplinary degree, the clinical leadership program is a joint effort between the School of Nursing, the Fuqua School of Business, the School of Law and the Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy.

Combining theoretical coursework with application-based instruction, the MHS program develops skills in decision-making, collaboration, communication and teamwork. Through the two-year program of study, students take courses in economics, law, financial management, informatics, organizational behavior, strategic planning, health policy and more. Applicants must have at least an accredited bachelor’s degree in a clinical discipline; however, many applicants are practicing health care professionals who hold advanced degrees, including Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Master of Nursing.