The master’s in health administration that is offered online through Penn State World Campus has received national accreditation after a rigorous review of the graduate degree program’s student success rates and its curriculum and faculty.

The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) approved the accreditation for seven years after the program met the organization’s 34 criteria for quality standards. The seven-year accreditation is the highest of its kind.

The Master of Health Administration (MHA) is offered online through a partnership between Penn State World Campus and the Penn State College of Health and Human Development. The program’s competency-based curriculum focuses on helping students gain the knowledge they will need to serve in leadership roles in the evolving health care industry.

This is the first time CAHME has accredited the online MHA program. Previously, the program was built on the curriculum, experience, and excellence of the CAHME–accredited residential MHA program that is offered at the Penn State University Park campus. The leaders of the online program took this opportunity to apply for its own accreditation to show the quality of the degree program. 

Chris Calkins, the executive director of the online MHA program, said the accreditation provides the validation of the degree program’s high-quality learning experience from peers in graduate health care education.

“Our accreditation is confirmation that the program is preparing students to lead in a dynamic health care environment,” Calkins said. “The successful placement and advancement of our students are further evidence that the program is preparing them well.”

CAHME is a premier global professional accrediting body of educational, professional, clinical, and other health sector organizations and is devoted to the improvement of education for health care management and administration professionals.

To earn the accreditation, the program completed a one-year self-study in 2020 to document its mission, curriculum, student experience, faculty teaching and scholarship, and the placement rates of its graduates. That was followed by an on-site visit in 2021 by representatives from CAHME who reviewed the documentation. The organization finalized the accreditation in late 2021.

What is the online Master of Health Administration?

The 49-credit online MHA curriculum has been designed for mid-career health care professionals who want to learn about the fundamentals of management and health services. The curriculum emphasizes competencies in ethical leadership, critical thinking, and communications and a broad understanding of the U.S. health care system. 

The program admits a cohort of 25 students each fall. Admitted students typically have five to eight years’ experience working in health care.

The program opened in 2012 and graduated the first cohort in 2014. To date, it has seen 197 students graduate. The most recent cohort graduated in December.

“In an online setting, our MHA students are able to get an outstanding education from professors who have experience working in health care settings, as well as those developing new areas of research on health care costs, access, and quality,” said Dennis Shea, associate dean for undergraduate studies and outreach in the College of Health and Human Development. “After they graduate, we’ve seen them start their own nonprofit organizations, receive promotions and accolades, and make a real difference for the communities where they live and work.”

Calkins said the next step for the program is to continue to evolve it to meet the challenges of health care delivery, access, and quality. 

“Our ongoing vision is to ensure that our alumni are prepared to lead with integrity, innovation, and empathy,” he said.

Learn more about the Master of Health Administration that is offered online through Penn State World Campus.