Credits and costs
Enhance your Leadership Capacity; Make a Difference in the Lives of Others
The health care system of the future must focus on greater efficiency and quality through improved technology, organization, and management. There is growing demand for new leaders who can find solutions to the problems we face, both now and in the future.
A Master of Health Administration in Health Policy and Administration (MHA) can help you combine your health-related work experience with a strong business management education, expanding your qualifications for challenging leadership positions in health care and giving you the tools to lead change in a dynamic environment.
Why Penn State World Campus?
An online MHA from Penn State can provide opportunities for advancement in your career as a health care professional. The degree program is a collaboration between Penn State World Campus and the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the Penn State College of Health and Human Development. This partnership connects you with faculty from a highly ranked program, with 25 years of experience guiding student learning. Experienced faculty, the residential MHA program's 4,000+ alumni, and professional contacts help maintain the focus on emerging and complex health care leadership challenges.
Our online program is built on the experience and excellence of our nationally ranked residential MHA program, established more than twenty-five years ago and recently awarded a seven-year re-accreditation (the highest achievable) by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).
The online learning format offered by Penn State World Campus makes it possible for you to fit a degree program into your life. The flexibility of studying when and where you want can give you the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge you need to make critical decisions that can affect the lives of patients and employees while maintaining your current role.
Who Should Apply?
The rapid evolution of the health care environment through changes in population demographics, legislation, regulation, policy, and technology means that updating your education is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. If you have work experience in health care and want to enhance your applied business management skills, Penn State's online MHA program was designed for you. As an applicant to the program, you should have strong academic preparation, three or more years of full-time professional work experience (preferably in health care), and references from professional peers or supervisors who can attest to your commitment to the profession.
The MHA curriculum can provide you with a fundamental understanding of management and health services. The courses have been designed to prepare you for the requirements of increased accountability, organization, and management.
Inspired by the fields of health care and business management, Penn State's 49-credit online MHA program can help you gain a solid foundation of knowledge that combines both of these disciplines. The curriculum emphasizes competencies in ethical leadership, critical thought, and oral and written communication, as well as a broad understanding of the U.S. health care system. Areas of study include:
- financing health care
- clinical issues for health services management
- quality improvement in health care
- health care marketing
- health economics
- health law
- information systems in health services administration
Penn State's online MHA program spans seven continuous semesters and is composed of 17 total courses, including an integrative online independent study and two face-to-face management intensives, totaling 49 credits — designed to be completed within 28 months. An online orientation precedes the first semester of courses.
If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
We follow a cohort model, with admissions occurring once each year, in the fall. Your application portfolio, including receipt of all transcripts and references, must be received by the following deadline to be considered complete. Applicants are encouraged to submit all portfolio items as early as possible.
- Fall Deadline: Apply by April 1, 2024, to start August 19, 2024
If you have any questions throughout the admissions process, please contact an admissions counselor.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
Penn State's online MHA program is designed for early to mid-level career professionals seeking to change positions in the health care industry or advance within their own organizations. Our cohorts are comprised of individuals who are working in a wide variety of health settings in entry-level to high-level leadership roles. We offer priority consideration to students with three or more years of full-time professional work experience (preferably in health care) but encourage applicants from all backgrounds to apply.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed — Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript directly from each institution to the Graduate School, with no exceptions. You will receive instructions at that time.
GPA and Test Scores — postsecondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required. The program prefers an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
GRE and GMAT scores are not required for admission to this program.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
References (2) — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of two references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
References should come from professional peers and/or managers and supervisors.
Résumé — Upload your résumé (one to two pages) to the online application.
Personal Statement (PDF Required) — Please make sure to answer all questions and limit your answer to no more than 1000 words.
1. Describe your personal, academic, and professional background.
2. Why did you become interested in the health care industry?
3. What are your career goals?
4. How will the MHA degree contribute to your career goals?
Please feel free to share any unique or distinctive details about your life story. You may include events or individuals who have influenced you.
Essay 1 (PDF required) — Please limit your answer to no more than 500 words.
1. Describe two specific goals that you have set for yourself.
2. Explain the factors that led to your pursuit of each of these goals.
3. Tell us what you learned, how you faced challenges, and how you defined success.
Essay 2 (PDF required) — Please limit your answer to no more than 500 words.
1. Describe a time when you set aside your own priorities to help someone else.
2. What were the circumstances?
3. What was the impact of your decision?
Interview — The admissions committee will review all completed application materials and determine if an applicant will be asked to participate in a brief interview, via Zoom, to assess the potential for success in an online program and the profession.
Interview Selection Process — All applications will be reviewed in their entirety by the MHA Admissions Committee. Candidates who score above an established threshold on the written application will be invited to interview via Zoom. This hourlong discussion forms the basis for offers of admission to be extended.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the graduate school application
- Choose Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission"
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the technical requirements for this degree program.
Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?
Advance Your Career
Advance Your Career
An online MHA from Penn State can provide opportunities for career advancement. You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.
Management intensives give students the opportunity to network and enhance knowledge in key areas.
To learn more about the Master of Health Administration, offered in partnership with Penn State’s Department of Health Policy and Administration in the College of Health and Human Development, please contact:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Email: [email protected]
Online MHA Program
Department of Health Policy and Administration
The Pennsylvania State University
118 Keller Building
University Park PA 16802-1300
Email: [email protected]
DegreePh.D., Health Policy and Administration, Penn State
DegreeMPA, California State University, East Bay
DegreeB.S., Health Planning and Administration, Penn State
Dr. Chris Calkins leads the MHA programs and teaches the leadership ethics course that sets the foundation for all new students. He serves as faculty associate to the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health and is a board member of the Quell Foundation. Research interests include mental health access and treatment, decision-making and informed consent, and palliative and end-of-life care. Dr. Calkins has broad experience in health care organizations and leverages that experience on behalf of all MHA students and alumni.
Christopher S. Hollenbeak
DegreePh.D., Economics, Washington University in St. Louis
DegreeM.A., Economics, Washington University in St. Louis
DegreeB.A., Economics, Brigham University
Dr. Christopher S. Hollenbeak is a professor and department head of Health Policy and Administration. Prior to HPA, he was professor of surgery and public health sciences, chief of the division of outcomes research and quality, and associate director of the Center for Applied Studies in Health Economics at Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Hollenbeak has extensive research expertise in health services and outcomes research with an emphasis on economic evaluation in surgery. His research is directed at public health and clinical audiences to inform clinical decision-making and public policy.
Ronald J. McConnell
DegreeFellow (FACHE), American College of Healthcare Executives
DegreeGraduate Certificate, Financial Management, Gannon University
DegreeMBA, Finance, Gannon University
DegreeB.S., Resort Management/Business, Penn State
Ronald J. McConnell is an assistant teaching professor for the Master of Healthcare Administration program. Ron has broad, industry-based health care experience, having served in numerous roles over his nearly 25-year health care professional career — including as the chief operating officer for a major tertiary care hospital/health care system for more than a decade. Ron’s practical industry knowledge and passion for student learning greatly enrich the classroom learning experience.
DegreePh.D., Health Policy and Management, Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health
DegreeM.S., Management, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
DegreeB.S., Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Dr. Carol Mills has an extensive background in health care administration, assuming leadership positions in multiple settings in both provider and payor environments. She maintains credentials as a registered nurse. Her research interests include health care operations, rural health, health care delivery systems, and the health care workforce.
Troy A. Phillips
DegreeMHA, Penn State
DegreeB.S., Accounting, Elizabethtown College
Troy A. Phillips is an adjunct instructor for the online health care finance courses. He has spent more than 25 years in health care, currently working as an executive at a health care IT company. Previously, he served in executive roles in hospital finance, revenue cycle and managed care, and he has clinical experience as a paramedic. He’s previously taught health law, health care information technology, health care marketing, and strategic management at other institutions. Troy is a Ph.D. student at Penn State researching how structured on-the-job training improves the development of the patient-teaching competency in clinicians.
DegreeEd.D., Work-Based Learning Leadership, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
DegreeMBA, Human Resource Administration, Temple University
DegreeB.S., Health Planning and Administration, Penn State
Kristi Pintar, Ed.D., MBA, is an adjunct instructor for the Master of Health Administration program. Kristi brings more than 30 years of executive leadership as an organization development professional with expertise in large-scale change, leadership development, and operational improvement. She has led learning and development, management engineering, organizational development, and physician office practice operations in three large academic health systems, driving organizational performance improvement across the domains of employee engagement, patient satisfaction, clinical quality, and finance.
DegreePh.D., Public Policy and Information Systems, Carnegie Mellon University
DegreeM.S., Economics, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Yunfeng Shi has been an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Administration since 2015. His research focuses on how consumers (patients) react to important changes in health care markets, such as information, insurance, technological advancement, and government policies. His studies have been published by many journals in the field, including Health Affairs, Health Care Management Review, Health Services Research, Medical Care, Journal of Health Organization and Management, and American Journal of Managed Care.
Richard E. Smith Jr.
DegreeMSW, University of Maryland, Baltimore City
DegreeB.S., Psychology, Morgan State University
Richard E. Smith Jr. is an instructor for the Master of Health Administration program and teaches a course on change management in health care organizations. For more than 28 years, he has been instrumental in helping health care organizations enhance their quality of care with an emphasis on increasing overall satisfaction for patients, staff, and physicians alike. He has been particularly interested in ensuring care is delivered with great passion and sensitivity to the needs of patients and family members as they journey through the care continuum.
Vicki L. Wertz
DegreeJ.D., University of Maryland School of Law
DegreeMHA, Duke University
DegreeB.S., Health Planning and Administration, Penn State
Vicki L. Wertz teaches HPA 836: Health Law for World Campus as part of the Master of Health Administration program. Vicki worked in-house in a hospital setting for 20 years and has served as compliance officer, privacy officer, and patient safety officer during her health care career.