Health Policy professionals working

Master of Health Administration in
Health Policy and Administration

Program summary

Prepare for challenging leadership positions in health care by supplementing your health-related work experience with a strong business management education. The online MHA program can give you the tools to lead change and solve problems in the dynamic health care environment.

Application deadline

Apply by April 1 to start August 26

Credits and costs

49 Credits $1,017 per credit

CAHME Accredited


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.

Semester 1

  • 3

    Analysis of financial flows, third-party payment programs, and reimbursement practices in the health services sector.

  • 3

    Introduction to health systems, health services organization, and health care delivery focused on trends, problems, and issues.

  • 3

    Examination of building blocks that support the ethical framework that drives decision making. Face-to face intensive scheduled in August. Begins during intensive scheduled first week of classes.

Semester 2

  • 3

    A systematic application of the principles of organizational behavior to understanding professional roles in health services organizations.

  • 3

    The financial environment of health institutions; financial aspects of management decision-making; emphasis on revenue sources, budgeting, and cost control.

Semester 3

  • 3

    This course is focused on understanding and overcoming the challenges associated with nurturing and managing effective health care operations.

  • 3

    A systematic study of the roles of health services managers and the organizational and environmental context within which they work.

Semester 4

  • 3

    Exploration of diagnostic and intervention strategies employed in planned change in health services organizations and programs.

  • 3

    This course is designed to provide students with the requisite knowledge and skills for leading quality improvement, population health management, and patient safety efforts to create high reliability health services organizations that improve the overall health of the communities they serve.

  • 1

    Creative projects, including nonthesis research, which are supervised on an individual basis and which fall outside the scope of formal courses. This is the first of a four-semester (1 credit per semester) project developed in collaboration with a faculty mentor.

Semester 5

  • 3

    Survey of the application of economics to the roles of markets and government in health care.

  • 1

    Formal courses given on a topical or special interest subject which may be offered infrequently. (The 2nd of a four-semester (one credit per semester) project developed in collaboration with a faculty mentor.)

  • 3

    Formal courses given on a topical or special interest subject which may be offered infrequently. (Introduction into project management; The course structure will give each student an opportunity to reflect on choices, assess progress to goals, and evaluate successes and failures in a supportive environment while striving for continual performance improvement. Organizing deliverables into a leadership portfolio will provide a vehicle to display growth and competency attainment.)

Semester 6

  • 3

    Foundations of human resource management applied to health care organizations, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community health organizations.

  • 3

    Introduction to the theory, concepts, skills, and principles of marketing applied to health related organizations and networks.

  • 1

    Formal courses given on a topical or special interest subject which may be offered infrequently. This is the 3rd of a four-semester (1 credit per semester) project developed in collaboration with a faculty mentor.

Semester 7

  • 3

    The legal process as it applies to the health administrator, health organization, medical provider, and patient.

  • 3

    Foundations of information systems for supporting clinical services, quality improvement, and administrative functions in health services management.

  • 1

    Formal courses given on a topical or special interest subject which may be offered infrequently. This is the 4th of a four-semester (1 credit per semester) project developed in collaboration with a faculty mentor. The final project presentation is delivered in person at University Park during the last semester of the program.

Course Availability

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

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.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? Cost
11 or fewer $1,017 per credit
12 or more $12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? Cost
11 or fewer $1,027 per credit
12 or more $12,325 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 DeadlineApply by April 1 to start August 26

Admissions Help

If you have any questions throughout the admissions process, please contact an admissions counselor.

Admission Requirements 

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. 

Program-Specific Questions/Materials

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.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

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.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?

Apply by April 1 to start August 26. How to Apply

Advance Your Career

A group of health care professionals and administrators in a business meeting

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.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

As a graduate of the program, you could pursue an administrative, management, or executive position in a health care–related organization, such as:

  • Clinical Director
  • Health Care Facility Administrator
  • Health Services Administrator
  • Health Services Director
  • Medicine and Health Service Manager

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Medical and Health Services Managers

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Management Intensives

Management intensives give students the opportunity to network and enhance knowledge in key areas.

Two face-to-face management intensives provide you with essential opportunities to develop your leadership competencies through personal interactions with classmates, faculty, and health care leaders. These experiences are designed to enhance your knowledge in key areas such as change leadership, strategic management, performance improvement, organizational design, and collaboration.

Onboarding Intensive

The August Onboarding Intensive is a week-long immersive experience that follows an online orientation in July. This intensive is designed to set the foundation for the program. Onboarding activities will introduce members of the cohort to each other and to program faculty and staff. This Management Intensive is held jointly with the incoming residential MHA students to provide an opportunity to network with early careerists.

The goal is to have all students begin the program with a common understanding of program and academic expectations and an appreciation for the diversity of experience and life perspective of their peers. This first Management Intensive incorporates a three-credit course on Leadership Ethics in Health Services Organizations, which reinforces our program philosophy and grounds each of us in the unique ethical challenges and obligations inherent in the design and delivery of health care.

Capstone Intensive

The Capstone Management Intensive is the culminating experience of the MHA program. Students prepare and deliver a formal presentation of their capstone project. The capstone is an integrative project that requires students to apply the skills, techniques, and competencies developed throughout the MHA program to a topic of their choosing. For those who have completed all of the requirements of the MHA program and are in good academic standing, participation in graduation and commencement ceremonies complete the intensive activities.

Contact Us

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
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

Online MHA Program
Department of Health Policy and Administration
The Pennsylvania State University
118 Keller Building
University Park PA 16802-1300
Phone: 814-865-0631
Email: [email protected]


  • Chris Calkins

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Health Policy and Administration, Penn State
    • Degree
      MPA, California State University, East Bay
    • Degree
      B.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.

    Read more about Dr. Chris Calkins

  • Christopher S. Hollenbeak

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Economics, Washington University in St. Louis
    • Degree
      M.A., Economics, Washington University in St. Louis
    • Degree
      B.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.

    Read more about Dr. Christopher S. Hollenbeak

  • Ronald J. McConnell

    • Degree
      Fellow (FACHE), American College of Healthcare Executives
    • Degree
      Graduate Certificate, Financial Management, Gannon University
    • Degree
      MBA, Finance, Gannon University
    • Degree
      B.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.

    Read more about Ronald J. McConnell

  • Carol Mills

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Health Policy and Management, Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health
    • Degree
      M.S., Management, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    • Degree
      B.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

    • Degree
      MHA, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.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.

  • Kristi Pintar

    • Degree
      Ed.D., Work-Based Learning Leadership, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
    • Degree
      MBA, Human Resource Administration, Temple University
    • Degree
      B.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.

  • Yunfeng Shi

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Public Policy and Information Systems, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Degree
      M.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.

    Read more about Dr. Yunfeng Shi

  • Richard E. Smith Jr.

    • Degree
      MSW, University of Maryland, Baltimore City
    • Degree
      B.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

    • Degree
      J.D., University of Maryland School of Law
    • Degree
      MHA, Duke University
    • Degree
      B.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.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?

Apply by April 1 to start August 26. How to Apply