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Arnold School of Public Health


The MHA program at the University of South Carolina is a dually accredited program - by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) and by the Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH).

Master of Health Administration (MHA)

The Master of Health Administration (MHA) program prepares students for a career in the management of health services organizations in the private and public sectors, ranging from direct service providers (hospitals, clinics, long-term care settings) through the ancillary industries (health insurers, quality review organizations). In addition to the core public health disciplines, the 58-hour MHA program provides training to develop competencies [pdf] in management, accounting, finance, information technology, quantitative methods, leadership, and evaluation and planning – all geared for healthcare organizations. 

The MHA is offered in a full-time format for regular students, and in a part-time format for working professionals. Most of the courses are offered in the late afternoons and evenings, thereby permitting people who work full time to attend with minimal disruption of their work obligations.

Deciding whether the USC MHA program is a good fit 

The Department of Health Services Policy and Management offers two masters programs, the MHA and the Master of Public Health (MPH). The MHA program is more business and organization-management oriented, while the MPH program is more public health agency/program/community health oriented in its content.

Applicants should consider their preferences and aptitudes for managerial roles in organizations when choosing between the MHA and MPH programs. Volunteering at a local hospital or large physician practice (or other care setting) or interviewing healthcare executives/managers at a local hospital can help applicants to understand the roles of healthcare managers. This will help you to know which degree is a good fit for your career.


What are the typical career paths for healthcare managers? 

Individuals from a wide range of undergraduate majors and minors can expect to succeed in health administration, given the many career opportunities the field offers. Healthcare institutions include primary care practices, hospitals and allied services, long-term care facilities and health insurance companies. Within a health organization, MHA graduates can be employed in finance and business development, operations management, information technology management, quality of care management, including Lean and Six Sigma applications, human resources, community relations and field programs, social responsibility, and many other roles.

Graduation and Job Placement Rates 

The MHA program has a record of 95-100% graduation rates since 2003. In the prior three academic years, 100% of full-time students completed the program within two years of enrollment. Our program has consistently had 95-100% job placement rates in either administrative fellowships or entry level management positions in healthcare or allied organizations within 3-6 months of graduation. For AY2019-20 MHA graduates, 80% acquired full-time jobs/administrative fellowships within 3 months of graduation and 93% within 6 months.

Typically, each year about 3-4 graduating students (out of 15-22) obtain nationally competitive administrative fellowships at major health care systems or centers throughout the United States. These fellowships are designed to train new graduates across the hospital system for rapid advancement to leadership positions. In recent years the fellowship locations included the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Bon Secours Health System in South Carolina and Virginia, Atrium Health, Duke University, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Kaiser Permanente, Wake Forest Medical Center, and Palmetto Health to name a few.


Educational Goals and Content 

The USC MHA program prepares healthcare managers with both the competencies required to manage effectively in a market–driven healthcare system and an understanding of the approaches needed to address the social and population health responsibilities of healthcare organizations. The goal is to prepare: (1) individuals without previous health services management experience for entry-level managerial positions and facilitate their advancement into senior management; and (2) experienced health service professionals for promotion and further career advancement.

MHA Curriculum and Pre-requisites 

The MHA is a 58-semester-hour program. All students should have completed an undergraduate accounting course or acquired competency in basic undergraduate accounting through private study of a textbook prior to enrollment. The curriculum requires:

Courses Credit Hours
Management 31 hours 
Accounting and Finance 9 hours 
Quantitative Methods  3 hours 
Public Health PUBH 700  3 hours 
Managerial Epidemiology  3 hours 
Health Planning  3 hours 
Approved Electives  3 hours 
Management Residency  3 hours 


“Earn while you learn” - Opportunities 

A key strength of our MHA program is that, subject to availability and to economic conditions, we identify opportunities in healthcare organizations in the greater Columbia area for students to interview for compensated graduate assistantship (GA) positions (10-20 hours a week). Graduate assistantships provide a small stipend, usually ranging from $1,500-$2,000 per semester for 10 hours a week, prorated to the hours worked up to a maximum of 20 hours a week. In addition, out-of-state students who have a graduate assistantship have their tuition reduced to in-state rates.

Historically, almost all full-time students have been hired as GAs beginning with their first semester and all were placed at least in some semesters. However, applicants should note that placements and locations are affected by general economic conditions, the needs of potential sponsoring organizations, the student’s educational background (major) and work experience, and the student’s initiative and enthusiasm displayed during the interview. It can take until the middle of the first semester (or beyond depending on the above factors) to complete GA-ship interviews and placements. To maximize chances of being placed in a healthcare or allied organization, applicants are encouraged to volunteer at a healthcare organization if they do not have prior work or internship experience.

Job placement benefits of graduate assistantships 

Because of the near-universal placement of students in GA-ship positions in the past, our graduates’ job acquisition rate has been very high, many within 0-3 months of graduation, and most graduates within six months. All applicants should be aware that the graduate assistantship will cover only a portion of the tuition and fees. Applicants should plan financially accordingly and also plan to finance their living costs during the program. We are working to increase funds available for scholarships. At present, we have limited scholarship opportunities.

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