Hard Skills You Can Learn in the Online Healthcare MBA Program

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An MBA student learning microeconomics.Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most popular options for today’s graduate students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S. Department of Education, business degrees accounted for almost one-quarter of the 786,000 master’s credentials granted during the 2015-2016 school year. That’s well ahead of the shares for education (19 percent) and healthcare (14 percent) degrees.

The MBA can be an appealing option for many reasons, including:

  • Flexibility: Since it was first offered in the early 20th century, the MBA has evolved to incorporate many varied fields of study, from finance to healthcare. As a result, MBA students hail from many different academic and professional backgrounds and have fueled long-term growth in program enrollment.
  • Rigor: Specialized degrees such as the healthcare MBA (HCMBA) from the George Washington University (GW) provide in-depth training in identifying, analyzing and solving some of the most pressing current business issues. They combine diverse curricula with opportunities for both study abroad and professional networking.
  • Results: MBAs enjoy average salaries far above the U.S. GDP per capita. The FT Global MBA Ranking list from the Financial Times estimated $142,000 compensation for the typical MBA student three years after finishing his or her studies. The last few years have seen major gains on this front for MBA holders.

One of the underrated sources of advantage for MBAs is their command of “hard” skills such as accounting and finance, in tandem with their “soft” capabilities in managing teams and communicating with a wide range of colleagues, collaborators and other business partners. HCMBA holders, in particular, can draw upon what they learned about topics such as clinical research while completing the advanced online coursework and other requirements of their healthcare MBA programs.

Hard Skills Developed in Healthcare MBA Programs

MBAs are multifaceted credentials, and HCMBAs are no exception. On top of a core curriculum intended to hone managerial expertise and financial acumen, students benefit from health-specific classes, general as well as healthcare-specific electives, and numerous options for additional graduate certificates.

Core Courses

The healthcare MBA track at GW requires 55.5 total credit hours for completion, the bulk of which — 31.5 — are in the program core. These classes include training in highly quantitative subjects such as:

  • Financial and managerial accounting: MBAs with backgrounds in accounting can better analyze earnings reports and pinpoint centers of cost and profit.
  • Finance: This is a key competency that equips business leaders with the knowledge to evaluate projects and analyze corporate financial structures as part of their strategic decision-making process.
  • Microeconomics: Since organizations of all kinds frequently struggle to manage healthcare costs, experience in microeconomics is valuable in navigating critical decisions about resource allocation with limited budgets.
  • Operations management: This domain is useful in optimizing the life cycles of the numerous products and services within the multi-trillion-dollar healthcare economy.


HCMBA students must finish 24 total elective credits, split evenly between healthcare and other disciplines. On the healthcare side, the possibilities include courses in clinical research administration, healthcare quality, health sciences, and regulatory affairs. Such electives ensure that no matter what students select for their custom courses of study, they will cover the most important technical domains for modern healthcare jobs.

The general elective selection in the GW HCMBA can be fulfilled by taking 6000-level courses at any of the university’s schools. In addition to the school of business, the schools of law, nursing, international affairs, public health, and medicine all offer compatible classes. MBA candidates can choose the electives that can enable them to excel at tasks such as quantitative analysis and data-driven decision-making.

While expectations vary between employers, many look for MBAs adept at solving complex problems, according to a Financial Times survey identifying that capacity as one of the five most important qualities in job seekers. The academically rigorous, flexible, and customizable design of the GW HCMBA synthesizes hard and soft skills so that graduates are well-rounded candidates for rewarding healthcare MBA jobs.

Graduate Certificates

Earning a graduate certificate is a prime opportunity to both broaden and deepen knowledge of complex topics in healthcare. For example, a certificate in healthcare quality can provide essential context about the emerging push for quality in U.S. healthcare, as codified in laws such as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act that made significant changes to how providers are compensated for services.

Other certificates offer opportunities to explore Food and Drug Administration regulations and participate in different kinds of clinical research. In all tracks, students work hand in hand with professionals in the fields and bureaucracies in question.

How an Online MBA Courses Can Benefit your Professional Development

Pursuing an MBA might seem like an unmanageable time commitment, especially if you are already settled into a job. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average full-time MBA student has already logged 4.3 years in the workforce, a number which climbs to 13.3 for executive degree students. Most of these individuals (89.6 percent for full-time MBAs, 97.7 percent for executives) had at least some work experience.

However, there’s good news. By enrolling in an online healthcare MBA program, you can attain the same prestigious credential, supported by the same set of core and elective courses, as a traditional on-campus MBA degree offered with more flexibility.

The GW HCMBA is 100 percent online, making it a great fit for working professionals who would otherwise not be able to commit the time each week to travel back and forth from campus to complete their MBA studies. The program is comprehensive, yet flexible, and is overseen by the widely recognized GW School of Business. Graduates can be confident that they will have a marketable degree and access to a diverse network encompassing healthcare administrators, doctors, nurses and more.

Additional info is available by viewing the program curriculum overview webinar. You can also enter some information to receive our free brochure.

Recommended Readings:

5 Ways Your Healthcare M.B.A. Sets You Apart from Other Healthcare Professionals
7 Careers in Healthcare that Leverage Strategic Leadership


U.S. News Data: A Portrait of the Typical MBA Student
What employers want from MBA graduates — and what they don’t
MBA graduate salaries increase by a record amount
The History Of The MBA
Graduate Degree Fields
Why Is Managerial Accounting Important to an MBA Graduate