The Affordable Healthcare MBA Guide

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For MBA hopefuls and graduates, careers in finance or consulting are not the only options.

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, so do its business needs. For those with savvy business acumen and enough experience to handle a changing landscape, an MBA can help lay the foundation for a long, rewarding career in healthcare.

But, like many graduate degrees, cost is a major factor. Here's what you need to know when looking for an affordable healthcare MBA degree:

Where to Start?

Business schools in and outside of the United States continue to incorporate healthcare education into the MBA curriculum. However, not every school offers specified healthcare management education just yet.

The most traditional and readily available option is a dual degree, combing an MBA with a Medicinae Doctor (Doctor of Medicine) degree, or, MD. Most well-established institutions, such as the Harvard Business School, offer these kinds of dual degree options, which combine the rigorous training of an MBA with specific medical expertise from the university's affiliate medical school. However, as one may assume, earning a dual degree can take much longer than a specific healthcare MBA degree, and also become significantly more costly.

For those wary about the time it takes to earn the degree and the cost associated with taking on two separate graduate school course loads, the optimal option may be to go after specified healthcare MBA programs.

An Affordable Healthcare MBA Degree

To start, we'll look at some of our favorite specialized healthcare MBAs, which help mitigate time and cost, and provide a better return on investment.

Questrom School of Business - Boston University

Boston University's Questrom School of Business Health Sector full-time MBA (HSN) program shares a similar curriculum to the school's highly-ranked full-time MBA (50th in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report), combined with specific healthcare-centric electives. According to the school, this program provides experience and education regarding "basic elements of insurance and payment, service delivery, and life sciences products will be described, and put in the context of the unique economic structure of the sector."

The degree does not limit itself, however. Students can combine a Healthcare Sector MBA degree with an MD or a Master of Public Health (MPH) through the university's School of Public Health. Alone, tuition for the Health Sector full-time MBA degree is currently $55,480 annually. Combined with the cost of fees, room and board, and more, and the annual total comes to $76,550.

University of Colorado – Denver Business School

The University of Colorado Denver Business School is one of the few schools in the U.S. that offers two MBA programs that specialize in healthcare management: the Health Administration MBA; and the Executive MBA in Healthcare Administration.

The Health Administation MBA can take as little as two years or as long as five years, make it among the more flexible MBA offerings available. In addition, class are also available online, making it one of the more high-rated and affordable online MBA programs in the U.S. For in-state residents, tuition for the 48-credit program is just $30,048 ($626 per credit). Out-of-state residents pay $66,144 ($1,378 per credit) for either the full-time or part-time track. However, if classes are taken online, the tuition cost for out-of-state students drops to $35,088. As a bonus, there is no specified work requirement needed in order to enroll, and a GMAT waiver is available for select students.

The Denver Business School Executive MBA in Healthcare Administration is designed similarly to the standard Health Administration MBA. However, it only takes two years to complete and is built strictly for applicants that already have at least five years of previous professional health care experience. The total cost is a flat rate for students, regardless of residence, at $59,000 for the entire program.

Carlson School of Management – University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management part-time MBA program concentration options set itself apart. The part-time MBA program at the school's Twin Cities campus offers students a Medical Industry Specialization offering, according to the school, "a specialized curriculum, access to a thriving community of medical industry employers, and opportunities to partner with the full spectrum of health care service providers, from device manufacturers to hospitals and everything in between, to solve emerging healthcare challenges."

This program, formally called the Medical Industry MBA, allows students to connect with well-established medical facilities, including the nearby Mayo Clinic. Students in the program also undergo the Medical Industry Valuation Laboratory, a graduate elective that offers first-hand experience is the evolving world of medical technology. The program itself is often recognized as one of the best in the world, currently ranked as the second best in the entire U.S. by U.S. News & World Report.

Tution can vary for in and out-of-state students. Currently, students, regardless of their state of residence, pay $1,535 per credit. However, if out-of-state students take more than 11 credits worth of courses per semester, the cost of each successive credit is $1,963.

Other Healthcare MBA Options

The WhartonSchool – The University of Pennsylvania

If price is not as much of an issue, or if one is lucky enough to have their education provided for by scholarships or employer sponsorship, than an Ivy League education at The Wharton School seems like an obvious destination for those with the requisite academic acumen and experience.

The school's MBA Program in Health Care Management combines elements of the the Wharton Management core curriculum and the Health Care Major curriculum, which provides, according to the school, "an understanding of the concepts, institutions, and issues specifically involved in the organization, financing and delivery of health services and products."

Like many of the aforementioned business schools, Wharton offers MBAs a chance to combine dual degrees, including an MBA/MD, an MS in Bioethics, MSN, and more. The total cost, which includes tuition, fees, cost of living in Philadelphia, and more, comes to $114,896 annually. Which might sound like a lot, but, for a unanimous top five ranked business school in the world, the cost-benefit is very worth the investment.

Kenan-Flagler Business School – University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School has long been known as one of the country's premiere healthcare business academic destinations. For it's lauded full-time MBA program (23rd in the U.S. and 26th in the world, accoriding to Bloomberg), the Healthcare Concentration helps develop "skilled professionals who are well-prepared to take on the difficult challenges in the healthcare industry, and on building a strong presence in the industry," according to the school.

Total tution, combined with living expenses and fees, costs $76,824 for North Carolina residents in the first year, and $91,946 for out-of-state residents.

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