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How Long Does It Take to Earn a Healthcare MBA Online and Part Time?

June 13, 2022

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare management careers will grow by more than 32% over the next 10 years—and with new developments in areas such as healthcare AI and precision medicine, odds are high that figure will increase.

Healthcare innovation is driven by curious, adaptable and creative leaders who can think critically, move their organization forward, and effectively implement and execute change. If you’re a healthcare professional ready to advance in your career or you want to switch careers into health services management, you may be wondering where to begin—or if you can afford to invest the time it would take to learn.

The online MBA in Healthcare Management offered by Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management provides a flexible pathway to advance your career through evening courses and two in-person residencies. In just eight terms, you can develop leadership skills, strengthen your resume and earn an in-demand degree from a highly ranked business school.

Do you need a background in healthcare to pursue an MBA in healthcare management?

Although many students in healthcare MBA programs work in clinical settings, care facilities, insurance companies, biotech firms or medical device manufacturers, most programs will consider your application even without a healthcare background. Many programs even offer paths to transition into healthcare management and administration. However, the time it takes you to apply, enroll and graduate may vary depending on how much work experience you have. Many part-time online healthcare MBA programs include work experience in their admission requirements, and you may need to amass enough professional experience to put together a compelling application.

For example, the online MBA in Healthcare Management offered by Case Western Reserve University typically attracts early or mid-career professionals. Applicants must have a minimum of two years of work experience—though that experience doesn’t have to be in healthcare. Students in the online MBA program work in a variety of healthcare environments, or other industries, such as operations, finance, IT or human resources.

What to expect in a part-time online healthcare MBA program

Many healthcare MBA programs are essentially traditional MBA programs with a handful of healthcare-focused business courses or electives added. Case Western Reserve’s program is different. It has a business management curriculum applicable across industries—ideal for students interested in building versatile skillsets—that Weatherhead pairs with a one-of-a-kind healthcare management core, which accounts for close to half the program’s credits.

Courses in the university’s online part-time healthcare MBA program such as LEAD (Leadership Assessment and Development) and Managing People and Organizations help students quickly develop decision-making and leadership skills. They also cultivate a deeper understanding of the administrative processes and regulations unique to healthcare.

Through a blend of asynchronous coursework, face-to-face virtual classes, two on-campus residencies and one-on-one support, students learn to deliver value and drive positive transformation in the business side of medicine. Healthcare MBA candidates at Case Western Reserve also benefit from the university’s collaborations with local top-tier healthcare organizations such as Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth Systems and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, all of which deliver invaluable real-world opportunities and introduce students to a robust network of healthcare leaders.

Are part-time online healthcare MBA programs shorter than on-campus programs?

Online master’s degree programs are typically no shorter than the same or similar programs delivered on campus. However, studying online can condense the path from application to graduation. For example, students who enroll in full-time, on-campus programs often need extra time to coordinate relocation before the program and after graduation. These students may need to defer enrollment until they can get their living situations in order while their peers who choose online MBA programs can start as soon as their chosen programs begin. Case Western Reserve’s online MBA program operates on a trimester schedule, allowing students to take more classes per year than traditional part-time programs.

How long will completing an online healthcare MBA program take if you study part time?

The answer to this question depends on various factors, including program structure, available classes and your capacity to complete core courses. Many people mistakenly assume that part-time business graduate programs always take much longer than traditional full-time programs, but that’s not universally true. Many part-time healthcare MBA programs take about two years to complete—similar to full-time programs.

The 48-credit-hour part-time healthcare MBA degree program at Weatherhead takes less than three years to complete on a flexible trimester schedule that accommodates full-time employment. The synchronous element of the program includes just one weekly 60- to 90-minute session per class, and students can complete asynchronous work when and where they prefer.

What other factors influence how long it takes to earn an MBA online?

Calculating how long it will take to earn an MBA, regardless of your specialization, involves more than looking at the length of a school’s program. You should factor in the time investment to apply to Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited MBA programs as well as the time from acceptance to the start of the term. To apply to enroll in the online MBA in Healthcare Management program at Case Western Reserve, you must submit unofficial bachelor’s degree and graduate transcripts, a current resume, contact information for two recommenders, video essays and a vision statement. Gathering and preparing these materials can add anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to the time it takes to earn an MBA.

How to decide if a part-time online MBA in healthcare program is right for you

Consider the following questions when deciding whether a part-time online healthcare MBA is right for you:

Do I want to continue working full time while pursuing this degree?

You know your own circumstances best, but make sure that you’re prepared for the sacrifices required for a full-time or part-time healthcare MBA program. How many hours a week can you dedicate to your coursework? How many classes can you commit to each semester? Knowing the answers to those questions will go a long way toward helping you make the best possible decision.

Keep in mind if you don’t want to quit your full-time job, you don’t have to. Many healthcare MBA candidates work in operations management, information systems, financial management and clinical medicine while completing their coursework. Some are already successful health services managers looking to advance into executive positions.

Can I afford to lose income while pursuing a degree?

If you do decide to scale back your employment situation from full time to part time to pursue higher education, that shift in income can impact your lifetime earning potential. The biggest benefit of enrolling in a part-time online MBA program may be that the ROI of these programs is higher. Distance learners who work full time don’t bear the same opportunity costs as part-time students. They continue earning income and advancing in their careers as they pursue a credential associated with professional growth and higher salaries in the healthcare field.

What level of flexibility do I need?

Finding work-life balance while earning a healthcare MBA can be challenging. You have to be flexible and accept that juggling real-world professional, academic and personal responsibilities means letting go of perfection. Part-time graduate business programs are more likely to align with your needs if you plan to work while pursuing your MBA.

Will I miss the on-campus MBA experience if I pursue my degree online?

Don’t mistakenly assume that pursuing an MBA online involves a less connected experience. Part-time online MBA students at Case Western Reserve are fully immersed in the Weatherhead community. They connect with faculty and classmates in real-time virtual classes, participate in discussions and live study sessions with peers nationwide, and receive support from faculty and staff during office hours. Most importantly, they hone practical skills and network with classmates and industry leaders from the university’s collaborating healthcare systems during the program residency.

Why grow your career in healthcare in the part-time online healthcare MBA program at Case Western Reserve University?

Now more than ever, healthcare organizations need driven, innovative professionals who can improve the quality of patient care and medical research in a complex, evolving landscape. As a student in Case Western Reserve University’s healthcare-focused MBA program, you’ll develop critical quantitative skills, learn leadership-development strategies and receive one-on-one mentoring that will make you more competitive in healthcare administration. And you can do it without sacrificing career advancement or income.

“Even before the pandemic, we were thinking about online education,” explains Philip A. Cola, associate professor and research manager. “We were asking: ‘Why limit the program to people who can get here from Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals and Metro [Health Medical Center]? What about places like Summa Healthcare in Akron, or even much farther away?’ People there would love to come to Weatherhead, but with the old in-person model, it was impossible. It’s extremely challenging to end work at 5 p.m., drive from Akron to Cleveland in rush hour and be ready for class in an hour.”

Studying healthcare management online at Case Western Reserve pays off. Upon graduation, you’ll have a credential that leads to new career opportunities and the skills to lead your organization by guiding new systems, optimizing processes, responding to disruption and inspiring effective behaviors. You’ll also benefit from Case Western Reserve University’s relationships with more than 270 corporate partners in the Weatherhead network and an elite alumni association of more than 20,000 graduates worldwide. Armed with your knowledge and network, you’ll be equipped to change healthcare delivery and decision-making for the better.

Ready to take your place as a leader in the fastest-growing industry in the nation? Apply online to earn a healthcare MBA today.