March 30, 2023

What are the Pros and Cons to a Traditional v. Online Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management?

If you are serious about advancing your career in healthcare management, higher education is in your future. The American College of Healthcare Executives, an international professional organization for leaders in healthcare management, recommends a Master’s degree for all individuals seeking a career in healthcare management. When weighing your options between an online or a traditional degree option, there is a distinct package of advantages and disadvantages in each direction.

Lead in Your Field
Traditional degree programs are excellent for putting you in touch with leaders in the field. Online degree options may be surging, but if you want to study under a particular influential individual, the in-residence degree option is still your best bet. Ivy League colleges are among the slowest to offer online degree options, and an Ivy League school is still le crème de la crème in the United States. In addition, there are cultural opportunities available in the residency format that a student in a distance-learning format will simply miss. For example, Emory University recently welcomed His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama to campus as a distinguished guest lecturer. For a master’s degree in healthcare management, the highest-ranked schools in US News and World Report still are dominant with in-residence degree options.
The financial disadvantages for in-residence degree programs, however, are not to be ignored. Many individuals will struggle financially due to loss of a full-time income, not to mention loss of possible employer tuition reimbursement programs. Student loans can cripple your future financial well-being, even in a high-paying career. Married individuals may find it difficult to relocate for full-time education, if it conflicts with the career goals of a spouse.Knock on the Door of OpportunityOnline options cater specifically to the growing numbers of non-traditional students, especially among individuals who are already working, already settled in a specific geographic location, and who already have families. Motivated learners such as these are flooding the virtual halls of online classrooms, and bringing their wealth of life experiences with them. The online classroom is filled with rich, diverse discussion, in a format where no one can hide. Online degree programs in all health care fields are booming, awarding the sixth highest number of conferred degrees, according to Yahoo!.

An online degree also allows learners to continue to work in the field, which couples work experience with career-advancing education. That’s a powerful resume combination. In addition, online students can immediately apply their knowledge in a practical setting, take advantage of employer tuition reimbursement programs, and make vital networking connections both at the day-job and through their growing online connections. But, online degree students will definitely have a very busy schedule. Most individuals seeking a career in healthcare management are also probably not currently working in a related role, due to educational prerequisites. If the interests of your day-job become too burdensome, you risk the quality of your education to meet your employer’s demands.

Best of Both Worlds

Due to booming interest, many colleges and universities have begun to offer online degree options, including degrees in healthcare management. If you can’t seem to decide between online or in-residence, check out the schools in your region. Many online degree programs are actually something of a hybrid, allowing a large number of credits delivered in an online format while still including some residency requirements. It just might be that you can find the best of both worlds.