Earning a Master's in Health Science Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Health Science Online?

Pursuing a master's in health science online allows working medical professionals or recent college graduates to specialize, gain rigorous research skills and knowledge, and prepare for leadership positions within the field. Graduates from online master's degree programs in health science can work as a healthcare educator, healthcare administrator, clinical research coordinator, or physician assistant. Most health science professionals work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities, but they can also find positions in research institutions, schools, community organizations, and government agencies.

Online health science master's programs suit students who are working professionals or have family obligations that may require scheduling flexibility. Online courses grant students the ability to take classes without attending campus, and many programs offer classes in an asynchronous format, which means students can watch lectures and complete assignments on their own time rather than meeting at a set time each week. Online programs are also often more affordable than their traditional face-to-face counterparts, but students should look into the specific course schedule, curriculum content, and cost of each program to find the right fit.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Health Science Graduates

Master's in Health Science Salary

Graduates from online health science master's programs may find employment in hospitals, government agencies, outpatient care centers, physician's offices, and nursing and residential care facilities. Keep in mind that the industry, employer, position, and experience level can affect one's salary. As shown in the tables below, the annual median salary for medical and health service managers fluctuates across industries and years of experience. In general, hospitals pay the most, and salary increases alongside experience in the field.

Salaries for Medical and Health Services Managers by Industry

Industry Annual Mean Wage
Hospitals; State, Local, and Private $107,230
Government $106,230
Outpatient Care Centers $89,910
Offices of Physicians $89,760
Nursing and Residential Care Facilities $82,950

Master's in Health Science Careers

Obtaining a master's in health science online opens up career opportunities in healthcare organizations and facilities. An advanced degree in health science can help medical practitioners and administrators specialize further and advance their knowledge and skills. Most master's in health science programs also prepare students to step into leadership positions as managers, research coordinators, or administrators. Consider these five common career paths for graduates of health science master's programs:

Healthcare Consultant

Annual Median Salary: $76,661

Healthcare consultants work for private or public healthcare organizations and conduct research to identify problems in order to provide possible solutions. Their daily tasks involve preparing information manuals and designing procedures to improve the efficiency of healthcare systems. Most healthcare consultants hold a bachelor's degree, but certain positions may require a master's degree.

Operations Manager

Annual Median Salary: $63,674

An operations manager oversees a company's or organization's production of goods or services and ensures everything runs smoothly, including healthcare organizations and hospitals. They manage budgets, organize purchasing and manufacturing of products, and supervise staff. Most operations managers hold bachelor's degrees in business, finance, or marketing; an advanced degree in health sciences will further qualify an individual for a position with a healthcare organization.

Physician Assistant

Annual Median Salary: $93,394

A physician assistant performs routine tasks often performed by physicians, including making diagnoses and writing prescriptions, in order to free up physicians to focus on non-routine cases and patients. Most physician assistants are required to hold a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field and pass board certification exams.

Clinical Research Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $48,298

Clinical research coordinators supervise the activities of investigators and staff who conduct research, and they interact with study participants. They typically work in lab or hospital settings. Clinical research coordinators are required to have a master's degree in a health science field and obtain a certification.

Healthcare Administrator

Annual Median Salary: $64,558

Healthcare administrators train staff, conduct performance reviews for staff, manage financial operations, and supervise day-to-day activities at hospitals, nursing homes, primary-care medical practices, and correctional facilities. They typically hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a healthcare- or a business-related field.

Source: PayScale

What Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Health Science Program?

An online master's in health science degree helps healthcare professionals and medical practitioners in all backgrounds advance their knowledge and further specialize in the field. Most health science master's programs require around 36 credits of coursework and the completion of a capstone project or thesis. Many of these programs also allow students to choose from a number of concentrations, including health education, health law, management and leadership, and behavioral health.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Health Science

Healthcare Finance

This course prepares students to manage finances in healthcare settings. It also provides students with conceptual and practical knowledge concerning topics like rate regulation, hospital reimbursement, financial ratio analysis, hospital accounting, and project evaluation. Students learn to review and analyze finance systems, prepare budgets or financial reports, regulate and contain costs, and evaluate healthcare resources.

Biostatistics

This course introduces students to statistical methods commonly applied in the biomedical and epidemiological sciences. It covers statistical modeling, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, power and statistical error, multiple testing, and descriptive tools. Students will learn to use statistical data to answer health science questions -- from creating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, and analyzing results to creating visual and textual interpretations of those results.

Ethical Issues in Healthcare

Through this course, students examine case studies involving ethical issues commonly faced by healthcare providers and patients as well as the ethics involved in clinical and other health science research. Topics covered include informed consent, the role of institutional review boards, physician-assisted suicide, and the distribution of scarce medical resources.

Biomedical Informatics

This course provides students with knowledge of biomedical informatics applications often used in healthcare settings, including patient record system and hospital databases, patient-centered information systems, coding and classification, methods of decision support, and hospital information systems. It covers information system design, system components, data structures, and data management in healthcare settings.

Healthcare Policy and Planning

This course introduces students to the legal regulations and policies that govern, constrain, and facilitate the operation of healthcare facilities and services. Topics covered include policy development, federal and state legislation, government and public relations, healthcare delivery system problems, and health disparities.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Health Science Prepares For

  • Certified Health Education Specialist: CHES examination and certification evaluates an individual's knowledge of relevant topics in health education. It is designed for entry-level healthcare professionals working in health education who may be responsible for conducting program evaluations, selecting participants, delivering training, and identifying appropriate data collection instruments. This certification shows employers that an individual meets national and international standards for health education specialists. It consists of 165 multiple-choice questions to be completed within three hours.
  • Master Certified Health Education: The MCHES examination and certification is for advanced health education specialists who have worked in the field for at least five years. It demonstrates advanced-level competencies in relevant health education topics. The MCHES certifies a health education specialist's abilities in developing and managing budgets, ensuring compliance with ethical codes, identifying staff development and training needs, and creating and supervising strategic plans. It also consists of 165 multiple-choice questions to be completed within three hours.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations for health science professionals provide opportunities for both students and practitioners to network with others in the field, present research at conferences, gain access to continuing education programs, and conduct job searches in specific health science areas. These organizations allow members to keep up with the latest advances in the field and meet possible collaborators. Career services provided by professional organizations may be especially helpful for recent graduates searching for a job.

  • American Public Health Association: The APHA aims to strengthen the public health profession and advocate for policy changes backed by science in order to improve public health for all communities. The APHA publishes the American Journal of Public Health, hosts an annual conference and other events, and provides career services.

  • The National Medical Association: The NMA is a national association of African American healthcare practitioners dedicated to advancing equal opportunity in medicine and eliminating health disparities. It provides resources on health policy, continuing education programs, and professional development opportunities.

  • The National Association of Medical Minority Educators: The NAMME dedicates itself to advancing programs and initiatives that support racial and ethnic diversity in all health professions. It hosts an annual conference, offers resources for students, and provides career services for those on the job market.

  • Society for Public Health Education: An international nonprofit and independent professional organization dedicated to advancing public health education, SOPHE trains public health workers and improves advocacy for public health policies.

  • Society for Epidemiological Research: SER advances careers and research in epidemiology. It hosts an annual conference, sponsors the American Journal of Epidemiology and Epidemiological Reviews, and provides access to digital forums and libraries.

  • National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities: This institute focuses on health disparities, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities, rural and low-income communities, and other underserved populations. It provides resources for research and funding opportunities for research on health disparities.

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: NIDA focuses on addiction science, comorbidity, opioid overdose, drug abuse prevention and treatment, and current data on drugs of abuse and abuse rates.

  • National Area Health Education Center: Developed by Congress, AHEC recruits and trains healthcare professionals committed to serving underserved populations. It provides clinical training placements, service learning programs, continuing education programs, and community outreach opportunities.

  • National Library of Medicine: The National Library of Medicine's online library combines several databases, including PubMed, MedlinePlus, TOXNET, and clinicaltrials.gov. Its search tools and digital collections are available to researchers, educators, healthcare professionals, and the general public.

  • The National Institute of General Medical Sciences: This institute advances research on the underlying biological processes relevant to disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. It provides research training programs, science education resources, and funding opportunities.