Bachelor's and Master's in Health Management and Administration in Iowa

Iowa is not just experiencing a windfall gain in healthcare administration and management jobs; it is in the midst of a perfect storm. The government agency Iowa Workforce Development projects that the number of jobs in this field will grow by approximately 21.8 percent during the ten-year period leading up to 2028.

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Recent legislation has given Iowa access to nearly $60 million in federal grants to improve access to health insurance for state residents. As a result, 91.7 percent of Iowa residents (2.84 million people) now have health insurance according to a recent Gallup study. This recent – if not all-time – high percentage of residents with health insurance comes at a time when the state’s elderly population is also bigger than it ever has been before. A full percentage point above the national average, 17.5 percent of Iowa’s population is at least 65 years old (US Census 2019).

Iowa is home to more medical and health services managers than all of its neighbors to the west, ranking third in the nation in terms of concentration of health administration jobs (US Department of Labor, 2020).

Healthcare Administration Degrees in Iowa

Earning a degree in a field related to healthcare administration and management provides an in to high-paying jobs in Iowa’s healthcare system. Between undergraduate degrees for new professionals and graduate degrees for professionals looking to advance in their careers, Iowa residents can choose from a variety of programs available both online and in the classroom setting.

Undergraduate Degrees in Healthcare Administration and Management

There are several relevant bachelor’s degree programs that prepare students for the field of health service management:

  • Bachelor of Health Administration (BHA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Healthcare Administration or Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

Bachelor’s programs consist of approximately 120 semester credits. Usually the first two years are spent completing general undergraduate requirements and core-course prerequisites. Colleges and universities may accept transfer students with associate’s degrees in lieu of this academic segment.

The second two years are usually comprised of core courses in the program major. These will cover important topics like:

  • Analysis of financial statements
  • Strategic planning and healthcare management
  • Human resource management
  • Supply chain and operations management
  • Organizations and information systems
  • Principles of management and marketing
  • Organizational change and leadership

In addition to online schools, Iowa residents can find bachelor’s degree programs in health administration at campus locations throughout the state:

  • Iowa City
  • Des Moines
  • Dubuque
  • Waterloo
  • Fayette

Graduate Degrees in Healthcare Administration and Management

Today, a graduate degree is the generally accepted industry standard for professionals who want to advance in this field. The degrees most relevant to the field include:

  • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Administration (MSHA)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management or Administration
  • MHA/MBA dual degree program
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Graduate Program Admission Criteria

Graduate schools will usually consider applicants that have earned a bachelor’s degree in any field as long as they have completed prerequisites or make the necessary arrangements to do so. While admission requirements vary from institution to institution, common standards include:

  • Personal essay
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Professional work experience
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA
  • Current employment in the healthcare industry

Content and Structure of Graduate Programs

Graduate programs can take between 18-24 months to complete, and are usually comprised of between 36-60 semester credits. Programs may also culminate with a thesis or capstone research project. Graduate courses will provide an advanced level of knowledge in such relevant subjects as:

  • Healthcare leadership and ethics
  • Advanced financial management
  • Quantitative methods for healthcare organizations
  • Data-based healthcare management
  • Compliance for accreditation by national healthcare organizations
  • Strategic management in large healthcare organizations
  • Global economics for healthcare managers
  • Healthcare policy and law

While online schools cater to the busy schedules of working professionals, students will also find campus locations that offer relevant programs located in Iowa City and Des Moines.

Healthcare Administration Careers in Iowa

The following jobs and related requirements are sourced from job advertisements placed throughout Iowa (October, 2015). These are provided as illustrative examples only to give a sense of what is expected from Iowa’s top employers of health administration professionals:

Centene Corporation in Des Moines

  • Vice President of Network Development and Contracting – Responsible for establishing, developing, and implementing the department’s strategic objectives; preferred applicants hold an MHA or MBA
  • Manager of Office Services – Provides management, organization, and planning services to maintain daily operations at multiple facilities; applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as healthcare administration, or an equivalent amount of related experience
  • Vice President of Complex Care Programs – Responsible for ensuring revenue and program management targets are met; applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, business administration, social work, or a related field

UnityPoint Health in Des Moines

  • System Medical Director of Hospitalist Program Development – Responsible for defining, standardizing, enhancing, and evolving hospitalist programs; preferred applicants hold an MHA, MBA, or related master’s degree

UnitedHealth Group in Des Moines

  • Executive Director of Behavioral Health – Manages the daily operations of the assigned clinic, including the management of contracts, state agency partnerships, and network development; while a master’s degree is preferred, applicants are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, business administration, social work, public policy, or a related field


Local Iowa Resources for Healthcare Administrators and Managers

With one of the highest concentration of medical and health services managers in the nation, those working in this field can find a variety of opportunities for employment and professional development in Kentucky.

Largest Employers of Healthcare Administrators and Managers

  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City
  • Genesis Medical Center in Davenport
  • Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines
  • UnityPoint Health – Saint Luke’s in Cedar Rapids
  • Alegent Creighton Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs
  • VA Central Iowa Health Care System in Des Moines
  • Iowa City VA Health Care System
  • Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa
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Professional Resources

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for Medical and Health Services Managers.

Job growth projections sourced from Iowa Workforce Development and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2018-2028) database –

Salary figures and job market projections represent state data, not school-specific information.

Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2021.

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