University of Southern California
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Graduate Degrees

Master of Health Administration

The issues surrounding the delivery and financing of health services have an enormous impact on individuals and the com-munities in which we live. The health care industry now accounts for more than 15 percent of the U.S. economy. Fast-moving developments in technology, economics, ethics, finance, policy, management and globalization are driving changes in the health sector. Effective health leadership requires an understanding of governance systems and the complex interplay between the public, private and nonprofit sectors as well as the dual imperatives of both the clinical and business facets of health care delivery. As the health care system changes, career opportunities abound. The field has a tremendous need for leaders, managers and analysts – in hospitals, health plans, physician practices, health-related enterprises, community health organizations, social advocacy groups, and regulatory and legislative agencies.

The School of Policy, Planning, and Development programs in health management and policy offer two degree options – the Master of Health Administration and the Executive Master of Health Administration – for acquiring the knowledge, skills and applied experience to shape health policy and lead health organizations. Requirements for the Executive M.H.A. differ from those of the traditional M.H.A. and are found here.

The Master of Health Administration builds a solid foundation emphasizing managerial, analytical and public policy skills for those entering the health field, while the Executive Master of Health Administration deepens professional skills and permits those already working in the health field to advance to higher levels of leadership.

The M.H.A. curriculum incorporates the areas of management, economics, finance, marketing and law to provide students with broad exposure to, and in-depth knowledge of, the latest theories and the best in contemporary practice. The program prepares students for management positions in hospitals, managed care systems, physician groups, ambulatory care systems, government agencies concerned with health care policy, planning, quality assurance and regulation, and private firms involved in health care consulting, finance, performance assessment and evaluation.

The school offers the M.H.A. degree at the University Park campus in Los Angeles and the USC State Capital Center in Sacramento. The executive degree option is offered at the University Park campus.

Requirements for Admission

Applicants for the Master of Health Administration must apply separately to the Health Policy and Management Program. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants may take courses on limited standing pending formal admission to the master's degree program.

Applicants with bachelor's degrees must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in their undergraduate course work and a score of at least 500 on the verbal and at least 500 on the quantitative sections of the GRE. Deviations from these minimums will be allowed when justified by exceptional work experience, letters of recommendation or improvement in academic performance during the third and fourth years of undergraduate study.


A basic competence in descriptive and inferential statistics is also required for the M.H.A. program. The statistics prerequisite must be satisfied within the first 12 units or before enrolling in PPD 557 Modeling and Operations Research. This prerequisite may be met in one of two ways: (1) entering students must have passed an undergraduate inferential statistics class, with a grade of “B” or better, at an approved university within three years of matriculation, or (2) completing PPD 502x Statistical Foundations for Public Management and Policy with a grade of “B” or better (this course credit may not count toward the M.H.A. degree).

A basic competence in accounting is also required for the M.H.A. program. The accounting prerequisite must be satisfied within the first 12 units or before enrolling in PPD 510a Financial Management of Health Services. This prerequisite may be met in one of two ways: (1) completing PPD 516x Financial Accounting in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors with a grade of B or better (this course may not be applied to the M.H.A. degree), or (2) passing the Accounting Equivalency Test given by the school. This test may be taken only once. Students who do not pass are required to enroll in PPD 516x.

Limited Status Students (Preadmission)
Students taking courses who have not been admitted to the school are designated limited status students. These students may be waiting for part of their application package materials to arrive; or they may be investigating whether an M.H.A. may be right for them.

To be considered for limited status reenrollment, interested students need to complete the School of Policy, Planning, and Development Limited Student Application for Enrollment form and submit official or unofficial copies of their transcripts from their bachelor's degree granting institution. Students with a 3.0 grade point average (A = 4.0) may enroll in up to 8 units of graduate courses in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

School of Policy, Planning, and Development Limited Student Application for Enrollment forms may be obtained from the Admissions Office, School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, RGL 111, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626, telephone (213) 740-6842. Limited students may only enroll during the in-person registration period (the week before classes begin).

Limited status students may apply only 8 units of appropriate graduate work toward the M.H.A. after admission. Units beyond these first 8 must be petitioned for through the school. Students on limited status are encouraged to complete the application and admission process before completing those first 8 units.

Certificate Program

Information regarding the Certificate Program in Health Services Administration can be found here.


Curriculum for the M.H.A. includes 44 units (36 required units and 8 elective units). In addition, a supervised field placement (residency) in a health service organization is required. The M.H.A. degree is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study, but can be extended for those who work while going to school. Evening classes and classes that meet in an intensive, workshop format of two to four sequential days of training are designed to accommodate working professionals.

Required Core (36 units)Units
PPD 500Intersectoral Leadership2
PPD 501aEconomics for Policy, Planning and Development2
PPD 509Problems and Issues in the Health Field4
PPD 510aFinancial Management of Health Services4
PPD 511Health Information Systems2
PPD 513Legal Issues in Health Care Delivery4
PPD 514Economic Concepts Applied to Health4
PPD 515Strategic Management of Health Organizations(capstone course)4
PPD 545Human Behavior in Public Organizations4
PPD 557Modeling and Operations Research4
PPD 600Management of Managed Care Organizations2

The School of Policy, Planning, and Development's multidisciplinary nature, with degree programs in public policy, public administration, urban planning and international policy, adds breadth that distinguishes USC's M.H.A. degree, providing students with an understanding of the larger social context in which the health sector is embedded and how it intersects and interacts with other social policy issues.

In addition to the 36 required units, students are required to take 8 units of electives. Elective courses typically will be taken in an area of concentration and will be selected by the students with the advice and written consent of the director of the M.H.A. program. The following are examples of health areas of concentration: hospital operations, ambulatory care, long-term care and health policy. Students may elect a more generalized perspective and take their elective courses from the array of elective offerings available.