Univ of Southern California
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 communities 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’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.

The SPPD programs in health management and policy offer two degree options – the Master of Health Administration and the Executive Master of Health Administration. These degrees position the student to acquire 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 five major areas of competence: management/operations/leadership; health policy analysis; health finance; health information technology; and, health care quality. Each student will be exposed to these core areas and will specialize in two of them. 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.

Requirements for Admission

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).

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 Management and Policy Programs can be found here.


Curriculum for the M.H.A. includes 48 units (40 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 (40 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 Delivery2
PPD 514Economic Concepts Applied to Health4
PPD 515Strategic Management of Health Organizations4
PPD 516Financial Accounting for Health Care Organizations4
PPD 517Concepts and Practices in Managing Health Care Organizations 2
PPD 518Quality of Care Concepts2
PPD 545Human Behavior in Public Organizations4
PPD 557Modeling and Operations Research4

In addition to the 40 required units, students are required to take 8 units of electives. Elective courses will be taken in two of the five specialization areas: management/operations/leadership; health policy analysis; health finance; health information technology; and health care quality. The two specializations will be selected by the student with the advice and written consent of the M.H.A. program director and faculty advisor.


The M.H.A. student is required to complete a 1,000 hour residency at a health care organization, generally during the second year of study. This residency may be reduced, but must include at least 500 hours, depending on the health care experience of the student. The residency is designed to provide the student with practical administrative experience that complements program course work.