Is a Master of Health Administration for you?


A Master of Health Administration from the College of Public Health and Health Professions empowers future health care leaders to ignite momentum from Florida, forward.

By Katarina Fiorentino Klatzkow

Hospitals and health care organizations couldn’t operate without the clinicians, researchers and health practitioners who help patients achieve their health and wellness goals. But what about those who are behind the scenes, supporting the clinicians on the front lines of patient care?

For students who dream of working in health care, but in non-clinical or business-oriented capacities, a Master of Health Administration can open doors for different career trajectories in health leadership, policy, consulting, informatics, finance, marketing and more.

At the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, students in the full-time and part-time Master of Health Administration (M.H.A.) program are training at the forefront of innovation, developing the necessary skills to address today’s complex health problems.

With return on investment and program outcomes being key factors in students’ choice to pursue graduate studies, the PHHP department of health services research, management and policy prides itself on student engagement, excellence and job readiness.

Keith Benson
Keith Benson, Ph.D.

Putting learning into practice, says Keith Benson, Ph.D., clinical professor and M.H.A. program director, is one of the most important components of an early health administration careerist’s education.

At PHHP, students in the M.H.A. program complete internships at a wide variety of organizations locally and nationwide, including major hospitals, academic teaching centers, renowned research facilities, and government agencies such as UF Health, Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Darwin Research Group, Duke University Medical Center and the Veterans Health Administration.

“Think about all the places you can get health care,” Benson said. “Health care administrators can work almost anywhere. Our graduates are in numerous different institutions because we can go anywhere where health is being delivered.”

Another benefit to an M.H.A. degree, says Benson, is flexibility, job security and curating a career from a variety of different educational backgrounds.

“Health care management is very different than a clinical track. What I mean by that is, for example, I was in a meeting recently with three interns and three executives. Out of the seven individuals present, we had seven different undergraduate majors,” Benson said. “Health care management is really a diversity of backgrounds.”

Those with an M.H.A. degree will find working in health care only the tip of the iceberg for career opportunities.

“Our jobs can even take us out of health care, such as a student doing an internship working in benefits management for a major corporation that self-insures, which means an internal office manages their health benefits,” Benson said.

The department of health services, research, management and policy welcomes new M.H.A. students during Fall 2023 orientation.

So, why should a student who may be teetering on the cusp of pursuing an M.H.A, ultimately take the plunge?

“Every day we can make a positive difference in someone’s life, and a lot of times the organizations we are a part of are helping people when they need it most, during the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” said Benson. “The clinician focuses on the patient, and we take care of everything else so the clinician can focus on the patient.”

Many students considering a Master of Health Administration degree may also look at a Master of Business Administration. For Benson, who holds both credentials, either degree is a viable path to a successful career. He advises students who are keenly interested in health care, however, to pursue an M.H.A.

“An M.B.A. tends to be more general. The key is the skills you’re developing. An M.H.A is really focused on the application of competencies in health care,” said Benson. “If you know you want to be in health care, then get an M.H.A. I know plenty of health care managers that have both (M.B.A. and M.H.A.) and they are complimentary degrees, and I know great health care managers who have one or the other degree.”

For Amy Arbit, B.H.A., pursuing an advanced degree in health administration allows her to work in the business and financial side of health care, while still being in a patient-oriented position.

“I chose to pursue an M.H.A. over an M.B.A. because it is a more niche field, and since it is so focused, I know the job market will always be looking for candidates with their M.H.A.,” Arbit said. “This job field also provides a lot of opportunities for growth, along with flexibility. I chose to go to UF M.H.A. because it is the #1 M.H.A. program in Florida, and I wanted in-state tuition.”

Abigail Lamm, B.H.S., a graduate from PHHP’s Class of 2022, decided to pursue her M.H.A. due to an innate passion for health care.

“Throughout my high school and undergraduate careers, I was focused on being a health care provider, but I shifted towards administration as I reflected on my strengths and experiences in leadership. I was ecstatic at the opportunity to combine my skills in business and leadership with my passion for health care in the M.H.A. program,” said Lamm.

As a UF alumna, she couldn’t imagine pursuing her degree anywhere but at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions.

“The endless opportunities for networking, growth, and professional development in the UF M.H.A. program assured me that this was the place for me to continue my education and become a Double Gator,” she said.

Being a health care administrator is not just about being a lifelong learner, but also enjoying work and remembering your impact, Benson said.

“We deal with the range of human emotions. And that can be very challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling,” he said.