Online MBA Programs in Healthcare and Life Sciences

    There’s a high demand in the US for skilled professionals with a background in life sciences and healthcare. Facilities such as hospitals, universities, and research facilities require workers with a thorough understanding of biotechnology and life sciences and business management to oversee research projects and healthcare quality. Those who have furthered their education by obtaining an online MBA1 in healthcare and life sciences are often considered for top-level healthcare and research management roles ahead of those with bachelor’s degrees or other levels of education.

    Prospective students considering applying to online MBA programs with a concentration in healthcare and life sciences can expect the curriculum to include a wide range of courses. Those who successfully gain admission to a program are required to complete courses on laboratory management, ethical decision-making, health policy, biotechnology, and business administration courses, including business law, organizational behavior, human resources, and financial management.

    What is an Online MBA in Healthcare and Life Sciences?

    Online MBA programs in healthcare and life sciences teach students the fundamentals of biotechnology and life sciences while providing them with crucial business management training. The demand for qualified individuals capable of managing day-to-day operations in healthcare and research facilities is high. Graduates of accredited online MBA programs in healthcare and life management often move on to fill high-level management positions in healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, research firms, and pharmaceutical companies. Successful graduates are typically prepared to face common workplace challenges and possess highly developed skills necessary to provide viable solutions to workplace issues.

    Some prospective students might find that they’re struggling to choose between applying to master’s degree programs and online MBA programs with a concentration in healthcare and life sciences. While both offer a similar curriculum for life sciences, only an online MBA program includes a range of business management courses that help students transition easily into leadership roles throughout their careers.

    Students may also struggle with deciding to study online. Although the curriculum is often the same online and in traditional classroom programs, students need to keep in mind that online study doesn’t usually offer the opportunity to study with peers or seek direct assistance from the instructor. However, the online study does allow students to work at their own pace and on their own schedule, which is a major benefit for those who work full-time or have other long-term obligations.

    Online MBA in Healthcare and Life Sciences Curriculum

    An online MBA program in healthcare and life sciences offers a curriculum that includes a wide range of courses on both health and business management. It equips students with the leadership skills they need to take on top-level management positions within the healthcare industry. Students are required to complete management courses on topics that include:

    • Business law
    • Business ethics
    • Decision making
    • Accounting and financial management
    • Human resources
    • Organizational behaviors
    • Business communication
    • Marketing
    • Business strategy
    • Operations management

    Additionally, students enrolled in a program to earn an accredited online MBA in healthcare and life sciences must complete industry-specific courses. While the exact titles and descriptions of courses vary depending on the institution, students can expect to enroll in courses such as those listed below.

    • Principles of Drug Development: Students learn to assess the major issues involved in developing pharmaceuticals. The class focuses on stages including discovery, preclinical development, investigation, and manufacturing.
    • Quality and Safety in Healthcare: Students learn the importance of safe practices within healthcare facilities and discover the potential consequences of operating outside of safety and quality regulations.
    • Health Information Systems: This course provides students with a thorough overview of health information systems and the best methods for safe storage of sensitive information.
    • Ethical Decision Making: Students in this course learn the importance of acting ethically and techniques for making life-altering decisions.
    • Pathology of Human Disease: Students receive a comprehensive overview of human pathology that focuses on a variety of topics including disease mechanisms, major organ systems, diagnostic tools, and modern diagnostic technologies.

    Prospective students should note that most institutions require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree and at least a year of work experience in a related field. Some also ask that only students with high GMAT scores apply to online MBA programs; however, many schools have recently chosen to waive the GMAT requirement2 so that they can attract more students to their online MBA programs.

    What Unique Career Paths Can I Pursue With an MBA Specializing in Healthcare and Life Sciences?

    Graduates of online MBA programs in healthcare and life sciences have the opportunity to fill many top-level positions at healthcare and research facilities throughout the US and beyond. Some of the job opportunities that may be available to them are listed below.

    Chief Financial Officer

    Chief financial officers3 work as part of the executive team and are responsible for planning, directing, and overseeing all financial aspects of the organization that employs them. In a healthcare setting, most chief financial officers are employed by hospitals or larger organizations such as research companies or long-term care facilities. Most chief financial officers must keep regular office hours; however, they may be required to work overtime on certain occasions because they carry a high responsibility level.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)4 monitors average incomes and demand for specific jobs throughout the US. According to the BLS, as of May 2017, the average chief financial officer earned $183,270 per year. This role’s job opportunities are expected to rise by about 8% by 2026, which is average.

    Health Services Manager

    Health services managers5 are required to plan, direct, and coordinate all services in hospitals and healthcare facilities such as skilled nursing homes and medical clinics. They typically oversee a team of administrative staff and are responsible for ensuring all patients’ safety and ethical treatment.

    Hospital administrators earned an average of $99,730 annually as of May 2018. Qualified workers to fill roles as hospital administrators are in high demand, and opportunities are expected to increase by 20% by the year 2026.

    Biomedical Scientist

    Biomedical scientists6, also known as materials scientists, analyze substances’ molecular and atomic structures to determine how they interact with each other. In the healthcare field, biomedical scientists often study the way disease works in the human body or test the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.

    As of May 2018, biomedical scientists earned an average of $78,330. This position’s opportunities are expected to increase by 7% by 2026, which is about average.

    Biomedical Engineer

    Biomedical engineers7 usually have an engineering degree in addition to a master’s degree or MBA in healthcare and life sciences. They’re responsible for creating medical equipment, devices, and computer systems used in inpatient care. Many work in hospitals or research facilities, while some may work for universities or manufacturing plants.

    As of May 2017, the average biomedical technician earned $88,550 per year. Demand for this role is expected to grow by 7% by 2026, which is about average.

    Pharmaceutical Brand Manager

    Brand managers8, often referred to as promotional managers, work for large pharmaceutical companies. They travel to hospitals, clinics, and conventions to provide healthcare professionals with information about their products and are required to sell their products on behalf of the company that employees them. Brand managers often work long hours and are required to travel.

    According to the BLS, the average brand manager earned $117,130 per year as of May 2018. However, those employed within the pharmaceutical industry may earn a higher wage thanks to their specific healthcare and medicine training. Demand for this job is expected to increase by 10% by 2026, which is a little faster than average.


    Microbiologists9 work in laboratories at hospitals, research facilities, and universities to study microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. Their main function is to analyze how these microorganisms interact with each other and with the human body. Most work full-time, regular hours.

    As of May 2018, the average human resources manager earned $71,650 per year. Demand for this role is expected to grow 8% by 2026, which is about average.

    Should I Get an Online MBA in Healthcare and Life Sciences?

    Before enrolling in any online MBA program, prospective students must take time to carefully consider whether they’re choosing the program that best suits their career goals. The questions below may be helpful for students considering an online MBA in healthcare management.

    Online MBA in Healthcare and Life Sciences vs. Online MBA in Healthcare Management

    While both concentrations provide students with a strong knowledge base in healthcare management, the online MBA program in healthcare and life sciences blend standard MBA courses with a master’s degree in science, which teaches students to take on hands-on roles in research and healthcare.

    Are you comfortable working with potentially life-threatening viruses and bacteria?

    Life sciences professionals often work in laboratories and hospitals. They’re typically behind the scenes either managing or conducting research, which means that they’re performing hands-on work with potentially dangerous microorganisms.

    Do you work well under pressure?

    Often, the research or other tasks performed by those who work in healthcare and life sciences are urgent and important. If you’re considering this concentration for your online MBA, you must be comfortable working under pressure frequently throughout your career.

    Are you interested in a career that leads to a high-level management role?

    Online MBA programs, regardless of specialization, are designed to help students easily transition into leadership roles during their careers. MBAs in health management are best for students who see management in their future.

    Are you looking for a flexible way to earn your MBA online?

    If you keep a busy schedule due to work or family commitments, earning an accredited MBA in healthcare management online might be a good option for you. Online degree programs help students advance their education while offering the opportunity to study independently without strict deadlines.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are all online MBA programs in the US accredited?

    While there are many accredited online MBA programs in the US, unfortunately, some schools claim to help students earn an MBA online even though they’re not qualified to issue degrees. It’s vital that all students considering applying to an online MBA program check the status of the school by searching the United States Department of Education’s database of accredited programs10.

    Will earning an online MBA in healthcare and life sciences help me to earn a promotion?

    If a healthcare organization currently employs you, obtaining your MBA in healthcare and life sciences online is a great way to get noticed by management when promotions become available. Many healthcare and pharmaceutical managers prefer to promote from within, and employees who’ve shown their potential by furthering their education are often among the first considered.

    Is online learning as good as classroom learning?

    While the curriculum offered by online MBA programs in healthcare and life sciences is typically the same as what’s offered by traditional schools, prospective students need to consider their own learning style when applying to MBA programs. Many students prefer the flexibility of obtaining their degree online, while others prefer learning in a more traditional setting.

    How fast can I earn my online MBA in healthcare management?

    While fast-track programs allow students to earn their MBA online in as little as four to six weeks, most full-time programs take approximately two years to finish. There are also part-time online MBA programs that allow students to complete their coursework over a period of up to five years.


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