Sep 30, 2023  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024

Health Administration (MHA)

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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 Price School of Public Policy’s multidisciplinary nature, with degree programs in public policy, public administration, urban planning and international policy, adds breadth that distinguishes USC’s MHA 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 Price School 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 MHA  differ from those of the traditional MHA and are found on the program page.

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 MHA 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 coursework 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 MHA program. The statistics prerequisite must be satisfied prior to enrollment. 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 504 Essential Statistics for Public Management  with a grade of “C” or better (this course credit may not count toward the MHA 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 MHA may be right for them.

To be considered for limited status reenrollment, interested students need to complete the Price School of Public Policy 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 Price School of Public Policy.

Price School of Public Policy Limited Student Application for Enrollment forms may be obtained from the Admissions Office, USC Price School of Public Policy, 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 MHA 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 on the Graduate Certificates page.


Curriculum for the MHA 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 MHA 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.


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 MHA program director and faculty adviser.


The MHA 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.

Program Adaptation: Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine (KPSOM)

Students from the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (KPSOM) may enroll at USC to earn the Master of Health Administration through an innovative pathway, which requires 36 units (32 required units and 4 elective units). KPSOM students receive comprehensive training in many of the topics covered in the MHA.

The USC Price School of Public Policy will waive PPD 509: Problems and Issues in the Health Field as these topics are covered as part of the Health Systems Science (HSS) component of the Integrated Science courses at KPSOM. 

Students enrolled in this program are not required to take PPD 512: Health Administration Residency Seminar (as opposed to the stand-alone MHA degree students) because they develop these skills through their Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship, where in their second year, they engage in a year-long quality improvement project. 

Students enrolled in this program are not required to take PPD 518: Quality of Care Concepts as these topics are covered extensively during the first two years at KPSOM, in both the Integrated Science courses (IS1-IS7), as well as in the longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC).

Finally, students enrolled in this program are waived from 4-units of electives (from PPD 511, PPDE 610, and PPD 697). The content covered in PPD 511 is covered in both the Integrated Science courses (IS1-IS7), as well as in the longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC). At KPSOM, the topics from PPDE 610 are covered extensively as part of the healthcare and social systems and the community and population health domains. Structural competency and cultural proficiency are central to the school’s mission and curriculum at KPSOM. The topics covered in PPD 697 are covered explicitly as part of the Integrated Sciences courses (IS1-IS7), Service Learning (SL), and the diversity, equity, and inclusion thread are interwoven throughout all of the curriculum. 

Statistics: The statistics prerequisite requirement will be met with KPSOM’s Heath Systems Science curriculum. A core component of this curriculum is focused on familiarizing students with the basics of inquiry and evidence-based practice. Students are expected to know how to conduct and critique research studies and understand and apply fundamental biostatistical and epidemiological concepts. These concepts are taught in didactic and team-based learning formats in the student’s first year and in a structured journal club format in the student’s second year. Students apply the concepts they learn in class during their Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) experiences in six Kaiser Permanente Medical centers over years 1-3. KPSOM students cover the equivalent of a college-level introduction to statistics course in the first two years of the curriculum and will be prepared for a graduate-level statistics course.

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