Health Systems Management Master of Science Degree

In this health care management online degree, you’ll combine the leadership and organizational management competencies of an MBA with the specialized skills required to manage within the intricate health care industry.

Overview for Health Systems Management MS

  • Build competencies in the five core areas key to success in health care management and leadership: (1) Knowledge of health care systems in the U.S., (2) Communications and interpersonal effectiveness, (3) Critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills, (4) Management and leadership skills, and (5) Professionalism and ethics theory and practice.
  • The only CAHME-accredited program in Western New York and one of only 140 CAHME-accedited programs in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Accommodate your professional schedule by pursuing the online MS degree full- or part-time. 
  • Engage in a faculty-led travel experience (domestic or international) to study another health care system. 

A health systems management degree driven by today’s health care imperatives. Successfully managing strategy, finance, patient experience, and operations in the highly regulated and unique health care sector requires specialized competencies and expertise beyond a traditional MBA. The master of science in health systems management is the currency needed to advance and perform in health care systems today.

Critical success factors driving health care systems today are often referred to as the Quadruple Aim:

  1. Improve the health of populations
  2. Enhance the quality of care for individuals
  3. Reduce the per capita cost of health care
  4. Improve the work life of care providers

RIT’s Master’s of Health Care Management: An Industry-Focused Online Degree

Our health systems management degree is a graduate-level, applied, competency-based, and industry-focused online degree program. Students are provided the flexibility to pursue the degree part-time in 24-months or full-time in 12-months.

Unique to this degree, you will have the opportunity to attend two on-campus leadership immersions and a faculty-led travel experience to study another health care system. The faculty strive to blend the flexibility of online learning with the value of face-to-face networking, interaction, and travel. All courses use a case-based, dynamic, and interactive focus on key health care topics including economics and policy, health IT and decision support, ethics, systems quality, and organizational learning.

Business and leadership courses prepare you to tackle issues involving financial management, quality improvement, operations, and strategy formulation—all within the context of real-world health care trends and challenges. You’ll be well prepared to develop, direct, and implement strategy and tactics that will shape the health care organizations of the future.

Develop Your Health Care Leadership Skills

The MS in health systems administration program was built to support a set of professional competencies identified by the program’s advisory board, faculty, and alumni. These 12 competencies fall under five domains and support students for success in the field of management and leadership in health care:

  • Knowledge of health sector
  • Communications and interpersonal effectiveness
  • Critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving
  • Management and leadership 
  • Professionalism and ethics 

To develop your leadership skills, you will have the opportunity to attend two on-campus, hands-on, application-based learning and networking experiences. You will work closely with your classmates and faculty on case analysis, problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership skills during these four-day sessions. This face-to-face training delivers skills and competencies which will continue to be developed in a virtual environment within the online courses to maximize your return on investment in skill development and practice. View the program’s Competency Model and Map.

A Flexible Degree Built Around Your Schedule

This online degree offers five start dates per year and courses run year-round. This accelerated course format allows you to complete your degree in half the time of a traditional, semester-based program. Each online course is seven weeks long. A full-time student can complete this degree in one year; a part-time student can complete the degree in 24 months.

Stackable Credentials

You may earn a graduate-level credential and advance your career while you work toward your MS. The advanced certificate in health care finance stands alone, and may also be applied to your MS degree.

Immersion Courses

The program includes a three-course series, referred to as the immersion classes. Two of these courses are offered on the RIT campus over an extended weekend (approximately 45 hours in 4.5 days). These courses are highly interactive and designed in a workshop format that utilizes a variety of hands-on exercises, teamwork, and role-play. The focus of these courses is to build highly effective managers and leaders.

An Immersive Health Systems Management Travel Experience

One of the most distinguishing and attractive benefits of the health administration degree is the culminating travel course. During the final summer term, you will have the opportunity for a faculty-led travel experience in which you will conduct an intensive study of the locale’s health system in comparison to your native system. Travel destinations will include a mix of international and domestic locations. As your final project, you will use that experience to innovate a product, service, or process for a health care organization.There is an added program fee to participate in the travel course and students arrange their own flights, some meals, etc. The course faculty will share the destination and costs during the fall term prior to the summer course. For those unable to travel, an alternative study option will be provided.

Top Health Care Faculty

The program is led by a team of faculty who are practice-based scholars with extensive experience in the field. Faculty members are accessible, offer constructive feedback on course projects and assignments, and are at the forefront of providing an educational experience in which students can learn and directly apply classroom theories and concepts to the real-world practice of health care management.

Careers in Health Systems Management

Health care is the largest industry in the U.S. and the second largest employer, representing almost 20 percent of the Gross National Product, and employing more than 11 million people. Employment opportunities for health systems managers and administrators will increase by 20 percent over the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. View current career and salary information for health systems management program as they relate to career outcomes.

Health Systems Administration Advisory Board

The health systems administration MS degree relies on an advisory board of health administrators from around the country to advise and guide the program to ensure the curriculum addresses today’s most pressing challenges for health care leaders. Learn more about the role of the advisory board and view the current advisory board membership.

Learn more about the program’s mission, goals, and objectives.

Program Completion Rates

Graduation rates have risen year-over-year for the MS in health systems management degree program, and time-to-completion has decreased over a three-year period. RIT continues to track this data. Learn more about graduation rates and time to completion.

Students are also interested in: Health and Well-Being Management MS, Health Care Finance Adv. Cert., Business Administration MBA


Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Health Systems Management MS

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Health Systems Management, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Integrated Health Systems & Population Health
This course discusses the delivery system of health care in the US. Specifically, the course will review the current status of American health care including research into population demographics and health and the concept of wellness and prevention. Following this a review of international health care models will occur to consider best practice as alternative care models for consideration for the US. In addition, the students will develop, for their area of interest and expertise, a strategy for incremental or radical innovation in how we provide health care to our constituents. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Leading Health Systems I
This is the first of three courses in the HSA, MS program that require students to be on campus. These “immersion” courses will be scheduled over a long weekend and will entail full days on campus as well as pre- and post-course work completed online. The concept is to immerse students in a series of experiences to support their development as high function managers and leaders within the health care industry. This course provides a detailed examination of the core principles of management as well as characteristics and disciplines that are required by persons holding management and leadership roles in health care delivery organizations. Lecture 3 (Summer).
Health Care Economics and Policy
This course provides an examination of the roles and responsibilities of policy makers on the health care system and the resulting economic impact of their policies. Students will compare and contrast the regulatory functions of varying levels of government, the political process and economic impacts as they relate to health care systems as well as examine control issues, economic functions and regulatory trends in the United States. In addition, an assessment will be made of national health systems and national health policies of other countries as they compare to the United States. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Evidence-Based Management in Health Care
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to evidence-based management practice in health care. The primary focus is to ensure that managers ask the right questions, use the best evidence available and make better decisions in carrying out their mission. Students will participate in the process of retrieval, appraisal, and synthesis of evidence in collaboration with other members of the health care team to improve processes and patient outcomes in diverse populations. Students complete an individual, final assignment demonstrating the ability to collect, document, and translate research (evidence) on the practice of health care management . Lecture 3 (Spring).
Health Care Financial Management I: Principles & Practice
This course provides a basic understanding of health services financial management. We begin with elementary accounting concepts and then focus on financial statement preparation and analysis. Special topics areas include discounted cash flow, risk, capital investments evaluation, debt/equity financing, and financial decision making models such as break-even analysis, cash flow forecasting and the like. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Health Care Financial Management II: Concepts/Applications
This course builds on the foundational learning from Health Care Financial Management I: Principles & Practice. Course emphasis will be on for-profit entities within the health care sector. The course goes into greater depth on discounted cash flow analysis, risk, financial performance evaluation, capital investments, capital budgeting, debt, and equity financing. A key objective of this class is to develop the student’s ability to engage in long-term financial modeling. Students will complete a comprehensive financial forecast as their final graded assessment for this field of study. (Prerequisites: HLTH-730 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Leading Health Systems II
This is the second of three courses in the MHSA program that require students to be on campus. These “immersion” courses will be scheduled over a long weekend and will entail full days on campuses well as pre- and post-course work completed online. The concept is to immerse students in a series of experiences to support their development as high function managers and leaders within the health care industry. This course builds on the first Leading Health Care Systems course and provides a in-depth examination of advanced management and leadership knowledge, skills and values required of contemporary leaders within health care systems. (Prerequisites: HLTH-706 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
Second Year
Healthcare Strategic Marketing & Communications
This course will support student’s understanding of concepts, impacts and applications of marketing in the health care industry. The goal of the course is to equip future leaders with the capacity and discipline to make informed decisions to advance the strategic goals of an organization. Using a course long project with a health care product or service chosen by the student, concepts are introduced and applied against actual scenarios. The course introduces fundamental marketing concepts including differential analysis, the four P’s, segmenting with the role of ethics woven throughout the course. Students will put concepts to work, learning how to conduct and apply internal and external analysis, the impact of customer satisfaction and how to build tactics and measure outcomes consistent with a chosen strategic direction. Throughout the course, students will be challenged to fine tune their presentation skills in exercises meant to simulate today’s business world. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Health Systems Quality & Organizational Learning
This course will incorporate an examination of contemporary organizational systems thinking focusing on concepts relevant to health service organizations and their communities; emphasizing organizational quality, leadership, environment, strategy, structure, and processes. The course provides students with the evaluation of key factors affecting an organization’s system as well as their community, through quality and analytical thinking; allowing the student to apply theories that suggest an effective organizational response to such influences and change. Lecture 3 .
Health Care Operations: Building High Reliability Systems
The challenges and complexities of the current health care environment require a skilled operations leader that will engage high performing teams, develop highly reliable processes, effectively manage expenses, and succeed in achieving desired outcomes in an increasingly competitive market. The increased focus on population health, payment reform pressure, the emergence of risk and value based payment models will challenge traditional healthcare organizations and require leadership focused on change management and performance improvement. The purpose of this course is to provide students the opportunity to analyze the health care organization using both qualitative and quantitative principles of operations management. It provides an integrated system and a set of contemporary operations improvement tools that can be used to make significant gains in any organization. This course is designed to provide the student with an overview of the field, and the ability to use some of the most commonly deployed operations tools and processes. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Health IT and Decision Support
This course is intended to explore current challenges in the health care system, and how the ability to understand and apply health data and associated health care information technology (IT) tools can improve the quality and cost of health care services. Students will learn about regulations, standards, and rules which impact health IT. The course will include a review of current and future health care technology tools and associated data collection, storage and exchange practices; and utilize applied case studies allowing students to demonstrate their ability to use health care information technology systems and data analytics to improve patient and provider outcomes. The role of technology will also be explored as it relates to strategy, adoption levels, care settings, and patient engagement. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Healthcare Strategy: Analysis & Formulation
Having an effective organizational strategy is an essential component of all successful entities. Yet, practicing managers often engage in strategy formulation with very different conceptions of strategy and the strategic process. This course reviews the historical development of modern strategic theory and practice, with a focus on the works of Porter, Minztberg, and Barney. More importantly, the course will address and utilize various analytical frameworks which infuse the strategic process with intellectual rigor while retaining the essence of strategy that is innovative and creative. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Health Systems Analysis & Innovation
This is the final of three courses in the MS HSA program that require students to participate in a first-hand analysis of a health system within the United States or outside our borders. The objective of the analysis is to critically examine and assess the structure, function and achievements of care delivery in a domestic or international health system. Students enrolled in this course must select either the domestic, international, independent study option as described by the program. Lecture 3 (Summer).
Total Semester Credit Hours

Note for online students

The frequency of required and elective course offerings in the online program will vary, semester by semester, and will not always match the information presented here. Online students are advised to seek guidance from the listed program contact when developing their individual program course schedule.