SHU’s online MHA program ranked seventh in the nation

Graphic via www.cahme.org

Seton Hall’s Master of Healthcare Administration Online Program (MHA) achieved another milestone. Not only is the MHA online program the only program in New Jersey that is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME), it is ranked seventh in the nation, according to a Seton Hall website article published on Sept. 15.

“Seton Hall did it right,” Dr. Anne Hewitt, director of the MHA Online program, said.

One thing that sets the program apart from similar programs in the nation is the fact that Seton Hall decided to offer the program online as an alternative to students who are working jobs while also attending classes, Hewitt said.

“It was difficult for students to balance a job and finding time to also make it to classes,” Hewitt said. “The MHA online program allows students to complete their assignments at a time that is convenient for them.”

The MHA program was the first online program Seton Hall offered, and the first year of the program was in 1997, Hewitt added. Both the online version as well as the traditional classroom-style program began in 1997.

Hewitt discussed the three main components that form the backbone of the MHA program at Seton Hall.

The first key component of the MHA program is that the students that are beginning the program are labeled as a cohort, a group of students. These cohorts remain together for two years until their graduation from the program. This means that the students within the cohorts are in all of the same courses, which allows the MHA students to form bonds within the program.

The next key component of the program is the time it takes to complete courses. It is a rule of the program that students can only take one course at a time. Students have seven weeks to complete the course. Hewitt said this method “allows students to focus more on the subject matter.”

The MHA program is considered a hybrid program, the third key idea of the program. Students will meet with professors and instructors three times during the two years of the program: during orientation, at the end of the first year and at the end of the second year. Students will spend five days with faculty members and deans, discussing material and engaging in presentations at the end of their first year. During this time, they spend two days in a hotel learning and then the remainder of the time on campus. These days are busy, as students will attend classes and presentations from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

One student has considered the program after seeing the updated rankings.

“I like the positive feedback from students that are in the program, and I like how engaged the faculty is,” said sophomore Elena Gavin, a social behavioral science major.

Gavin is unsure how she would respond to the online method of teaching, as she has never taken an online course before.

However, Gavin is currently pursuing more information on the traditional classroom setting option, as she believes it would be a better fit for her lifestyle at this point.

The curriculum does not vary between the online program and the on-campus one. The only difference between the two is that the online MHA program is accelerated, Hewitt said.

The faculty that teaches the online courses are trained to teach in an online setting, noted Hewitt. Faculty members are also online 24/7. They are always available and willing to assist students with any questions they may have.

Students have also seemed to have little to no issues with the online setting.

“One hundred percent of the students in the online MHA program have taken an online course before,” Hewitt said. Most of the students had completed online courses in high school.

MHA Online Program student Abigail Kent is a little more than halfway through with the program. She started in August 2015 and will graduate in August 2017. She likes the online format of the program.

“I love being able to arrange my schoolwork around my schedule instead of having to arrange my schedule around my schoolwork,” Kent said.

Through the program, Kent was able to gain an internship with the Veterans Administration hospital in Orange, N.J.

Within three months of their graduation, 96 percent of MHA program students receive job offers according to the program’s website.

“Online classes are here. They are the future,” Dr. Hewitt said.

Megan O’Malley can be reached megan.omalley@student.shu.edu

Author: Megan O'Malley

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