Various occupations require a healthcare master's degree, including occupational therapists, orthodontists/prosthetists, speech/language pathologists and physician assistants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks several healthcare-related careers among the occupations projected to grow the fastest nationally from 2010 to 2020. (BLS.gov, 2012)
The physician assistant master's degree was named the #1 degree for long-term employment opportunities by Forbes in 2012. Three other healthcare master's degree careers also placed in Forbes' top 10: occupational therapist, healthcare administrator and nurse. Although medical and health services administration does not require a master's degree, many employers prefer healthcare managers who have master's degrees, BLS.gov reports. Not all nursing careers require a master's degree, but one is needed for advanced practice registered nursing specializations such as anesthetist, midwife and nurse practitioner. (bls.gov/ooh, 2012)
Diverse healthcare master's degrees available
Master's degree programs are available online, on campus and through hybrid programs that contain both online and campus components. Examples of healthcare master's degrees include Master of Health Administration, Master of Health Science, Master of Science (MS) in Health Sciences, Master of Occupational Therapy, Master of Nursing and Master of Physician Assistant Studies. Master's degrees are also found in specific disciplines such as speech pathology, psychology, clinical research administration and health informatics, to name only a few.
Master's degree programs generally take from two to four years to complete depending on whether the student attends part time or full time, and some require supervised clinical practice. Accelerated options like the Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Master of Science in Nursing (BSN to MSN) could take less time to complete. Some programs target students transitioning to graduate school following a bachelor's degree, while others are geared toward working healthcare professionals seeking advancement through higher education. A master's degree can also be a stepping stone to a doctoral degree.
Fastest Growing Occupations, 2010 and Projected 2020, Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_103.htm
Healthcare Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/
The Best and Worst Master's Degrees for Jobs, Forbes, Jacquelyn Smith, June 8, 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/06/08/the-best-and-worst-masters-degrees-for-jobs-2/