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Master of Public Administration: Health Administration

Fast Facts
Program Founded: 1985
Program Accreditation: NASPAA & CAHME
Graduates to date: 348
Degree Requirements
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Programs in Health Management and Policy

Vision:  The vision of the Division of Public Administration’s Programs in Health Management and Policy is to be a leader in health management education and policy and be widely recognized for our contributions to the health community though a dynamic, innovative and rigorous curriculum; commitment to excellence in scholarship; and collaborative, inclusive and inspirational leadership among our graduates.

Mission:  The Programs in Health Management and Policy build upon the mission of the Division of Public Administration, translating the broader domain of public service into the specific context of health management and policy.  The Programs prepare current and future health leaders with the knowledge, skills and competencies needed for progressively responsible careers in health systems management across a range of institutional settings including hospitals, health systems, government, research, advocacy, and nonprofit community-based organizations.

Why an MPA:HA?

What will I learn?

The MPA:HA provides students with the skills to succeed in public service and health care management positions in a wide variety of organizations. This program integrates the core curriculum of the MPA with a special focus on health services; students select their specialty area as Health Administration at the time they opt for the MPA:HA degree. At least 30 credits of the 60 credit program must be health-specific, and may be part of the substantive core, skills courses, or specialization courses.

What are the core competencies for the MPA:HA?

The MPA:HA program is designed to be academically rigorous, intellectually challenging, and personally rewarding. Each student accepted into the program is assigned to one of our committed faculty who serves as both advisor and mentor. The faculty-student partnership will help ensure that program competencies are met for each student. The program competencies are as follows:

  • Articulate and exemplify the ethics, values, responsibilities, obligations and social roles of a member of the health services administration profession.
  • Identify and apply relevant theories and frameworks to the practice of health services leadership, management and policy.*  
  • Respond to and engage collaboratively with diverse local and global cultures and communities to address challenges in the interests of population health.
  • Identify and engage with the key elements of the health policy process.
  • Employ appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques to investigate, monitor and manage resource use.** 
  • Create and manage systems and processes to assess and improve organizational performance. 
  • Conceptualize, analyze, and develop creative and collaborative solutions to challenges in health services leadership, management and policy.
  • Assess challenges and explore solutions to advance cross-sectoral and inter-jurisdictional cooperation in health programs and services.
  • Demonstrate verbal and written communication skills as a health services professional and through interpersonal interactions in groups and in society. 
  • Think critically and self-reflectively about emerging issues concerning health services leadership, management and policy. 

*Theories and frameworks could include economic, financial, legal, organizational, political, social, and/or ethical approaches.
**Resource use could include human, fiscal, technologic, information, physical, and/or other resources.

How will it prepare me for the future?

An MPH:HA degree prepares graduates for a wide range of careers in public or health services administration, planning, policy, evaluation, consulting, and related careers. Both seasoned professionals and students in the first stages of their careers will benefit from the MPH:HA at PSU. Faculty members work diligently to ensure that graduates receive a highly relevant and efficacious educational experience. Classes prepare students beginning their careers to be competent and effective leaders, and mid-career students to enhance their capacities as managers and leaders through the opportunities provided for reflection and integration of new knowledge. The MPA specialization in health administration enables students who wish to pursue a career in public service and health care to focus a substantial amount of their curriculum on courses with grounding in health services.

Experiences in health services organizations are a key component of the program, with students being placed in a variety of public sector, government and nonprofit organizations that address health and related services. We serve health services leaders in the region by helping students to work in the community as part of their graduate education. These students devote significant hours as part of class teams, engage in short-term internships, and/or work in health-related organizations or public agencies through their culminating field-based organizational experience. Health services leaders in the community often request student teams from specific skills classes when their organizations are engaged in strategic planning, program evaluation, or grant-writing, for example. See Table 1 for information on field placement settings of MPA:HA students for two recent years.

Table 1:  Field Placement Settings of 2010-2012 MPA:HA Students

Field Placement Settings Number of Students
National or central government in the same country as the program 0
State, provincial, or regional government in the same country as the program 5
City, County, or other local government in the same country as the program 2
Foreign government (all levels) or international quasi-governmental 0
Nonprofit domestic-oriented 8
Nonprofit/NGOs internationally-oriented 0
Private Sector - Research/Consulting 0
Private Sector but not research/consulting 6
Other 3
Total 24

Graduation and job placement rates are important indicators of a high-quality master’s degree program. Over the past five years, 94% of MPA:HA students have either completed, or are on-track to complete their degree (see Table 2), and 100% of students who graduated in June 2012 were employed either upon, or within, three months of graduation. See Table 3 for information on employment settings of recent MPA:HA graduates.

Table 2:  Degree Completion of MPA:HA Students Admitted in 2007-2008

Graduated within
Two Years
Graduated within
Three Years
Graduated within
Four Years
Number of Full-Time
Students in the
2007-08 Cohort
5 2 3 3
Number of Part-Time
Students in the
2007-08 Cohort
6 1 3 4
Total Number of
Students in the
2007-08 Cohort
1 3 6 7

Table 3:  Employment Settings of 2012 MPA:HA Graduates

Employment Settings Number of Graduates
National or central government in the same country as the program 0
State, provincial, or regional government in the same country as the program 0
City, County, or other local government in the same country as the program 1
Foreign government (all levels) or international quasi-governmental 0
Nonprofit domestic-oriented 8
Nonprofit/NGOs internationally-oriented 0
Private Sector - Research/Consulting 0
Private Sector but not research/consulting 0
Obtaining further education 0
Unemployed 0
Status Unknown 3
Total 12


Why Portland State University?

Experienced and Committed Faculty
Classes in the MPA:HA are taught by faculty who have expertise and experience in health services. The lead faculty members teaching in the MPA:HA have substantive expertise teaching and conducting research in areas such as health systems organization and change, health care financing, access to health services and health insurance, economics of health, patient safety and health care quality, local and regional government, health care leadership, community health improvement and sustainability. All faculty members teaching in the MPA:HA have completed their graduate studies and/or have substantial professional experience in fields related to health services and public management. Their breadth of knowledge in the health sector and commitment to students ensure a rich and fulfilling classroom experience.

Unique Partnerships and Community Connections

Portland State is well-known for its focus on community service and engagement, and the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government is one of the best places to take advantage of the numerous community partnerships PSU has developed. The MPA:HA curriculum shares many courses with the MPA program, and students also benefit from many classes exclusively focused on health services. Students have the unique opportunity to make use of resources through the School of Community Health, the Oregon MPH Program, and other departments across PSU.  Partnerships and cooperative arrangements also exist with Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon State University as well as multiple health, community and governmental agencies in Portland, across Oregon, and nationally.

Creating Leaders

While in the MPA:HA program you will be working closely with others who share your passion and commitment to health administration. Together, you are the future leaders of your field. Alumni of the MPA:HA program hold positions with nonprofit, public, and consulting organizations including, but not limited to, the following:

Public Sector
Multnomah County Health Department
Oregon Health & Science University
Oregon State University College of Pharmacy
Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Nonprofit Sector
American Red Cross
Kaiser Permanente Northwest
Legacy Health System
NYC Health & Hospital Corporation
Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
Providence Health & Services
Shriners Children’s Hospital

Private Sector
CM Research Services
Merck Pharmaceuticals
Standard Insurance Company
Stockamp & Associates, Inc.
The Waldorf Center
Treece Consulting

The Division of Public Administration is the only university in Oregon that is a graduate member of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA), the international consortium devoted to advancing health administration education and practice (see