Insight: The Wharton MBA in Healthcare Management

For business professionals who want to develop a wide range of managerial and technical expertise in health care management, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the premier MBA options in the country.

The field of healthcare management is growing rapidly, and appeals to people who want a thriving career in pharmaceuticals, biotech health services, government agencies, insurance companies, HMOs and more. Those who graduate with a Wharton MBA in Healthcare Management will be very well prepared to play leadership roles in many diverse healthcare organizations and specialties that comprise this industry.

Health care management MBA majors have the opportunity to select from a rich variety of electives, including classes in the applied social sciences, biomedical sciences and social policy.

The Health Care Management MBA at Wharton is somewhat different from other fields at the business school. Students must select their major at the time they apply, and the program integrates both academic and professional development. This helps students to gain both part time and full time jobs in many areas of the health care sector.

Alumni from this MBA program have gone on to have dynamic careers in many industries, from pharmaceuticals to financial services to hospitals.


Some of the classes that you are required to take include:

  • The Health Services System

  • Health Care Field Application Project

  • Financial Management of Health Institutions

  • Legal Aspects of Health Care

  • Health Care Marketing

  • Business Models and Impact

  • Private Sector Development in Global Health Development

  • Comparative Health Care Systems

  • Health Care Services Delivery


Admission to Wharton is highly selective. Applications requirements for the Wharton MBA program are as follows:

  • Application fee: $265

  • Personal and professional essay

  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts

  • Two letters of recommendations, from supervisors preferred

  • GMAT or GRE scores no more than five years old

  • Interview – by invitation only for candidates whose applications have been thoroughly reviewed by the admissions committee

  • Updated, one page resume

2015 Class Profile

  • 6036 applications, 837 enrolled

  • 68 in Health Management MBA program

  • 42% female

  • 35% international

  • 30% are students of color

  • Mean years of work experience: 5

  • GMAT range: 630-790

Cost of Attendance

The total cost of tuition for this two year MBA program is $68,210. On campus housing for the two years costs $20,626, and includes a food plan.

Financial Aid

Financial assistance is available at Wharton through grants, fellowships and scholarship programs. Outside scholarships also are available. Also are available are Federal Direct and Direct Grad PLUS Loans. Up to the full amount of the cost of attendance may be borrowed, less any fellowship or scholarship funds.

The Healthcare MBA: A Fast Track In A Slow Economy

It may come as a shock for some people to learn that the healthcare industry, a 2.26 trillion dollar industry, is struggling to fill positions across the country. With so many new roles constantly opening up for those trained in healthcare and business, especially for students with some form of clinical experience, the healthcare MBA has quickly become a fast track to success in a slow economy. As other markets are beginning to decline and struggling to find a foothold to bring business back to the top, the medical world is constantly moving and growing. As a necessary business both locally and globally, healthcare companies will always have a place in society, and this means that those who are trained to man the top of the lines will also find success in their futures.

Getting Ahead with a Graduate Degree

Although there is a possibility that you can find a position within the business or healthcare world at a lower entry level with only a bachelor’s degree, the likelihood of locating a career with a decent paying salary with only an undergraduate degree is low. Climbing the corporate ladder of success is nearly impossible without the training and education that comes through a graduate degree. Statistics show that with a master’s degree, you’re able to earn roughly 25% more on average than other workers in the same profession that only hold a bachelor’s degree. An MBA in healthcare also offers the ability to enter highly regarded companies and professions that would be closed to you with other levels of academics. Part of the reason that this degree path holds such an advantage over others is the clinical experience gained, and ability to work full- or part-time while completing the degree. Having the option to gain real world experience in your chosen field of expertise is a huge step towards achieving success in this industry because no employer will take on an inexperienced worker into a position within a hospital, or other facility that handles the care of patients or elderly persons requiring continuing care outside of their homes.

Utilizing Business Smarts In The World Of Healthcare

Many of the best hospitals across the country have already hired on MBA graduates and many are seeking more graduates to fill positions throughout their facilities. One thing that people sometimes forget is that a hospital or healthcare facility doesn’t function on medicine alone; it’s also a business that must earn money and run smoothly in order to stay afloat. This is why so many employers in this field are looking for MBA healthcare graduates who not only have training in clinical positions such as nursing or dentistry, but also have that business background that allows them to understand both facets of the industry. A good example of how this helps healthcare companies is to look at the way that other businesses work. A chef might be great at his or her job, but just because somebody can cook doesn’t mean that they can run a restaurant, because it takes a keen business mind to successfully run an establishment like that. This is the same reason that hospitals don’t hire doctors or nurses with no business experience to be CFO’s, administrators, or managers within the healthcare field. Similarly, hiring a graduate with an MBM in another focus of study might also falter in their knowledge of healthcare, which could greatly help in streamlining the running of a business.

New Jobs On The Horizon

The United States may not be the rising giant in economy and jobs that it once was, and Americans are losing jobs across the board, Statistics show that in 2008, 598,000 jobs were lost throughout the country, but the healthcare industry actually added 372,000 positions. Of these jobs there are close to 20,000 that are in business and management positions alone. As mentioned above, clinical experience plays a huge role in what makes a good worker within the business side of the hospital professions, so it’s no surprise that recruiters for positions in biotech firms, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals are hiring directly out of university and even visiting campus job fairs and other hiring opportunities to scout for new talent.

What It Takes And Where To Go

These schools offering MBA’s in healthcare range from Ivy League Universities to B-level colleges. Both full-time classroom experiences and part-time online learning can be utilized to gain this degree. Prices also vary across the board, making it easier for people without the time or money to go back to school and evolve their education to get further in their chosen career path. Graduate students from these schools are learning necessary skills and techniques to use within the healthcare world such as business development, finance, management, marketing, as well as multiple clinical, scientific, and research courses. E-health business models, healthcare ethics and economics, and biomedical marketing are other courses that turn up in many curriculums across the country. Some of the positions that graduates are finding themselves in are Hospital CFO, Healthcare Consultant, Pharmaceuticals Project Manager, Hospital Administrator, Services Director, Hospital President, Health Informatics Manager, Practice Manager, Health Services Manager, and many more.

What Employers Are Looking For

As mentioned above, hospitals and other healthcare companies are more than just medical facilities, they’re fully functioning businesses and this means that there needs to be a constant flow of income coming into the company. For this reason, employers are seeking employees who can do more than one job, and even perform multiple positions at once. Management, finance, healthcare, and patient/physician relations are all huge roles within these corporations that must be addressed on a daily basis.

In the past, MBA graduates were being scooped up quickly upon graduation by banks and investment firms, but this isn’t the case anymore. The healthcare industry has found a big reason to hire more of these multi-talented graduates, and whether you’re working in a hospital, insurance firm, continuing care home, or as a family social worker, there is room to grow with an MBA in healthcare.