The Pros and Cons of MHA Online Vs. Classroom Instruction

There’s a growing trend of programs that are moving away from traditional instruction (100% teaching takes place in the classroom) to online (distance; more than 50% teaching is done online) instruction. Is there a difference between earning your MHA degree one way or the other? You bet.

Getting an Online MHA :


  • Online MHA classes can be held at unusual times, since classes are often recorded. This accommodates busy professionals’, students’, and parents’ schedules.
  • Students have multiple ways to communicate, via discussion threads, online forums and blogs.
  • Online MHA learning resources are cheaper. E-books, online articles and encyclopedias are in abundance.
  • Teaches students how to be independent learners – this is a crucial skill for healthcare executives, who will need to adapt to changing technologies and business policies their entire careers.


  • Less interaction with professors and graduate students, which means less networking and mentoring opportunities. These relationships, however, can instead be pursued through online social networking.
  • Online MHA students need to have alot of self-discipline to begin with. It takes control to put aside any distractions and study for an online exam, especially without a professor to make sure you’re keeping up with the coursework.
  • Sometimes, online textbooks are harder to understand. If you learn better through audio than visuals, it might be wise to consider classroom instruction, since online courses leave little room for elaboration on specific topics and additional Q&A.

Who should earn an Online MHA?

  • Healthcare professionals who have a full-time day job.
  • Working professionals who hold full-time day jobs.
  • Students that are strapped for money and can’t afford high gas, tuition and textbook expenses.
  • Mothers or fathers who want to pursue an MHA while staying home with the children.

Getting an MHA in the classroom:


  • High comfort level for students and professors because of the frequent interaction.
  • Visual learning suits many students, who prefer to learn through hands on activities, verbal interaction and group work rather than just textbook reading and lectures.
  • The competitive atmosphere motivates students’ to work hard at all times, and requires less self discipline than online education.


  • Higher tuition, with textbook prices and university building fees.
  • Transportation can be costly.
  • Class schedules are often restrictive, and don’t accommodate working professionals’ schedules. This might lengthen the time it takes to earn your MHA degree, since you might not get all the classes you need due to conflicts in schedule.

Who should earn an MHA in the classroom?

  • Students fresh out of undergrad who know they don’t have the self discipline to study independently.
  • Students who learn better through group activities and hands on learning, over lectures and reading assignments.
  • Students whose primary focus is to network while earning an MHA degree – MHA programs are filled with the top healthcare professionals of tomorrow, so networking is never a waste of time.

The good news is that technically, you can have the best of both worlds (classroom and online instruction!)

When you join an online MHA program, you’re participating in a sort of hybrid (in and out of the classroom) program, since every online MHA program requires a couple visits to the campus. This requirement was set by the CAHME, when they decided that hands-on training and experience was a non-negotiable requirement in training the top quality healthcare leaders of the future. (And we fully agree!)

Interested in pursuing a MHA degree? Check out the nation’s top programs, ranked by the US News and World Report.