Curriculum
HealthCareMBA@Simmons

The Health Care MBA curriculum consists of 50 credit hours, broken into six core business courses from our general MBA program, 10 health-care-specific courses, and two in-person courses called immersions.

Before beginning the Health Care MBA program, students complete Foundations of Business, a non-credit, self-paced orientation course. This course is designed to prepare students for success in the program and covers topics such as analyzing and discussing cases, Excel spreadsheet modeling, communication skills, and business terminology.

The program can be completed in as few as 24 months by taking two courses (6 credits) per term.

Course Sequence

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

Term 5

Term 6

Term 7

Term 8

Course Descriptions

Business Courses

6 Courses

Health-Care-Specific Business Courses

7 Courses

Health Care Subject Courses

3 Courses

Financial Reporting and Analysis

Business course
MBAO 420 | 3 credits | Term 1

This is an introductory course in financial reporting that focuses on the vocabulary and fundamental concepts of generally accepted accounting principles. This course is the basis for other required and elective accounting courses as well as a foundation for other business courses. Managers must appreciate the assumptions and complexities that underlie accounting information so they can make smart, ethical business decisions and communicate financial information to others. As the intricacies of financial reporting increase, managers who develop financial statement literacy will find themselves in possession of an increasingly valuable business tool. Financial accounting information is not only used as a basis for management to make decisions; it is also used by others outside an organization, such as lenders, investors, and regulatory agencies.

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Leading Individuals and Groups

Business course
MBAO 455 | 3 credits | Term 1

This course focuses on the function, role, and responsibility of the manager in an organizational context. Emphasis is placed on:

  • Understanding the organizational culture and on developing skills needed for the manager in middle- and senior-level management positions
  • Transitioning from supervisory positions to middle management and from middle management to senior management
  • Managing relationships with subordinates, peers, and supervisors
  • Managing change and conflict
  • Leading a group
  • Valuing and managing a diverse workforce

The course also explores the more intangible gender issues that may confront leaders in higher-level management positions and examines the increasingly strategic need to identify and negotiate both formal and informal sources of support for implementing decisions within the organization.

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Quantitative Analysis

Business course
MBAO 415 | 3 credits | Term 2

This course is designed to provide students with a foundation in quantitative analysis techniques widely used in organizations in both for-profit and nonprofit settings. Topics include an introduction to statistics, managing data, analyzing data using descriptive statistics, chi-square test, correlation, t-test, analysis of variance, and linear regression. The focus is on creating, interpreting, and reporting results. The course is taught from an applied perspective and includes a software-use component to provide hands-on experience with conducting statistical analysis using spreadsheets and statistical software. Students will be able to apply the skills and theories discussed in a variety of disciplines.

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Strategic Thinking and Analytical Decision Making

Business course
MBAO 427 | 3 credits | Term 2

This course equips students with the tools, techniques, and frameworks to think creatively, critically, analytically, and strategically to make managerial decisions that lead their firms toward value creation under conditions of competition and complexity. These skills help students recognize and categorize decision problems, represent the essential structure of the decision situation, discover multiple solutions creatively, and analyze solutions using tools based on decision theory. Managing uncertainty, turbulence, complexity, intense competition, and opportunities for innovation are all hallmarks of analytical decision-making. Students learn about the important aspects of being a strategic manager, including moving with a goal or goals in mind, integrating information across functional areas and organizations, collecting and using data, and being cognizant and engaged with the past and the future, the big picture, and the operational.

Prerequisite: MBAO 420

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The Health System

Health care course
MBAHO 480 | 3 credits | Term 3

The health system in the U.S. is under extreme stress, and the organizations of health care, the conditions of practice, and the competitive environment will all be changing in response to those pressures. This course is about those institutions, those pressures, and the changes we may see. Students will examine both the historical roots of the U.S. health care system and possible trends likely to affect those who use it, work in it, and pay for it. They will gain a basic understanding of the political process, with special attention to the debate and legislation concerning health reform in the U.S. Other topics include unique aspects of the health care workforce and implications for health care managers; major issues of quality, access, payment, financing, and disparities by race and gender; and international comparisons of quality and cost.

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Managerial Accounting

Business course
MBAO 421 | 3 credits | Term 3

This is an introductory course in cost management and control. Managerial accounting is concerned with helping managers generate, interpret, and utilize financial and other information to make business decisions. These decisions include planning and control, budgeting, resource allocation, cost measurement, pricing, and performance evaluation. While financial accounting is externally oriented and governed by fundamental concepts of generally accepted accounting principles, managerial accounting is internally oriented and very context driven. 

Prerequisite: MBAO 420

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Health Economics

Health care business course
MBAHO 410 | 3 credits | Term 4

This course examines the systematic economic forces at work that relate to the U.S. health care system’s performance. This performance is contrasted with a number of international health systems throughout the course. Using readings from health economics literature, students study the way markets and competition work in health care. The course focuses on some of the anomalous aspects of the health industry, such as health insurance (both social and private), the role of technology, the issue of market failure due to asymmetric information and externalities, and the role of professional licensing, patents, and other government regulation. Students will also consider the supply side implications of licensure requirements for many health professions on management decisions in the health industry.

Prerequisite: MBAO 415

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Health Care Marketing

Health care business course
MBAHO 424 | 3 credits | Term 4

Both for-profit and nonprofit health care organizations need to apply marketing concepts and strategic thinking to analyze health care markets and develop market strategy recommendations. This course introduces fundamental marketing concepts and tools and provides an overview of marketing management in health care organizations. Topics include exploring the health care marketing environment, applying marketing research and buyer behavior theories to facilitate strategic planning, and developing tactical decisions to achieve health care organizations’ marketing objectives.

Prerequisites: MBAHO 410, MBAO 415, MBAO 420

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Health Care Finance

Health care business course
MBAHO 434 | 3 credits | Term 5

This course provides students with a set of analytic tools to use to answer the question, “How do my decisions add value to the organization?” Students will become fluent in issues, data, and concepts of making investment choices and funding them within nonprofit and for-profit health care organizations. Topics include return and risk relationships in the capital markets, time value of money, capital budgeting techniques, capital structure, and cost of capital. This course provides a rigorous treatment of key financial concepts and analytic approaches. Students apply skills and knowledge developed in the Financial Reporting and Analysis and Managerial Accounting courses to develop forecasting models that reflect the unique financial management needs of health care provider and payer organizations.

Prerequisites: MBAHO 410, MBAO 415, MBAO 420, MBAO 421

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Negotiation and Conflict Management

Business course
MBAO 470 | 3 credits | Term 5

Understanding negotiation theory and the practice of negotiation and conflict management is critical for today’s leaders. Regardless of one’s level within an organization, all employees are frequently operating in a situation where their responsibility exceeds their authority. Employees need to negotiate with a range of internal and external stakeholders in order to get their job done. Negotiation is key to building alliances among different stakeholders and constituencies to realize any agenda for change. This course provides skills to recognize the multiple opportunities there are to negotiate at work and to see the connections between taking advantage of these opportunities and career success. Students enhance their skills at creating value in negotiations and garnering their share of that value through theoretical and experiential learning.

The course is designed to address the impact of gender, power, and culture on negotiations and to help students practice skills they need to take more control in negotiations, have constructive conversations, structure the process in ways that suit the task and their preferred style, and enlist others to work with them. The course teaches students to understand the differences between online and face-to-face negotiations and learn when and where each is most appropriate.

Prerequisite: MBAO 455

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Health Care Quality and Measurement

Health care course
MBAHO 429 | 3 credits | Term 6

With health care spending in the U.S. consistently exceeding 17 percent of the national GDP (according to The World Bank) and the demand for health services continuing to increase, health care is experiencing significant growth while facing numerous challenges, including rising costs, increasing complexity, and limited resources. In this course, students will learn to apply qualitative and quantitative principles of operations management to analyze health care processes and develop solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of health care delivery. Topics include reducing patient wait times, improving patient safety, streamlining process flows, assessing and analyzing outcomes and performance metrics, and generally improving health management processes. The course is organized around four key modules: health care delivery system design, health care quality and safety management, day-to-day health care operations management, and health care process improvement.

Prerequisites: MBAO 415, MBAHO 480

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Health Care Information Technology

Health care business course
MBAHO 448 | 3 credits | Term 6

The understanding of technology cannot only reside within an information systems division. It is critical that managers of every function understand key components of IT in order to be successful in today’s health care system. Topics include dealing with different kinds of information systems that are used, the way decisions are made about new system technologies and vendors, and how new systems are implemented. The course covers general IT concepts and practical problems facing health care organizations related to the acquisition, use, and management of information technology to assure the safe delivery of quality care in an affordable manner.

Prerequisite: MBAHO 480

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Health Care Strategic Management

Health care business course
MBAHO 443 | 3 credits | Term 7

Health care organizations are continuously challenged to deal with a dynamic environment in which they are required to hold down costs, improve outcomes, meet the needs of challenging populations, increase transparency, and create value. This course introduces students to frameworks and methodologies for conducting strategic analyses to meet these challenges. It provides opportunities for devising innovative strategic recommendations for health care organizations. Its design is based on the National Center for Healthcare Leadership competency of strategic orientation: the “ability to consider the business, demographic, ethno-cultural, political, and regulatory implications of decisions and develop strategies that continually improve the long-term success and viability of the organization.” Students in this course will take the role of a strategic consultant, able to bring a senior leadership perspective and state-of-the-art techniques to this endeavor.

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Health Care Law and Ethics

Health care course
MBAHO 481 | 3 credits | Term 7

This course addresses major legal and ethical principles and issues relevant to health care administration, including legal relationships between patients and providers, providers and institutions, and patients and institutions; the legal structure of various forms of corporate organization, including profit, and nonprofit; and legal issues relating to admission and discharge, emergency treatment, medical records, and mental health treatment. The course also presents an ethical analytic framework grounded in legal principles and in the philosophical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, applied in cases and readings to the difficult ethical challenges in health care administration.

Prerequisite: MBAHO 480

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Health Care Financial Strategy

Health care business course
MBAHO 436 | 3 credits | Term 8

Financial strategy integrates health care marketing, health care strategic management, and health care finance in a capstone learning experience for Health Care MBA students. In this course, students build on previous coursework about cost of capital, capital structure, and capital project decision making. They apply this knowledge to the strategic level of organizational structure, financial decisions for health care organizations in the areas of board fiduciary duties, mergers/divestitures, financial distress, and conversion to for-profit. Students also learn how to develop a business plan, a key business tool for implementing new ventures or strategic change in existing organizations, and develop a business plan for a start-up for-profit health care venture.

Prerequisites: MBAHO 434, MBAHO 443

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Health Care Leadership and Change

Health care business course
MBAHO 466 | 3 credits | Term 8

Health care organizations are now challenged to design approaches that will simultaneously improve the patient experience of care, including quality and satisfaction; improve the health of populations; and reduce the per capita cost of health care. Added to those Institute for Healthcare Improvement goals is the need to improve clinician satisfaction, often referred to as Triple Aim + One. This course helps students gain insight into and further develop the skills and attributes needed to lead and bring about change in health care organizations through case studies of exemplary organizational challenges, experiential exercises, topical readings, personal reflections, and individual and group assignments designed to apply theory to practice.

Prerequisites: MBAO 455, MBAHO 480

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