Department of Health Policy and Management

Executive MHA

MHA Program

Leadership at all levels of the organization demands effective decision-making–analyzing and making choices–then putting them into action. Our program is designed specifically to help students improve decision-making capabilities and leadership skills, especially for the delivery of health care.

The focus of our MHA program is on the realities of today’s health care marketplace and the unique skill sets necessary to navigate and succeed in that marketplace. Our program is not easy, is not for everyone, and requires significant student commitment… just what you should expect from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

All students in the MHA program work full time: the intended outcome for graduates of the program is postgraduate employment in public health and health care services with more significant management and leadership responsibility than held previously. We measure our success by your success, so we will do everything we can to help advance your career.

Proven Results

  • Consistently ranked in top 3 by U.S. News & World Report and Modern Healthcare.
  • Executive Master’s programs (since 1969); Health Policy & Management programs (since 1936).
  • Over 1600 graduates in leadership positions around the world.
  • Commission on Accreditation Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) accredited.

Integrative Curriculum


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Each course builds on the concepts learned in prior terms and focuses on improving decision-making and leadership skills.

  • Intense BaseCamp workshops grounded in business competencies held on campus.
  • Applied Leadership Integrative simulations held at end of each term to test concepts learned.
  • Classes held online in real time with faculty and students, typically Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for two hours each.
  • Immediate application of new skills and knowledge to work environment.
  • Taught by a world-class faculty who use a variety of learning approaches.

Necessary Skills

Students, applicants, alumni, and preceptors have confirmed the top competencies needed: communication, analytical, technical, and innovative thinking skills.

  • Our toolbox of leading edge concepts and techniques provide you with skills and vital competencies and the ability to use these in various challenging business situations.
  • Through workshops, journaling, team activities, and interaction with other students and faculty, students hone their leadership skills and build new networks.

Concentrated Program Length

  • The program is completed in 2 years (49 credit hours).
  • Three on-campus sessions per year; 14 days (8 workdays, 6 weekend days).

On-Campus Dates

Fall Semester 2021August 14 - 19
Spring Semester 2022December 11 - 14, 2021
Summer 2022April 30 - May 3

Improved Networking Opportunities

  • Use residential sessions to maximize networking opportunities with colleagues and faculty.
  • Join an established, supportive and active alumni network.

Recommended Background or Knowledge

The Executive MHA program does not require specific prior course work. In fact, students come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including medicine, nursing, dentistry, public health, laboratory sciences, insurance, and many others. Enrolling students, however, should have some basic knowledge of elementary accounting, college algebra, statistics, and microeconomics. Applicants without this knowledge should consider enrolling in appropriate college-level courses or self-study programs. (For a list of workbook recommendations, email us at

Technology Familiarity

Enrolling students should have access to a personal computer with a high-speed Internet connection (T1, cable, or DSL service).

Windows-based PCs are preferred, as technical support from our department is more readily available for these machines and they work most reliably with our current applications and with the University’s on-campus wireless service. Laptops with a minimum 13-inch screen size are recommended over tablets. Our online classes frequently feature slide presentations and screen sharing of specific applications, which can be difficult or impossible to see well on small screens.

Machines with Windows 10 operating systems should have the Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox Internet browsers installed. Apple machines should have Firefox and Safari browsers installed.

Students looking to purchase a new machine can do so via the Carolina Computing Initiative. There are a number of advantages to doing so, including a 4-year warranty, insurance and enhanced campus support. CCI computers also come pre-loaded with basic software needed for the program. See Why Buy CCI? for more information.

Examples of laptops currently available for purchase via the UNC Tech Shop are found here.

If purchasing a CCI laptop is not practical, technical specifications for other suitable machines can be found here under the ‘Minimum Laptop Specifications for Third Year Students’ heading. CCI sells Lenovo brand Windows-based laptops and Apple laptops. Other brands of Windows-based laptops available from alternate vendors include Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft Surface.

The University’s on-campus wireless service is called Eduroam. Due to the proliferation of wireless devices (laptops, tablets, phones), the best way to find out if a device will work with our wireless system is to visit the Connecting to the UNC Wireless Network page. You will find detailed information on a variety of devices.

Employer and Student Demands

Enrolling students and their employers must recognize the demands of the Executive MHA program. Students will have to balance professional and personal responsibilities with a rigorous program of study. Employers must provide time for attendance at on-campus sessions and should not place extraordinary job requirements on the employee while he or she is enrolled. In addition, some employers have demonstrated further commitment to the program by agreeing to: reimburse full or partial tuition costs, maintain salary during attendance, not count campus sessions against vacation time, and/or reimburse travel, lodging, and/or other expenses for on-campus visits.


Base Camps are intense sessions focused on ensuring each student has the core basic skills necessary across the curriculum. They are held at the beginning of each Fall semester. Topics covered include: Six Sigma/LEAN, effective presentations, effective writing, library search, and Excel functions.

Leadership Practicum and Journaling

An important part of the program is required courses and surveys in which students reflect, throughout the program, on program content, key learning, and experiences. Students read books on topics such as political savvy, power–its uses and abuses, negotiation, psychology of persuasion, reputation management, and self-leadership. Students apply the knowledge gained in these books to their current work settings developing daily tools that they can use throughout the remainder of their careers. Students also complete course application surveys after every semester to relate specific tools and knowledge gained from the semester to their work setting.

Graduation Requirements

  • Successful completion of 49 credit hours.
  • Capstone Course: Students must complete the Capstone Course. They must also write and submit a Business Plan or Technical Paper during the final year of study. These meet the Graduate School requirements of a written comprehensive examination and a master’s thesis.
  • Time Limitation: The Executive Master’s programs strongly discourage students from getting “off-track,” since students are expected to complete the program as a cohort, following a specific progression through the curriculum. In rare circumstances, the program may approve a change in plan; however Graduate School policy is that all requirements for the degree must be completed within five years from the time of initial enrollment in the program.

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines for all programs can be found here.

BaseCamp/Classes begin in August.

General Requirements for Application

  • Currently employed in the health or human services field and have, or expect to have, managerial or supervisory experience.
  • Three years of experience in healthcare or public health by the time classes and currently working in public health or healthcare services (for waivers, contact Director of EMP).
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Personal Statement.
  • Three Letters of Reference.

Required Application Materials

  • Completion of online Graduate School application. Start your application by creating an account and following the instructions. Applications for the next academic year are available in August. A current email address is a required field on the application since all correspondence is conducted by email. If you have problems with the online form, contact the Graduate School.
  • Nonrefundable application fee. In some instances the application fee may be waived; please see the Graduate School’s Application Fee Waiver page if you have questions or need more information on eligibility.
  • Transcripts (complete, not selected courses). One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded within the application. If offered admission, one paper official transcript for each university attended will be required. If you have questions or need more information about preparing transcripts, please see the Graduate School’s transcript information here.
  • The email address of three recommenders is required within the application for electronic submission and delivery.
  • Personal Statement (distance and master’s)
    Please upload a two page (double spaced) statement addressing the following:

    • How will this degree program at UNC-CH contribute to your projected career?
    • What is your experience working in teams and what can you contribute to a team?
    • How will you contribute to a diverse, inclusive student community at Gillings?
    • Please provide any additional information that will help us to evaluate your application.

International Applicants

In addition to the materials listed above, international applicants must submit the following:

  • TOEFL or IELTS score (no more than 2 years old). UNC is institution #5816.  For more information about these tests, see the Graduate School’s TOEFL and IELTS instruction page. 
  • The University is not authorized to issue “Certificates of Eligibility” Forms I-20 or DS-2019 for F-1 or J-1 student visas for attendance in part-time, on-line degree programs. Since courses for the Executive MHA program are principally taught online, and the program is designed to be part-time for those currently employed, students requiring a student visa to enter the U.S. would not be eligible to enroll in the Executive MHA program. Instead, those requiring a student visa are encouraged to apply for a full time on-campus degree program.

Prospective students in non-immigrant statuses that allow study may be eligible to enroll. Consult with immigration counsel for details related to your non-immigrant status. Note that students should not enter the U.S. in B-1/B-2 status for the purpose of pursuing a degree program at UNC-CH. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has prepared a useful chart of immigration statuses (.pdf) that allow study in the U.S.

Tuition and Fees

The latest information on costs for the Master’s programs can be found by visiting the most current Tuition and Fee Rates document, found under the “Charges for Attendance (Tuition and Fee Rates)” heading on the University Cashier’s web site. Scroll down to the Health Affairs/School of Public Health section of the document.

Please note that tuition and fees are subject to change.

Need financial assistance? See our Financial Aid Information.

Additional Helpful Links

Prospective Student Information:

Residency Requirements and Information:

Contact Information

Program Questions

Kim Sieler
Academic Coordinator, Doctoral and Executive MHA Degree Programs
(919) 966-7364

Karen Volmar
Director, MHA and MSPH Programs
(919) 966-3121

Mailing Address
Department of Health Policy and Management
CB# 7411
120 Rosenau Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411

Executive Master’s Frequently Asked Questions

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