Enrolling in an online degree program is not for everyone. Those who succeed in distance-based programs are generally self-starting and adept with time management. People who require in-person instruction to remain accountable for their academic progress are not the best fit for these types of programs.
Fortunately, there is a variety of online healthcare system management degrees for those prepared for the rigors of a master’s degree.
Admissions requirements for healthcare systems engineering degree programs will vary from school to school. Many schools assess each candidate individually and may waive one requirement in lieu of another.
Previous requirements like GRE or GMAT scores are less common in today’s online programs, but may still be asked for. And some programs are more geared towards working professionals (with extensive experience) than others.
But some common requirements for healthcare systems engineering degree programs may include some combination of the following: a competitive undergraduate GPA (3.0 or greater); a bachelor’s degree in a discipline of engineering; letter(s) of recommendation; relevant work experience; GMAT/GRE scores; and/or a personal statement.
Many engineering students think of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as the gold standard of engineering program accreditation.
However, healthcare systems engineering is a relatively new field, and ABET does not accredit any online programs in that area. But accreditation is still important, and potential students should check to ensure that a program is regionally accredited.
Currently, online degree programs in healthcare systems engineering are only available at the master’s level. These programs typically consist of between 30 to 36 credits and take approximately two years to complete.
Official specializations are uncommon, as healthcare systems engineering is sometimes seen as a specialization in and of itself. However, healthcare systems engineering also sits at the confluence of several different disciplines, primarily industrial engineering, healthcare administration, and systems engineering.
Some programs will lean more towards one of those disciplines than others; students may also choose to take electives that steer the program in a more specialized direction.
UCF offers a fully online master of science (MS) in healthcare systems engineering that’s designed for students and practitioners from a wide variety of different backgrounds. In an experiential learning environment, students will use quantitative analysis, systems modeling, and computer simulation to develop infrastructure for quality healthcare systems and prevent, diagnose, and mitigate systemic health risks.
Courses include topics such as engineering economic analysis in health systems, engineering quality in health systems, and industrial engineering analytics for healthcare. The program consists of 30 credits and can be completed in as little as two years.
Johns Hopkins University offers an online master of science (MS) in healthcare systems engineering through its Engineering for Professionals program. Designed to help graduates re-engineer healthcare delivery on a broad scale, the program is partnered with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL).
Core courses include topics such as healthcare system conceptual design; healthcare system test and evaluation; and management of healthcare systems projects. As part of the curriculum, students build on core courses by choosing electives in areas of interest, such as healthcare systems, applied biomedical engineering, and systems engineering. The program consists of ten courses.
Lehigh University offers an online master’s (MEng) in healthcare systems engineering. Designed to prepare graduates for engineering and management careers in the healthcare industry, the curriculum is broken down into four areas: a healthcare core, a systems engineering foundation, electives, and a capstone project.
Within that framework, the material is far-reaching, incorporating topics such as project management, engineering economics, stochastic modeling, operations research, and information systems analysis and design. The program consists of 30 credits.
USC offers an online master of science (MS) in health systems management engineering. The program is a collaboration between the Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Graduates will be prepared for increased technical and/or managerial responsibilities in healthcare organizations, particularly hospitals. Required courses include: healthcare operations improvement; engineering project management; health service delivery in the US; and health information systems. The program consists of 31 credits.
Robert Morris University offers an online master of science in healthcare systems engineering (MSHSE). Its goal is to prepare systems and engineers and other specialists to support healthcare agencies in becoming more efficient and patient-focused.
The interdisciplinary curriculum includes engineering, health sciences, lean management, process modeling and simulation, data analysis, and healthcare information systems. Individual classes cover topics such as healthcare project management, design of experiments in healthcare systems, and accountable care management and finance. The program consists of 30 credits.
Texas Tech University offers an online master of engineering (MEng) with an option in healthcare engineering (MEHE). As one of the first healthcare engineering programs in America, it was designed to meet the growing need for trained engineers who could apply their skills to health sciences and business administration.
Health sciences courses may include healthcare delivery systems; healthcare research methods and statistics; healthcare finance; and healthcare operations & supply chain management. Students may also select electives from areas such as biological informatics, information systems, and management. The program consists of 36 credits.
Healthcare systems engineering programs don’t usually require laboratory work, which makes them less reliant on campus visits than some other areas of engineering, such as chemical engineering or biomedical engineering.
However, some online programs do require their students to complete a capstone course, where students are expected to put their learned skills into hands-on use. In on-campus programs, these would be arranged and supervised by university affiliates. Online students do not have to visit their program’s campus to complete their capstone course, but they will need to coordinate with their program’s staff in selecting a location closer to home.
Ana I. Alexandrescu Lehigh University
Ana I. Alexandrescu is a professor of practice and the director of the healthcare systems engineering program at Lehigh University. She is also the director of the Lehigh University industrial and systems engineering outreach program.
Alexandrescu earned her BS in Integrated business and engineering and her MS in industrial and systems engineering from Lehigh University. Prior to joining the faculty at Lehigh, Alexandrescu worked with a number of startups and consultancies focused on business, engineering, and information technology.
David Belson, PhD University of Southern California
Dr. David Belson is an adjunct professor and senior researcher in USC’s Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, where he is also director of the healthcare systems management engineering program. He received his PhD in engineering and in economics from USC.
Dr. Belson’s research interests include hospital and healthcare operations, reducing healthcare costs, and management engineering in healthcare. He is a frequent speaker at healthcare industry meetings and is active in the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the Society for Health Systems. Dr. Belson is the editor-in-chief of the Journal for the Society of Healthcare Improvement Professionals.
Richard E. Biehl, PhD University of Central Florida
Dr. Richard E. Biehl is a lecturer and director in healthcare systems engineering at the University of Central Florida. He earned his PhD in applied management & decision sciences from Walden University.
Dr. Biehl is a member of the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), and the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineering (IISE). Specializing in healthcare systems and informatics, he has over 35 years of experience designing and building data warehouses. In addition to authoring and co-authoring several papers and book chapters, Dr. Biehl is the author of Data Warehousing for Biomedical Informatics.
Ming Chyu, PhD Texas Tech University
Dr. Ming Chyu is professor, coordinator, and founder of the MEng healthcare engineering option at Texas Tech University. He received both his MS and his PhD in mechanical engineering from Iowa State.
In a 2015 whitepaper, Dr. Chyu led 40 experts from across the world in defining healthcare engineering for the first time. He is the founder of the Healthcare Engineering Alliance Society (HEAS), founder of the Journal of Healthcare Engineering, founder of Engineering Jobs in Healthcare (ENJOHE), and the founder of Healthcare Engineering Online Communities. A Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Dr. Chyu has received numerous awards for his research, teaching, and service.
Ergin Erdem, PhD Robert Morris University
Dr. Ergin Erdem is an assistant professor at Robert Morris University. He earned his PhD in industrial engineering and Management from North Dakota State University.
Dr. Erdem’s research interests include operations management in healthcare, assignment problems, and metaheuristics. He has co-authored a chapter on health information exchange in Management Engineering for Effective Healthcare Delivery: Principles and Applications and presented at an annual research conference on the topic of modeling elective emergency room admissions.
Michael Obringer, MS Johns Hopkins University
Michael Obringer is an instructor in healthcare design & integration for the healthcare systems engineering program at Johns Hopkins University. He is also a health systems engineer in the Next Generation Care Delivery Group of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab’s Asymmetric Operations Sector. He earned his BS in systems engineering from the US Military Academy at West Point, and his MS in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
Prior to joining the staff at Johns Hopkins, Obringer served as an engineering officer in the US Army, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operations management is an important cog in any business wheel. This role ensures that all products and services are produced and delivered on time; there is minimum wastage of resources; and quality is maintained across all units.
Meet several top professors of systems engineering who teach at well-regarded universities, and who contribute both to the field of systems engineering and to the knowledge of students in their respective programs.