25 Essential Open Courseware Classes to Learn About Health Administration

by admin on February 8, 2010

Health Administration is a rapidly expanding and changing field. It is certainly the right field for persons who are interested in making a difference in healthcare at a higher organizational level. However, not everyone may be sure that health administration is right for them. To this end, open courseware classes are a fantastic way to gain exposure to a new field of study. Additionally, any persons who may already be in the industry can choose to expand their body of knowledge via these online classes. There are three highly regarded schools that offer a variety of classes in this field. Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and MIT offer classes that are fantastic for those and cover a diverse amount of topics.


Harvard Medical School has a massive number of open courseware offerings. Their open courseware initiative has the mission to “exchange knowledge from the Harvard community of scholars to other academic institutions, prospective students, and the general public.” It is the belief of the faculty and staff at Harvard that information ought to be shared for the betterment of society as a whole. This viewpoint is emphasized by the sheer amount of courses offered.

  1. Communicating with Non-English Speaking Patients – Health Administration is primarily a people profession. As a result, effective communication is paramount. With the ever changing demographics of the United States, non-English speaking patients are increasingly present in hospitals. This course, taught by Daniel Federman M.D., and Nora Nercessian Ph.D, will help teach you how to deal with any language barriers, as well as the many cultural differences that you may encounter with non-English speaking patients.
  2. Information Technology in the Healthcare Industry – One of the most dynamic areas of Health Administration is the Information Technology sector. Being able to understand how advanced hospital management programs, patient billing programs, and the like, function within an organization can be very beneficial. Technology is important in many facets of the healthcare industry. This course, taught by Dr. Stephen Locke, can provide you with a comprehensive overview of the ins and outs of IT in the healthcare field.
  3. Introduction to Health Care Policy – With the Universal Healthcare debate raging on, at no other time has an understanding of health care policy been more important. This open courseware offering covers a wide variety of topics in this niche including, health care disparities, medicare cuts to physician payment, long-term care crisis, and more.
  4. Medicine and Management – This course is focused on a cost-benefit analysis in the scope of Theraputic Decision Making. Healthcare administrators are faced with a multitude of decisions every day. Some have more substantial impact on the organization as a whole than others, but considering the costs and benefits associated with every decision is essential.
  5. Medicine, Human Rights, and the Physician – This course offered by Karri Hannibal should seriously be considered by anyone who’s interested in the healthcare industry. Healthcare is all about serving the greater good, and this course helps to emphasize this fact. Connecting the pillars of medicine, human rights, and physicians in one class can give a hopeful Health Administrator a greater sense of the scope the industry as a whole.

Johns Hopkins

The Johns Hopkins school of public health has a massive catalog of open courseware offerings. This highly ranked, and well-respected school considers it a duty to share its wealth of information with the world. In fact, Johns Hopkins’ site states that it adheres to “a moral imperative to provide equal and open access to information and knowledge about the obstacles to the public’s health and their potential solutions.”

  1. Qualitative Data Analysis – Data collection is an important part of Health Administration. Therefore, checking out this wonderful course taught by Katherine Fritz. The course aims to teach students different interpretive analytic approaches, and how to apply those analyses to data.
  2. Training Methods and Continuing Education for Health Workers – One major element of Health Administration is making sure that employees are continuing their education and training in order to consistently learn more and improve. Bill Brieger teaches this excellent course, where students are are shown the steps of planning training, and continuing education activities for a plethora of health workers.
  3. Public Health Biology – This class is taught by a litany of different instructors; Sharon S. Krag, Gary Ketner, Gregory Glass, Barry Zirkin, and James Yager. The goal of the course is to offer a comprehensive molecular and biological perspective on public health problems. While it is more in-depth than some other courses listed here, it could still be tremendously useful for someone wanting to learn about health administration.
  4. The History of Public Health – In order to be an effective leader and change agent in any organization, it is important to understand the history of the organization, and to a greater extent, the industry as a hold. With this in mind, this course, taught by Graham Mooney, PhD, examines how public health has changed throughout history.
  5. Public Health Practice 101 -This wonderful course taught by Henry Taylor aims to help students garner the basics of public health practice. The goal is that by the end of the course modules, persons will be familiar with the basics of health practice, including being able to describe and define public health, and will be able to understand the way the Public Health system functions. For someone interested in Health Administration, this is a must-have course.
  6. Understanding Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health Care – Taught by Kevin Frick, this is another course that helps to highlight one of the most important areas of healthcare administration. With rising healthcare costs, being cost effective in operations is a big plus.
  7. Introduction to Health Policy – While this course, taught by Gerard Anderson, is a bit heavy on the law side, there is still definite value for someone who is interested in healthcare administration. Having at least some knowledge of policy can be extremely helpful in making important decisions.


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is world renowned for its high quality education, which makes the fact that it offers open courseware even better. If you are truly interested in pursuing Health Administration, than the health and business open courseware is definitely worth a look.

  1. Genomics, Computing, Economics, and Society – Professor George Church teaches this course which gives an excellent look at the aspects of modern technology which display exponential growth curves and the impact on global quality of life. This is extremely useful for someone who wants to get a look at the “Big Picture.”
  2. Information Technology in the Health Care System of the Future – This course, led by Professor Steven Locke, serves to give a look at where the health care field is headed. Being able to stay ahead of the curve is essential to success in the healthcare field.
  3. Designing and Sustaining Technology Innovation for Global Health Practice – Taught by professors Jeffrey Blander and Utkan Demirci, this course gives a global view of health practices and shows students how technology can impact health. With an ever-changing world, this means that healthcare professionals should be prepared to adapt.
  4. Leading Organizations II – Professor John Van Maanen teaches a class that is geared towards people who eventually want to become strong leaders in their respective organizations. For health administration, this class would give you the tools you need to lead in a variety of dynamic situations.
  5. Economic Analysis for Business Decisions – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the economy has struggled as of late. Understanding how the economy can affect business decisions is important for someone wanting to be in health administration. This course is taught by Professors Ernst Berndt, Michael Chapman, Joseph Doyle, and Thomas Stoker.
  6. Organizational Processes – Healthcare Administration is all about working within your organization. Because of this, understanding organizational processes can help you to have much more success in the healthcare field. This course is taught by Professors Roberto Fernandez, Paul Carlile, and John Van Maanen.
  7. Competitive Decision-Making and Negotiation – If you are interested in the health administration field, then you better be prepared to make decisions, communicate, and negotiate. This course, taught by Professor Gordon Kaufman, will teach you how to do just that.
  8. IT and Business Transformation – IT has transformed the healthcare field significantly, and so understanding how it has affected all businesses is extremely beneficial. Professor Cyrus Gibson leads this class that will show you how IT and modern technology can be incorporated into successful businesses. The lessons learned are certainly applicable to health administration.
  9. Strategic HR Management – Human Resources is all about people. Healthcare organizations are made up of people; doctors, nurses, patients, and the like. Knowing how to manage your human capital is essential to any successful health administration.
  10. Power and Negotiation – Professor Michele Williams teaches this excellent class on how to negotiate and have power within organizations. The best leaders are those who know how to use their influence effectively. This class will help you learn these techniques.
  11. People and Organizations – Professor Thomas Kochan teaches this excellent class on how people and organizations work together, and can be functional, or dysfunctional. In healthcare, being able to manage the organization as a whole, including the people in it is quintessential to success.
  12. Introduction to Operations Management – Some might scoff at the idea that operations management has practical application in health administration; however, being able to make places like hospitals run more efficiently (cutting down on wait time etc) can do wonders for an organization. Professor Jérémie Gallien teaches this great course.


Columbia interactive, from the Ivy League institution of the same moniker, is another fantastic school that has open courseware offerings. This institution is committed to helping foster growth and development by making knowledge readily available to all those who seek it.

  1. The Politics of Health Care E-Seminar 3, The Uninsured – This online seminar touches on a growing issue, the uninsured. Health administrators have unique challenghes when it comes to caring for uninsured patients. Until a universal healthcare bill is passed, this problem will not go away.

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