Program Focus

Dedicated to preparing leading healthcare management professionals

The Master of Health Administration is a dynamic program with a rigorous curriculum, expert faculty and an emphasis on values-based, competency-driven and experiential learning.


Values-Based Education

As part of a faith-based institution, the MHA program provides a values-based education that develops exceptional healthcare leaders. Students work to grow into effective collaborators motivated by their commitment to the healthcare profession and a genuine compassion for others.


The mission of the Master of Health Administration program is to educate and develop early career healthcare leaders from diverse backgrounds who are ethically and globally aware and able to positively impact the wellness of the communities they serve.

The program focuses on preparing individuals to serve in public, private and federal healthcare organizations including hospitals, integrated delivery systems, medical groups, insurance providers, and various other healthcare settings.

Delivered in an evening, cohort-based format, the program offers the opportunity for both working and non-working students from different socio-economic backgrounds and first-generation students to complete their degree in less than two years.


To be the preeminent education program in health administration for developing leaders capable of transformative response to a continuously evolving healthcare environment, positively shaping and impacting the health of the communities they serve.


The program draws upon the rich history of the University of the Incarnate Word. This relationship guides program direction and provides the value foundation on which the Master of Health Administration program was developed. The defining program values are drawn from the institution but manifest themselves in all aspects of the program.

  • Integrity: The program seeks to develop students with strong moral character and an unwavering commitment to honesty in all actions.
  • Excellence: Program excellence is measured by our student’s ability to make a significant and lasting contribution to the profession of healthcare management.
  • Faith: The program is committed to educational excellence in a context of faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.
  • Service: The program curriculum includes a global perspective and an emphasis on social justice and community service.
  • Innovation: The program is open to thoughtful innovation that serves ever more effectively the spiritual and material requirements of those in need.
  • Truth: The faculty and students support one another in the search for and the communication of truth.
  • Education: The program aims to educate men and women who will become concerned and enlightened citizens who seek to make a difference in the healthcare management profession.

Competency-Driven Curriculum

Using a curriculum built upon a nationally recognized and locally approved competency model, the MHA program strives to produce complex thinkers who are able to conceptualize, critically analyze and compellingly communicate a course of action that is in the best interests of those they serve.

The following 20 competencies serve as the foundation of the UIW Master of Health Administration program.

  • Healthcare Environment: Ability to explain the health industry, the context in which it operates and its advancements, and evaluate its issues.
  • Policy and Advocacy: Ability to evaluate health policies at the organizational, local, state and federal levels, and effectively participate in discussions and advocate for various stakeholder positions.
  • Critical Thinking: The intellectual ability to evaluate information and discern the evidence leads to a logical conclusion.
  • Analytical Thinking: Ability to use data and/or information to evaluate a problem or situation, interpret the results and make supportive recommendations as indicated.
  • Innovative Thinking: Ability to develop new ideas, approaches or solutions.
  • Process and Quality Improvement: Ability to analyze and design, or improve, an organizational process, including incorporating the principles of patient safety, quality and continuous improvement.
  • Organizational Awareness and Design: The ability to analyze the formal and informal decision-making structures and power relationships in an organization or industry (e.g., stakeholders, suppliers) and make recommendations.
  • Strategic Orientation: Ability to assess an organization’s internal and external environment and develop strategies that continually improve long-term success.
  • Project Management: Ability to plan and execute a project involving significant resources, scope, and impact.
  • Financial Skills: Ability to prepare and analyze financial and accounting information, prepare and manage budgets, cost and price services and evaluate business/capital investment opportunities to make sound financial decisions.
  • Human Resources Management: Ability to apply various human resource concepts and tools to meet the strategic goals of the organization.
  • Information Technology Management: Ability to see the potential in and understand the use of administrative and clinical technology and decision-support tools in process and performance improvement.
  • Legal and Regulatory Application and Assessment: Ability to interpret existing laws and regulations and align recommendations to be in compliance.
  • Performance Measurement: The ability to use performance benchmarks to improve organizational outcomes and guide strategies to effect positive changes.
  • Community Orientation: Ability to align one’s own and the organization’s priorities with the needs and values of the community, including its cultural and ethnocentric values, and to move health forward in line with population-based wellness needs.
  • Social Responsibility, Professionalism and Ethics: Ability to demonstrate ethics, sound professional practices, social accountability, and community stewardship. Acting in a way that is consistent with one’s positive values and what one says is important.
  • Communication Skills: Ability to use written and oral communications in formal and informal situations to convey meaning, build shared understanding, and productively move agendas forward. The ability to persuade and convince others (individuals or groups) to support a point of view, position or recommendation. 
  • Interpersonal Understanding: Ability to understand other people as well as to accurately hear and understand the unspoken or partly expressed thoughts, feelings and concerns of others. It measures increasing complexity and depth of understanding of others and includes cross-cultural sensitivity.
  • Collaboration: The ability to work cooperatively with others as part of a team or group, including demonstrating positive attitudes about the team, its members and its ability to get its mission accomplished, and the ability to effectively resolve conflict.
  • Team Leadership: The ability to see oneself as a leader of others. To provide guidance, instruction, direction and leadership to a group of individuals for achieving key results, while holding team members accountable individually and as a group.

Experientially Focused Learning

Program curriculum is delivered by faculty with extensive healthcare management experience who seek to provide students multiple opportunities to develop and apply program competencies in professional settings. The curriculum is designed to provide all MHA students with health management experience by graduation.

Via three curriculum components – graduate internship, professional  and leadership development and capstone projects – the MHA program focuses on developing the competencies associated with professionalism, teamwork and leadership, all critical for career advancement. Dr. Kevin LaFrance shares how experiential learning factors into the program's teaching methods.

Graduate Internship

The MHA program has established a Graduate Internship experience focused on providing students an opportunity to work a minimum of 15 hours a week in a healthcare organization concurrent with their didactic program. The internship experience is designed for students lacking relevant health administration work experience. Those participating in the internship program are paired with one of our industry partners representing many different areas of the healthcare industry including hospitals, health clinics, physician groups and community health centers.

Students begin the internship program in the fall semester of their second year and have an opportunity to gain experience over two full semesters. The internship program focuses on project-oriented activities that demonstrate the student’s ability to contribute to organizational outcomes. The internship program is required for those students without relevant healthcare experience and the ability to participate will be considered in the decision to accept a student into the program.

Professional and Leadership Development

All students participate in a series of curriculum-based activities that focus on professional and leadership development. Healthcare executive-led activities related to resume writing and interview skills help to develop the student’s professional core. Leadership skills are developed and enhanced through peer and faculty assessment and feedback of team-based leadership opportunities. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in interprofessional experiences that enhance their understanding of professional and leadership dynamics within the contemporary healthcare environment.

Capstone Experience

The culminating academic event of the program is a client-based capstone project. Working in teams, and for a health industry client, students address a significant management problem, question or issue in real-time. Capstone project work is evaluated by both the professor and the client.


Mission-Focused Faculty

The faculty of the Master of Health Administration program are dedicated to the success of their students and serve as industry mentors after graduation. MHA faculty members foster a collaborative classroom environment where students and professors work together toward the goal of providing excellent health care to our communities. Learn more about our faculty.

Hear from MHA Director Dr. Chris Nesser about the value of the MHA program at the University of the Incarnate Word.


MHA Advisory Board

Because the MHA program strives to stay at the forefront of the rapidly evolving healthcare industry, it invites industry leaders to provide their insight and expertise to help inform the program’s offerings and approaches. The Executive Advisory Board advises and assists the Master of Health Administration program in accomplishing the following goals:

  • Being responsive to the social and educational needs of the community
  • Staying abreast of societal and business climate changes and adjusting program priorities to meet changing needs
  • Providing knowledge transfer to the healthcare industry
  • Providing services consistent with students’ need
  • Being responsive to a diverse clientele

Stephen E. Araiza (UIW MHA Class of 2019)

  • Director of Practice Operations, Department of Physical Therapy
  • University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio

Jeffery A. Cowart

  • President
  • SVP Strategies, LLC – San Antonio and Washington, D.C.

Geoffrey W. Crabtree

  • Senior Vice President, CRE-Asset and Transaction Management
  • Methodist Healthcare System/HCA – San Antonio

Mary E. Garr, COL (Ret)

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Family Service Association – San Antonio

Francisco “Paco” Gonzaba

  • Executive Director of Business Operations Executive
  • Gonzaba Medical Group – San Antonio

Alvin Loewenberg

  • Former Chief Executive Officer
  • Morningside Ministries

Carlos E. Moreno, M.D., MBA

  • Vice President and Chief of Clinical Affairs
  • CommuniCare Health Centers – San Antonio

Ike W. Pauli Jr., M.D.

  • President and CEO
  • Northeast Pediatrics Association, PA – San Antonio

Karla Strawn

  • Chief of Patient Administration Services
  • South Texas Veterans Health Care System – San Antonio