Back to Blog Benefits of Health-Focused Master’s Degree Go Beyond Salary Blog Share Share on FacebookFollow us on LinkedInShare on PinterestShare via Email Dr. Pat Tille is the Program Director for the Master of Science in Medical Laboratory Science Leadership program at the University of Cincinnati Online (UCO). Her role here, coupled with Dr. Tille’s educational journey and professional background, gives her a unique perspective on advanced health sciences or health administration degree’s advantages. To understand what shapes Dr. Tille’s opinions, first, it’s helpful to know about her background. After Dr. Tille graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Sioux Falls in 1992, she remembers not knowing precisely what she would do next until a chance encounter shaped her future. “When one of my children was in the hospital, I was sitting in her room reading about botany, from what I remember, and someone from the staff asked what I was studying and what I planned to do with my degree,” Dr. Tille says. Soon, Dr. Tille found herself down in the hospital’s lab, talking with the staff about her options — and this interaction ultimately led to her completion of a medical laboratory science program and, later, to graduate with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Health Sciences from South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine in 2002. Juggling Personal and Professional Demands Dr. Tille worked toward her advanced degrees while she was a wife and a busy mom to four children. Her desire to take on even more, such as lead industry roles and authoring an internationally recognized diagnostic microbiology textbook, brought Pat myriad opportunities she would never have dreamed of when she first began her career. “Things took off around 15 years ago for me, when I became more involved in the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). As a student, I started out as the ASCLS South Dakota student representative in 1993. Since then, I’ve been the state president three times, served on the national board, helped raise money for scholarships, and more,” Dr. Tille says. When Dr. Tille talks with our students about the career opportunities that await them and the challenges of earning a master’s while working full-time, she shares practical time management advice and real-world experiences from her storied career. Advanced Health Care Degree Pay Differentiators If you’re considering going after an advanced degree in the health care field, the appeal of being able to make more money with a master’s degree can be compelling. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for an individual with a master’s (vs. a bachelor’s) degree is about 20% higher, on average, for all industry types. BLS’ research states that while not every industry offers this salary premium, there are certain fields that do — health care being one of them. While salaries vary by job, employer, and location, the BLS reports that the top 10 percent of medical and health services managers with an MA or MS in Healthcare Management can earn up to $150,000 annually. Benefits of Specializing and a Larger Professional Network Earning a higher salary is undoubtedly a key driver in getting a master’s degree. But there are other benefits, including the opportunity to focus on a specialty area or a particular passion. That’s what Dr. Tille did when she shifted her focus to biomedical health sciences. “With an advanced degree, your opportunities expand in ways you hadn’t thought of before,” Dr. Tille says. “And because the field of health care — and its associated technologies — is always growing and changing, there will be a need for specialists in emerging areas.” Larger Healthcare Networking Benefits Another benefit of working toward an advanced degree is that an individual’s professional network grows as they interact with fellow students and learn from their experiences. And while this new network may feel beneficial during the years at UCO, its value follows the graduate when they’re back fully at work and continues throughout their career. Dr. Tille says students enrolled in UCO’s programs, including the Master of Health Administration and Master of Health Informatics, come from diverse backgrounds. “Some individuals having 20 years of health care industry experience and some are newer undergrads,” Tille says. “This mix benefits our programs.” Health Care Degree Programs at UC Online If you’re new to online degree programs or our university, here are the top reasons healthcare-focused students choose UCO for an advanced degree: Classes are 100% online with no required campus visits. You learn from “scholar-practitioners,” educators working in health care today. Programs are flexible so that you can balance your education with work and life responsibilities. Your professional connections grow, and your understanding of the health care landscape broadens. You will immediately be able to apply what you learn at UCO to advance your career! UCO’s master’s programs welcome students from the Cincinnati metro, throughout the US, and from outside the country, too. No matter where they live, students in a program, such as the Master of Science in Medical Laboratory Science Leadership, regularly interact with their online-learning peers and instructors. Students focus on their coursework during the day, in the evening, or on weekends — whatever works with their lives’ demands. Working toward an online degree is just as rigorous as one in a traditional campus setting. “I don’t think everyone realizes this,” Dr. Tille says. “Online learning is much different than taking a correspondence course. While there’s built-in flexibility, you’re not going at your own pace. You have deadlines to meet.” Students Stay Connected Throughout Pandemic For people working in health care, the pandemic’s negative impact on their professional and personal lives will be measured for decades to come. One bright side for those health care professionals studying at UCO is that they escape the pandemic’s restrictions in their online classroom. Interacting with classmates and educators becomes the bright spot in their challenging days, where they can talk about school and decompress about work and family life, too. “The positive social aspect of these connections can’t be underestimated,” Dr. Tille says. “Students may not be able to travel or escape their family and work commitments during the pandemic, but they get to interact with others in the same situation, chatting back and forth and asking each other questions. This enriches their experience.” When a Job Becomes a Career While some of the benefits we mentioned are more measurable — higher salaries, broader professional networks, and career opportunities as specialists — there’s another reason to consider an advanced degree. Dr. Tille describes it this way: “When our advanced degree students apply what they’re learning to their work and not just memorizing things, they’re learning in a different way than they did when they studied for their bachelor’s degree. They move from a job mindset to a career mindset, and I enjoy seeing that shift and what it means to them.” For UCO’s students who interact with Dr. Tille and her peers, they get the opportunity to study for an advanced health care degree, being energized by what they’re learning and studying (virtually) side by side with people who share similar passions. Educating the world’s health care professionals of today and tomorrow is what we do at UCO — and what Dr. Tille made her life’s mission. We continue to be inspired by her commitment and the impact she’s making on our students. Our UCO team welcomes you to learn more about our MHI, MS, MHA, and other health-focused master’s degrees. View the program overviews, curriculum, and application deadlines — then, once you’re ready to get started, connect with a UCO student advisor. We can’t wait to meet you.