This top business school is creating two new programs to address growing interest in healthcare management

BY Preston ForeSeptember 21, 2023, 6:09 PM
Photo of the University of Chicago sign in front of several campus buildings.
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Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurse practitioners is tied for the fastest growing occupation over the next decade.

As a field full of complex networks and regulations, having effective leadership is key within patient care as well as medical research, innovation, and beyond. Correspondingly, the need for medical and healthcare service managers is also on the rise, with an expected growth of 28% over the next decade—much faster than the national job outlook. 

And while they may not always be interacting with patients, healthcare leadership helps save lives. Efficient and effective healthcare leadership was critical in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. As new information about transmission, treatment, and variants was released, teams had to swiftly amend appropriate policies and protocols across the board.

This is backed by research in the Journal of Healthcare Leadership, which found that “radical” and “rapid” responses by hospital system leadership at West Virginia University Hospitals and Health System helped increase surge capacity and led to lower death rates in the Mountain State.

With healthcare leadership thus becoming of increased importance, one top business school is investing in the future of healthcare education.

This month, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business announced two new programs: a new MBA/MS in biomedical sciences joint degree as well as a new MBA healthcare concentration. Booth is home to the No. 7 best MBA program in the country, according to Fortune’s 2023 rankings.

The new programs are set to combine data-driven and evidence-based business approaches to the healthcare space, says Dan Adelman, a professor of operations management at the Booth School and co-director of the school’s healthcare initiative.

“One of the things that’s really special about healthcare is there’s simultaneously a really important social mission to help improve the quality of life in the world,” Adelman tells Fortune. “There’s also a lot of money that can be used to help do that, and so it’s an attractive area for business students.” 

Two degrees in one

With the new joint-degree, students will be able to obtain a master’s degree in biomedical sciences as well as a MBA—all in just two years.

Adelman says the program was designed with a broad scope so that students across the healthcare industry can benefit—no matter if you want to build, manage, or just understand the business.

“It’ll give students an opportunity to simultaneously get an MBA—to learn the business side of things—while also to understand the scientific substrate on which the healthcare businesses are built,” he notes.

Students will take 14 courses from the Booth school and six others on the biomedical side at UChicago—combining learning of leadership with applied and clinical healthcare foundations.

The program expects students to be equipped for roles in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, genetics, or even government and policy— some of the areas where, according to Adelman, there has been an “explosion” in development.

“At the end of the day, you could have great science, but without the finance and the business side of it, you can’t actually bring these amazing innovations to the world,” he says

Students are directed to apply using the Booth full-time MBA application in either round two (January 2024) or three (April 2024) and indicate the MBA/MS as their program of interest. Final tuition numbers will be available in the spring.

Training healthcare leaders

For Booth students to fulfill the new healthcare MBA concentration, they must take at least four courses on topics such as business analytics, life sciences, and global health.

“There’s a lot of students that are interested in developing companies and bringing innovation into the business side of healthcare,” Adelman says. 

Students may also have an interest in running healthcare systems or start-ups—or transition into industries like consulting, pharmaceutics or private equity, he adds.

Expanding job opportunities

With salaries averaging over six figures—$104,830—for medical and healthcare service managers, it is an industry with encouraging career optics across the country and even the world.

According to Goldman Sachs, the global pharmaceutical industry has about $700 billion burning a hole in its pocket for acquisitions and investments. Plus, tech partnerships in areas like AI are set to revolutionize parts of diagnostics and patient experience.

Back in Chicago, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is also investing heavily in the future. Earlier this year, it announced that the Windy City would be the home to a new biomedical research hub, with the goal of bringing together science and tech to solve challenges on a 10- to 15-year time horizon. The Chicago hub is set to focus on engineering technologies that will study human tissue, immune cells, and disease.

Adelman points to UChicago’s New Venture Challenge as additional proof of the importance being placed on healthcare—with many of the past finalists and winners focusing on pharmaceutics, diagnostics, and medical equipment.

And while neither of the new programs at Booth are necessarily unique to business schools—with many others offering healthcare concentrations or joint degrees, Adelman notes Booth’s emphasis on data, evidence, and frameworks is important to recognize.

“Being able to apply that to healthcare is hugely powerful, and there’s no better place in the world to do that,” he says.