Saint Joseph's University

Overcoming the Challenges of Earning a Master’s Degree

Pursuing a Master’s degree has proven to be both rewarding and challenging. These may vary from student to student and be dependent on many factors such as current job status, financial status, preferred learning environment, level of self-discipline, marital or family status, etc. However, in most cases, the rewards outweigh the challenges.

The Masters of Science in Health Administration Program at Saint Joseph’s University is unique, in many ways. Consider the following:

  • It can be completed entirely online. (This may be a first for many students.)
  • The semesters are eight weeks versus the traditional sixteen weeks.
  • The program offers specialties in healthcare ethics and healthcare informatics, two timely topics.
  • The program is structured to be time-friendly to those who work full-time and have families.

For me, all of these factors had led to my decision to pursue my Masters of Science in Health Administration through Saint Joseph’s University.

A busy schedule

Although I’ve completed only three classes into the program (while maintaining a 4.0 GPA), I have been able to determine some challenging and rewarding aspects of the program. A little bit of background on myself, to justify why I have determined some aspects as rewarding and some as challenging: I graduated from another well-known university in May 2015 with a degree in Public Health and Health Care Administration. I was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time job at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in the Strategic Planning Department.

I also work part-time as a waitress (as I did during my undergrad days), to make some extra money and avoid taking out student loans. Between those two jobs, I am busy seven days a week. Confident I wanted to pursue my Master’s in Health Administration, I found the program through Saint Joseph’s University and knew it would be the perfect fit, especially since it was online and I would not have to account for travel time and time sitting in classes.

Time management challenges

The biggest challenge I face is time management. The courses are only eight weeks, so the program is rigorous. There are mostly assignments due each week in the form of papers and discussion board posts, accompanied by readings and participation in collaborative sessions. Because I work a full-time job and a part-time job, it is sometimes difficult to meet deadlines, especially if the deadline is a Friday, for example, versus a Sunday, when I can utilize Saturday and Sunday during the day. However, I have learned to manage my time much better and moved my schedule around to accomplish this.

Participating in the collaborative sessions can be a challenge all of its own. Although professors do make these sessions participation-friendly, it is sometimes difficult when some professors do most of the talking and there may not be enough time for student to talk or connect. Encouraging more communication amongst classmates like a traditional classroom has been helpful – as we can still learn a lot from each other.

Rewarding program

Believe me, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Among the most rewarding aspects is the ability to connect what we are learning in class and apply it to my full-time job. It helps to make the learning and understanding much easier because I am able to apply it to a real life situation. Next on my list would be receiving good grades. So far, I have received A’s in my two classes I have taken and it is very rewarding knowing you have learned a lot and understand what you are learning. Finally, there is the ability to meet individuals from all over the country who work in all fields of healthcare who can offer a variety of insights, being the program is online.

Overall, the rewarding aspects of the program outweigh the challenging aspects.

About the Author

Photo of SJU student blogger, Brittani Caponegro

Brittani Caponegro began the program in October 2015 and has completed two classes thus far. She graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers University in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health and a concentration in Healthcare Administration. She began her career working at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in June 2015 as a Management Systems Lead Steward in Strategic Planning. Brittani currently works to facilitate and coordinate Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s business model, known as Operation: Excellence, which aids in their strategic planning process.

Brittani is in the process of transitioning to a new role, Analyst, but will still remain in Strategic Planning. Overall, she has learned a great deal of information and is looking forward to her next classes in the program!

Grad Year: 2018
Program: MS in Health Administration

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