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MHA vs MBA: Which is Best for Your Healthcare Management Career?

Female nurse in blue scrubs holding a diplomaIf your ultimate goal is a high-powered job in healthcare management, you may be considering a master’s degree, but are unsure which to choose - a master’s degree in Health Administration (MHA) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Which degree is more appropriate for your goals, aligns with your passions, and is of more benefit to your resume and earnings potential? 

The Master in Health Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees are very different and can impact your acquired skills, career path and projected salary. With healthcare skills in high demand today and for the foreseeable future, both degree tracks offer candidates a bright future. 

Healthcare employers plan to increase their hiring of recent grads, but as many as 54 percent in a recent CareerBuilder survey noted a gap between the skills their organizations need and the skills they see on resumes. As many as 46 percent of surveyed healthcare employers had open positions for which they could not find qualified candidates.1

Earning a master’s degree opens doors to your healthcare management career. Before you decide on a master’s program, find out what a MHA or MBA each uniquely does for your career potential.

What a MHA and a MBA Can Do for You

Choosing the right master’s degree for your career depends on your work history, educational background, career goals and each program’s course offerings, which varies from school to school.

Keep in mind the following points when selecting a master’s program:

Different Healthcare Field Program Directions

An MHA program concentrates on healthcare administration, which appeals to current healthcare professionals, as well as those working in another industry looking to gain experience in healthcare. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree in health administration you’ll have to research specific master-level health management courses to discover how they complement your undergraduate degree and improve your knowledge and skills.2

An MBA program works well for a student who’s already working in the healthcare field and looking to get an advanced education in business operations and theory. Candidates who already have a medical or nursing background might opt for a traditional MBA to gain more business skills.

Health Management Courses

Courses in an MHA program may only cover healthcare and healthcare administration topics. This path is well-designed for men and women changing careers. An MHA may or may not include other general business administration courses, as candidates are typically expected to already have that background.3

Courses in an MBA program typically cover finance, accounting, business administration; human resources, public relations and marketing, but they may not specifically include practical health administration courses.2

MBA programs with a healthcare management focus include specialized courses such as healthcare-specific policy, law, ethics, management, organizational behavior, financing, human resources, marketing and more. This track ensures topics related specifically to medical facility operations are directly discussed.6

Healthcare Management Career Prospects

If you’re certain you only want to stay in healthcare and advance within it, an MHA will give you the specialized knowledge and skills you’ll need to work within an industry that continues to grow. 

An MBA in Healthcare Management is another well-structured track that adds a stronger business element to your coursework but keeps the focus squarely on the healthcare field. 

An MBA HCM includes extensive work in these areas: 

  • Healthcare Finance
  • Strategy and Marketing
  • Health Law and Ethics
  • Management of Quality
  • Information Systems and Technology
  • Healthcare Leadership Development

Generally, those pursuing an MBA HCM have some prior experience in healthcare but want to increase their business skills.

Pay in the Healthcare Management Field

Healthcare administrative employees with an MHA earn a median salary of $69,000 (healthcare administrators), $58,000 (practice managers) and $157,000 (hospital administrators), according to a PayScale survey.4

Healthcare administrative employees with an MBA earn a median salary of $65,000 (healthcare administrators), $56,000 (practice managers), $86,000 (director of operations) and $160,000 (CEOs).5

Salaries will vary regionally and in rural areas compared to big cities. 

Start Today

A master’s degree qualifies you for the top healthcare administrator jobs available. Search for a balance of business administration and healthcare management courses in an MHA or MBA. Ultimately you want in-demand skills that healthcare employers are looking for.

To download a comprehensive career guide to Healthcare Management, click here

References:

1 Higher Salaries Among Health Care Employers’ Plans for 2015, CareerBuilder.com http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=1/7/2015&id=pr861&ed=12/31/2015

2 https://www.ache.org/carsvcs/whichdegree.cfm

3 http://mastersinhealthadministration.org/mha-vs-mph-vs-mba-in-healthcare-administration-which-is-right-for-you/

4 http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Health_Administration...

5 http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Business_Administration...

6 https://www.ache.org/carsvcs/ycareer.cfm