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MHA vs. MBA: How To Choose The Right Degree For A Future In Healthcare Management

As healthcare continues to grow and evolve, there are more opportunities than ever for management professionals in healthcare settings. Getting your master’s degree is a pivotal way to advance your career.

But, what specific type of master’s degree should you choose?

Many healthcare professionals debate whether they should pursue their Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) or Master of Business Administration (MBA). In this article, we’ll help you better understand the differences between these two powerful degrees so you can choose which is right for you.

graphic describing the differences between a MHA and a MBA

Why Choose a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)?

Are you looking to advance your career in the healthcare industry, especially in a clinical or government setting? An MHA may be right for you.

What is an MHA?

A Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) is a professional degree focused on the effective management of health services organizations, public health infrastructure and healthcare consultancies.

 

What matters most when choosing a master’s program? Compare features, benefits and cost to find the right school for you.

 

What is the Focus of an MHA Program’s Curriculum?

An MHA program focuses on depth of experience in healthcare administration. Instead of general courses in finance or operations, all courses in these traditional business focuses are taught within the framework of a healthcare setting. You will also gain expertise in the government and political environments in which healthcare organizations operate.

As an MHA student, you can expect to cover cutting-edge topics affecting healthcare, including:

  • Healthcare Laws and Ethics: Develop a foundational understanding of health law so you can deal with common legal, practical and ethical issues facing healthcare organizations on a regular basis.
  • Global Health: Gain a global perspective on healthcare including health promotion, disease prevention and measurement of health outcomes.
  • Health Policy: Understand both the conceptual and analytical aspects of health policymaking and politics and how they impact healthcare leadership.
  • Strategic Healthcare Management: Apply strategic decision making frameworks to real-world challenges faced by healthcare organizations.
  • Health Information Governance: Learn how to protect patient privacy and information through policies, processes, and controls at the enterprise level.

The curriculum of an MHA program will prepare you for the complex challenges facing healthcare leaders today.

What Are The Best Jobs for MHA Grads?

An MHA graduate can pursue a wide range of jobs. They are especially fit for roles in clinical and provider settings where an intimate knowledge of healthcare policies, regulations and operations is crucial.

Director of Operations
Average Salary for MHA Graduates: $104,561 (Payscale)

The director of operations plans, directs, coordinates, and manages people and policies in healthcare organizations. They oversee day-to-day activities as well as formulate policies to ensure patient satisfaction.

Practice Administrator
Average Salary for MHA Graduates: $79,009 (Payscale)

A practice administrator is directly responsible for preparing the budget for staffing and training to ensure the facility is properly staffed. They are also responsible for negotiating contracts with medical and pharmaceutical suppliers to make sure the facility has the necessary supplies.

Healthcare Consultant
Average Salary for MHA Graduates: $77,853 (Payscale)

Healthcare consultants work with their clients to identify problems, research solutions and implement new policies and procedures for improving the operations of a healthcare organization.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Average Salary for MHA Graduates: $171,825 (Payscale)

CEOs are responsible for ensuring a healthcare organization is accomplishing its mission and meeting its strategic goals, as well as securing financial stability.

Hospital Administrator
Average Salary for MHA Graduates: $102,584 (Payscale)

Hospital administrators are responsible for organizing the health services of a healthcare facility. They manage staff and budgets, communicate between departments and ensure adequate patient care.

Why Choose a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?

Are you interested in widely applicable management skills that can make you an effective leader at all types of organizations, including healthcare? An MBA may be right for you.

What is an MBA?

An MBA is a broad-based business degree focused on strategic leadership and effective management for organizations of all shapes and sizes.

What is the Focus of an MBA Program’s Curriculum?

An MBA program includes coursework in all major areas of business—from finance to human resources and marketing to accounting. Because of the extremely flexible curriculum, many professionals choose to focus their degree further. Some institutions even offer an MBA with a concentration in healthcare. However, one of the benefits of a generalist MBA program is the breadth of exposure to topics that impact how businesses operate every day.

An MBA degree can help you broaden your business knowledge and conquer complex management challenges with courses like:

  • Financial and Managerial Accounting: Gain deep insights into financial analysis, accounting and reporting in complex and highly regulated business environments.
  • Marketing Management: Learn about marketing in both theory and practice so you can apply these skills to the promotion strategy for your organization.
  • Strategic Management: Sharpen your skills for producing, implementing, and assessing an organization's strategy for gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • Managerial Economics: Apply concepts like supply and demand and revenue and profit to real-world decision-making.

The curriculum of an MBA program is a great complement to in-depth clinical experience. It is also a great option for professionals who may want to transition to other industries outside of healthcare.

What are the Best Healthcare Jobs for MBA Grads?

MBA graduates have a breadth of skills that prepares them for a variety of roles within healthcare organizations.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Average Salary for MBA Graduates: $147,277 (Payscale)

The CFO is responsible for the financial operations of a healthcare facility. They gather and analyze all financial data and information to make sure the facility is operating within budget and to determine how to allocate funds to various areas.

Operations Manager
 Average Salary for MBA Graduates: $77,286 (Payscale)

A healthcare operations manager oversees the financial wellbeing of a healthcare facility, implements policy, and manages the medical and non-medical staff.

Marketing Manager
Average Salary for MBA Graduates: $76,817 (Payscale)

Marketing managers help promote healthcare facilities to patients, working to ensure a positive image and competitive advantage for the facility.

Executive Director
Average Salary for MBA Graduates: $105,099 (Payscale)

Executive directors help design, develop, and implement strategic plans to help healthcare organizations work in a cost- and time-efficient manner.

Human Resources (HR) Director
Average Salary for MBA Graduates: $89,120 (Payscale)

HR Directors are integral to the recruitment and hiring of employees, as well as the administration and management of employee benefits and benefit providers.

4 Big Differences Between an MHA and MBA

Now that you understand both an MHA and MBA better, let’s compare these degrees one-to-one in key criteria that could influence your decision.

graphic describing the 4 big differences between an MHA and MBA

Choose The Degree That Best Fits Your Career Goals

If you’re passionate about a career in healthcare, a master’s degree is a key step to advancing to executive and leadership positions in the industry. Choosing between an MHA and an MBA degree should be based on criteria like your professional experience, educational interests and long-term career goals.

Get more details about program curriculum and outcomes by exploring the Franklin University Master of Healthcare Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees.

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