MHA vs MBA in Healthcare Administration: Which Degree Fits You?

Healthcare isn’t getting any simpler. As regulations evolve and relationships with insurance companies grow more and more complicated, administrators of healthcare organizations face unique challenges. They must juggle the business demands of their organizations while making sure their staff and facilities are properly resourced to provide excellent patient care.

These challenges, along with the growing number of healthcare jobs, are increasing the need for healthcare administrators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for Medical and Health Services Managers is projected to grow by 32 percent from 2020 to 2030. 

If you’re considering a career in healthcare administration, you may find yourself looking at a variety of advanced degree options. But what exactly is the difference between a Master of Health Administration (MHA) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Administration? Which one is the better choice based on your current healthcare experience?

Master of Health Administration

For those who already have some healthcare background, an MHA provides an in-depth look at the specific challenges that face healthcare administrators. MHA students take some business classes, but their courses primarily focus on healthcare topics. 

The makeup of MHA programs varies by institution but they typically have a heavier focus on subjects that directly relate to healthcare institutions. For example, healthcare delivery, policies, ethics, and healthcare economics may make up the core of the curriculum. At the same time, classes on more strategic business topics play a minor role in the degree.

An MHA can be understood as a degree in healthcare systems with a side of business. It’s an ideal choice for healthcare workers who want to advance their careers while staying in the world of healthcare.

Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration 

If the MHA is healthcare with a side of business, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Administration is the opposite. The core curriculum covers the full spectrum of business topics, such as finance, corporate risk management, and economics. Additional courses in healthcare topics round out the program. This provides students with a specialization that equips them for administrative roles in the healthcare industry.

Depending on the particular program, the MBA may be appropriate for people with an existing business background. Some programs are specifically for healthcare professionals who want a firmer grasp of business concepts as they relate to health care. 

The broad business education that MBA students receive provides flexibility for their future careers. This can open the door to opportunities both in and out of health care. MBA students develop skills and knowledge that are useable in a variety of settings, including healthcare. 

Which Degree Should You Choose?

The degree that makes the most sense for you depends on your current healthcare and business experience, as well as your desired career. If you have great healthcare experience and are looking to learn more business concepts, the MBA is an excellent way to expand your current skillset and expertise. And if you don’t have any healthcare experience, the MHA offers opportunities for you to learn the ins and outs of healthcare while preparing for a more administrative role in a growing field.

If you’re interested in pursuing the business side of healthcare, we offer an MBA in Healthcare Administration here at Concordia. Request more information on the program to learn more.

This post was written by Meredith Sell, a contributing author. This blog was originally published on 02/25/2020. It has been updated to reflect current information.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.