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

These challenges, along with the growing number of health care jobs, are creating an increased need for health care administrators who are experts in their field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for Medical and Health Services Managers in the U.S. is projected to grow by 18 percent (or 71,600 positions) from 2018 to 2028. 

If you’re considering a career in health care 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 and a Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration? Which one is the better choice based on your current health care experience?

Master of Health Administration

Often designed for people who already have some health care background, the Master of Health Administration (MHA) provides an in-depth look at the specific challenges that face health care administrators. MHA students take some business classes, but their courses are primarily focused on health care topics. 

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

An MHA can be understood as a degree in health care systems with a side of business. This degree is often offered by schools of medicine, public health, or allied health, as opposed to schools of business. It’s an ideal choice for health care workers who want to advance their careers while staying in the world of health care.

Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration 

If the MHA is health care with a side of business, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Health Care Administration is business with a side of health care. The core curriculum covers the full spectrum of business topics, from finance, corporate risk management, and managerial economics to statistics, budgeting, and strategic management. Additional courses in health care topics round out the program, providing MBA students with a specialization that equips them for administrative roles in the health care industry. Health care topics may include ethics, health care economics and public policy, insurance and risk management, and public personnel administration.

Depending on the particular program, the MBA may be appropriate for people with an existing business background, or as in the case of Concordia’s MBA in Health Care Administration for practitioners, be specifically designed for health care professionals who want a firmer grasp of business concepts as they relate to health care.

The extensive business education that MBA students receive provides flexibility for their future careers, opening the door to opportunities both in and out of health care. MBA students develop skills and knowledge that are applicable in a variety of administrative settings, while receiving specific education pertaining to health care. 

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Which degree makes the most sense for you depends on your current health care and business experience, as well as your desired career. If you have your heart set on working in a health care setting, the MHA may be the better option. If you’re not sure you want to spend your entire career in health care, the MBA offers more flexibility for your future. 

If you have ample health care experience and are looking for more grounding in business concepts, the MBA is an excellent way to expand your current skillset and expertise. And if you don’t have any health care experience, the MBA offers opportunities for you to learn the ins and outs of health care while preparing for a more administrative role in a growing field.

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

This post was written by Meredith Sell, a contributing author. 

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