MHA vs. MBA: What Students Need To Know

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a male in a suit standing in front of some healthcare professionals wearing scrubs


The medical field relies on gifted professionals to find new and creative ways to serve the needs of patients and communities. For individuals hoping to make an impact in their careers, there are many pathways toward high-ranking jobs in healthcare. Two popular degree programs for prospective candidates are the Master of Health Administration (MHA) and the Master of Business Administration (MBA). When it comes to an MHA vs. an MBA, it is important to understand the similarities and differences in order to choose which degree falls in line with your career goals. Both degrees provide recipients with specific skills that help them succeed within healthcare, yet their areas of study diverge in a few key ways.

MHA vs. MBA: Master of Health Administration

Students pursuing an MHA degree will examine the corporate, political and social forces that affect our healthcare system. Foundational classes such as Introduction to the Healthcare Systems, Healthcare Managerial Accounting and Health Services Research Methods and Statistics provide an introduction to the field. Further along in the program, students will learn about specific areas and departmental needs within the healthcare system, with classes covering topics in human resource management, marketing, information systems and leadership. Specializations within an MHA degree can help prepare students for specific careers in healthcare, such as health informatics and data analytics, healthcare compliance and risk management or population health. These specializations deep-dive into specific job functions of health executives, emphasizing a breadth of skills that will be invaluable to professionals working in the field.

Skills Gained with the Degree

An MHA degree has the benefit of focusing on one specific industry: healthcare. The skills gained from an MHA degree help students maintain high standards for healthcare delivery in a variety of clinical settings. Specializations within the degree can help students master specific workflows. For example, students can learn how to implement IT solutions, create programs for risk mitigation and identify gaps in healthcare coverage. MHA graduates enter the job market with the capacity to improve patient experiences and foster meaningful changes within healthcare systems.

Career Opportunities

MHA graduates are great candidates for healthcare executive positions. These professionals manage healthcare facilities, hospital departments and private practices. With a thorough understanding of the specific needs of healthcare providers, healthcare executives successfully adapt their facilities to align with both healthcare laws and new medical developments. Healthcare executives help set goals, recruit new employees, manage the finances and improve the quality of care for their institution.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare executives earned a median pay of $99,730 in 2018. Compensation varies by geographical location, education and professional background. The job growth rate for healthcare executives from 2016 to 2026 is projected to be 20 percent, which is much faster than the national average.

MHA vs. MBA: Master of Business Administration

MBA programs typically include core classes that teach the fundamentals of business. These include accounting, economics, statistics and finance. Since interpersonal communication is necessary for success in business environments, students will also learn efficient ways to communicate with and present their ideas to coworkers. Following the core classes, students will explore a variety of specific business-related topics, such as global business, executive insights, managerial decision tools and strategic sustainability.

Skills Gained with the Degree

An MBA degree program will foster industry-specific knowledge and techniques by analyzing real business case studies. Moreover, MBA graduates will understand the theories behind business practice, while also gaining the critical thinking skills to apply these theories. By gaining a broad tool kit of business-applicable skills, students can work in a variety of fields and settings following completion of this degree. MBAs prepare students to be effective leaders who can drive growth and develop sustainable, respectful and responsible business plans and models.

Career Opportunities

MBA graduates qualify for high-ranking executive positions within an organization. These individuals create strategy and manage resources in order to promote growth for their companies. Executives exist within all types of companies and industries, such as retail, construction, tech and healthcare organizations. Daily functions for executives include managing contracts, carrying out departmental strategy, consulting with other employees about operations, analyzing financial statements and overseeing budgetary activities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that top executives earned a median pay of $104,980 in 2018. Compensation varies between industries for executives, with manufacturing executives earning a median of $208,000, whereas government executives earned a median of $110,830. The projected job growth rate for top executives is on par with the national average of 8 percent.

How Can I Become a Healthcare Innovator?

The future of our healthcare industry depends on driven, talented professionals who are ready to meet the unique challenges this field presents. If pursuing an advanced health degree sounds right for you, Duquesne University offers an online Master of Health Administration degree. With no prior experience or GMAT/GRE required, you can earn your degree in as little as two years. For more information, contact Duquesne University




Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Top Executives

Duquesne University, Online Master of Health Administration

Duquesne University, Professional MBA