So, you want a career in health care administration. You look at master’s degree programs in health care administration (MHA) and master’s degree programs in business administration with a health services administration specialization (MBA). Which degree is the right one to choose? The answer, according to Strayer University adjunct faculty Khaki Weber (RN, MBA), depends on the outcomes being sought.

Difference in Focus

Both programs provide a solid foundation in aspects of health care administration, but the MHA has a tighter health care focus. “The MHA is strictly for health care administration, whereas the MBA provides a broader understanding of business in general,” Weber says. “There are core courses that are common to both, but the MHA is going to focus entirely on health care and is going to dive more deeply into the complexity of the health care field.”

For example, MHA students will find themselves heavily involved in all aspects of health care management, including working with regulatory agencies, health policy, and law. It’s also well suited to people coming in with a health care background, including medical practitioners. MBA students will spend more time on operations, business, marketing, and finance.

In other words, for people who may potentially be interested at some point in branching out of health care or into health care-related companies (such as medical device manufacturers), the MBA may be the better choice. Those who are committed to health care should look at the MHA.

Career Outcomes

There is some overlap when it comes to career paths, but there are also some differences. If you’re interested in managing the regulatory environment of a health care system, working with policy, managing a clinic, or being a director in a hospital, clinic, or long-term care facility, the MHA is a solid choice. An MHA can also lead to work in government health services, biotechnology, or nonprofit health care organizations.

MBA graduates can also land as administrators or directors in health care settings. But if you’re interested less in policy and regulations, and more in operations and the business, the MBA will provide a solid business footing that can be applicable outside of the health care arena. There is more leeway with the MBA to move across industries to organizations like insurance companies, medical device manufacturers, or health IT startups.

As health care grows increasingly complex, organizations will need to increase their staff. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs. Earning an MHA or an MBA with a health care administration specialization could help you be competitive in a rapidly growing industry.

Learn more about Strayer University’s MBA degree and MHA degree programs.

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