Healthcare Professionals: Healthcare MBA or MHA?

Johns Hopkins

Healthcare professionals who decide to return to school for an advanced degree have one important decision to make- choosing between the Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA) or the Healthcare MBA. When deciding which program to choose, it is important to know the differences between the two types of programs and how each degree will benefit your future career goals and expectations.

The main difference between the two degrees is the focuses of their curriculums. The MHA degree focuses on the business of the healthcare industry. The MBA degree gives students an extensive but broad insight into the business world as a whole. Healthcare MBA programs do offer students healthcare industry-specific courses, but most programs only require students to complete a few courses to complete the concentration, track, specialization or minor.

Many programs that offer healthcare concentrations, minors and specializations focus on finance, economics, accounting, marketing, management and technology and information systems as part of the core curriculum. The healthcare courses tend to cover healthcare law, healthcare systems management and global business. As part of the Healthcare Management Track for the full-time MBA program at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, students complete an introductory course to the U.S. Healthcare System to give them the proper insight into the trends and the expectations of the industry. The program also offers a course in the creation and application of medical knowledge as an elective.

George Washington University School of Public Health’s website shares that students who are deciding between a healthcare MBA and an MHA should take the time to assess their long-term goals for their career before choosing a program. Because the MHA program focuses so intensely on the healthcare industry, it is a great choice for those who are intending on remaining in the healthcare industry. For those students who may want to pursue careers in other fields in the future, the MBA option is better because of its broad business curriculum. George Washington University offers the Healthcare MBA in an online format, as well as the MHA.

The choice between MHA programs and an MBA can also have a direct relationship to what your professional career and your undergraduate background look like. In addition to MBA and MHA programs, some schools offer dual MBA programs with nursing program options for those who have already completed the BSN. For example, the UCLA Anderson School of Management offers the MBA in a joint program with the School of Nursing. The MBA/MSN program is a three-year concurrent degree program designed for individuals who desire a management career in healthcare. The program allows students to complete the two degrees in a condensed three year period, rather than the four years it would take to complete the programs separately. This is made possible by allowing some of the required courses to be completed in either the School of Business or the School of Nursing.

If the choice between completing the MHA or the MBA is still a hard decision, there is still another option. Some schools do offer a joint MHA/MBA degree program option. These joint programs give students the strong foundation in general management as they would with the MBA but will also receive specialized knowledge in healthcare. This gives students the perfect balance between the extensive healthcare knowledge of the MHA and the overall business insight of the MBA. They are generally set up the same as the dual MBA/MSN programs, where students complete the combined program in a shorter time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that the employment of Medical and Health Services Managers will increase by 23 percent from 2012 to 2022. This increase is much higher than any other industry in the United States. released the statistics for the average salary of a healthcare administrator with a MHA degree in the United States is $45,000 to $80,000. The average salary for hospital executive directors with an MHA degree is $72,715 to $11,500. The statistics for those with MBA degrees are similar; the average healthcare administrator salary is $59,000 to $181,077 and the hospital executive director salary is $65,003 to $117,521.

Whichever degree program you choose to complete, it is important to do the research and evaluate which program will be the most beneficial to your future career. To find more information on top ranked MBA programs, healthcare MBA programs and other dual degree programs, visit

Below is an infographic provided by Scranton University which further illustrates the topic.



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About the Author

Erin Purcell

Staff Writer, covering MetroMBA's news beat for New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

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