MHA Vs MBA: Difference & Salary

Jul 07, 2018

Two options for those looking for a graduate degree in administration are the MHA and MBA. This article discusses the differences between the two programs and compares the career prospects for each.

Those looking to improve their career prospects in health care administration can choose between the Master of Health Administration (MHA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA). The MHA is an upper-level management program that specifically prepares students for a career in health care administration. The MBA is a very popular graduate degree that also qualifies students for health care administration while covering a very broad range of topics including advanced financial and economic training.

Comparison of the MHA and the MBA

The main difference between the two degrees is diversity of content. MHA programs are usually more specialized, while MBA programs generally cover a wide range of areas and courses.

Master of Health Administration (MHA)

MHA programs are focused on preparing students for careers in hospitals, health care facilities, nursing homes, and public health organizations, just to name a few. Even though many of the courses are theoretically similar to those in MBA programs, skills and knowledge will focus on how these concepts apply to the area of health administration. Typical courses incorporated into MHA programs include Fundamentals of Health Care Financial Management, Health Care Organization and Management, Health Care Human Resources Management, and Health Economics and Policy.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

MBA programs are broader in nature, providing a diverse base of financial knowledge, although students interested in health administration can choose specialties and tailor their coursework to best prepare them for that field. MBA programs are very common and available at most business schools. Coursework for an MBA is normally quite varied, including everything from Corporate Finance and Investment Banking to Pharmaceutical Management and Health Care Economics and Strategy.

Careers in Health Care Administration

There are many different careers within health care administration available to those having completed either an MHA or MBA degree. Evidence shows that for top-level positions the person with the MHA will usually receive a slightly higher average salary, but that trend is reversed in the case of lower-level careers.

Career MHA - Average Annual Salary (2018)* MBA - Average Annual Salary (2018)*
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) $184,262 $176,875
Vice President (Operations) $144,609 $135,419
Director of Operations $104,167 $102,859
Operations Manager $71,962 $72,940
Human Resources Manager $63,621 $69,273

Source: *Payscale

Program Admittance Requirements

Master of Health Administration

For admittance to an MHA program you will need at least a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA, acceptable GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) results, transcripts, resume, and letters of recommendation.

Master of Business Administration

Requirements will be very similar to those for the MHA; a bachelor's degree and minimum GPA, GRE or GMAT results, transcripts, resume, and letters of recommendation.

Completion of either an MHA or an MBA will qualify you for an upper-level career in health administration, although an MHA will prepare you more specifically for that industry. The MHA is the perfect choice for those who definitely plan to focus on health care and prefer the more specialized knowledge that it provides. While an MBA provides similar qualifications, it is a broader program that could prove beneficial in a variety of business careers. This is the better choice if you prefer the flexibility to change direction down the road.

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