MHA Vs MPH: Difference & Salary

This article provides a comparison of the Master of Health Administration (MHA) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degree programs, including program overviews and career prospects.

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A Master of Health Administration (MHA) is a degree program tailored to students who plan to work in a management role at a patient care facility. While health administration is sometimes covered in Master of Public Health (MPH) programs, and it is certainly possible to obtain similar positions with the degree, the course content is geared more specifically toward public health risks (such as disease) and how to handle them at a policy level. MPH degree holders often go on to work in research, analysis and policy formation roles.

MHA Program Overview

An MHA program prepares students for management roles in patient care facilities such as hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers. There are also possibilities for MHA grads in government agencies (such as the Department of Health and Human Services) and in healthcare consulting.

Admission Requirements

MHA programs do often require that applicants have a bachelor's degree of some sort, but the specific subject usually does not matter, and in some programs there is not even any particular prior coursework requirement. Students can expect to take the GRE, however, and some programs ask for an undergraduate coursework GPA of at least 3.0.

Course Outline

MHA students cover topics that are key to running a hospital, which means a mix of medical industry subjects and more general business principles. Course examples include statistics, microeconomics, accounting, ethical issues and strategic planning, often geared to the unique needs of patient care facilities. Students should also expect to learn about the administrative structure of hospitals and how all of their different departments work.

MPH Program Overview

MPH programs teach students how to identify and analyze public health threats and how to address them through policy and program management. A broad range of job opportunities are available to MPH grads. You can specialize as an epidemiologist or biostatistician, work as a policy analyst in government, or work as a researcher in a variety of different settings.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should expect to have completed a bachelor's degree of some sort. The field of study isn't necessarily important, but a number of programs do ask for a minimum 3.0 GPA. Programs may also ask that you have completed some undergrad coursework in algebra or calculus, biology, chemistry and/or statistics.

Course Outline

Core components of any MPH program include epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health and research methods. Programs may offer students specialty tracks such as global health, occupational & environmental medicine, and disease prevention, as well as specialist tracks in biostatistics and epidemiology.

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MHA vs MPH: Jobs and Salary

The job outlook for health administrators is very good. This career field earns some of the highest salaries (short of doctors) in patient care facilities. In addition, the field as a whole is expected to grow by 20% from 2016-2026, and healthcare managers' median wages are almost $10,000 per year more than other management occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jobs for MHA Graduates Median Salary (2017)
Hospital Administrator $107,230
Government Medical/Health Services Management $106,230
Outpatient Care Center Manager $89,910
Physician's Office Manager $89,760
Nursing / Residential Care Facility Manager $82,950

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

MPH graduates will be entering a favorable job market as well. Though starting salaries are not as high as MHA careers, job growth is at least slightly higher than average in most categories and is particularly high in certain career fields. An explosion of need for biostatisticians is likely to be driven by a very high demand for statisticians in general over the coming decade.

Jobs for MPH Graduates Median Salary (2017) Expected Job Growth (2016-2026)
Biostatistician $79,150 (in healthcare and social assistance) 34% (statisticians)
Epidemiologist $69,660 9%
Environmental Scientist and Specialist $69,400 11%
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist $71,780 8%
Community Health Worker $38,370 18%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As patient care administrators, MHAs tend to earn a higher starting salary than MPH graduates, but an MPH degree opens up a somewhat larger variety of career possibilities. Of course, there are a number of MHA/MPH dual degree program options, as well, for those who are interested in both areas of study.

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