MHA vs MBA: What’s the Difference?

Earning an advanced degree in business management can be a major step forward in your career. With the health industry continuing to grow and change at a rapid rate, a master’s degree in business that helps you stay ahead of the changes and at the cutting edge of that industry. So what are your options if you’re in the medical management field?


The MHA, or master’s of health administrations, offers a health care focused degree with a solid business foundation. Students learn the “economy” of health care, and how the healthcare industry is a major business enterprise – everything from human resources, schedules, budgets, public policies, and following major state mandated procedures all fall under the job descriptions of an administrator and are part of the education of an MHA program.

Students focus on health care specific examples of business and classes are organized around the management of health care delivery and policy. Faculty are often former health care administrators themselves, and students have great educational and networking opportunities. Classes that are often taken include:

  • Introduction to the US Health Care System
  • Health Care Finance
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Administration
  • Human Resources
  • Health Economics

This degree might be a great choice for someone who is already working in health care, has a degree in the health field (like nursing or a bachelor’s in health science), or is looking to make a dramatic career transition into an established, growing industry.


The MBA is the tried and true, class upper level business degree. While there is currently very little emphasis on the health care industry, there is plenty of knowledge about business administration. Those who graduate with an MBA degree are very well versed in business systems, accounting, corporate finance, international business, and e-business. Classes usually cover topics like:

  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Economics
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Technology and Information Systems
  • Strategy
  • Statistics

It’s clear that while most of these MBA classes are sure to go into a higher level of detail, they cover a very expansive level of business topics and are meant to apply in a number of business situations – not specifically medical circumstances. Still, all practices and knowledge are certainly applicable in that field as well.

Additionally, many MBA programs expect internships as part of their degree completion requirement. If students are interested in working in the health care market, they can intern in the business branch of a hospital or medical facility and discover how they can use their MBA skills in medical financing and policy situations. There are certainly special challenges unique to the business of running the business of a hospital or medical practice, but internships can help introduce MBA students to these.

Currently, health care administrators, who might manage a practice, a nursing home, or even a hospital, make over $84,000 a year. This job sector is growing – as the population grows, more health care jobs means the need for more managers and administrators to help with the business of medicine. There are several options for higher education in business that can support career growth in the health care market. Some fit cleanly into the health niche, while others are more broad and business oriented. There is no wrong degree – merely options to fit your job, personality, and skill set. Both are great for a managing medical business and helping you become more successful a career.

Online MHA Degree and Other Health Programs

A Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree can lead to careers in hospital administration, health insurance administration, health care policy making, and much more. Each of the following schools offers a master's degree program in health care.

Kaplan University
MS: Health Mgmt
MBA: Health Mgmt

Kaplan University -- Kaplan University's MS in Healthcare Management and MBA in Healthcare Management programs are designed to educate the next generation of healthcare leaders. A world-renowned faculty successfully graduates dedicated individuals that find jobs across the country.

University of Southern California
Master of Health Admin

University of Southern California -- The Master of Healthcare Administration degree program from the University of Southern California features a curriculum that educates students in the management of health care systems. Courses include healthcare delivery, finance, ethical and legal issues in healthcare administration, and management.

George Washington University
MBA: Healthcare

George Washington University -- George Washington University is a respected leader in online education with hundreds of programs offered in its course catalog. The online programs can be completed at a pace that is comfortable to you and in an environment of your choosing, making these programs a flexible and convenient way to earn your Masters Degree. GWU offers an MBA in Healthcare through online courses.

Walden University
MPA: Health Policy

Walden University -- Walden University offers a wide variety of healthcare master's degrees, including the Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Public Health (MPH), and Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Health Policy. Students in these programs are instructed on the development of healthy individuals, organizations, and communities. The programs provide core study in the public health field, using a real-world teaching methodology.

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