A very common question among people interested in pursuing a career in healthcare administration or healthcare management is the decision between pursuing a masters in healthcare administration (MHA) and a masters in business administration (MBA). This article will help to clarify some of the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Consider Long-term Career Goals

When considering the choice between MHA vs MBA, there are several things to consider. The first is your long term career goals. In general, an MBA will provide you with a very broad background in business. This lends itself to greater mobility across various fields of business. For example, if you chose to move from a healthcare management position to say, a hotel management position, the MBA would still support your career move, while an MHA would not. However, if you are certain you wish to pursue a career in healthcare management, you may be better off with a degree in healthcare administration. This is because your MHA will provide you with a core of healthcare management classes that you will not receive with an MBA. This is particularly helpful when getting your initial job, especially if you do not have a lot of experience in the healthcare field. Just keep in mind that a specialized degree like an MHA or MMM locks you in to working in the healthcare field with limited mobility to other areas of business and management. One way to circumvent this is to start your career in the healthcare field as an administrative assistant or other entry level position. This experience background, when coupled with an MBA can provide just as much, if not more, advantage when job searching as the specialized classes you'll take with an MHA. Another way to offset the dis-balance in coursework is to enroll in an MBA program with a specialization in healthcare management. With this type of program, you'll take about 20% of your classes related to the healthcare management role.

Previous Education and Experience

When choosing between the MHA and MBA programs, it's also important to consider your previous education and work experience. For example, if you already have a bachelor's degree in health administration, it may be redundant to get an MHA, whereas and MBA could broaded your skill set and strengthen your candidacy for certain jobs. Likewise, if you have a strong background in business, but little experience in healthcare and wish to transition to healthcare, getting an MHA may round out your skill set to enable you to make that transition more easily.

Prestige of the Program

Every college and university has its own rankings for various programs they offer. Therefore, the prestige of the college or university where you're enrolling for the particular program you want is an important consideration. For example, an MBA from Harvard may trump and MHA from a college or university that is not well known or ranked for its MHA program, or vice versa. Therefore, you should consider the reputation of the college program you're considering.


Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is also an important consideration. There are many colleges and universities that offer training in healthcare management. However, programs that seek and maintain CAHME accreditation have gone further by adopting the philosophy that education is subject to a Continuous Quality Improvement Process. Take a look at CAHME Accredited Programs.

Other Degree Options

Although few may consider it, a Master of Medical Management (MMM) may also be another choice when compared with an MHA. Higher increases in median compensation were seen in CEOs, Presidents and Medical Directors with MMM degrees compared to those with MBAs. MMM Medical Directors earn more than those with MBAs, according to Physician's News Digest.