Masters Degrees in Hospital Management Compared: MHA vs MBA vs MS

Are you interested in a a career in hospital management? If so, you have a number of options when looking at master’s degree programs. The three main types of master’s degrees in hospital management are the Master of Health Administration (MHA), the Master of Business Administration (MBA), and the Master of Science (MS). Each degree has its advantages to those hoping to become hospital administrators.

Master of Health Administration in Hospital Management

An MHA in hospital management is perfect for students who already have experience in business or who are working in the healthcare field as a doctor or nurse. This type of program is the type of master’s degree most focused on the healthcare field. From day one, your classes will focus not just on administration, but on administration at a hospital. The classes you take will depend on the program you attend, but some that you could take include clinical administration, human resources management, government and public policy, healthcare ethics, operations, population health, marketing and communications, health informatics, and finance.

Most MHA in hospital management courses take about two years to complete. Many require that you have work experience in an administrative position or in the field of healthcare in a lower-level position before you enter and MPH in hospital management program, but requirements vary depending on the program you choose.

Master of Business Administration in Hospital Management

If you’re looking for a more flexible hospital management program, an MBA might be a better option for you. Where MHA programs as specific to students who want to work in healthcare, an MBA allows you work in a variety of fields. MBA programs allow you to specialize, so if you want to work in healthcare, you can take hospital management classes; however, your education will also include a number of more general business classes. The disadvantage here, of course, is that you’ll get less hospital-specific education, but the advantage is that you’ll be able to transition to other industries if your career path changes in the future.

Because an MBA in hospital management is less focused on the healthcare aspect and more focused on the business aspect, it is great for students who already have clinical experience or have otherwise worked in healthcare in the past. Most MBA programs have a strong focus on finance and accounting, which is not the emphasis of most MHA programs, which focus primarily on operations. Of course there is a lot of overlap here, so check out each individual program to determine which is best for you. Many colleges actually offer a duel MBA – MHA degree if you’re unsure which degree program makes more sense for your career goals and educational needs.

Like MHA programs, MBA programs typically take about two years to complete and most (but not all) require that you have prior experience working in either business or healthcare in some capacity. MBA programs almost always require you to submit standardized test scores, while not all MHA programs require this.

Master of Science in Hospital Management

MS in hospital management programs are similar to MHA programs in that they are specialized for those who want to work in leadership positions in the healthcare field. However, with an MS, you can specialize even further, focusing on a field like marketing or quality control. Where as an MHA prepares you for top leadership positions at a hospital, MS programs allow you work in a lower-level leadership field. It’s great for students who do not yet have work experience, since many MS programs accept students directly from bachelor’s degree programs.

MS programs also typically take two years to complete, though many colleges also offer part-time programs so you can choose to enter the workforce while you earn your graduate degree at the same time. MS programs are also often extremely flexible, so if you’re looking for an online program, you might find more MS options than MHA and MBA options – it depends on what you want most in a master’s degree.

Which Master’s Degree Should You Choose?

So which master’s degree program is best for you?

  • MHA programs are great for students who have a strong desire to work in healthcare leadership and have prior business experience.
  • MBA programs are great for students who want some career flexibility and have prior healthcare experience.
  • MS programs are great for students who have little experience in the field and want to work in a specific type of administrative position (like human resources manager or quality control manager).

Keep in mind that there’s a lot of overlap with these type of programs, so consider individual programs to find the once that works for you.

Hospital administrators are responsible for the administration, leadership, and management of hospitals and hospital networks. A master's degree in healthcare or health administration is the standard credential for those in the field of hospital administration. Below are several accredited colleges that offer online degrees in health and hospital administration.

Featured Masters Degrees in Hospital and Health Administration

Ashford University Prepare to be in high demand! When you earn your Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Administration degree from Ashford University, you prepare yourself to pursue a variety of health care administration positions. Build a solid foundation for career mobility among health care professionals.
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Liberty University Liberty University's MBA in Healthcare Administration program provides a combination of skills and experience that will make any job applicant stand out from the crowd. Created for those who want to move into upper level management in health care organizations, courses focus on business conceptual, analytical and application skills specific to the industry.
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Ohio University
With Ohio University's Master of Health Administration program, students study the management of hospital services, including quality control methods. The curriculum is designed to review the continually shifting relationships among patients, providers, suppliers, and legal implications. Graduates enter careers spanning the healthcare management field.
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Walden University Designed by leaders in the field of healthcare administration, Walden University's Master's program in healthcare administration prepares students for entry into one of the nation's fastest growing industries. The curriculum teaches specialized, targeted hospital management skills using a wide variety of healthcare delivery methodologies.
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