Master’s in Health Care Administration or MBA? Which Degree to Get

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For those currently in a health care profession, deciding to obtain a graduate degree often comes from a desire to grow their career potential. However, different degrees will offer you unique opportunities and determining which path to enroll in should be based on your ultimate career goals and interests.


MHA or MBA – which is the right one for you? Both degrees can be attractive to those who are looking to secure a leadership role in a health care organization, add additional specialization and expertise to their resume, and garner real-world experience. To help you get there, each degree also offers specific opportunities and experiences to support different career paths. A Master of Arts in Health Care Administration focuses curriculum around different health care theories and concepts, while a Master of Business Administration typically offers a more holistic education around the world of business.

If you have a background in health care or want to build a career within the health care industry, it can be difficult to decide between an MHA or an MBA. Read on to learn the key differences between an MBA and MHA degree, so you can better determine which is right for you. 

What is an MHA?

An MHA, or Master of Arts in Health Care Administration, focuses on the different domains of organized health care. Individuals who know they want to remain within the health care sector and continue to specialize in this field may choose to pursue an MHA for the specific knowledge and opportunities it can offer.

In an MHA degree program, you will gain experience and knowledge as a health care professional. In addition to studies in health care, you will also learn about topics such as: finance, economics, leadership, quality improvement, risk management, strategic planning, information systems, statistical reasoning, and human resources.

learn more about the mha degree program

What is an MBA?

A Master of Business Administration degree aims to ready individuals in the business world as they move into management positions and strive to understand the internal and external forces that impact an organization. As with an MHA, an MBA focuses studies on finance, economics, leadership, human resources, and risk management, but also includes lessons on marketing and business strategy.

Additionally, an MBA student has the option to add a specialization to their degree. So, if you find that health care is not the industry you want to be in after all, you can consider an MBA degree with one of the following specializations:

  • Business Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental Management
  • Finance
  • Global Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Information Systems
  • Marketing
  • Media Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Public Administration
  • Supply Chain Management
learn more about the mba degree program

MHA Job Options

With the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating an approximate 23.6% increase in health care support jobs between 2016 and 2026, having an MHA may help you stand out from other applicants when looking for your next career position. 

Those with an MHA may be able to find such employment opportunities as:

  • A contract negotiator
  • A hospital administrator
  • An HMO administrator
  • A clinical department manager
  • An administrative services director

You can also visit O*NET to research more options in health care administration careers.

MBA Job Options

Graduates with an MBA are similarly well suited for leadership roles, but they often find jobs within more overarching roles as they do not have the health care specialization that those with an MHA have.

Career paths for an MBA may include:

Investment Banking
Small Business Management
General and Operations Management
Management Analysis

Understanding the key differences between the programs and the opportunities that follow graduation should leave you with a stronger sense of the best path for you and your future.

Have additional questions related to an MHA or MBA? Talk to an Ashford University advisor who can help provide additional details on each program.

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Written by Ashford University Staff

Questions? Talk with an Advisor

Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.