How does a Master’s in Healthcare Administration differ from a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration?

From educational and career perspectives, the differences between a bachelor’s and a master’s in healthcare administration are important to consider. The healthcare profession continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, employing over 300,000 healthcare workers serving in administrative capacities. Graduates with an MHA degree will find many benefits, including employment in a variety of public and private health care settings, from medical care groups and biotechnology programs to government agencies and care management organizations, as well as senior care facilities.

Education Requirements for Graduates with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration

The Bachelor in Healthcare Administration (BHA) is a foundational degree for working in managerial or administrative positions. At some schools, a BHA may also be referred to as a healthcare management or health services degree. Students complete a four year program that focuses on the basics of healthcare and administrative principles, including study of: medical terminology and procedures, management of patient records, accounting and financial principles, human resource management, workplace ethics, and legal issues.

Education Requirements for Graduates with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration

Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degrees are often specialized. You may find some schools that offer a Master of Public Health Administration (MPH) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in healthcare management. All of these degrees will lead to careers in the healthcare administration field, but candidates should investigate programs to see which ones best suit their educational and career goals.

Master’s programs in healthcare administration typically span two years of study. Coursework reflects the type of healthcare master’s obtained. For the MBA with a concentration in healthcare management, students will find more emphasis on business related topics like accounting, marketing and financing. The course of study for MPH candidates will reflect the aspects of managing programs within the public health sector that affect sanitation, communicable diseases and the impact of environmental factors on well-being. MHA coursework concentrates on more in-depth study concerning the policies and procedures that affect health programs from a business perspective.

Comparing Career Opportunities for Graduates with BHA and MHA Degrees

The differences between a bachelor’s and master’s in healthcare administration affects the scope of career options in the field. Graduates with a BHA will find available employment primarily at entry-level positions. They are responsible for daily operations of the program to which they are assigned. Potential employment opportunities may include:

  • Working for healthcare providers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or outpatient centers.
  • Working for healthcare suppliers for medical management groups, biotech firms, pharmaceutical companies, or educational institutions.
  • Working for public health or non-profit organizations that implement community health standards and practices.
  • Working for insurance organizations.

MHA graduates will find employment within the same career sectors at higher administrative levels. They are likely to carry much more responsibility in healthcare program management and design, overseeing staff, preparing and monitoring budgets, and maintaining inter-organizational relationships.

A BHA is foundational in establishing a health administration career, while most MHA candidates are already working within the healthcare industry and looking for career advancement opportunities. Therefore, knowing the educational and career choice differences between a bachelor’s and master’s in healthcare administration is important for making the right career choices for healthcare management workers.