What is the Difference Between Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration Degrees?

Students considering graduate degrees in healthcare business may wonder how a Master’s in Healthcare Administration differs from a Master’s in Healthcare Management. Do the degrees lead to different careers? Are different prerequisites required to enter the programs?

How are the Degrees Similar?

Many colleges and universities list Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration as the same program. Both are business degrees leading to careers in management positions in the healthcare industry. According to “Health Management Careers.org” the programs start with bachelor’s degrees in business, although some programs will accept other undergraduate degrees. These students learn how to implement and comply with laws affecting healthcare by taking courses involving healthcare policy and regulation, analysis of healthcare policies and development of policies to meet regulations. Examples of these courses are
• Healthcare Financial Management
• Risk Analysis in Healthcare Management
• Financial Analysis
• Organizational Management
• Ethics
• Healthcare Marketing

These degrees both stress finance and law as they apply to the healthcare industry. Both degrees may be earned online, but many schools require on-campus residencies at the end of the last year. During this time students learn from health care executives and interact with their virtual classmates. Some Master’s Degree programs may also require a capstone project paper.

How is a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration Different from a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management?

The difference is subtle; healthcare administration tends to focus more on the financial aspect of the healthcare industry, and those with Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Management focus on managing human resources. People with Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration become CEOs and CFOs of hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. They often enter master’s programs with business degrees and earn their master’s with a Healthcare Management specialty. People who want to pursue the healthcare management path are more interested in supervising teams of professionals such as nurses, physicians, medical records personnel and other people vital to the existence of a medical facility. Sometimes these are doctors or nurses who want to leverage their job potential with the addition of the business and administration education. The degree offered in the master’s program they follow is usually the Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. Besides the business courses, Healthcare Management students take classes in leadership and in decision analysis as well as ethics and legal issues involved in the delivery of healthcare services. These executives often oversee the human resources department of a hospital or medical facility. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics distinguishes between the two career paths. The average salary for a healthcare manager is $81,850 and for a healthcare administrator it is $90, 921 annually. The projected job growth rate for both healthcare managers and healthcare administrators is about 23 percent, which is higher than average.

College graduates who are considering a career in the healthcare industry may decide to get a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management or Healthcare Administration. Being able to choose one or the other depends upon whether the college sees the two paths as one degree, making the selection of the school vitally important.