What is the Difference Between an MHA and MPH Degree?

If you are considering a degree in healthcare management, the difference in an MPH and an MHA could put you on a course to diverse careers. Neither of the degrees prepares you to work face-to-face with patients, however, one of them is particularly focused on the business of healthcare.

The Master of Health Administration

This degree is an alternative to the MBA, according to MHA online.org. Course content is similar to the MBA program but is examined through the lens of healthcare. It prepares individuals to become hospital and nursing home administrators or CFOs. CAHME is the only accrediting organization for this degree that is recognized by the US Department of Education. Some of the courses you might take in pursuit of this degree are finance, marketing, healthcare human resource management and the legal and ethical issues of healthcare management. Statistics is a vital part of the curriculum as well. The degree program is typically 48 credit hours.


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The Master of Public Health Degree

This degree prepares students for careers of research into health issues, creating programs for mass education on disease and other things that can improve the health of a population. While a healthcare administrator may work primarily in the private sector for hospitals and facilities, the professional in public health can be found at either public or private organizations. The government hires many people in public health administration. In the degree program you would study epidemiology, biostatistics, and other courses that relate to analyzing health risks or disease and preventing its occurrence in an area or population. The curriculum, accredited by the Council for Education for Public Health, contains many writing and research classes. Students who graduate from this program will be able to identify and analyze environmental issues associated with public health, and also to predict how cultural diversities will affect the health of a population.


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Job Outlook and Salary

Careers in healthcare administration are expected to grow at a faster pace than for all jobs. This is partially attributable to the new healthcare programs, but also to the aging of the Baby Boomer population. The projected job growth for careers requiring a Master of Health Administration degree is 22 per cent, while the average is 14 per cent overall. The median salary for healthcare administrators is $96,000, although this depends greatly upon where you are employed. Careers in public health management are also growing. This is due, in part, to the increased cost of health care and the fact that prevention is more cost-effective than treatment of large populations. Salaries for these professionals vary wildly. That is because there are so many specialties. Epidemiologists, for instance, can earn a median salary of 136,236 working for a government agency. Working for a college, however, the salary median is $61,000. Public health professionals in health education, or creating education materials that will be mass-disseminated, earn a median salary of $86,000. Professionals with MPH degrees who work for pharmaceutical companies make markedly higher salaries.

The degree you choose to follow will depend upon whether you want to be involved with the business aspect of health or in developing and implementing policies to maintain the health of whole populations of people. That focus is the difference in an MPH and an MHA.