What’s the Difference Between Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration?

healthcare professional working with a colleague in a meeting room

It’s no secret that healthcare is a booming business. An aging population places increased demands on healthcare employers to hire more qualified employees. When you consider the healthcare field, you might think of doctors, nurses and personal care assistants. However, there are many other opportunities in the field that do not involve direct patient care. As a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student, you can make a positive contribution by working behind the scenes as a healthcare administrator or health services manager. To improve your academic qualifications for this rewarding career path, you might decide to earn a Master of Business Administration in Health Systems Management or a Master of Science in Health Administration.

Overview of Healthcare Management and Administration Degrees

Individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in healthcare management and administration will be pleased to know there is a significant demand for qualified professionals.1 To pursue this type of career, you could earn either an MBA or a Master of Science, as long as the degree focuses on healthcare management or administration. Both of these options are good choices that focus on the business side of healthcare and will prepare you for success within a healthcare organization. However, there are some differences between these two degrees. To choose between the degrees, consider your background and career goals when you evaluate these differences.

Main Focus of Degree Programs

The Master of Business Administration degree, no matter its area of specialization, is primarily a business degree that is frequently earned by individuals who aspire to positions in the C-suite. MBA students who pursue any type of MBA degree can expect a significant focus on business courses that cover topics such as managerial finance, accounting practices, operations management and leadership skills. The Master’s in Health Systems Management brings a healthcare focus to the degree. Students are likely to explore healthcare policies, health systems finances and ethical issues in healthcare organizations. However, the degree is still primarily a broad business degree.

In contrast, the Master of Science in Health Administration primarily focuses on the healthcare field through the lens of business-related topics. You can expect to study topics such as:

  • Healthcare policies and finances.
  • Contemporary healthcare delivery models.
  • Legal and ethical issues in healthcare.
  • Healthcare research methods and application.

In addition to this healthcare-intensive curriculum, Master of Science students can expect to take courses in general business topics. These might include human resource management and organizational leadership.

To sum up, the primary difference between these two degree programs is their main focus. The MBA is primarily a business degree with a healthcare focus, whereas the Master of Science degree is primarily a healthcare degree with a business focus.

Backgrounds of Students

If you’re still not sure which degree program you should choose in order to pursue your career goals, it can be helpful to consider your background. The master’s program is ideal for individuals who have worked in virtually any type of business. It’s also ideal for those who have a bachelor’s degree that falls outside of the healthcare field. For example, you might pursue an MBA after earning a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and spending a few years working at a corporation. An emphasis with healthcare can help you transition to healthcare administration and students can even pursue an online MBA degree.

On the other hand, if you do have a healthcare background, the Master of Science in Health Administration can be a great choice for you. For example, if you’ve worked as a nurse or a PCA and you’ve decided that you’d like to transition to healthcare administration, then the Master of Science degree can give you the business skills you need.

Career Goals of Students

Before making your final decision about which degree is best for you, you should give serious consideration to your long-term career goals. If you are passionate about the healthcare field and know that you would like to continue to work in healthcare for many years to come, then the Master of Science degree might work best for you. This degree can enable you to pursue high-level careers within healthcare organizations, including patient care facilities and insurance companies.

On the other hand, a Master’s in Business Administration might be better suited to you if you aren’t quite sure whether you’d like to remain in the healthcare field for a long time to come. This is because of the MBA’s primary focus on business-related topics. The master’s broader exploration of business topics gives students skills and knowledge that are applicable in virtually any industry, even if the MBA offers a specialization in the healthcare field.

Grand Canyon University is a leading choice for students who aspire to earn advanced degrees in healthcare management and administration. Some of our degree programs that can help you pursue your career goals include the Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Health Systems Management and the Master of Science in Health Administration, with an option to specialize in Health Care Quality and Patient Safety. Click on Request Info above to explore the online learning environment at GCU.

Retrieved from: 1 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm, November, 2020

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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