Although a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) are two degrees that appear to be similar, they actually have some important differences. Both degrees focus on healthcare and may share some common core courses, but the majority of the curriculum required for each is distinct. So, which degree makes sense for you? Here’s the head-to-head match-up: MPH vs. MHA.
Master Of Public Health
The MPH degree provides training for careers in public health, an interdisciplinary field that focuses on health and disease within populations. The field of public health is concerned with discovering, describing, and responding to patterns of disease. It also is concerned with financing, developing, operating, and evaluating community health programs.
An MPH degree program typically requires two years to complete, though some universities offer accelerated programs that allow the degree to be earned more quickly. An increasing number of universities are offering online MPH degrees that allow mid-career professionals to earn a degree while working.
The MPH curriculum is based on a combination of science, sociology and organizational topics. Public health courses include core courses in epidemiology, behavioral science, biostatistics, environmental health, sociology, healthcare administration, and other topics related to health and society.
Students learn how to apply quantitative and qualitative research methods to public health issues. Most schools of public health offer several concentration areas within the degree program. This allows students to specialize their studies after they have completed the core curriculum. Concentration areas vary by school and may be a deciding factor when applying for an MPH program.
The field of public health offers a variety of career opportunities that suit a wide range of skills and interests. Public health jobs can be found in both the public and private sectors. Job duties may include planning and implementing health programs, performing research, conducting studies, and administrating health services. Alumni of MPH programs hold positions in local, state and federal government agencies, health departments and clinics, the military, community-based organizations and a variety of other national and global agencies.
Master Of Healthcare Administration
The MHA degree is intended to train executives to manage health-related programs and organizations. Compared to the MPH degree, the MHA focuses less on disease and more on the delivery of healthcare services. In fact, the MHA degree shares some common ground with the MBA degree, but with an emphasis on the business of healthcare.
Students focus on developing leadership and business management skills that are required within the market-based healthcare system. Like the MPH, an MHA degree program typically requires two years to complete and is offered in both on-campus and online formats.
Depending on the particular program, an MHA degree may or may not include course content related to public policy or public health. In general, the curriculum for the MHA degree centers on the business side of healthcare services as well as medical informatics, law, policy, and ethics. Compared to the MPH degree, an MHA curriculum has less emphasis on the science of health and more emphasis on finance, accounting, management, and marketing.
Graduates of MHA programs are prepared for careers as managers in hospitals and other healthcare institutions. Job responsibilities may include finance, human resource management, health policy implementation and public relations. Alumni of MHA programs are employed as CEOs and in other high-level management positions with healthcare organizations.
The decision of whether to pursue an MPH or MHA degree ultimately depends on your interests and career goals. If you are passionate about issues related to public health and want to play a role in providing solutions, an MPH degree will provide the knowledge and skills you need. If you have experience in healthcare administration or want to begin a new career in healthcare management, then an MHA degree is probably the better choice.
This article was written by Inbound Marketing Manager, Sarah Fudin on behalf of Work It Daily-Approved Partner, 2U – and education-technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as the George Washington University’s online MPH program.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock