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Differences Between the MHA and the MBA Degrees

MHA and MBA Comparison

Health care is one of the largest areas of economic activity in the United States, and health care organizations are, at their core, significant business enterprises. For this reason, the MHA curriculum involves the development of business management knowledge and skills, and deals exclusively with the complex health care industry. Health care-specific examples and cases are the primary focus of course content, and the faculty are committed to teaching about the organization and management of health care delivery and policy. Many of these faculty members have extensive experience in the field or are currently in senior management roles. All MHA students are committed to a career in health care management, and through the UW MHA Program, students are given experiential learning opportunities with area health care organizations and mentors, thus giving them significant practical health care management experience while in the program.

Students pursuing a MBA degree develop strong general business management knowledge and skills. When compared with the MHA, MBA programs often have greater emphasis in the areas of accounting, corporate finance, international business, and e-business. Generally, there is little, if any curricular emphasis on the management of health care organizations. There are also relatively few professors knowledgeable about health care and the special circumstances and challenges therein. Similarly, MBA programs with a health care management focus typically only offer a group of courses that address health care organizations and systems, while the rest of the curriculum addresses general business scenarios and principles. While this may vary by program, it is important to be aware of this fundamental difference.

Under either degree option, students will emerge with strong business management skills. Under the MHA option, students will emerge with strong business management skills applied to the special circumstances of health care delivery, financing, and policy. Ultimately, the curricular content of the MHA degree is appropriately designed and presented to prepare students for the health care organizations and management challenges they will encounter in their careers.

To learn more:

EZineArticles: MHA or MBA - Which Is Best for You?

American College of Health Care Executives: Which degree should I pursue?