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Earning an advanced degree in health care can boost your leadership potential and breathe new life into your career. If you’re considering getting a master’s degree, you may wonder which degree program makes the most sense. Two great options are the Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration (MBA-HCA) and the Master of Health Administration (MHA). Let’s explore these degree programs so you can make the best decision for your goals.

What is an MBA in Health Care Administration?

As a Master of Business Administration program, the MBA-HCA is concentrated on the business side of health care. These programs combine a core focus on business administration skills with specialized courses in health care management, empowering graduates to take on administrative and leadership roles in any industry, especially in health care.

What Is a Master of Health Administration?

An MHA degree does not fall under the MBA umbrella. Rather, it stands alone as a master’s degree focused exclusively on health care management and administration. These programs may cover health care policy, finances, and delivery systems. They are designed for professionals committed to working in an administrative or leadership role within the health care space.

Why Pursue an Advanced Degree in Health Care?

Whether you complete an MBA-HCA or MHA program, there are great reasons to consider pursuing a master’s degree. A degree in health care administration can help you:

  • Get promoted to a higher level of leadership in your current health care organization.
  • Expand your job responsibilities in your health care organization and increase your earning potential.
  • Build on your clinical background, opening up new career opportunities within the health care industry.
  • Make a career change to the health care industry from an unrelated industry.

No matter your current experience, if your goal is to take on a leadership role in health care, then getting a health care MBA or an MHA is an excellent start.

Comparing Degrees: MBA in Health Care vs. MHA

The MBA-HCA and MHA share some important similarities. Because different institutions structure and label their programs differently, it’s always best to look at the specific program(s) you’re considering to learn more about the subject areas they cover and ensure it’s a good fit for you. 

Although these degrees have a lot in common, in most cases, MBA-HCA and MHA programs differ when it comes to the curriculum and the career goals each supports.


A health care MBA program will share many courses with other MBA programs. These courses are foundational to understanding business administration, no matter the industry. For example, with MVNU Online, these core business courses include:

  • Managerial Economics
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Marketing Management
  • Global Business
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Corporate Finance

You’ll likely take these (or similar) courses alongside not only health care MBA students, but also students who are concentrating on a different aspect of business administration, such as marketing or finance.

In addition to this core curriculum, health care MBA programs include industry-specific courses. These courses will generally be taught by experienced health care professionals and taken with other MBA-HCA students. With MVNU Online, these courses include:

  • Ethical Leadership in Health Care Administration
  • Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration
  • Health Services Strategy
  • Management of Health Care Human Resources
  • Quality Management in Health Care Organizations
  • Current Trends in Health Care

You’ll notice that courses in the MBA-HCA program are split equally between core business courses and courses specific to the health care concentration. In contrast, the MHA curriculum is health-care-focused from start to finish. Rather than starting with a foundation of general business principles, these programs focus solely on applying business administration skills within the context of health care organizations.

Career Goals

Both MBA-HCA and MHA programs will prepare you to take on leadership and administrative roles within the health care industry. Some career paths you could pursue with either of these degrees include:

  • Hospital administrator
  • Medical practice manager
  • Home health administrator
  • Clinical laboratory manager
  • Public health administrator
  • Health care policy analyst or researcher
  • Pharmaceutical brand or project manager
  • Health program specialist or coordinator
  • Health care consultant
  • Business development manager for a health care organization
  • Medical entrepreneur

Because of its broader focus, a health care MBA can also prepare individuals who are interested in health care management jobs but want to keep their options open in case they decide to pursue an administrative role outside of health care. The combination of general business knowledge and industry-specific expertise also lends itself to a career in a health-care-adjacent industry, such as medical device manufacturing or medical billing software.

Both health care MBA and MHA graduates are high earners. According to data from, the average base salary for MHA grads is $83,000, whereas MBA-HCA degree holders earn an average base salary of $87,000.

Choosing Between the MBA-HCA and MHA

If you’re considering these degree programs and aren’t sure which is the best fit for you, ask yourself this key question:

Am I 100 percent sure I want to work in health care for the remainder of my career? 

If Yes

If the answer is a resounding “yes,” then an MHA may be the best choice. For some folks, health care is more than just a career choice; it’s a vocation. If that’s true for you, then you can feel confident in your choice to limit the focus of your master’s program to health care. There are many health care administration jobs to choose from, so you can still make lateral and upward moves in your career while remaining in the health care industry.

That said, an MBA-HCA is still a great option to consider, especially if you see the program curriculum will cover areas directly related to the career role in health care you want to pursue. For example, you may want to work as an accountant for a hospital, and an MBA program may provide more training to this end than an MHA, depending on the program. 

If No

Even if you’re passionate about working in health care now, it’s perfectly normal to want to keep your options open. If you think you may like to switch to a different industry in the future, then the MBA-HCA is the more versatile choice.

With core business courses that apply to various contexts, you’ll be well prepared to take on a leadership role not only in health care, but in other sectors as well.

Ready to Pursue a Health Care MBA?

Whether you pursue an MBA-HCA or an MHA, a master’s degree can help you take your health care career to the next level.

If you’re interested in pursuing a health care MBA, you may also want to explore other MBA programs. Each program has a specialized focus, so it’s best to find a concentration tailored to your career goals. Want to learn more? Check out our free e-book, Comparing MBA Online Degrees for Healthcare Professionals: MBA-HCA vs. MBA.

At MVNU Online, we embrace a diverse educational approach inspired by Wesleyan-Arminian holiness theology. Our focus is on nurturing caring relationships, fostering a Christ-like mindset, and preparing students for leadership in various professions, including business and health care. We empower graduates to contribute positively to their careers and personal lives, irrespective of their religious background or beliefs.

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