What is the Difference Between an MBA in Healthcare Management and Masters in Public Health?

Even as the healthcare industry continues to grow in size and influence each year, it also grows its requirements for applicants applying to entry-level positions. While a bachelor’s degree was once standard for management and public health positions, prospective candidates are now either encouraged or required to pursue graduate-level studies in a given field in order to stand a chance at long-term advancement and career growth. Often, that forces applicants to make a decision between an MBA in healthcare management and a graduate-level degree in public health. Though they might seem similar from a distance, these two programs are actually quite a bit different from each other.

The MBA in Healthcare Management: What it Is, Why it Matters

Pursuing a graduate degree in healthcare management often means becoming part of a university’s broader MBA program. That puts students into classes that focus not only on how to effectively manage hospital departments or entire healthcare facilities themselves, but also in classes that deal with everyday accounting, ethics, regulation, human resources, and employee relations. This degree, therefore, is concerned primarily with the daily operations, finances, and sustainability of a healthcare organization.

For this reason, the MBA in healthcare management is the perfect degree for a student who wants to run the daily operations of a family care clinic, a hospital, or a nonprofit operation involved with public health matters. At the completion of the program, graduates will primarily be business managers, but they will have taken enough courses in healthcare issues and management to be adept at running efficient, profitable, patient-minded hospitals and clinics.

The Master’s Degree in Public Health: A Different Approach to the Industry

While students in the MBA program will be taught the advanced business skills needed to manage a successful hospital, clinic, or individual department, those who go to a university for graduate-level public health studies will receive an entirely different set of skills. Rather than being taught how to manage personnel, control patient outcomes, and manage the finances of the operation, they’ll learn about how governments educate the public and treat disease. They’ll be taught how to manage the public’s awareness of health problems, rather than how to manage a hospital.

This puts graduates in a strong position for government work with local, state, and federal agencies. Most graduates will find rewarding positions administering flu shots, setting up community clinics, or teaching students about the dangers of smoking, drugs, and alcohol. Graduates will help create awareness campaigns, marketing materials, and viral videos. They’ll have control over all aspects of the government’s interaction with health and the public.

Two Very Different Approaches to Health and Management

Both of these graduate programs deal with management, but the nature of their skills is almost entirely opposed. Those in the MBA program will be essentially educated as businesspeople with a healthcare perspective. In public health courses, however, students will be prepared primarily as educators and as middlemen between the public and a government that’s looking out for their best health interests.

Though they’re pretty different in nature, both of these programs are excellent choices for the healthcare professional interested in high-level positions. Graduates of both programs will control messaging and care delivery, and they’ll be adept at managing everything from hospital departments to immunization drives and marketing approaches. Best of all, both degrees make advancement and career development far more accessible.