When pursuing an education to properly prepare for any career, it is essential to ensure that the education will meet the requirements of the job. In some instances, however, there are many different options for degrees within the same field of employment. It is especially important to keep specific personal career goals in mind, along with school accreditation and reputation, when the profession is in the health field. These factors play a huge role in getting employed beyond completing a master’s. Health administration professionals are faced with the decision of whether to pursue a master’s degree in business administration or a master’s in health administration.
MBA in Health Care
Unlike a master’s in health care administration degree, a master’s degree in business administration is a general business administration degree. Those with MBA’s are educated and trained to scientifically manage a wide variety of business types. Students are exposed to administrative duties in areas such as finances and accounting, marketing, human resources and multiple other areas of business that require management techniques. Students working on an MBA are also able to choose areas of specialization in which they will focus approximately one-quarter of their studies on one particular area, but still maintain a well-rounded general education in all areas of business administration duties. An MBA degree is good for those whom are unsure of which specific area they want to specialize in or those whose position will require knowledge of multiple areas of business.
Overall, the master’s degree in business administration is best for those that wish to have a minimal education in multiple areas of scientific forms of business management while perhaps focusing more energy in a business category of their choice. This is different from MHA programs, where the main focus is on health care administration. MBA degrees are most often offered at a business school with various types of programs, ranging from two-year programs, part-time, accelerated or even executive programs which allow very experienced business administrators to higher their education while continuing to be employed as a higher level professional. An MBA program must be completed through an accredited and approved school to ensure that the education is up to standards and consistent with others holding an MBA degree. There are strict admission requirements to begin studying for a Masters of Business Administration degree, which include GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) scores, lengthy amounts of work experience, interviews, or sometimes GRE (Graduate Record Examination) results. Generally, if all other requirements are met, top MBA school programs only require about five years of related work experience before acceptance into the program.
Master’s in Health Administration
An MHA degree, or master’s degree in health care administration, is much like an MBA degree only MHA program graduates are trained specifically to work in health administration versus multiple fields of business management. A special emphasis is placed on the duties of a senior healthcare administrator, on state, federal and non-profit levels in master of health administration programs. This makes the MHA degree best for those who know that they wish to continually pursue administrative duties that focus solely on medical and health care issues. MHA degrees are frequently pursued and obtained by professionals that have already invested many years in the healthcare field and wish to further their education in order to obtain higher levels of their current profession. Higher paying salaries are also more obtainable once you have completed an online MHA program. There are not as many accredited MHA programs that offer degrees as there are MBA programs so it may be more difficult to locate an accredited program that offers a master’s of health administration degree. If a program is not located in the area one resides, many accredited programs offer online MHA programs in which you can work toward obtaining your masters. Health administration degrees must come from an accredited school in order to be beneficial. The only approved programs for MHA degrees are accredited through the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, or CAHME, as they are the only commission in the field that is recognized by the United States Department of Education. Accredited programs generally require a four-year undergraduate college degree in order to be admitted, though unlike the MBA programs, work experience is not usually required prior to admission. Many MHA programs do, however, require internships and work experience in the field as a requirement in order to graduate with a master’s in health care administration.
The Benefits of a Masters: Health Administration vs. Business Administration
Both degrees are useful in the healthcare administration field, though which degree a person chooses to pursue depends greatly upon personal professional goals. For someone just starting out in an administrative education or career, an MBA may be best in order to be prepared for multiple professional opportunities in business administration. If the professional goal is focused solely on the healthcare field with little interest in other business administration zones, however an online MHA degree may be the best way to prepare for the upcoming duties in the field. Those whom are already greatly experienced in healthcare administration may feel that it is best to pursue their masters of health care administration to fine tune the knowledge they already have incurred over the years, which will in turn open up many more professional advancement opportunities. Location, cost, accreditation and program requirements are also important factors to consider when choosing a master’s in health administration degree, as many master’s degree programs, in any field, are difficult to gain entrance into without proper preparation.
Additional information on masters of health administration and MBA degrees can be found on the following pages:
- Role of a Business Administrator
- Medical and Health Services Managers
- Healthcare Leadership Alliance
- Making Health Systems Work
Tuition Assistance for Health Administration Masters
When you enter graduate school to earn a master’s in health administration, or MHA degree, you may be overwhelmed by the cost of tuition. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthcare administration degree programs available to help MHA students achieve their goals. Students in MHA programs can obtain financial aid through scholarships, grants, and loans. They may also have access to work-study programs. In some cases, an employer may even pay for a worker to earn his or her master’s in health administration.
Direct Stafford Loans
A Direct Stafford Loan is a loan with a low interest rate offered to students solely to help with the cost of undergraduate or graduate school. These loans are offered to MHA students at participating schools by the U.S. Department of the Education. A Direct Stafford Loan may be subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are available to masters in health administration students with financial need as determined by the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). A subsidized loan does not accrue interest as long as the borrower remains in school at least half-time. An unsubsidized loan is offered to all masters in health care administration students regardless of financial need, but interest accrues while the student remains in school.
Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate Students
A Direct PLUS loan is a loan offered to graduate students, including those studying for their masters in health administration degree, to help with the expense of higher education. These loans feature a fixed rate of 7.9 percent. They are available to masters of health administration students who can show that they don’t have an adverse credit history. To qualify for this loan, you must complete a FAFSA, and you must have already taken out your maximum Direct Stafford Loans to fund your healthcare management MBA or related health care administration degree.
Campus-Based Financial Aid
Many schools offer scholarships and fellowships specifically for their students. Some of these programs may be available to all students at a school, while others may be geared toward students in the MHA program. Other campus-based aid that can be used to cover masters health administration tuition includes the Federal Perkins Loan program and Federal Work-Study. Each of these three programs is available to students in MHA programs who complete FASFA forms and qualify for financial assistance.
The Federal Work-Study program can provide part-time employment for graduate students in masters of health administration programs that demonstrate financial need. Students in this program will typically work in settings related to their field of study. A Federal Perkins Loan is a loan with a 5 percent interest rate that is available to masters of health administration students with extreme financial need. MHA students must repay the loan directly to the school, but it is made with government funds.
Corporate Tuition Assistance
Many employers are willing to pay for their workers to obtain a master’s in health administration. Financial assistance from your employer may cover all or some of your MHA program tuition, the cost of your books and materials, and any other educational fees you incur while pursuing your master’s in health care administration. Some employers may require you to remain an employee for a minimum amount of time after you obtain your MHA degree. Otherwise, you may be required to reimburse the employer for the assistance he provided toward your masters in health care administration training.
Private Student Loans
Master of health administration students who cannot qualify for other types of financing can apply for private student loans from non-government lenders. Banks and credit unions usually offer this type of loan, but approval will be based on your credit score. Most private student loans will remain in deferment as long as you remain at least a half-time student in your MHA program. Interest rates for these loans may be higher than those of government-funded loans.
Financing for Online MHA Programs
If you enroll in an online MHA program, you may still need financing for your tuition and other fees. Some of the same financing options available for traditional MHA programs are also available for online MHA programs. If the master of health administration program in which you enroll is accredited, you may be eligible for government-sponsored funding, such as the Direct Stafford Loan. Campus-based funding, such as the work-study program may or may not be available depending on your school. However, you can qualify for a private student loan as long as you can show that you are enrolled in a valid MHA program.