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What Can I Do With A Healthcare Management Degree?

November 26, 2019
Healthcare meet

The healthcare industry in the U.S. is experiencing rapid change, and there is significant demand for strong leaders who can guide healthcare organizations through this change. With a healthcare management degree, you will be able to help shape the future of healthcare in different ways. What kind of change you lead depends on your personal interests and strengths — whether you are drawn to the scientific aspects of healthcare or are more interested in the administrative side.

A bachelor's degree in healthcare management can get you a foothold in the industry, but a master's degree will be invaluable to help you qualify for upper-level positions where you have greater responsibilities and a greater chance of making change. An advanced degree in healthcare management will prepare you to tackle significant challenges head-first.

What healthcare management degree is best for me?

There are two main healthcare management degrees: a Master of Public Health and a Master of Health Administration.1 Most professionals in leadership positions in healthcare management hold one of these two degrees.

Other degrees that are less common but still relevant to healthcare management are the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).2

Ultimately, which healthcare management degree you earn is less important than making sure you obtain a degree from a highly regarded program. What matters most is getting an excellent education that will prepare you with the skills to succeed in your chosen field.3

What can I do with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree?1

Public health as a field looks at health on a broader scale, addressing health issues that affect entire populations. Earning a Master of Public Health prepares you to work at this level and look at the bigger picture of healthcare.

One of the distinguishing features of an MPH is that it is something of a science-based degree, even though it does count as a healthcare management degree. A good MPH degree program will train you in qualitative and quantitative research methods and other topics that involve better understanding both disease and health. You'll learn to manage and oversee healthcare programs, but your expertise is not only restricted to management or administrative knowledge.

Some MPH programs offer concentrations so you can choose an additional focus that interests you, such as health services administration.2 Students who enroll in MPH programs typically include both individuals with and without clinical experience. This is a significant credential that can qualify you for a variety of top-level positions.1

Career paths with a MPH:1

  • Public or private sector
  • Government agencies
  • The military
  • Health clinics
  • Community organizations
  • National and international health agencies

Common responsibilities for professionals with an MPH:1

  • Plan, research and implement health programs
  • Conduct studies and perform research
  • Oversee administration of health services
  • Work as a community advocate
  • Prevent disease and illness
  • Educate the public

What can I do with a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree?1

The need for leaders in healthcare is just as vital within individual clinics or organizations.

An MHA program trains you to be the manager of a particular organization, department or program in the health field. Rather than learning about disease and research, you'll focus on the business and leadership aspects of healthcare services. You may choose a concentration related to public health or public policy, but those topics are not essential to this degree. You'll learn marketing, management, accounting, human resources and many other elements that go into running an organization. The healthcare industry continues to change rapidly, and with an MHA degree, you'll have the experience and background to help your organization adapt to change.

Most students in MHA programs have extensive experience working in the healthcare industry already. 2 The MHA is the most common advanced degree among healthcare executives.2

Career paths with an MHA:1

  • Hospital or healthcare institution managers
  • Department managers (such as public relations, human resources or finance)
  • CEO of a healthcare organization
  • Clinical manager
  • Health information manager

Common responsibilities for professionals with an MHA:3

  • Supervise doctors and nurses
  • Oversee hospital budgets
  • Find ways to improve patient care and hospital efficiency

A healthcare management master's degree is an essential step to progress into a management role, no matter what area of healthcare interests you. If you are drawn to public health and want to effect change at the highest level, consider the online Master of Public Health program at Kent State University, a CEPH-accredited program tailored for current healthcare practitioners.