Interested in a career in healthcare? Consider an MHA over an MHS


Interested in a career in healthcare? Consider an MHA over an MHS

If you’re interested in pursuing a leadership role in healthcare, a Master’s in Health Science (MHS) may be on your mind. But before you move forward, consider whether or not a Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) would better match your interests and goals. 

Pursuing a graduate degree is an important decision. Not only will the pursuit of a graduate degree require a lot of your time for studying, but you will be taking on a new financial commitment as well. It is crucial that you do the research and make sure that the degree program you choose is going to be worthwhile. 

Below we discuss the differences between an MHA and MHS to help you make the right decision for your future.  

What is a Master of Health Science vs. a Master of Healthcare Administration?

The Master of Health Science (MHS) degree is a specialized master’s degree. MHS students study subjects in human health, healthcare systems, federal programming, and effective leadership. Students generally specialize in a specific field of health science, such as child health, women’s health, population health, environmental health, or geriatric health. Most MHS concentrations are clinical or research-oriented, but there are some focused on leadership and education as well.

If you are an academic and love doing research, then the MHS might be for you. 

The Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) is a specialized degree that focuses on the specific requirements of managing and operating hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations. In addition to management, marketing, and accounting courses focused on healthcare, the degree program also features classes unique to the industry, such as healthcare information law, privacy, and security. 

If you are interested in administrative or management roles within healthcare organizations, then an MHA is the graduate degree for you. 

What are the career prospects for MHA graduates vs. MHS graduates?

While both programs lead to careers in the realm of healthcare, the jobs they lead to are very different. 

A Master of Health Science degree is best suited for students that want to pursue careers working in public health and research. A student of health science might pursue a career that uses research to address the clinical care of patients and improvement to public health programs. 

Career options for MHS students include: 

  • Community Health Specialist
  • Health Service Manager
  • Healthcare Research
  • Environmental Analyst
  • Hospital Management
  • Cancer research
  • Healthcare management
  • Epidemiology
  • Public health
  • Academia


The Master of Healthcare Administration program is best for business-minded students. A student of healthcare administration would probably seek out a career focused on the operation, finances, or management of a specific hospital or other healthcare organization. Some students pursue high-salary executive positions within these different healthcare organizations, while others might become government policymakers and lobbyists. 

Career options for MHA students include: 

  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief operations officer
  • Clinic manager
  • Department or division director
  • Department or division manager/supervisor
  • Facility manager
  • Health care consultant
  • Health services manager
  • Hospital administrator
  • Medical records manager
  • Nurse manager
  • Nursing director
  • Operations manager
  • Program manager


MHA coursework can also prepare graduates for work in the insurance industry, as contract negotiators, for example. 

The choice is up to you

In the end, you will choose a graduate degree based on your goals and passion. Both the MHA and MHS are valuable for those seeking leadership roles in healthcare, but they are still very different paths. Are you more interested in academia and research, or do you have a mind that is more for business and management? The answer to this question will be the first step in deciding your future. 

Learn more about the MHA program at Auburn University-Montgomery

Whether you’re just finishing an undergraduate degree and looking for a next step, or already well on your way down a career path, the MHA program at Auburn University-Montgomery offers a convenient and affordable way to pursue a valuable degree. You can earn your graduate degree in as few as three semesters. And you have the flexibility to take classes entirely online, in class or a combination of the two.