MPH vs. MHA: Key Differences

Posted on 03/01/2019

If you are looking to start a career in the world of medical care, it is normal to feel overwhelmed with the vast amount of opportunities that lie ahead. This field offers you the opportunity to offer healing, care, and attention when it is needed. Job satisfaction is high, and you can be certain that each day will be different from the last. There’s no surprise that so many people consider medical careers a viable and fascinating field of study, as well as a great career option.

However, if you have considered building on your career in the healthcare field, you may have come across one dilemma – MPH or MHA? Two diverse yet rewarding degrees in the medical field, a Masters in Public Health (MPH), is quite different from a Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA). So which do you choose? To help you decide, we have laid out the primary differences between an MPH and MHA degree.

Master of Public Health vs Master of Health Administration – How They Differ


  1. The Program – Though part of the same industry, the two disciplines are fundamentally diverse in what they cover and how they influence the practice or business.

    The Master’s in Public Health courses are all about the larger scale of community health. In this space, professionals work toward identifying and resolving issues that affect the health of the community at large. This is done through observation, research and investigation. MPH professionals also help allocate and deliver resources, raise awareness, and provide education, all of which have a positive impact on public health.

    Public Health vs Health Administration

    An MHA degree, on the other hand, is built on the same wavelength as a standard MBA, but is oriented toward the medical industry. Through this course, students are trained to take on the organizational tasks and executive decisions required at a medical institution to help make it more productive and successful.
  2. Credits and Curriculum – In terms of course length, both courses can be completed in as little as a year at WCU, and are spread across three trimesters. However, an MPH degree has 42 credits as part of the course as opposed to the 36 credits in the MHA curriculum. The actual course structure of the two fields is different as well. MPH focuses on topics such as Managerial Epidemiology, Legal and Ethical Issues in Healthcare Management, Biostatistics and other such courses. In an MHA program, you are more likely to receive an education in Financial Management for Health Care Managers, Strategic Planning in Health Care Organizations, Hospital Administration and Management.
  3. Cost of Program – The tuition and fee outlay for an MPH and MHA at WCU is close, but not identical. MPH has a lower tuition cost per credit ($575) but a slightly higher overall cost at $25,700 for the entire course. MHA while having a higher tuition cost per credit at $625 per credit comes to $24,050 for the entire course due to the lower number of total credits you need to graduate from this course.
  4. Career Trajectory and Job Profiles – Since the curricula of health administration and public health are so different, it is expected that the positions you qualify for as a graduate would be different as well. Both vocations have various options to choose from in the public and private sectors. Here’s an idea of the type of jobs you may obtain as a graduate of an MPH vs. an MHA program.
    • Potential MPH Jobs: Biostatistician, Epidemiologist, Environmental Scientist and Specialist, Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, Community Health Worker
    • Potential MHA Jobs: Hospital Administrator, Government Medical/Health Services Manager, Outpatient Care Center Manager, Physician's Office Manager, Nursing/Residential Care Facility Manager

The MPH and MHA degrees will allow you to build your career in the healthcare industry. It is important to determine what part of the healthcare industry is of interest, so you can make an informed decision about which degree to pursue. If you have any questions about the courses and need clarification, don’t hesitate to contact us at West Coast University.

WCU cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary by campus.

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