MPH vs. MBA: What Students Need to Know

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There are many different educational options for professionals looking to advance in their careers. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, more employers are searching for candidates with master’s degrees. Long-term job satisfaction relies principally on a well-informed decision regarding what one decides to study. Understanding what types of courses are offered, what skills students can learn, and potential career outcomes can make the degree selection process simpler. Two popular degrees, the Master of Public Health (MPH) and the Master of Business Administration (MBA), can be invaluable stepping stones toward a rewarding career. However, when it comes to an MPH vs. an MBA, there are some key aspects to consider.

MPH: Master of Public Health

The Master of Public Health is a valuable credential for individuals who wish to enter health care management or disease prevention. Hospitals rely on more than the expertise of doctors, as these facilities are only as effective as the individuals who manage them. Moreover, communities rely on the work of health experts to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. MPH programs teach professionals the skills necessary to succeed in these positions.

Courses Offered in an MPH Program

Master of Public Health programs include a detailed study of the forces that affect community health. The typical MPH curriculum covers the ways in which health care professionals interact with the public to craft health care solutions.

For example, Program Planning and Implementation in Rural Public Health, offered through OHIO’s MPH program, helps students understand how to choose specific health strategies that serve the unique needs of a given community. Evaluation and Quality Improvement in Health Care uses empirical evidence from current health care programs to expose students to a breadth of foundational public health knowledge.

MPH programs also commonly cover biostatistics, environmental health sciences, grant writing, and rural health disparities. Coursework in these areas is designed to turn students into health care experts who are ready to make an immediate impact in their communities following graduation.

Skills Gained from an MPH

Master of Public Health programs aim to teach students applicable skills to address health care disparities in underserved communities. Students gain hands-on experience with health care research to make informed decisions and serve as health care educators. These programs cover theoretical approaches to health care as well as the techniques and skills necessary to apply theories to health care delivery

Career Opportunities

Master of Public Health graduates are well-suited for management jobs in different health care settings, such as clinics and hospitals. These managers coordinate the care that patients receive, with duties such as setting goals, implementing health care reform, managing staff members, and facilitating communication across departments. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that medical and health services managers earned a median salary of $99,730 in 2018. It expects these jobs to grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the national average.

Epidemiologist is also a suitable career for MPH graduates. Epidemiologists study how diseases spread and commonly work in laboratory settings for private or government organizations. They focus on monitoring and preventing the spread of disease. Their median pay was $69,660 in 2018, and their projected job growth is as fast as the national average.

MBA: Master of Business Administration

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is popular among students who wish to enter a business-related field. MBA programs can vary in their specific focus, yet their purpose is consistent: to prepare the next generation of business leaders.

Courses Offered in an MBA Program

MBA programs include courses that cover the fundamentals of business. Since there is a wide spectrum of business careers, MBA programs attempt to enhance students’ knowledge of how business is undertaken across different fields. Completing coursework in statistics, leadership, economics, and finance can prepare students for the day-to-day functions that executives must perform.

Courses such as Data Analysis for Decision Making, Strategic Use of Information, and Strategic Leadership expose students to various case studies and techniques to enhance their business knowledge. Moreover, some MBA programs offer specializations, which can help graduates find jobs in a specific field. Examples of MBA specializations include finance, health care, executive management, business analytics, operations and supply chain management, accounting, strategic selling and sales leadership, and business venturing and entrepreneurship.

Skills Gained from an MBA

MBA graduates enter the field with the potential to succeed as individual entrepreneurs and to make valuable contributions to existing ventures. Understanding business is more than just understanding the jargon that accompanies it, and MBA programs improve a student’s capacity to apply critical thinking to business-related situations and challenges. Armed with a background of business principles, as well as real-world practice, MBA graduates are often prepared to perform well in high-level management positions.

Career Opportunities

Since MBA programs prepare students for leadership opportunities, graduates are well-suited for top executive positions. These professionals help make sure their organizations are functioning well by setting goals, overseeing various departments, and coordinating business activities. The BLS states that executives earned a median salary of $104,980 in 2018. Many executives have worked in the field for at least five years, as organizations prefer their high-ranking employees to have ample experience before they’re promoted. The BLS projects the employment of top executives to increase by 8% between 2016 and 2026, which is about as fast as the national average.

How to Become a Health Care Leader

Pursuing an advanced degree can turn a good candidate into an excellent one. Both MPH and MBA programs impart skills that will help facilitate a successful career, yet their methods and areas of study diverge significantly. If you are interested in pursuing a career in health care, consider Ohio University’s online Master of Public Health. In as little as two years, you can earn a degree that helps you effect positive change within underserved health care communities. Visit the Ohio University website today and discover whether an MPH is right for you.


Recommended Readings

Health Administration Careers

How Health Administrators Are Helping Safeguard Medicine in the Developing World

The Characteristics That Make a Great Leader in Health Administration


Ohio University, Online Master of Business Administration

Ohio University, Online Master of Public Health

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Epidemiologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Manager

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Top Executives