Advanced Healthcare Degree Programs: MPH, MSHA, and MHSc
Post-bachelor students and health professionals seeking greater leadership roles in healthcare have a number of options for continuing education open to them. Three of the most sought-after advanced healthcare degree programs are the Master of Public Health (MPH), the Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA), and the Master of Health Science (MHSc).
Each program is designed to bring a new dimension to healthcare and public health service organization, management, research, and development. But while their curricula and targeted skills and core competencies may intersect, the MPH, MHSA, and MHSc have fundamental differences in emphasis. Below is an overview of each degree and of their core differences and applications.
Master of Public Health (MPH)
The focus of an MPH degree program is on public health policy issues and analysis in addition to the core areas of public health. Students are expected to develop an understanding of the factors that affect the health of the general population and are therefore required to take courses in environmental health sciences, social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, biostatics, and even global health. The program is best suited to students and professionals interested in managing or directing public health services such as preventive healthcare and nutrition programs. Possible career paths may include healthcare administration in public or private sectors and other careers involving policy analysis and advocacy.
Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA)
Where an MPH degree program leans more toward the social sciences, the MHSA follows a business administration track.1 Its’ primary focus is on the business of healthcare; that is, the administration, management, organization, financing, and marketing of hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare service providers. Required courses naturally revolve around management and finance. The MHSA degree program is best suited to students and professionals interested in careers as healthcare consultants, hospital and clinic administrators, health services managers, and occupational health and safety officers, among several others.
Master of Health Science (MHSc)
Among the three programs of interest, the MHSc offers the broadest scope and touches upon key elements of both the MPH and MHSA degree programs. While emphasis may vary among academic institutions, core curriculum frequently includes research methodology, health services leadership, health policy strategies and analysis, and health care systems management. The MHSc is an excellent alternative to the MPH and MHSA degree programs in that it opens up a wider variety of career options in research, policy analysis, and health education management, planning, and evaluation.
Select institutions, such as Saint Francis University, offer an online Master of Health Science program that enables full-time professionals to work towards an advanced healthcare degree without disrupting their existing careers.
Still, it is important to note that despite the obvious benefits offered by an online degree in Health Science, the choice of advanced healthcare degree isn’t always straightforward. Students are advised to ascertain their career goals, understand each degree’s curriculum, and if necessary consult members of a school’s faculty in order to make a final, informed decision.