Can I Use an MPA in Healthcare? MHA vs. MPA for Careers in Health Policy

Can I Use an MPA in Healthcare? MHA vs. MPA for Careers in Health Policy-image

We're in an era where healthcare is changing quickly. More than ever, we need smart, trained people to help make meaningful decisions about health policy. Health policy professionals, who understand the ins and outs of healthcare, play a crucial role in driving these changes. They shape how healthcare works across hospitals, research labs, local agencies, and even the government.

Is an MPA the right degree to make significant contributions to health policy? And if so, how does an MPA stack up against an MHA? 


If you're looking to get into healthcare, you might be asking yourself: should I go for a Master's in Health Administration (MHA) or a Master's in Public Administration (MPA)? To make that choice, you need to understand what each degree is all about. 

The Master's in Health Administration (MHA) is designed for those who seek an in-depth grasp of the operational and administrative components of healthcare institutions. This rigorous curriculum equips students with a hands-on approach to managing the inner workings of healthcare delivery, emphasizing strategic thinking and leadership within the healthcare sector.

A Master's in Public Administration (MPA) extends the scope of engagement by offering a comprehensive toolkit for shaping the future of public health. It is an all-encompassing program that empowers aspiring professionals with the ability to craft, oversee, and critically assess health policies. Having an MPA in healthcare is extremely beneficial! This isn’t just about learning the ropes; it’s about being prepared to lead the conversation on what makes a healthcare policy successful and sustainable.

Blog: What are the Benefits of Having Two Master’s Degrees?

Let’s take a look at how an MPA can help you build a career in health policy and what roles you can pursue with an MPA. 

Health Policy Analyst

Health Policy Analysts study detailed healthcare data. They make useful conclusions and give advice backed by the data they've explored. Health Policy Analysts are integral players in healthcare, providing sound, data-driven counsel to a variety of stakeholders including medical professionals, healthcare administrators, governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and sometimes even the public at large.

Given their vital role in shaping healthcare delivery, Health Policy Analysts earn an average annual salary of $84,000 as of October 2023. Armed with an MPA degree, Health Policy Analysts are uniquely positioned to collaborate with diverse stakeholders and connect academia, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and governments in pursuit of long-lasting improvements in healthcare policy and patient care.

Health Services Manager

Health Services Managers oversee the administrative, financial, and operational aspects of healthcare organizations, ensuring the highest standards of care are maintained. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of Health Services Managers is expected to grow by 28% by 2032, making a career in this domain both rewarding and stable. Health Services Managers take home a median annual salary of $104,830 and with increased experience comes the potential for greater compensation and impact. 

As an MPA graduate focused on healthcare, Health Services Managers have the skills, vision, and commitment to not only elevate the quality of healthcare systems but also advance global health equity.

Health Advocacy Campaign Director

Health Advocacy Campaign Directors harness their passion and expertise to effect real change in public health policy. These professionals play a crucial role in shaping the healthcare landscape by leading advocacy efforts on issues ranging from access to care, mental health services, and disease prevention. Their success rests upon strong communications, strategic planning, and policy analysis skills, all hallmarks of an MPA program and prove the value of an MPA in healthcare. 

While salary figures vary across organizations, Health Advocacy Campaign Directors can expect an average annual salary of between $85,000 and $95,000. By pursuing an MPA with a focus on healthcare, these professionals gain the unique capacity to navigate complex healthcare challenges and champion policies that will shape our collective future.

Health Policy Consultant

Health Policy Consultants combine their analytical skills and passion for policy to offer organizations strategic guidance, implementation support, and program evaluation. These experts work with healthcare providers, government agencies, insurers, and nonprofits to drive meaningful shifts in policy and practice. 

Health Policy Consultants enjoy considerable latitude in choosing projects and clientele, and their earnings can vary according to experience and expertise, with average annual salaries ranging from $76,000 to well above $100,000. MPA graduates are ideally positioned to develop innovative solutions that address current and future challenges, resulting in more equitable and just healthcare systems.

Global Health Policy Specialist

Global Health Policy Specialists wield their knowledge and collaborative skills to assess and address health policy challenges across borders. They work with international organizations, NGOs, governments, and academic institutions to improve access to healthcare and reduce health disparities worldwide. 

The annual salary varies depending on factors such as location, employer, and experience. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, MPA graduates with a concentration in healthcare are uniquely equipped to address emerging global health challenges, champion innovative solutions, and improve health outcomes for populations around the world.

Three-Year MHA/MPA at Cornell 

Cornell University offers a dual MPA/MHA program to motivated individuals seeking an efficient route to making significant improvements in healthcare. In just three years, students may complete both degrees, integrating public administration and health management education. The program's objective is to prepare graduates to address pressing global health challenges and contribute to tangible improvements in the well-being of the communities they serve. 

Bridging the gap between public policy and health policy, the dual MPA/MHA is designed to cultivate leaders who stand ready to navigate the intricacies of governance and healthcare systems.

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