MSHI or Health Care MBA: Which Degree Is the Right Choice?

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Woman working at a computerAdvancement in the health care industry may be determined by the graduate-level education pursued by professionals. Specialized degree programs created with health care leadership in mind are clear indicators that graduates have sought out skills and knowledge directly relevant to their desired roles. Within the field of master’s-level degree programs catering to health care decision-making, there is still more granular definition. For instance, prospective students may wonder whether they’ll be best served by a health care master’s of business administration degree or a Master of Science in Health Informatics.

The essential differences between various health care master’s degrees center around the kinds of situations graduates are prepared to handle. Professionals who have a clear picture of the kind of leadership they want to undertake within the medical sector can consider the potential outcomes of different programs and make an informed decision about the right choice for their career prospects.

Health Care MBA

Due to the unique nature of leadership in the health care industry, potential students interested in moving up the decision-making hierarchy may seek out specialized MBA programs designed with medical applications in mind. U.S. News & World Report pointed out a few of the potential roles health care MBA recipients can apply for after graduation, including corporate development associate and consultant positions. The former profession involves acting as a liaison between various functional groups, while the latter is a way to provide advice without directly joining a team.

U.S. News also reported that interest in health care MBA programs has been building due to expanding potential roles in related fields such as the nonprofit sector and at government agencies. The fact that these parallel paths are growing in tandem with more traditional medical facilities—such as clinics and hospitals—has increased the need for personnel with administrative expertise, and students have been rising to the challenge.

The broad nature of the roles associated with an MBA’s course load, combined with the industry-specific focus on health care, has empowered graduates to seek out work that suits them. From human resources leadership to command of teams in pharmaceutical research or insurance, there are a host of positions in fields directly related to and adjacent to health care. Some of these roles, however, may call for a more data-centric type of education.


The past few years have seen an explosion of data use in health care, as with nearly all other industries. This evolution has gone differently in the medical world, however, due to the requirements placed on the use of privileged information such as patient medical records. If a professional’s career goals include a focus on data storage or analytics, an MBA may not represent the most targeted and appropriate degree option. Instead, an MSHI can demonstrate to potential employers that an individual understands the way data is used in the medical world.

While an MSHI has a more technological focus than an MBA, it is similar in its focus on preparing graduates for leadership. The course load of an MSHI program includes soft skills that will help students create effective strategies and get buy-in from their teams, alongside the technical and hands-on knowledge regarding cutting-edge data management systems. The need for mastery of analytics and other data-centric processes is growing in environments ranging from hospitals and clinics to pharmaceutical research facilities and administrative agencies.

MSHI programs may represent an ideal balance between technical knowledge and strategic acumen for professionals working to advance their careers within health care. Becoming an expert data user is a way to catch the attention of hiring managers and point toward a specific—and growing—portion of the industry. Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21 percent increase in health care IT professionals through 2020. That’s the greatest new demand for technological experts of any sector.

Focused Studies

Professionals can opt to enter the University of Chicago at Illinois MSHI program on a 100 percent online model. The health informatics degrees conferred by this program come with the same impressive pedigree as those earned on-campus at UIC’s medical school, the largest in the U.S. Studying with professors with ongoing connections in the fast-moving world of health care IT, students learn all there is to know about this specialized field on schedules that suit their unique needs.

One of the primary ways to seek advancement in a field such as health care is to demonstrate a skill set that is highly focused on relevant concepts. For some, a health care MBA may be the best way to show such commitment. For those who plan to focus on technology leadership, an MSHI can pave the way. Contact an enrollment advisor to learn more.

Recommended Readings:

3 Ways HIM Professionals Protect Patient Data


5 Top Jobs for MBA Grads in Health Care, U.S. News & World Report

Health Care Management on the Rise for MBA Students, U.S. News & World Report

Health Informatics Degrees, University of Illinois at Chicago