MBA vs. MHA: early insights

With a year of the MHA program and a week of the MBA program under my belt, I feel I can share some insights on the differences between the two programs for those considering a dual degree.  I would hope that some of this information is relevant for those considering a dual degree with something other than MHA, too.

Difference #1:  Time.

The MBA program definitely requires a lot more time management than the first year of the MHA program required.  Not only are the classes very demanding, but the MBA program is very good at filling your day with leadership and professional development activities.  In just the first 1.5 weeks, these are the events I attended (note: There are plenty of other events not listed that I did not attend):

  • Friday: Consulting boot camp 8-5
  • Friday: IPO Launch party 7-12
  • Saturday: Tailgate for OSU Football game 12-3
  • Wednesday: Fisher Entrepreneurship Info Session 12:30-1
  • Wednesday: Innovation Fisher Info Session 1-1:30
  • Wednesday: Ethics workshop 3:30-5
  • Thursday: Ernst & Young Info Session 12:30-1:30
  • Thursday: Deloitte Info Session 7-8:30
  • Friday: Ernst & Young Office Hours 2-4
  • Friday: FPS Project One Kick-off 4-6
  • Saturday: Tailgate for OSU Football game 12-3
In addition to those events, I am taking 20 credit hours and working at the OSU Medical Center 15-20 hours a week.  It is safe to say that I am busy 60-70 hrs a week M-F, but a lot of it is by choice because these opportunities that Fisher gives are not a waste of time.  Plus, a lot of it is fun and interesting, so it’s all part of making the most of my MBA investment.
In comparison, if I were in the MHA program right now, outside of class and work I would be doing none of those activities listed above with the exception of the football tailgates.  I probably was busy ~40 hrs a week during my first week of the MHA program (including 15-20 hours of work at the Med Center).
Difference #2:  People
Fisher does a great job of recruiting a diverse set of people.  While there were people from other nationalities in my MHA program, the cultural differences were not as apparent as they are in the MBA program.  It is a learning process on both ends, and it truly reflects the globalization of the business world.
Also, the people have different goals.  Many of those in the MHA program want to work for not-for-profits such as hospitals or health systems.  In the MBA program, most (even those interested in healthcare) seem to be more interested in the for-profit side.
Finally, the class size is a lot bigger.  This will be great for expanding my network and being introduced to more opportunities.  However, I got really close to the 30ish members of my MHA class and am glad the class size remains small.
Difference #3: Education
Both programs offer a great education.  However, MHA is more industry focused, while MBA is more business focused.  A lot of what we learn in the MBA program probably isn’t applicable to hospital administrators, but it at the least offers a new perspective.  I think the MHA is crucial if you want to work with hospitals.  However, the MBA may offer more if you want to work for for-profits, or something other than hospital administration.
Conclusion: Depends on what you’re looking for
People often ask me if I can notice any differences between the MBA and MHA programs.  I answer that there are huge differences, and I can now appreciate the different programs for what is different about that.
When I was deciding on Grad school, it was tough to decide whether to do an MHA, and MBA, or both.  Some people said to just do an MHA, some said to just do an MBA, and some said to do both.  I think there is no clear, general answer.  It really depends on each person.  Students in either program can probably apply for the same healthcare jobs.  However, the skills taught are different.  Some jobs may require skills that are better taught in the MHA program.  Some jobs may require skills that are better taught in the MBA program.  The programs are clearly different, but both of them valuable in their own way.  If anyone is on the fence between doing a MBA, a MHA, or a dual MBA/MHA I would be happy to talk to them at