What Is the Difference Between a Medical Administration and Health Services Administration Degree?

If you are trying to decide whether to pursue studies in medical administration or health services administration, it is helpful to know the difference between them. Find out more about educational opportunities in both fields. Schools offering Health Care Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Comparing Degrees in Medical Administration and Health Services Administration Programs

The primary difference between medical administration and health services administration programs is the degree and certificate levels at which they are offered. Both programs prepare students to pursue office-based work in healthcare facilities, rather than provide clinical care, but the level of study and the specific career training varies based on the degree or certificate level.

Important Information About These Programs

Medical Administration Health Services Administration
Degree Levels Associate's, Bachelor's Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's
Certificate Levels Undergraduate Undergraduate, graduate
Prerequisite Education High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED for undergraduate programs, bachelor's degree for graduate programs
Online Availability Available online or on-campus Available online or on-campus

Medical Administration Programs

Medical administration programs are almost always offered at the associate's degree level, usually, under the title 'medical administrative assistant.' Students may earn an Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), or an undergraduate certificate in the field. It may also be possible to enroll in a degree completion program that results in a Bachelor in Health Sciences in medical assisting, but these are uncommon.

In undergraduate degree and certificate programs, students take courses in topics such as office procedures, medical terminology, basic pharmacology, business English and handling electronic medical records. Associate's degree programs also require general education coursework.

Graduates of these programs typically pursue entry-level careers within the offices of medical facilities. Job titles include medical secretary or medical office assistant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for medical secretaries is expected to increase by 22% from 2016 to 2026. The median annual wage for these professionals was $35,760 in 2018.

Health Services Administration Programs

Health services administration may be studied at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels, and students can earn an undergraduate or a graduate certificate in the field.

Undergraduate Programs

Associate's degree programs in health services or health care administration are similar to medical administration programs. They include the same basic medical and practical office training. The award options are usually AS, AAS, and undergraduate certificate. There are also a few schools that offer bachelor's degree programs. Graduates are ready for entry-level office jobs in healthcare facilities.

Graduate Programs

At the graduate level, students can earn a graduate certificate, a Master of Health Administration (MHA), or a Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA) degree. There are also dual degree MBA/MHSA programs that include advanced instruction in both business and healthcare administration.

The curriculum in master's degree and graduate certificate programs in health services administration focuses more heavily on management of healthcare facilities than general office procedures. Course topics include financial management in healthcare organizations, strategic management and marketing, capital acquisition in healthcare organizations, health policy analysis, and health economics. Some programs require students to complete internships with current healthcare administrators, which can last anywhere from a single term to a full year.

Graduates are prepared for leadership positions within medical institutions. Some graduate-level programs are designed for those who already have medical training; graduates may choose a work environment based on their previous experience. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $99,730 in 2018, and employment in the field is expected to increase by 20% from 2016 to 2026.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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