Milken Institute School of Public Health
Gillings School of Global Public Health
MPH vs the MBA: Which is the Best?
When embarking on a graduate education, one of the most common questions is, which degree to pursue? For example, you may be having trouble deciding between a master’s of public health and a master’s degree in business administration. Which you decide to focus on depends upon your career goals.
A master’s in public health, or MPH, will prepare you for the many challenges that face so many public health professionals and members of the public in the 21st century. These include such serious problems as pandemics, bioterrorism, epidemics, and water and food safety. With your master’s in public health, you will be well prepared to work in the policy of health, research, various government agencies, nonprofits and public health agencies.
You will spend much of your time with an MPH focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. This is a good field for a person who wants to work, say, as an administrator of health at a research center, a laboratory or a government health agency. You also can spend a lot of your time creating public health policy in the health care sector.
An MPH is going to be the best for a student/professional who has experience in health care, and enjoys working on the public health aspect of the job more than the business side.
Obviously, this is more of a health-focused degree than an MBA, so you should choose an MPH if you want to spend your career focused on public health.
A master’s in business administration, or MBA, focuses on topics of business, such as accounting, finance, management, marketing, operations and human resources. Some MBA programs will allow you to focus on health care and health administration. This MBA will give you more skills in business and management, but also in health care policy and strategy. You can expect to work in an executive position in a health care company with this sort of MBA.
You may be happier with an MBA if you feel more comfortable on the business side of health care. An MBA is generally regarded as a more difficult and prestigious degree by many employers, and you are learning about how to manage business, which many employers find valuable.
While an MBA is regarded generally as a more flexible degree with more possibilities for employment, if you are interested in working mainly on public health issues, the MPH is the only way to go.