When reviewing degree options in the healthcare field, a degree in healthcare administration might sound similar on the surface to one in business administration. Although they may have similar names and ultimately both lead to some aspect of business management, the two are indeed very different programs. For anyone curious about the differences between the two degree programs, there are several key aspects to be aware of.

Separate Emphases

The first and most obvious difference between healthcare administration and business administration is the emphasis. The former focuses on the healthcare field, while the latter focuses on general business. Although that difference is glaring, there are a couple of other significant ones to be aware of.

A healthcare administration degree prepares individuals to manage others in a healthcare setting, which can apply to a few different scenarios. It might mean anything from managing a nursing facility populated with CNAs and nurses to managing a hospital wing with seasoned doctors. In either scenario, as well as any other, there is a great deal of industry-specific knowledge required. Simply possessing management skills isn't enough, as nearly any healthcare position would require a great deal of specialized training.

Healthcare administration programs also tend to place the emphasis on the management of people, while business administration can be more varied. Generally speaking, a business administration degree teaches individuals about all aspects of management – economics, accounting, finance, management and technology courses are all part of the curriculum. The goal is to prepare students for a number of different fields. This is of course more diversified than healthcare administration, but it doesn't give the same attention to detail that a health care administration program can.

Both are strong options for Masters programs, but a degree in healthcare administration gives more knowledge about healthcare policy. It's possible to complete an entire business administration program without ever touching on even the basics of the healthcare field. This makes healthcare administration a strong option for Masters candidates who might have studied business during their undergraduate program. Someone who studied or has worked in the healthcare field, however, wouldn't want to pursue business administration unless they were planning to exit the healthcare field. In short, healthcare administration simply gives more direct preparation for working in the field. Business administration takes a more general approach to preparing individuals for their careers, as it can lead to a number of different fields but with less preparedness.


Ultimately, the two degrees can have a bit of overlap in the job market, but they have very different points of emphasis. While business administration gives students a general preparation for managing or helping to manage a company, healthcare administration offers a more tailored program. If the goal is to enter or continue in the healthcare field, and management is an appealing segment of the industry, then healthcare administration makes the most sense for degree seekers.