Elder Care Management and Gerontology Masters Degrees- MBA vs MHA vs MPH vs MS

If you’re interested in working with the elderly in a health care role, earning a master’s degree in gerontology or elder care management puts you on the fast track for a top position in this field. Unfortunately, determining which one is right for you can be a little daunting. Here’s a quick guide to four of the most common master’s degree options in this field.

MBA in Elder Care Management and Gerontology

If your main interest is the business aspect of elder care management, an MBA is likely your best choice. In an MBA program, you’ll begin by working with students who are studying a number of different specialties, and then you’ll be placed on health administration track with other students also interested in this field. Some MBA programs have classes specific to gerontology, while others offer only general health care tracks.

The main advantage to entering an MBA program is that you’ll get to learn more about the financial aspect of managing a health care facility. You’ll also have a more comprehensive business education, so if you change your mind and decide to pursue a business-related career in another industry, you can do so with few additional classes or even no additional school at all. MBAs are are regarded as extremely prestigious degrees, so they look great on resumes. If you already work in the gerontology field, but don’t know much about the business side of things, this is a great degree to choose.

MHA in Elder Care Management and Gerontology

Masters in Health Administration (MHA) degrees are a lot like MBAs, but focused fully on the field of health care. These degrees may focus a bit less on the financial aspect of management and instead focus on classes about patient management, human resources, and very specific health-related skills. Like with the MBA, an MHA is great for students who already work in gerontology in some aspect, but who want to learn more about the business-side of this field.

The advantage to the MHA over the MBA is that your degree is more specialized. It’s easier to find programs with specific gerontology tracks, and all the other students working in your program will also be going into a career in health care. You can’t switch careers as easily with an MHA, but if you’re sure that health care is right for you, it might make more sense than an MBA.

MPH in Elder Care Management and Gerontology

If you’re interested in policy-making, a Masters in Public Health (or MPH) might be right for you. MPH degree programs overlap strongly with MHA programs if you take an administrative track, but there’s an added focus here on learning how laws, regulatory committees, and do forth effect the world of gerontology. This is a great degree option not just for students interested in manager elder care facilities, but also for student who want to work for government departments, gerontology-related non-profits and organizations, and more.

Like with the MHA, the MPH is a great degree for those who know they want to work in health care, since it is specific to the health care field (whereas an MBA is not). With an MPH, even with a gerontology track, you’ll take a lot of general public health classes, so there’s not as big of a focus on business with this type of program as with an MBA or even with an MHA. MPH degree programs are great for those already working in gerontology in another role, or even for those working in a non-health administrative field.

MS in Elder Care Management and Gerontology

The most general type of master’s degree program for those interested in the gerontology field is the Master of Science, or MS. With an MS, you can focus on management, but your classes will likely also include general gerontology topics, like biology and psychology. Some schools offer MS programs specific to elder care management, while others offer general health care management programs that are not specific to the elder care field and still others offer general gerontology programs that are not specific to the management field. An MS is great if you’re not sure what your career goals are and want a well-rounded gerontology education.

Choosing a Master’s Degree Program

So which type of master’s degree program in elder care management and gerontology is right for you? To summarize:

  • MBA: for students who want a strong business education with a slight focus on health care, especially those already working in gerontology in some capacity
  • MHA: for students who want a focused health care management education
  • MPH: for students who want to work with policy creation, advocacy, and related fields in the gerontology world
  • MS: for students that want a general gerontology education, with a slight focus on management

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