Should I Get an MPH/MBA Dual Degree?

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MPH/MBA dual-degree programs allow students to earn a master of public health (MPH) degree and a master of business and administration (MBA) degree at the same time. These graduate-level programs typically require candidates to possess bachelor's degrees before enrolling. MPH/MBA programs teach students to combine business and management skills with public health principles to solve challenges in healthcare.

An MPH/MBA suits individuals interested in leadership positions in the public health field. People with this dual degree can pursue employment as chief financial officers (CFOs), deputy health officers, and product development managers for healthcare organizations and government agencies.

Keep reading to learn more about MPH/MBA dual-degree programs, including what students can expect from an MPH/MBA program, the return on investment (ROI), and future careers for MPH/MBA graduates.

Why Enroll in an Online MPH/MBA Dual-Degree Program?

Joint degree MPH/MBA programs, available in person and online, typically take 2-3.5 years to complete. Traditional MPH/MBA programs use on-campus courses, requiring students to live in the same area as their school.

Online programs, however, allow learners to complete their education remotely. This delivery method gives students more freedom since they can enroll in programs at universities outside of their city or state. Depending on the program, enrollees may also have the flexibility to complete their coursework on their own schedule.

Additionally, coursework for online and in-person dual programs differs from standard MBAs due to the additional required public health credits. For instance, MPH/MBA students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham take classes in epidemiology and environmental health that regular MBA students do not. Additionally, all MPH/MBA students can develop skills in:

  • Research and Analysis: Public health professionals often rely on data to lead their teams and organizations. MPH/MBA students learn to read, analyze, and interpret health data to make informed decisions.
  • Leadership and Management: MBA programs teach students to lead organizations, manage diverse teams, and make decisions that help companies reach their goals. MPH/MBA students develop these skills and learn to apply their abilities in health-related industries.
  • Politics and Policy Management: Public health professionals often deal with governmental policy. MPH/MBA students learn to interpret, implement, and improve health policies.
  • Networking: MBA programs allow enrollees to build professional networks with their classmates, school alumni, and industry professionals. MPH/MBA students can connect with professionals inside and outside the healthcare industry.

What to Expect From an MPH/MBA Dual-Degree Program

The MPH/MBA is a dual degree, which means students will receive two degrees after graduating. MPH/MBA students take courses in two separate disciplines and have to fulfill the requirements for both degrees to graduate. On average, it takes 41 credit hours to earn an MBA and 46 credit hours to earn an MPH.

Fortunately, dual degrees usually let learners count some of their courses toward both programs' credit requirements. For example, the University of Texas at San Antonio's MPH/MBA allows students to count 12 MBA credits toward the required 45 credits of MPH coursework.

As a result, joint degree MPH/MBA enrollees can earn their degrees 1-2 years sooner than if they had completed the programs separately.

Degree and Concentration Options

MBA/MPH dual-degree programs are not offered at every university, so students should check to see if their prospective schools offer an MBA/MPH before applying. Some programs let students concentrate in a subfield of business or public health as part of their MBA/MPH.

This allows learners to build in-depth expertise in specific areas. Choosing a concentration can lead to different courses from the standard MBA/MPH curriculum. Examples of MBA/MPH specializations include:

  • Biostatistics: Students may need to take additional classes in analytic research methods, data analysis, and logistic regression. This coursework can prepare graduates to pursue careers in policy analysis or data science.
  • Public Health Management and Policy: Some learners may take courses in strategic planning, public health policy analysis, and public health law. This concentration can help students apply for careers in government or public health advocacy.
  • Marketing: MBA/MPH dual degrees may also feature courses in digital marketing, buyer behavior theory, and customer analytics. This concentration can prepare degree-seekers for careers in health-related product development or health communications.

Curriculum for MPH/MBA Dual-Degree Programs

MPH/MBA students take a combination of graduate-level public health and business classes, usually in two different departments. These courses teach students the concepts and skills they need to succeed in business and public health.

Examples of courses dual degree MPH/MBA students might take include:

  • Economics for Managers: Enrollees explore basic economic concepts and their application to make sound business decisions. Core course concepts include analyzing consumer behavior, using regression analysis to forecast demand and costs, and understanding market structures.
  • Introduction to Epidemiology: Students learn about how disease spreads and how to control outbreaks using public health tactics. Topics include epidemic detection, effective screening, and prevention efforts.
  • Brand and Marketing Strategy: Coursework covers ways to develop, implement, and evaluate marketing strategies. Enrollees consider the fundamentals of building brand awareness. Some core course concepts include learning the purchase decision process, conducting market research, and identifying target markets.
  • Public Health Management: Degree-seekers explore management principles and methods, along with the foundations of implementing public health programs and policies. Additionally, students develop budgeting, conflict management, and ethical decision-making skills.
  • Operations and Supply Chain Management: In this course, students learn the fundamentals of managing a supply chain, including sourcing raw materials and ensuring products make it to the store. Students also learn the basics of operations, including how to direct and manage employees, materials, and facilities.
  • Health Systems, Law, and Policy: The coursework explores how health policies develop on a governmental level and how those policies affect communities. Students also explore the role of Congress and the courts in shaping health policy, along with their effectiveness.

Admissions Process

Applying for a joint degree in MPH/MBA usually requires candidates to apply to both programs. A student then has to be accepted into each program separately to enroll.

Since an MPH/MBA is a graduate-level program, each applicant must have a bachelor's degree before applying. Additionally, many programs require students to submit either GRE or GMAT scores. International applicants may have to take additional tests, like the TOEFL, and meet minimum score requirements set by the school.

Students also typically submit official transcripts and letters of recommendation. Programs may have additional prerequisites, like advanced undergraduate math or science courses. Some colleges, like Johns Hopkins University, require candidates to have prior work experience.

The ROI of an MPH/MBA Dual-Degree Program

The ROI of an MPH/MBA refers to whether the program will allow participants to earn more than what they initially paid after completing the program. This helps graduates determine whether the degree is a worthwhile investment for their future.

To calculate ROI, start by determining MPH/MBA costs. Along with supplies and tuition, consider any living expenses like rent, food, and transportation costs, along with the cost of loan repayment.

Time also factors into determining ROI for an MPH/MBA. Entering an MPH/MBA program means students lose out on a full-time salary for two or more years while completing their degrees.

After determining the overall cost, compare the figure to the benefits of an MPH/MBA. Along with their expected salary after graduation, students should evaluate whether an MPH/MBA will lead to better employment opportunities or a higher lifetime earning potential. Less tangible benefits, like the professional networking or internship opportunities a program provides, also offer higher ROI.

MPH/MBA Career Opportunities After Graduating

People who graduate with MPH/MBA degrees can pursue work in business or public health. However, graduates may also decide to work in fields that combine health issues with business or management skills.

The following list includes examples of potential careers for MPH/MBA graduates.

  • Epidemiologist: Epidemiologists study and work to control the spread of disease. People with MPH/MBAs who work as epidemiologists can also pursue management positions like chief epidemiologist for hospitals or healthcare organizations. Payscale data indicates an average salary for epidemiologists of $68,170 as of July 2022.
  • Hospital Administrator: These administrators manage the day-to-day operations of hospitals, including developing policies, evaluating doctors and employees, and ensuring care quality. According to Payscale, as of July 2022, the average base salary for hospital administrators was $88,320.
  • Health Information Manager: Health information managers oversee organizing, maintaining, and protecting sensitive patient data. According to Payscale, health information managers had an average base salary of $60,540 a year as of July 2022.
  • Hospital Chief Financial Officer: A hospital CFO manages the hospital's financial operations, like managing budgets, allocating a hospital's financial resources, and creating strategies that help keep the hospital financially sound. Payscale reports that, as of July 2022, CFOs earn an average salary of $140,450.

Common Questions About MPH/MBA Dual Degrees

How much does an MPH/MBA dual-degree program cost?

Program costs vary significantly based on location, school, program length, and whether classes are in person or online. In general, students may pay as low as $37,000 or as high as $217,500.

How much money can I earn with an MPH/MBA dual degree?

An MPH/MBA degree-holder's salary depends on their career field. Some roles pay in the $65,000-$70,000 range, while others extend beyond six figures.

Is an MPH/MBA dual degree worth it?

It can be. Start by determining the cost of earning a joint degree. This includes tuition, living expenses, and lost wages while attending school. Compare that to the benefits of an MPH/MBA, including earning potential, additional career opportunities, and networking benefits. Use this comparison to determine if an MPH/MBA offers a worthwhile investment.

What is the difference between MPH and MHA?

An MPH is a master of public health degree. This graduate-level degree teaches students skills like biostatistics and epidemiology to prepare them for careers handling public health issues. An MHA is a master of healthcare administration. Rather than focus on public health issues, MHA students learn the leadership and management skills they need to deal with the business and operational sides of healthcare.

Featured Image: Fiordaliso / Moment / Getty Images

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