Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration

The American University Master of Science in Healthcare Management degree prepares candidates for careers as Medical and Health Services Managers (BLS, 2016). According to the BLS (2016), medical and health services managers may manage an entire healthcare facility or individual clinical practice. In some cases medical and health services managers are in charge of a specific department or program within a large healthcare organization or system of care. Common duties of healthcare managers include planning, directing, coordinating, and evaluating services provided by the organization. In addition, healthcare managers are required to make informed decisions commonly driven by data analytics; and conform to changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology.

Managers manage resources for the organization which include personnel, equipment, supplies, services, etc. In order to effectively and efficiently manage resources, a degree in healthcare management is focused on introducing and reinforcing specific skill sets needed across the healthcare industry. These skills include emphasis on professional communication, informed decision making through data analytics, and high level leadership abilities, among others aligned with 5 HLA competency domains for healthcare managers (Healthcare Leadership Alliance, 2016).

While healthcare managers may at times be called healthcare administrators, there is a fundamental difference in skill set of healthcare administration degrees. Most healthcare administration degrees focus on personnel skills such as scheduling, staffing, and front office matters that are often specific to one department and not the entire organization (Harlow, 2016). Consequently, most candidates with a degree in healthcare administration will attain job titles such as “department administrator”, “department director”, or “patient services administrator”.

Healthcare managers are highly skilled in running the day-to-day operations of various types and sizes of healthcare organizations. Many, with successful experience and a healthcare management master’s will be eligible for promotion to the positions of Chief Operating Officer (COO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Qualified healthcare managers who “know how”, as opposed to just “knowing”, are highly sought within public, private, nonprofit, and government healthcare sectors.

In summary, there is a distinction with a difference between a degree in healthcare administration and healthcare management. Which one is right for you?

  1. I want to obtain high level management and leadership skills specific to healthcare.
  2. I want to be qualified for high level management and leadership positions in healthcare.
  3. I want to run day-to-day operations in a healthcare organization.

If you answered “yes” to the 3 questions above, then a Master’s degree in Healthcare Management (MSHCM) from American University would be a logical choice.


Bureau of Labor Statistics. (BLS). (2016). Medical and health services managers. Retrieved from

Healthcare Leadership Alliance (HLA). (2016). Common competencies for all healthcare managers: The Healthcare Leadership Alliance Model. Retrieved from

Harlow, K. (2016). Comparison of health care management vs. health care administration. Retrieved from

About Eric Oestmann

Eric Oestmann has been a Healthcare and Academic Consultant for the past 30+ years. His specialty areas of consulting include HR (employee retention and productivity), Quality Improvement, Leadership Development, Data Analytics, Data Interpretation and Explanation, and Data Driven Decision Making and Recommendations. He has worked in various roles in healthcare management and administration including roles as a CEO, hospital rehabilitation director, and director of physical therapy. He has also taught and developed 82 different healthcare leadership and research related courses from the Associates through Doctoral levels.

To learn more about American University’s online MS in Healthcare Management, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.