A Masters in Health Science program is designed to help students expand clinical research proficiencies and or professional competencies in human health and healthcare related topics.
written by Rana Waxman
Health sciences is a broad area for graduate study that touches on the ways public health interacts with the healthcare system, communities, public policy, patient care providers, and more. For this reason, Master of Health Science programs span a variety of university departments and disciplines. Interested students could therefore look for an MHS program that might address specific personal and professional goals.
Health science masters program, could be split into two graduate-level paths: (1) Master of Science in Health Sciences – MSHS degree or (2) Master of Health Science – MHSc or MHS degree. There are minimal differences between the two degree tracks, as both the MHS and MSHS may offer academic- or professional-based curricula.
Also, most MHS and MHSH programs require students to complete between 30 and 36 credit hours of study to graduate. Roughly, that could comprise one to two years of full-time study. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to understand these degrees and see how one might suit your purposes.
DID YOU KNOW?
When surveyed, 12% of Health Managers reported they had earned a masters degree. i
A MHS degree is an inherently flexible and interdisciplinary program that often melds evidence-based methods and content courses and some type of written final capstone such as a thesis, essay, or other project, and/or an oral presentation.
Typically, an MHS degree is designed to prepare students to conduct research, advance in their chosen career, or continue into a PhD in Health Science or related doctoral program. A Master of Health Science program could also allow students to craft a plan of study that includes core courses and an area of emphasis that merges a student’s educational background and professional area of practice.
Broadly, curriculum might include general coursework in areas such as research methods, healthcare ethics, health policy and management, biostatistics, and trends in health care. Areas of emphasis could explore public health, health services leadership, health policy, health education and more.
Most MHS degree program curricula reflect that today’s healthcare is an integrated system of patient care, research, technology, health administration, policy and more. Students might therefore study a variety of topics from health policy to environmental health, community health, integrative health, wellness and beyond.
Often, a MHS degree program starts out with a series of core health sciences courses that are stacked onto a candidate’s chosen area of emphasis. While required course names vary, you could keep your eye out for some of the example topics listed below.
These foundation courses might set up a framework for how to manage projects, analyze data, and conduct research.
Masters of Health Science (MHS) programs often span diverse sub-disciplines all of which relate in some way to the application of science to health and healthcare. Some programs are more academic and are oriented to research. Others are professional masters programs that could help students learn how to strategize, be a leader, make decisions, and problem solve.
MHS – Health Informatics: Aside from core courses, students who focus their master of health science in health informatics might learn to assess health IT needs in healthcare delivery systems. Studies might cover all aspects of health information systems and processes, electronic medical records management, and security. Other technical courses could cover computational modes such as databases, systems architecture, reports, and data optimization.
MHS – Regulatory Science: A focus in regulatory science could enable students to more easily navigate regulatory compliance methods in the healthcare industry. In their studies, students could learn about federal and state regulatory structures as they relate to issues such as healthcare product patent licenses. Also, through various approaches, students might develop a grasp of the manufacture and distribution of pharmaceuticals and biologics in the U.S. and abroad.
Other courses could help students to understand the protocols, processes, statistical analysis, assessment or risk/benefit, documentation, and legal and ethical concerns that are at play in this field.
MHS – Professional Studies: In some grad schools, a one-year MHS program with a gateway to professional studies (GPS) track is designed to build students’ credentials. Coursework could be oriented to provide a broad preparation for those who plan to (re)apply to professional school into a medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, or physical therapy program. Studies could include a series of required courses in biostatistics, ethics, and public health issues. Plus, other courses designed to fortify students’ grasp of biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, histology, anatomy, and physiology.
MHS – Clinical Research Administration: A focus in clinical research could help students discern which clinical research methods are needed to address specific healthcare issues and problems. Along with core courses in biostatistics and clinical trial design, students might learn how to prepare medical and clinical reports. Additional courses could cover regulatory pathways for drugs, medical devices, as well as other pharmaceutical and biotechnology areas.
MHS – Health Policy: An interdisciplinary track, health policy melds the study of public administration, health science, and economics. Students could study theories of organizational management, health economics, health policy issues, public policy administration and more.
MHS- Athletic Training: A focus in athletic training may offer courses in concussion in sport, sports and disability, and emergency athletic training. Students might therefor cultivate experience in risk management, leadership, and injury prevention.
In each graduate school, students may find different admission requirements for an MHS degree program. Some programs are intended for students who have some years of public health experience that could inform their area of research inquiry. Masters in health sciences programs with a more medical and clinical focus might be designed for students with advanced degrees such as MD, PhD or JD. By contrast, MHS programs with an administrative focus might presume students have a bachelors degree. Applicants could also need to furnish (a) official transcripts, (b) test scores (e.g. GRE, PCAT, MCAT, DAT), (c) letters of reference, (d) personal essay, and (e) a resume.
A MSHS degree is a research-based course of study that might help students to develop their critical inquiry skills. Most Master of Science in Health Science curricula include research methods, quantitative data analysis, and evidenced-based reviews of scientific literature. Students might complete a broad set of core courses in the health sciences, then customize their studies through a public health concentration or electives.
A MS in health science program could cover key courses such as health behavior, statistics for health sciences, research design, public health epidemiology and health service administration. Electives might include areas such as health care management, health care policy, disease management, public health, health education and others. It could also suit students who want to pursue a doctorate degree one day.
MSHS degree concentrations are typically designed to help graduates apply science and theory to their chosen area of interest.
MSHS- Clinical Management: A focus in clinical management could explore topics such as leadership and change, human resource development, financial management, and marketing of clinical services.
MHSH – Health Care Quality: A Master of Science in Health Sciences degree in Health Care Quality could address issues such as patient safety and health care improvements. Students might learn how to translate national quality standards into daily operations. Other courses could cover strategy as well as the technical processes and tools needed to analyze and interpret quality improvement data.
Despite all of them having the word ‘health’ in their description, the Master of Health Science (MHS), Master of Public Health (MPH), and Master of Health Administration are different degrees. As stated earlier, MHS programs are typically intended to introduce students to the concepts that underlie public policy, as well as statistical and research methods that could be applied in many health-related fields.
Wide in its scope, a MHS program often highlights inter-professional education to enable students to see healthcare issues from multiple points of view. Because of this, it may not suit all health professionals. Students should therefore determine if the syllabus of the MHS program aligns with the type of professional education they seek. For instance, some areas of practice or interest might be more suitably covered in either a Master of Public Health or Master of Health Administration. Both the MPH and MHA also focus on health care, but each path usually entails distinct curricula.
A Master of Public Health (MPH) is a professional masters degree that could help candidates gain skills in broad-based areas of public health practice. As a course of study, a MPH degree could appeal to those who want to improve human health in populations or prevent illness and disease.
In most MPH programs, the coursework puts less weight on research, and the curriculum generally includes a study of the five basic areas of public health:
Students might also take courses to foster an ability to think systematically, write grants and reports, and implement various public health programs. Additional requirements for MPH programs could include completion of a field-based practicum or a thesis. Applicants typically need a bachelors degree in majors such as education, biology, sociology and business.
MPH – Community Health: Some students might focus their MPH on a specific area such as community health. In In this track, students could study the cultural, social and psychological factors that impact health-related behaviors and practices of both individuals and communities. Students could be introduced to core concepts such as how to create partnerships, develop logic models, and plan strategically and for sustainability. Other topics could touch on advocacy, community organization, biological and behavioral science, and more.
A Master of Health Administration (MHA) is a professional masters degree that could be considered by those whose interest is in management of a healthcare organization. By contrast with a MPH or MHS degree, a MHA degree might focus less on disease, and more on how healthcare services are delivered. In this regard, it may share some common ground with an MBA degree, but the business focus is healthcare, instead of business in general. In fact, those who pursue a Masters degree in health administration typically seek to build business management and leadership skills that are necessary within the healthcare system.
Some of the courses and topics in a MHA degree program could include health care policy, accounting and project management. Examples of other topics are listed below, but you should refer to individual schools.
Do you hope to study in a classroom setting or pursue a MHS degree online? Campus formats could make for more interaction and may be available at convenient hours such as evenings or weekends. You might want to look for Master of Health Sciences programs in a local university or a specific city. By contrast, an online MHA degree could make a graduate education more accessible especially if you are an at-work professional.
Either way, you may want to choose a regionally accredited school and/or professionally accredited program. Regional accreditation could be key for those who want to apply for federal financial aid, and/or transfer credits.
Professional accreditation speaks to academic standards and could include different agencies. For instance, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the nationally recognized accreditation agency for both schools of public health and public health programs. And, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is the only organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to accredit graduate healthcare management programs.
Health Sciences is a dynamic field with specialized Master degrees to choose from. Whether your preference is an MPH, MHA, MSHS, or MHS degree, check out our sponsored programs below. Use the on-page filter to search for campuses or online health sciences masters. Then, use the provided form to contact schools directly.