Healthcare is a vast and complex field encompassing thousands of interrelated specializations, sub-specializations, and job functions. For graduate students who wish to develop a wide breadth of knowledge in the healthcare realm, a Master of Health Science (MHS) may be the best degree option. Public health, hospital administration, health policy, nursing, palliative care, long-term care, biostatistics, informatics, mental healthcare (phew!)—these are just some of the professional avenues that a Master of Health Science graduate may be qualified to take.
Graduate education in health science features many practical focus areas such as women’s health, occupational health, and environmental health. Plus, through specialization, MHS students can undertake comprehensive study in one or more of these areas while also gaining a strong foundation in the fundamentals of healthcare.
The structure and requirements of master of health science degrees vary widely depending on the school and program area. Some MHS programs are designed to prepare students for more advanced education and research in particular topics, often leading to a doctoral degree, while others offer professional training programs directly tied to careers in healthcare fields.
Students who want practical skills in a particular area related to public health may see an MHS as a more versatile alternative to a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. With impressive job growth taking place across the healthcare field, there are several reasons to consider a master’s degree in this area—here are seven of the most compelling.
1. You’ll be able to pursue your specific interests.
There are many specializations possible with an MHS degree, running the gamut from athletic training to epidemiology—a.k.a., disease control—to pharmaceutical sales. Coursework can be highly technical and practical in preparation for a career in medicine, or it can focus more on the societal and policy side of the industry. Or, depending on your program, it may do both.
At Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, for example, MHS degrees are offered across all departments with 20 different specializations. Students can earn an MHS in demography from the department of population, family, and reproductive health, or specialize in clinical trials and evidence synthesis with the department of epidemiology. With so many options, you can find an MHS program covering the medical and healthcare topics that best fit your interests.
2. Your career choices can be narrow or broad.
The options available across MHS degrees put you in the driver’s seat when selecting a program that suits your career goals. There are MHS specializations targeted to every career in healthcare, and there are tracks like the executive leadership focus at the University of St. Augustine that prepare candidates to work in more than one area.
Or maybe you’ll prefer to follow a niche MHS specialization into the job market, taking on complex work in cutting-edge fields like health informatics or biomedical engineering. You could also pursue an MHS with a wider focus, preparing yourself for a variety of health-related careers ranging from public health advocate to children’s hospital administrator.
3. Your professors will be experienced specialists.
Due to the focused nature of MHS degree programs, you will have the opportunity to study with some of the top practitioners in your particular field. In some cases, there may be only a few institutions offering an MHS in your area of interest, so your professors will have a unique depth of knowledge and industry connections to share.
4. The job prospects with an MHS are excellent.
The healthcare industry is on track to create four million new jobs by 2026. Innovations in telehealth (we Google’d it too), artificial intelligence, and health wearables like fitness trackers and medical alert buttons are pushing aspects of the industry in new and different directions. This, while technology rapidly develops in areas like medical informatics and complex care and shifts in healthcare economics and policy continue contributing to job growth. Add it all up and you can be sure that MHS graduates will enter a field that is full of opportunity—and that their specialized training will prepare them to engage with infinite ideas and developments.
5. You’ll be able to leverage your specialty for good pay.
Graduating with an MHS in a specific health field will put you ahead of the competition in terms of specialized knowledge. While it might be harder to find jobs that fit a specialist rather than a generalist profile, you’ll be in for good earning when you find employers who value your unique expertise. For example, a graduate armed with an MHS in Palliative Care could become a palliative care specialist and earn an average salary of $90,000 per year.
6. An MHS can help you change careers.
If you have academic or professional experience in a field that isn’t health-related, an MHS will help you apply your pre-existing expertise to healthcare challenges. For instance, a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science degree could earn an MHS in health informatics as a means of springboarding a career creating new software solutions for healthcare managers.
If you already work in healthcare but want to transition into a new role, an MHS is equally useful. For example, say you’ve been working as a nurse but want to find a job in athletic training. An MHS would give you the boost you need to get an athletic training specialty.
7. You’ll be able to use your talents for the greater good.
Healthcare is a “helping field.” With a master’s in health science, you’ll be able to target your interest towards a specific goal, and you’ll gain satisfaction from promoting the health and wellbeing of others. Whether you’re a pro at digitization, passionate about long-term care, adept at sports medicine, or a whiz with biostatistics, you’ll be able to apply these skills towards positive healthcare outcomes—and change lives in the process.
A master’s degree in health science can be a jumping-off point for a career in a healthcare institution or as an academic researcher. Maybe you’re a student with a clear idea of what aspect of health or medicine you’d like to pursue. Or maybe you’re a self-directed student seeking a specialized health science curriculum. In either case, are your textbooks ready? This just may be the ideal move for you.
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