BSHS (Health Sciences) vs BSHA (Health Administration) Programs

Those considering a bachelor of science in health sciences (BSHS) or a bachelor of science in health administration (BSHA) are already well-positioned for the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is projected to add more jobs than any other sector—about 2.4 million in the decade preceding 2026—and to grow at a much faster rate than the national average. But these two options diverge in critical ways and can lead down very different career paths.

A health science bachelor’s degree (BSHS) can open the door to careers in medical technology, research, and education. This option supplies students with an applied sciences education that covers biology, biostatistics, microbiology, epidemiology, and anatomy. The program often couples that deep and technical background in science with a general study of healthcare institutions and the manner in which they operate. While many BSHS students are already working as medical technicians and looking to advance their leadership opportunities, graduates of this type of program may also go on to more sophisticated roles in clinical research, healthcare management, or in specialist areas like nuclear medical technology.

A health administration degree will sometimes take the format of a bachelor of science in health services administration (BSHSA) or a bachelor of science in health services management (BSHSM), but the overall focus is the same: preparing students to manage the finances, personnel, and operations of healthcare facilities. The core curriculum often includes classes on finance, marketing, personnel management, and informatics as they relate to healthcare institutions. Many BSHA graduates go on to pursue a master’s-level education, and some schools even offer a combined bachelor’s and master’s program that can accelerate a student’s overall time to graduation.

There is plenty of overlap between these two options, but there are also key differences in curriculum, salary outlook, and job prospects. Before you pick your path, check out a side-by-side comparison guide between BSHS and BSHA degrees.

B.S. in health sciences (BSHS) B.S. in health administration (BSHA)
What is It?

This degree teaches students about applied science as it relates to healthcare, preparing them for work as technicians, researchers, or educators in the medical field.

This degree teaches students about healthcare institutions, preparing them to manage the finances, personnel, and overall operations of healthcare facilities.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions requirements for BSHS programs are similar to most other undergraduate programs, and often include the following:

  • High school transcripts
  • Competitive GPA (3.0 or greater)
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Letters of recommendation and personal statement

In addition to the above, some online offerings are degree-completion programs that require students to have completed a certain amount of prerequisite classes and college credits, the total of which often adds up to the equivalent of an associate’s degree.

Admissions requirements for BSHA programs are similar to most other undergraduate programs, and often include the following:

  • High school transcripts
  • Competitive GPA (3.0 or greater)
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Letters of recommendation and personal statement

In addition to the above, some online offerings are degree-completion programs that require students to have completed a certain amount of prerequisite classes and college credits, the total of which often adds up to the equivalent of an associate’s degree.

Typical Duration

BSHS degrees typically take four years to complete, but online offerings that act as degree-completion programs may take only two years. On the other hand, integrated bachelor’s and master’s programs can take a total of five years to complete.

BSHA degrees typically take four years to complete, but online offerings that act as degree-completion programs may take only two years. On the other hand, integrated bachelor’s and master’s programs can take a total of five years to complete.

Coursework

The curriculum in a BSHS program will vary from school to school, but common courses for this degree include:

  • Biology
  • Statistics for health sciences
  • Human disease mechanisms
  • Principles of epidemiology
  • Cell biology
  • Human anatomy
  • Healthcare terminology
  • Healthcare technology
  • Public health
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Healthcare economics
  • Health sciences research

The curriculum in a BSHA program will vary from school to school, but common courses for this degree include:

  • Healthcare personnel management
  • Financial management of healthcare institutions
  • Marketing for healthcare organizations
  • Legal aspects of healthcare administration
  • Healthcare information systems
  • Quality assurance in healthcare
  • Population health management
Specializations or Concentrations

Specializations and concentrations for BSHS students include areas such as:

  • Environmental health science
  • Applied microbiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Healthcare management
  • Public health education

Specializations and concentrations for BSHA students include areas such as:

  • Healthcare informatics
  • Healthcare financial management
  • Long-term care
  • Community health
  • Public and nonprofit management
Who Can Benefit From This Degree?

Those who earn a BSHS degree often work in medical technology, as a laboratory technician, phlebotomist, or sonographer. With further education they may go on to take leadership roles in these areas, working as managers, researchers, and educators.

Those who earn a BSHA degree often go on to become healthcare administrators, taking on leadership and management roles at hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, health insurance agencies, and healthcare clinics.

Salary Prospects

According to data from the BLS, medical and clinical laboratory technicians make $51,770 per year on average. A BSHS degree can lead to further opportunities in healthcare administration or advanced specialty fields like nuclear medicine technology, which come with boosted salary figures and an overall faster than average growth in job availabilities.

According to data from the BLS, medical and health service managers earn an average of $98,350 per year, with the top 10 percent of workers in this field earning $176,130. Coupled with the fact that jobs in this sector are expected to grow much faster than average, BSHA graduates should enjoy strong salary prospects and a solid career outlook.

Featured On-Campus Programs
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The Bottom Line

The BSHS is a science-first degree option that can prepare graduates for many careers in healthcare. While some education is provided on institutional management, this degree focuses on applied sciences. Many graduates work in leadership positions in medical technology and may advance to roles in research, management, and education.

The BSHA is a management-first degree option that prepares graduates to run healthcare facilities. The science involved focuses primarily on the operations of healthcare itself, as opposed to elements of the human body and disease. Graduates of this degree may go on to secure leadership positions at a wide range of healthcare institutions.