Attending an MD/MBA program may not have been a thought that crossed the minds of many medical students in the past, but physicians today are more aware of how business and managerial know-how can benefit their healthcare careers. And, over the past 30 years, in particular, the landscape has changed, and the number of MD/MBA programs and graduates has dramatically increased.
If you plan to start your own practice, an MD/MBA might not be worth the money. A few inexpensive business classes and some experience may be all the business training you need. But if you’d like to become a hospital administrator or CEO someday, earning an MD/MBA could help set you apart from other candidates.
Why have some MBA programs for physicians become so popular? How do these programs differ? And are they worth the cost? We answer those questions and highlight the top MD/MBA cost and salary factors you need to consider.
What is an MD/MBA?
An MD/MBA is a joint program that allows students to earn both their MD and MBA upon completion. Most MD/MBA programs take five years to complete.
Who can benefit from earning an MD/MBA?
Students who already plan to enter an MBA program after med school can benefit from an MD/MBA program. Many standard MBA programs take two full years to complete. And that would be on top of your four years spent in medical school.
Students who plan to pursue a healthcare administration career may plan to earn their MBA either way. By enrolling in an MD/MBA program, these students could earn their MBA a year earlier and start earning money faster.
Cutting a year off your time in school is a big deal. You’ll have one less year of having to pay tuition and room and board, and you’ll get to enter the workforce sooner.
If a management role isn’t part of your career plan, however, you may want to skip the MD/MBA program. It will just add another year of time and tuition to an already long and expensive MD degree. And, for private practice owners, the extra business knowledge may not outweigh the loss of time and money.
Where can you get an MD/MBA?
There are now over 60 schools that offer MD/MBA degrees. Several top-rated business and medical schools have MD/MBA programs, including:
- Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons/Columbia Business School
- Harvard Medical School/Harvard Business School
- Penn State College of Medicine/Smeal College of Business
- University of California – Los Angeles/Anderson School of Management
- Washington University in St. Louis/Olin Business School
According to the Association of MD/MBA Programs, three schools currently offer online MBA for physicians programs:
- George Washington University
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
- University of Southern California
To see the full list of the more than 60 schools with these programs, visit the Association of MD/MBA Programs website.
How much does an MD/MBA cost?
The cost of an MD/MBA program will vary by school, and calculating your cost can be difficult. With most schools, you’ll be charged the medical school tuition rate for your first few years and the MBA tuition rate toward the end of your five-year path.
Private school MD/MBA tuition
For example, here’s how Harvard Medical School breaks down its MD/MBA program tuition rates:
|Year 1||Medical School||$63,400|
|Year 2||Medical School||$63,400|
|Year 3||Medical School||$63,400|
|Year 4||Business School||$73,440|
|Year 5||Medical School||$63,400|
Because your MD degree will represent the lion’s share of your tuition cost, looking for affordable medical schools that also offer MD/MBA programs could help you save money on costs during school as well as the total cost of the degree, including factoring in interest on student loans.
Public school MD/MBA tuition
Attending a public university could help you save you a lot of money on your MD/MBA program. Check out the current resident tuition rates for University of Florida students, for example:
|Year 1||Medical School||$16,371.85|
|Year 2||Medical School||$16,371.85|
|Year 3||Medical School||$16,371.85|
|Year 4||Business School||$14,859|
|Year 5||Medical School||$16,371.85|
In addition to the schedule outlined above, students in the University of Florida’s program can choose to complete their MBA degree before their third or fourth year of medical school.
To jump start your research, check out Student Loan Planner’s list of the cheapest medical schools. Currently, four of the schools from our top 10 list offer MD/MBA programs, such as Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
How should you pay for an MD/MBA?
If you plan to work in the private sector, private student loans would probably be a better plan for covering your MD/MBA tuition costs.
With private student loans, you may be able to land an interest rate that’s two or more percentage points lower than Grad PLUS loans. Plus, the top private student loan lenders typically don’t charge origination fees. Grad PLUS loans, on the other hand, charge a 4.236% loan disbursement fee.
If you plan to stay in the public sector by working for a not-for-profit hospital or clinic, federal student loans would likely be a better financial strategy for paying for your MD/MBA. That way you can take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Do people with an MD/MBA earn higher salaries?
To decide if an MD/MBA is worth it, consider your goals.
If you want to be a private practice owner, you might not need an MBA. Instead, you can learn enough business skills from just a few classes.
If you’re looking to pursue a career in hospital administration, however, your potential MDA/MBA salary could be worth the extra cost in tuition.
A 2014 New York Times study found that hospital administration and CEO salaries were far higher than that of general practitioners. And a 2018 study by Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research found that nonprofit hospital CEO salaries grew by 93% from 2005 to 2015.
How to get more out of your MD/MBA degree
With the high pay and strong career growth trajectory, hospital administration positions could become more competitive over time. An MD/MBA degree could enable you to rise to the top of the list of job candidates.
If you plan to pursue a career as a hospital administrator or CEO, look for schools that offer Healthcare Administration MBA degrees. That way the MBA portion of your MD/MBA program will be highly specialized to your future healthcare career and you’ll get more bang for your buck.