A master's in health informatics prepares you for specialized and supervisory roles. For example, you may work as a software developer, creating programs that allow doctors and nurses to more easily share patient information. Or you may apply your expertise in data analysis to a healthcare leadership role as a medical or health service manager.
Most graduate programs in health informatics consist of about 30 credits and require roughly two years of full-time study. They typically offer advanced instruction in subjects such as information systems analysis and design, information assurance, and healthcare business practice.
This page provides a detailed overview of healthcare informatics degrees, as well as information on career paths you can follow after graduation.
What Are the Best Health Informatics Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
|1||Stanford University||Stanford, CA|
|2||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC|
|3||Northwestern University||Evanston, IL|
|4||University of South Florida||Tampa, FL|
|5||University of Washington||Seattle, WA|
|6||University of San Diego||San Diego, CA|
|7||Boston University||Boston, MA|
|8||George Washington University||Washington, DC|
|9||University of Miami||Coral Gables, FL|
|10||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
What Is Health Informatics?
Health informatics is the application of information engineering to the field of healthcare. For example, a health informatics professional may act as a clinical researcher, mining patient data to uncover the cause of a particular disease and inform approaches to treatment. They may also work as database administrators, securing or streamlining access to medical records.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in healthcare will increase by 14% from 2018 to 2028, more than twice as fast as the rate of growth for the economy as a whole. The BLS also projects that employment in computer and information technology occupations will grow by 12% during that same period. Health informatics professionals operate at the intersection of these two rapidly growing fields.
An increased demand for individuals with knowledge of health information technology should also lead to higher salaries. In 2018, for example, medical and health services managers earned a median salary of $99,730, roughly $61,000 more than the median pay for all other jobs.
Our ranking of the nation's top online master's programs in health informatics provides the information you need to decide where to earn your advanced degree.
What You Can Do With a Master's in Health Informatics
A master's in health informatics prepares graduates for jobs in management and administration. Many students pursue careers in health information management, information security, and consulting. Graduates interested in overseeing staff and implementing information management programs may obtain administrator positions in hospitals or private practice. Read below for a few career possibilities.
- Medical and Health Service Manager
Healthcare administrators plan, implement, and direct healthcare services. They frequently manage staff and provide legal and ethical oversight. Health information managers are responsible for the security and accuracy of patient records; they usually begin as technicians before pursuing a master's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $99,730
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 18%
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
Information systems (IT) managers plan, coordinate, and direct the management and implementation of information systems. Healthcare IT managers are responsible for information systems in hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies. They may oversee system security and ensure the accessibility of information. Master's graduates are very competitive for this technical occupation.
Median Annual Salary: $142,530
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 11%
- Management Analyst
Management analysts typically work as consultants to propose improvements for companies. Healthcare consultants work with hospitals and other healthcare providers to analyze procedures and develop recommendations to improve efficiency. They may review information systems and how data is collected and reported. Consultants with an advanced degree demonstrate knowledge in the field.
Median Annual Salary: $83,610
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 14%
- Clinical Informatics Manager
Clinical informatics managers organize, analyze, and oversee access to patient data and other medical information. Most work in hospitals and health clinics, collaborating closely with healthcare practitioners and information technology professionals. Most of these roles require at least a bachelor's degree, though larger organizations may prefer to hire candidates with a master's.
Median Annual Salary: $90,590
Health informatics graduates enjoy exceptional job prospects in both healthcare and information technology. Check out our career guide to learn more about professional opportunities for health informatics majors.
Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Health Informatics
- Health Informatics Technology Management
- Health informatics management involves planning, developing, and maintaining healthcare information systems. Coursework in this concentration focuses on system analysis and design. Students learn about legal and security compliance measures. Graduates can manage large-scale healthcare information system projects.
- Health Data Analytics
- Health data analytics focuses on statistical analysis, data mining, and analytical processes. Students learn how to apply data analysis to healthcare decision making. The concentration includes real-time project analysis and the creation of statistical decision-making systems.
- Clinical Informatics
- Clinical informatics professionals analyze and evaluate systems and use data to improve healthcare services, public health outcomes, and research. Core coursework includes education in information technology and the healthcare environment. Graduates gain skills in computer science, project management, and data analysis.
- Public Health Informatics
- This emerging field applies health informatics principles to the study of public health. Students study epidemiology, public health safety, and health education. The ethics of public health registries and epidemiological databases are also explored, as well as the policy implications of public health information.
- Health Informatics Administration
- Health informatics administrators work with healthcare administration and staff. This concentration provides students with a background in business administration, finance, and human resources in addition to information technology and data systems.
Courses in a Master's in Health Informatics Program
While all accredited programs must meet general guidelines for core coursework, course specifics vary by institution. Programs also offer a variety of electives that further diversify a student's education.
- Healthcare Privacy and Security
Privacy and security concerns are crucial to the maintenance of health records, and are reinforced by federal and state laws. Health information must be maintained confidentially and systems must take strict security measures. Coursework reviews policies and regulations while preparing students to manage electronic health records in many settings.
- Project Management
Project management builds applied leadership skills to contribute to organizational change. Students learn about the challenges of research and information governance and the impact of technology on healthcare. Students develop communication and critical-thinking skills.
- Health Information Systems
Students learn about health information systems and their application in healthcare settings. Students work with electronic health records and develop statistical decision support systems and system architecture that contributes to efficient workflow. Coursework prepares students as system developers and health informatics administrators.
- Organizational Behavior
Understanding the theory and applications of organizational behavior is essential for effective leadership. Coursework explores best practices to manage and lead healthcare organizations. Students graduate with an understanding of what drives behavior in the workplace and are prepared for careers in administration and management.
- Health Services Research
Healthcare research is an interdisciplinary field. Coursework includes policy, management, and program evaluation in healthcare services. Topics in research design, cost efficiency, data analysis systems, and cost-benefit analysis prepare students for careers in health insurance, economics, and finance.
Interview With Carlos Fillmann
Carlos Fillmann grew up in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, and earned his undergraduate degree in biology from the State University of New York-Oswego before deciding to pursue his two passions: healthcare and information technology. In 2018, he graduated with his master of science in health informatics from Logan University near St. Louis, where he learned to use technology to improve patient care and healthcare business practices. Carlos currently works as a telehealth technician with Finger Lakes Community Health in upstate New York, which provides care to the region's agricultural workers.
- Why did you choose to earn a master's in health informatics?
I chose to earn a master's in health informatics because it allows me to utilize information technology to increase quality of care. I started my career in healthcare working with telehealth, and every day I get to use information technology to connect patients with providers they would normally not have access to.
- What was the job search like after completing your master's degree in health informatics?
Upon completing my master's degree in health informatics, I felt very prepared to transition from school to the workplace. Logan University supported me every step of the way and did not stop once the degree was completed.
- What are some crucial skills that you acquired through your master's program?
Through the master's program, I acquired leadership, project management, and healthcare systems skills that I now use daily.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your work on a day-to-day basis?
Work brings new challenges every day, and I always look forward to them. I work with patients who live in rural areas and do not have easy access to healthcare. One of the challenges I face every day is ensuring these patients have successful and effective telehealth appointments. Additionally, I am constantly looking for new and better ways to increase the quality of care and bridge gaps in care through telehealth.
- How have you seen the health informatics field change during your career? What changes do you anticipate for the field in the coming years?
Telehealth is constantly evolving. Since I started working in the field, I have been involved in many different implementations, allowing me to apply what I learned at Logan University immediately. The advancements in technology, combined with the communities who still have limited access to healthcare, makes telehealth a field with great potential.
- What advice would you give to students who are considering a degree in health informatics?
Technology plays a critical role in the delivery [of] quality patient care. If you enjoy technology and have a passion for helping people, consider a career path toward health informatics. The healthcare landscape is growing and evolving at a rapid pace; this field provides many opportunities for those who choose to be leaders in healthcare.
How to Choose a Master's in Health Informatics Program
Due to rising demand, more and more colleges and universities now offer master's degrees in health informatics. To help you choose a program, we have compiled a list of the five most important considerations for prospective students.
- Most importantly, you should select an accredited master's program. The accreditation process requires schools to demonstrate that they have met certain academic standards and equip their students with the skills necessary to succeed in their careers. Potential employers may not even recognize a degree from an unaccredited program, and you also risk missing out on state and federal financial aid opportunities.
- Foundational Coursework
- Next, determine if a program's required coursework aligns with your interests and aspirations. If you plan to continue your education at the doctoral level, you will benefit from courses in health informatics research. If you instead want to work in healthcare management, you should choose a program with a solid foundation in business administration.
- Electives and Concentrations
- You can use electives and formal concentrations to prepare for even more specialized careers. For instance, if you hope to protect patient data as a health information assurance officer, you may want to enroll in elective classes related to cybersecurity. Students interested in laws, policies, and professional ethics may instead choose a concentration in healthcare regulation.
- Delivery Method
- Generally, online programs offer courses in either a synchronous or asynchronous format. Synchronous courses, which require live participation at set times each week, offer the chance to more directly engage with your instructors and classmates. Asynchronous courses, which allow you to watch lectures and complete assignments on your own schedule, may appeal more to working professionals and students with family responsibilities.
- Cost and Financial Aid
- Affordability should be one of your top considerations in choosing a health informatics program. Public colleges and universities tend to cost less than private institutions, particularly if you qualify for in-state or regional tuition rates. While state and federal governments provide less aid to master's students, you may still apply for need-based grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest student loans, in addition to private scholarships.
Master's in Health Informatics Program Admissions
Admission requirements can vary considerably across programs. For example, some schools may require graduate applicants to take the GRE, while others admit students based solely on their undergraduate academic performance. Below is an overview of the most common prerequisites for health informatics programs.
- Bachelor's Degree: Before pursuing a master's degree in health informatics, you typically must earn a bachelor's. Although most programs do not require applicants to major in a specific area during their undergraduate studies, you may benefit from coursework in computer science, statistics, and health policy. Many programs also require prospective students to maintain a minimum GPA during college, usually 3.0 or higher.
- Entrance Exam: In addition to a bachelor's degree, many graduate schools ask applicants to submit results from a standardized test like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). However, you can often request an exam waiver if you maintained a sufficiently high undergraduate GPA or previously earned a master's degree in another field.
- Professional Experience: Finally, you may need several years of professional experience in a healthcare or information technology setting to be eligible for some programs. Even when not required, prior work experience may give you an edge when seeking admission to more selective schools. Recent college graduates can instead highlight relevant volunteer service or internship experience.
How to Apply
- As part of your application package, plan to submit transcripts for any college or graduate school you have previously attended. You can contact your school's registrar to get an official copy of your transcript. This process may take several weeks, however, so plan accordingly. Your registrar may also charge a small fee for transcripts.
- Personal Statement
- Many programs ask prospective students to submit a brief personal statement explaining how an advanced degree will help them achieve their academic and professional goals. You can also use your statement as an opportunity to add context to any weaknesses in your application materials, such as a low GRE score. Personal statements are typically between 500 and 1,000 words in length.
- Letters of Recommendation
- You may also need to submit two or more letters of recommendation. Graduate schools often want to see one letter from an academic reference, such as a former professor, and one letter from a professional reference, like a current supervisor. Try to ask potential recommenders for a letter at least three months prior to your program's application deadline.
You should start applying to graduate school at least one year before you plan to take your first class. For example, students who hope to enroll in the fall semester usually need to submit all of their materials by a December or January admission deadline.
First, schedule a time to take the GRE, if required by your program. Ideally, you would give yourself at least one month to study and sufficient time to retake the exam if needed. As you prepare for the test, reach out to potential recommenders, update your resume, request copies of your transcripts, and begin outlining your personal statement.
Try to finish your application at least two weeks in advance of the deadline. This allows you to find missing materials or troubleshoot any technical issues that might arise.
Even before receiving an admission decision, you can begin the process of applying for financial assistance by completing the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA opens each year on October 1.
Resources for Master's in Health Informatics Students
Although graduate students do not qualify for all of the same types of financial aid as undergraduate students, they can still receive certain grants, work-study positions, and low-interest student loans from the U.S. Department of Education. The department's website also offers advice on identifying and applying for private scholarships.
CAHIIM serves as an accrediting agency for undergraduate and graduate programs in health informatics and related fields. Prospective students can search an online directory of programs by degree level, location, and delivery method. The organization also hosts guides for students on topics like applying for financial aid and transferring credits between institutions.
AMIA represents approximately 5,600 health informatics professionals working in clinical care, education, research, and policy. In addition to organizing a series of networking events and research conferences, the association publishes multiple scholarly journals, provides online professional development opportunities to its members, and advertises nationwide job openings through its career center.
HIMSS aims to transform the delivery of healthcare through information and technology. Health informatics students and professionals alike can benefit from the society's online resource library, which includes research briefs and policy guides on topics like data storage, health business solutions, and patient engagement portals. HIMSS also awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students.
Founded in 1928, AHIMA now represents more than 100,000 health information professionals around the globe. Members can apply for professional certification in multiple areas, participate in training programs on data analytics and information security, and attend virtual and in-person networking events. AHIMA's student and career center also provides an overview of the field, advice on planning your education, and free tools for career preparation.