Best Online Master's Degree in Health Informatics
Students can choose from some of the best online master's programs in health informatics that offer a range of unique learning experiences. Learn more about the degree program, career options, and professional resources in health informatics.
Best Online Master's in Health Informatics Degree Programs
Online master's degree programs in health informatics are fairly common and are designed to help train students in the current technology and methods in the field. Some of the best online programs in health informatics are accredited, offer hands-on learning opportunities, and may offer different areas of specialization. Learn about some of these top schools and what makes the online health informatics programs unique.
1. University of Kansas
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
The University of Kansas has a Master of Science (MS) in Health Informatics that offers the majority of its courses online and can be taken full- or part-time. The program totals 40 credits and students can focus their studies in project management, clinical, public health, or health policy and management. The curriculum is broken into core courses in leadership, research, and informatics; at the end of the program, students are required to complete a final research project and participate in a practicum experience that is designed to give students hands-on experience at clinical and business sites. Applicants to the program do not have to take the GRE and are not required to have healthcare experience, but experience in the field is desired.
2. University of Scranton
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
The University of Scranton offers an online MS in Health Informatics that totals 33 credits. The curriculum emphasizes informatics, information systems, and information technology and the courses are 8 weeks in length. Students must complete a final capstone course that requires an applied health informatics project. The program is designed for students who are already professionals in the field but the University of Scranton has onboarding coursework to bring other students up to speed.
3. East Carolina University
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
East Carolina University has an MS in Health Informatics and Information Management that can be completed online. The program is CAHIIM-accredited and requires a total of 39 credits. Students in the program can choose from a health informatics option, where the culminating experience is an internship or a thesis option. The program is intensive and fast-paced and is designed to help prepare students for leadership and technology roles in health information systems.
4. George Mason University
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
George Mason University provides an online MS in Health Informatics that totals 39 credits. The program is accredited by CAHIIM and can be completed in 22 to 28 months. The program requires a non-thesis project and concludes with a semester-long practicum experience that provides students with hands-on training. Prior work experience is not required and the program does offer an MSHI Bridge course at the beginning that's designed to help students review the math, informatics, and computing skills needed for the program.
5. University of Utah
|Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
|Salt Lake City, UT||$8,151|
The University of Utah offers a unique online MS in Biomedical Informatics program that totals 35 credits. The online program has an applied clinical informatics track and is a non-thesis program that's designed to be completed in 2 years. Applicants to the program must pass a course in Programming with Python that is taken online, plus complete some reading assignments during the summer to prepare for the program. Students finish the program with a practicum experience and a non-thesis capstone project that consists of a presentation and an exam.
|Rank||School Name||Location||Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
|6||University of Cincinnati-Main Campus||Cincinnati, OH||$14,468|
|7||Dakota State University||Madison, SD||$6,464|
|8||University of New England||Biddeford, ME||$20,525|
|9||Michigan Technological University||Houghton, MI||$19,598|
|10||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City, UT||$7,790|
|11||Southwestern Oklahoma State University||Weatherford, OK||$6,996|
|12||Rutgers University-New Brunswick||New Brunswick, NJ||$19,416|
|13||DePaul University||Chicago, IL||$19,422|
|14||National University||La Jolla, CA||$15,480|
|15||Northern Kentucky University||Highland Heights, KY||$11,418|
|16||The University of Findlay||Findlay, OH||$16,000|
|17||University of Mary||Bismark, ND||$15,630|
|18||Misericordia University||Dallas, PA||$35,230|
|19||Drexel University||Philadelphia, PA||$34,995|
|20||Regis University||Denver, CO||$13,177|
|21||Arizona State University-Skysong||Scottsdale, AZ||$6,462|
|22||Adelphi University||Garden City, NY||$42,085|
|23||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||$12,212|
|24||SUNY Empire State College||Saratoga Springs, NY||$11,625|
|25||Brandeis University||Waltham, MA||$50,272|
|26||Mississippi College||Clinton, MS||$11,630|
|27||Logan University||Chesterfield, MO||$10,000|
|28||University of Miami||Coral Gables, FL||$37,624|
|29||New York University||New York, NY||$45,426|
|30||Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||$54,620|
All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year
Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.
Overview of Online Master's Programs in Health Informatics
Online master's degree programs in health informatics are typically offered as MS degrees and may range from about 33 to 42 credits. Some of these programs may be completed fully online, while others might include practicum or internship experiences that need to be done in-person. Many of these master's programs are designed to take 2 years, usually with 7- or 8-week long courses and many may be taken full- or part-time. Some of these programs may include self-paced courses, interactive courses, and/or a combination of the two. Learn more about these degree programs and the curriculum below.
Students in online master's degree programs in health informatics usually have their curriculum divided into multiple sets of core courses. These core courses vary by program but might be in areas like informatics, information technology, leadership, research, and information systems. Some programs may also offer various concentrations or focus areas, such as public policy, health informatics, health policy management, project management, or clinical informatics. Students may take concentration courses in addition to core courses in topics like:
- Health Informatics- Introductory courses in health informatics help introduce students to the history of health informatics and how information technology plays a role in healthcare. Students spend time discussing EHR (Electronic Health Records) and other foundational concepts in health informatics like regulatory initiatives, communication processes, and clinical decision support.
- Health Data- Courses in health data may begin by training students in the vocabulary and standards of communication. Students may explore topics in policy, data standards, database theory, and design and may receive hands-on training with a relational database management system.
- Healthcare Databases- Students learn some database basics in these courses and focus specifically on healthcare databases and health informatics. Students learn about different uses of health record systems, gain experience with SQL (search query language), and may discuss topics in database security and recovery.
- Information Systems and Technology- Courses in information systems or information technology explore how technology is applied to the field of health information management and may include a laboratory section. Courses in information technology may look at broader concepts, like infrastructure and knowledge management, while courses in information systems might look at specific systems like EHR and personal health records.
- Public/Health Policy- Depending on the program, students may take a course in public policy or health policy to explore the different policies affecting health informatics and healthcare. Students may discuss topics like demand, compliance, healthcare reform, cost controls, program evaluation, and resource planning.
In addition to some of these core courses, students in online master's programs in health informatics typically complete some kind of capstone experience. This may be in the form of a practicum, internship, thesis, and/or other non-thesis projects. Internship experiences usually have to be completed in-person, but other practicum and capstone projects may be able to be completed online. No matter the type of capstone experience, students are expected to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned throughout the program to their final project and/or hands-on learning experience.
How to Choose an Online Master's in Health Informatics
There are many different aspects of online master's programs in health informatics to consider when choosing a program that is the best fit for you. Students may wish to begin by finding an online program that best fits their schedule and availability. For example, students who work may need a part-time program over a full-time program. Some programs also offer multiple start dates to help students begin the program at a time that is convenient for them. When choosing the right format for a program, students should also be sure to consider the culminating experience requirements, as some programs require online students to complete an in-person practicum or internship experience in a clinical or business setting.
Another important consideration is the overall length of a program. Most of these programs can be completed in 2 years, but some may take longer. Additional factors, such as transfer policies, can affect the length of a program. For example, some programs may allow students to transfer up to 50% of their credits for the degree, which would likely cut the degree completion time in half.
Students may also want to consider personal preferences and goals when choosing a program. For instance, some programs may offer multiple online sections of courses to help ensure that class sizes remain small. Students may also want to think about any additional learning experiences or coursework, such as concentrations, that can help them reach a career goal. Below, we discuss a few other factors to consider when choosing an online master's in health informatics.
Students should look for an accredited program. There are regional accreditation bodies that provide accreditation to institutions as a whole, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Also, some of the top online master's programs in health informatics are accredited by CAHIIM, which is an accrediting body specific to the field of health informatics. CAHIIM accreditation helps students know that the program has met specific academic standards and it may also be necessary for certain certifications.
Program Cost and Available Aid
Another critical factor to consider when choosing an online master's in health informatics is the cost of a program and any available financial aid. Tuition rates vary greatly from institution to institution, but some online master's programs in health informatics can be around $800 per unit and/or may charge an additional distance learning fee, such as $35 per credit hour. When calculating the cost of the degree program, students should also remember to include any additional costs of equipment needed to meet technical requirements for online learning.
To help with costs, most schools accept and/or award various forms of financial aid based on need and/or merit. Students may pursue grants, loans, tuition waivers, and/or scholarships. There are many different scholarships available for students in the field of health information management at the school, state, and even national levels. For example, the North Carolina Health Information Management Association Student Scholarships offers $500 scholarships to students in the field and the American Health Information Management Association has a Merit Scholarship worth $2,000 for master's students.
Job Options for Graduates with a Master's in Health Informatics
Graduates with their master's in health informatics can take on administrative, managerial, clinical, and even financial positions in the field of healthcare. Graduates may work in a wide range of healthcare settings, such as clinics and hospitals, as well as places like insurance companies, EHR vendors, research institutes, and other public health organizations. Some job titles for graduates with their master's in health informatics may include:
- Health informatics consultant
- Data administrator
- Health information systems developer
- Data networking analyst
- Clinical data analyst
- Health IT project manager
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would group many of these job titles under the umbrella of medical and health services managers. These managers made a median annual salary of $99,730 in 2018 and had a job outlook of 18% from 2018 to 2028. This job outlook is much faster than the average and may be due to the growing need for healthcare professionals. The overall aim for medical and health services managers is to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare for patients. They are also responsible for overseeing staff members and helping their department and/or organization reach its goals.
The BLS also provided data for database administrators. These professionals made a median annual salary of $90,070 in 2018 and had a job outlook of 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is still faster than average. Database administrators may work in a variety of industries, including business and healthcare. Database administrators in healthcare may be in charge of managing patients' medical records and ensuring databases are running correctly.
Certifications/Licenses in the Field
While certifications are not usually required for careers in the fields, professionals in health informatics may wish to obtain various certifications to be competitive and demonstrate excellence in their work. Several different professional organizations offer these certifications, including the:
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)- This certification is designed for experienced professionals in the field with 3 to 5 years of experience. The certification requires a 2-hour exam and must be renewed every 3 years.
- Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)- This certification is intended for those wishing to become a health informatics technician. The exam is 4 hours long and students must renew the certification every 2 years.
- Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC) The AHIC certification was in its finalizing plans in November 2019 and should be announced in 2020. This certification is intended to impose a rigorous standard for health informatics professionals.
Professionals in the field of health informatics have several professional organizations available that help provide certifications, career resources, and other learning opportunities in the field. A few examples of these organizations include:
- Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)- The HIMSS offers the Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) and CPHIMS certifications. The organization also offers membership, conferences, and initiatives with government relations.
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)- The AHIMA provides the RHIA certification, membership, and additional training and educational resources. The organization also offers links to conferences and events, as well as a student and career center on its website.
- American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)- The AMIA will soon offer the AHIC certification and currently offers membership to the organization. The group provides news and publications on its website, as well as links to events, educational resources, and job postings.