What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Health Informatics?

Health informatics is an exciting and rapidly grown career field, bolstered by the healthcare industry’s increasing reliance on software and technical platforms that adds many beneficial solutions for practitioners. Enrolling in an online master’s in health informatics enables future graduates to garner the learning and experiential opportunities necessary to fill important positions.

Online degrees in health informatics enable students to study in their own time and in their own way. The flexibility offered by online degrees enables students to fit their educational needs with their personal and professional commitments. Degrees are available in rigid frameworks that rely on lock-step curriculums, hybrid degrees that offer most classes online plus short-term intensives on campus, and asynchronous learning opportunities. In the latter, students can determine when they take which classes plus move through each course at their own pace. Students also realize flexibility in location through online degrees, enabling them to learn wherever they are without having to relocate to areas closer to brick-and-mortar institutions.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Health Informatics

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
Computer Science Enables a deeper dive in understanding computer science principles and practices as well as access to programming learning experiences. Computer and Information Systems Managers
Clinical Informatics Combines information technology practices with proven needs in the healthcare industry. Learnings include identifying clinical informatic needs and addressing them with IT solutions. Clinical Informatics Manager
Health Administration Informatics Focuses tightly on the needs of health administration personnel and how those can be addressed through informatics. Healthcare Administrator

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Health Informatics

Although specific courses vary between schools offering online master’s degrees in health informatics, students can expect to find a mix of technology and management courses as a part of their curriculum. Professional organizations often help universities design an effective curriculum that best prepares future graduates to enter the health informatics field and earn related certifications.

Common classes students may encounter while working to earn a master’s in health informatics may include:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Health Informatics Fundamental Concepts Learn important concepts that are key to filling future positions. This course normally includes a mix of theoretical and practical learning exercises.
Healthcare Administration Enables future health informatics professionals to participate effectively in the healthcare administration duties in their future workplace. The course contains essential learnings about administrative and management practices.
Social and Ethical Issues in Informatics Explore and learn about common social and ethical issues in the healthcare industry that may impact decisions made by informatics professionals.
Systems Analysis and Design Examine how to design and delivery necessary systems for healthcare organizations as well as the methodology behind data modeling and development.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Health Informatics?

Online master’s in health information range from 32 to 48 credits necessary for graduation. Schools require different numbers of credits depending on whether students decide to take specializations or concentrations, as well as the depth of information technology classes offered by a school. Most students can complete all credit requirements in two or three years. A variety of other factors can also influence the length of study for this master’s degree, including students who self-pace in asynchronous courses, and those who are able to transfer in credit hours from classes taken in similar programs at other universities.

Practicums, internships, capstone projects and following a thesis track can also add time on to studies. Students may choose between those activities in preparation for even more advanced educational opportunities in the future, including Ph.D. programs related to informatics and healthcare administration.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Health Informatics Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems Administered by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), this certification is conferred on professionals working in the healthcare and information management field. Qualifying depends on education and experience plus participation in a certification exam.
Advanced Health Informatics Certification The American Medical Informatics Association awards this certification to professionals in the informatics field working in healthcare, public health and private health positions. Qualifying requires a master’s degree and 15 months of experience.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Health Informatics

Students studying and choosing between master’s degrees in health informatics should research whether their preferred programs and schools have attained accreditation. Accreditation is an important process that enables outside organizations to thoroughly study degrees and college programs and bestow accreditation when stringent requirements are met.

Accreditations can be granted by professional organizations, federal programs and regional accrediting bodies. One important industry accrediting body is the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management. Programs and schools can also receive accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Once a student determines an institution is their preferred college to continue their education, checking accreditation status is necessary. Graduate diplomas issues by schools that are accredited can carry more weight as students apply for professional positions than those from colleges that haven’t yet reached accreditation.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Health Informatics Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Health informatics professionals who have earned their master’s degree can anticipate generous salaries in return for their high level of work responsibilities.

Expected Salary

For most occupations, a master’s degree gives you access to higher paying career opportunities. Graduates with a master’s degree earned more than $12,000 more per year than individuals with a bachelor’s. Consider some of the following occupations related to computer science and their annual average salaries.

Health informatics positions, which are classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as medical and health services managers, are growing at a strong pace that includes the anticipation of 72,000 new jobs created over the next decade. Salaries in this field often vary depending on the type of institution or agency within which professionals work. Health Informatics Manager can expect salary fluctuations based on those industries.

Industry Number of Professionals Salary
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 116,940 $120,540
Offices of Physicians 40,490 $105,810
Outpatient Care Centers 24,880 $103,460
Nursing Care Facilities 22,670 $92,750
Home Health Care Services 20,020 $99,220

Career Opportunities

Health informatics grads acquire the learnings and skills offered by master’s programs to skillfully fill different roles in the healthcare scene.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Health Informatics Manager Health Informatics Managers efficiently manage the informatics needs of a healthcare organization, including system design and delivery, policy and procedure design and effective oversight on the use of information systems by other employees. $98,350 per year 20%
Health Administrator Health administrators run healthcare organizations or specific departments within a medical facility. The knowledge these professionals glean from their master’s work in health informatics to efficiently rely on technology and information system in day-to-day administration. $98,350 per year 20%
Computer and Information Systems Managers IT professionals degreed in healthcare informatics with additional learning in information systems work within healthcare organizations to design proprietary programs, bring in outside technical programs and develop policies and procedures for access and management of those computer systems and linked devices. $139,220 per year 12%

Professional Organizations

Graduates who have completed master’s in health informatics can join a variety of professional organizations that enable networking, learning, credentialing and access to important healthcare and informatics advances and paradigms.

American Medical Informatics Association: This organization offers memberships for students and professionals who can take advantage of always up-to-date resources including industry updates and regulatory changes that may impact informatics in a healthcare setting. The organization also has opportunities for members to qualify for fellowships as well as continuing education courses and webinars.

American Health Information Management Association: This professional organization enables post-grad education and training opportunities for professionals in the informatics industry. Members can also pursue certifications and advanced learning experiences.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society: HIMSS works as both a credentialing organization as well as a professional organization that enables networking, training, professional development and both national and regional events.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Health Informatics

One of the prevalent considerations students have to examine before beginning a master’s in an online health informatics program is how they will pay for the various tuition and fees that accompany higher education. In many cases, online degrees are less expensive than those offered at in-person settings. Despite that, graduate degrees continue to be fairly expensive with costs most students will need help in managing. Luckily, students can access a variety of financial aid options to fuel their graduate learnings.

Students can begin the process of obtaining financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is administered by the federal government. The information students use to fill out this form can be used to secure needs-based financing as well as types of aid available for certain historically underserved demographics. Students can choose to combine a variety of federally backed loans, needs-based grants, work-study opportunities and scholarships related to the study of health informatics. Federal loans can be a beneficial piece of a students financial aid picture, as they typically come with reasonable interest rates and generous pay-back times after graduation. In addition, some federal loans can be forgiven for professionals who go into targeted fields including public health and safety.

Additional financial aid opportunities are available for students through the school in which they enroll, professional organizations related to health informatics, philanthropic or non-profit organizations, and even through a student’s current employer through tuition match programs. A student’s financial aid package may include many different avenues to pay for college costs, mixed together to enable students to learn without worrying about affording their education.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships Details
Alecia Graham Memorial Scholarship Award: $1,000

Deadline: Varied

Eligibility: Students who have been an Alaska resident for at least one year can apply for this scholarship that pays out annually. Students must be seeking a career in health informatics, have completed 12 credit hours, completed an essay and provided at least two reference letters. Scholarship funds are paid directly to the student’s chosen school, split into payments each semester.

ANIA Informatics Scholarship Program Award: $3,000

Deadline: December 31

Eligibility: Offered by the American Nursing Informatics Association, this scholarship can be awarded to graduate students in nursing or health informatics degree tracks. Candidates should have prior nursing experience and submit an application package that includes college transcriptions, letters of recommendation, a CV and a personal statement.

Dvora Brodie Scholarship Program Award: $5,000

Deadline: July 14

Eligibility: This scholarship, administered by the New England Chapter of HIMMS, is available for students pursuing graduate education in health informatics. Scholarship application packages should include a personal statement, CV, transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Evelyn L. Cockrell Memorial Scholarship Award: $1,500

Deadline: April 26

Eligibility: This scholarship is available for students with demonstrated financial need. In addition, applications must include an essay, school transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. Applicants must also be members of AHIMA and a United States citizen or permanent residence.