Changes in technology and legislation like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) haven’t just affected how patients’ information is kept, and shared, among providers and insurers.
These changes have also encouraged employers to invest more heavily in professionals with experience in tracking this data.
Health informatics workers have been responding to the challenges created by increasing hospital demand and regulatory requirements for more than 50 years. Their work supports hospital activities by standardizing the data multiple organizations need, and making that data clearer and easier to access.
Common job titles in the field include health informatics specialist, clinical informatics specialist, and clinical analyst. These jobs all carry broadly similar duties involving the assessment and management of large amounts of healthcare data, though clinical analysts focus more on improving organizations’ processes while the others deal with getting data where it needs to go. Organizations need people to fill management functions like these, and both information technology manager and healthcare manager positions are expected to grow over the next decade.
Typical salaries for positions in this field range from $50,000 to $80,000, depending on the specific job duties required. Some experienced health informatics professionals may break out of this range, as can those in senior management positions.
Employers for healthcare informaticians have offices all over the country. Health and insurance organizations employ their own informatics professionals, but also turn to outside solutions for some problems. Health informatics professionals can become part of organizations that make healthcare billing easier, coordinate inpatient and outpatient care, and support population health initiatives.
Someone who wants to pursue a degree in health informatics should have a broad base of skills, including both quantitative skills and soft skills. Health informatics professionals need the leadership talents to succeed in management, the technical know-how to implement new technological solutions to information problems, and the communication skills to present data-related findings in a concise manner.
Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Health Informatics Degrees
||New England College
||Southern New Hampshire University
||University of Maryland University College
||The College of St. Scholastica
||Nova Southeastern University
||Fort Lauderdale, FL
||University of Cincinnati
||University of Central Florida
Accredited Online College Programs
What are the most affordable master’s degrees in health informatics?
While a number of universities have begun offering master’s programs in health informatics, you may not be willing or able to uproot your life (or your family’s) to attend school full-time on campus. And you may be wondering if you can afford to make the investment in education that would take your career to the next level. Thar’s why we’ve ranked the most affordable and best regionally accredited online programs in health informatics. While some of these programs have a hands-on learning component that can be filled through a local internship, most of their course content is delivered online, making it ideal for working adults. For more information on the career field or for networking opportunities, check out the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the American Health Information Management Association.
See our rankings methodology page.
Salve Regina University is a Catholic school located in Newport, RI. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Salve Regina maintains its religious roots to this day. Around 2,700 undergraduate and grad students attend Salve Regina.
Salve Regina offers an Administration of Justice and Homeland Security degree. This program considers the historical, ethical, behavioral, technological, and legal aspects of security. And there are three ways to concentrate: in cybersecurity and intelligence, digital forensics, or in leadership in justice. All tracks, however, require coursework in:
- Constitutional Issues
- Theories of Justice
- Public Policy in the Global Environment
- Management Issues in the Justice System
Salve Regina is ranked among the top 50 best universities in its region by U.S. News & World Report. On top of its academic reputation, Salve Regina is also among some of the best universities in its service to student veterans and active military. It also boasts one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses, perched on the cliffs of Newport overlooking the Atlantic.
Valparaiso University is a private, independent Lutheran institution located in Valparaiso, Indiana that offers several online master’s degrees for professionals in health care, including as Master of Science in Health Administration with a concentration in Health Informatics. Students in Valparaiso’s online master’s program in health informatics will be prepared to tackle the issues and challenges that healthcare organizations face, including ethical and legal matters, and they gain the skills to manage an organization’s projects, finances and information.
As the program website states, topics addressed in coursework include the following areas:
- Effective management and leadership skills to address challenges within the healthcare field
- Government policies of healthcare, including but not limited to community health organizations
- Trends, including research and best practices in managing information, people and resources
- Relevant components of project management, including project scope, schedule, and budget management
- Design and development process of health information exchange
- Network-integrated decision support tools for medical institutions
- Potential of e-health delivery.
Graduates of this program will be equipped to manage patient medical data, deal with financial models, and analyze health. Potential career fields for graduates including managing departments within health care institutions or leading a major electronic health records (EHR) team. Valparaiso University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Located in Denver, CO, Regis University offers an online Master of Science degree in Health Informatics and Health Information Management. This program requires 36 semester hours to complete and includes courses in:
- Data Mining for Decision Support in Health Care Settings
- Workflow and Change Management in Adoption of Health IT
- Ethics in Information Technology
- Managing a Secure Enterprise
Along with elective courses in your particular area of interest, the program also includes a capstone research project.
Regis’ program is distinctive in that it provides graduates with skills in both health informatics and healthcare information management. As they explain, the difference is that “informatics is focused on designing, developing and maintaining systems and processes, while information management is focused on maintaining, organizing, and securing patient data.” Typically, students come to the program with a background either in health care or in IT, and graduates may be employed as informatics specialists, clinical analysts, and informatics managers. Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Southern New Hampshire University
Among Southern New Hampshire University’s extensive online offerings is their Master of Science in Information Technology degree with a concentration in Health Informatics. While this is a technology-oriented degree and most courses involve networking, system design and programming, and application development, other requirements focus on the specific health care aspects of the field. Topics addressed include:
- Healthcare informatics
- Social and organizational issues in healthcare
- Project and team management
A capstone project concludes the degree, allowing students to synthesize and apply what they have learned over the course of their studies.
Throughout the program, case studies are assigned that allow students to explore the field through real-world applications in health informatics. Graduates will be prepared for management positions and IT leadership positions in health care institutions, insurance providers, or other similar organization. Southern New Hampshire University is a private, non-profit institution, and it is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of Maryland University College
University College is the extended and online education component of the University of Maryland system. As part of a respected state university system, students in the online master of science program in health informatics administration have access to the library and career advising resources of the University of Maryland. Because the program is focused on management education for working professionals, applicants should have at least three years of experience in either a health care setting (e.g. in nursing) or in information technology in a health care setting.
Like many master’s programs in health informatics, the UMUC degree culminates in a capstone project that deals with issues such as ‘challenges in U.S. and global health care systems, potential new health care delivery models, approaches to strategically shaping local and national informatics policy, and the role of information technology (IT) in supporting the full continuum of care in health organizations.’ In addition, coursework is required in diverse aspects of the field including:
- Health data management
- Financial management for health care organizations
- Legal aspects of health care administration
- IT acquisitions management
The University of Maryland University College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The College of St. Scholastica
The College of St. Scholastica is a private, Catholic college in the Benedictine tradition that has long been a leader in the field. It founded the first Health Information Management program in 1935, and since then has broadened its reach to offer online master of science degrees in health informatics as well. The two programs at St. Scholastica differ in that health information management students focus on the organizational and policy aspects of electronic health information, while health informatics is concerned with the technical application of computers to the field.
The MS in health informatics is a 42 credit, 2-year degree that includes coursework in:
- Advanced biostatistics and health analytics
- Human factors and usability assessment
- Database methods in clinical management
- Health information security systems
- Healthcare monitoring, evaluation, and research
- Health information exchanges
Before starting this program, you must have completed four undergraduate course credits in statistics as well. Other requirements include a final applied project and a graduate seminar in health informatics. The College of St. Scholastica is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University, located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, offers an online master of science degree in biomedical informatics. To apply for this program, a previous degree in one of the health professions is desirable, but not required, but previous work experience or education in the biomedical sciences is required. While most of the course content is delivered online, students are also required to complete a hands-on project consisting of practical work within a health technology environment.
Coursework requirements include 31 credits (10 courses) of required classes in health informatics as well as 12 credits (4 courses) drawn from a wide range of electives on topics that range from biostatistics and epidemiology to quality control and workforce management. Along the way, you can gain special certifications in Lean Six Sigma quality control and NextGen systems, the latter being one of the most commonly used electronic health records systems in the US. As a result, this program can easily be tailored to your own interests within the health informatics field, whether those involve health records management or computer application development. Nova Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
As a predominantly online institution offering graduate degrees in various business, health, technology, and criminal justice fields, Walden University has extensive experience providing degree programs to distance learners. Its more than 50,000 students come from all 50 states as well as abroad, and its degree programs include an online master of science degree in health informatics.
The program requires slightly fewer credits than some of the others on this list. 30 hours of coursework are required, with a 3 hour research project and an optional 3 credit hour practicum bringing the possible total to between 33 and 36. In addition, up to 16 credits for prior graduate work may be transferrable, possibly reducing your cost and time to completion even further. The courses are more focused on management, policy, and financial aspects of health informatics, making it better suited to students interested in management positions and less so for those interested in the technical side of the field.
Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati has long been a leader in education for the health professions. They started the first bachelor’s degree program in nursing and the first emergency medicine training program, and now they have extended that tradition into the field of health informatics. The online master of health informatics program at UC combines the resources and faculty of a major research university with the accessibility of distance learning – all at an affordable tuition rate.
There are three parts to this program. First, students take two introductory courses on health informatics and the healthcare landscape in the US. Then, there are 10 required core classes in topics such as:
- Health information legislation, privacy and security
- Project and program management
- Database modeling and design
- Statistics, healthcare data analytics, and business intelligence
Finally, a two-semester capstone project may be completed virtually under the supervision of a faculty mentor, or in a local health care organization for those looking for more hands-on experience. The University of Cincinnati is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Central Florida
Located in Orlando, FL, the University of Central Florida’s Department on Health Management and Informatics offers an online master of science program in health care informatics. As the program overview states, the degree has three educational goals:
- Developing leadership and decision-making skills
- Enabling graduates to serve the information needs of health care organizations
- Teaching students to work using an evidence-based, knowledge-management approach
Graduates will be prepared to work as practitioners, managers, analysts, or researchers in a number of environments ranging from health care facilities to insurance companies.
While this program is open to all students, those without experience in the health care informatics field will also be required to complete three prerequisite courses before enrolling:
- Survey of health information management
- Foundation of health services administration
- Medical terminology for informatics professionals
After fulfilling those requirements if needed, students will complete 38 credits of graduate coursework in technical fields as well as in project management, privacy, and security issues. Both a capstone project and a hands-on internship are required for graduation. The University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.