Financing graduate school can be challenging and stressful. Taking out student loans enables many to earn degrees that advance their careers, but it also leaves them with student debt that can take years to pay off. According to the Education Data initiative, the average graduate student borrower incurs over $90,000 in federal student loan debt. For master's holders, the figure is a slightly more reasonable $71,287; however, that doesn't include an average undergraduate student loan debt of over $36,000. NerdWallet notes that students typically shell out another $31,000 in interest payments while paying back loans.
Working your way through school can help mitigate costs, especially if your employer offers a reimbursement program. However, not all students have the option to work while they earn their degrees. Fortunately, there are many scholarships or fellowships available—particularly in a specialized field like health informatics—that may reduce your student loan burden. These can enable you to spend more time focusing on your coursework and less time worrying about how you'll pay for it all.
If you're wondering what scholarships are available in health informatics, this article is for you. It also overs:
According to the Education Data Initiative, the average master's degree costs $66,340, though many programs, especially at top schools, are even more expensive—some exceed $120,000. Luckily, government agencies, health informatics professional organizations, and schools offer scholarships and fellowship opportunities.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers a public health informatics fellowship that includes two years of informatics mentorship experience, plus training and coursework. This fellowship has boosted the career of many health informatics professionals, including the CDC's current Chief Data Officer.
Students complete data science boot camps, open courseware, and workshops in the first year. Though a federal agency houses the program, you'll have the opportunity to work at multiple levels of government.
Of note, you need a master's degree or a doctoral degree to apply for this program (e.g., MPH, PhD, MD, etc.). However, the CDC offers to forgive student loans for eligible students (beginning with the 2023 class) who agree to work for the agency for two years after completing the program. Your loans must be federally made, insured, or guaranteed to qualify. Fellows also are paid and typically field numerous job offers after completing the program.
Several health informatics professional organizations offer scholarship funds for graduate students. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Foundation offers a $5,000 scholarship to one HIMSS Student Member. It also offers scholarships to students pursuing specific health informatics fields. Finally, HIMSS awards grants to students pursuing research and education.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers a $2,000 scholarship for master's students pursuing an informatics or related degree. The AHIMA also provides a merit scholarship and a scholarship program for veterans. All applicants must be in good standing academically and complete at least 24 credit hours before applying.
Many degree programs offer student scholarship opportunities beyond traditional financial aid. For instance, the University of Pittsburgh awarded 14 health informatics scholarships—ranging from $1,950 to $4,000—to students during the 2021-2022 academic year. Though the scholarship is merit-based, students also must report their level of financial need.
At Hofstra University, submitting your application to their health informatics program automatically qualifies you for a scholarship award. Hofstra also provides graduate scholarship opportunities for those who already work in a hospital system (many informatics degree applicants already work in the healthcare industry).
Health informatics master's programs combine computer science and healthcare coursework. Many programs seek potential students with strong backgrounds in the data or the healthcare fields. Qualified applicants often work in IT or as nurses or doctors. While career changers are eligible for informatics programs, students with some experience in the field typically benefit the most from this degree.
Full-time master's degrees typically take two years, while part-time programs are longer. Many schools offer accelerated informatics programs that take around a year to complete.
Health informatics programs follow the standard master's program admissions requirements. They typically require personal essays, standardized test scores, undergraduate and graduate transcripts with a GPA of 3.0, and letters of recommendation.
Many programs require some level of related professional experience. Even though the University of Pittsburgh accepts career changers to its program, the school encourages applicants to first build a solid resume before applying.
Not only does having experience improve your chances for admission but it can also improve your career prospects after graduation. Informatics combines multiple disciplines; you'll need experience in more than one to reach the top positions in the field. For instance, a chief nursing informatics officer must be skilled in nursing and have a mastery of informatics (there are nursing informatics master's programs available for those who want pursue this career path).
Health informatics students learn a diverse range of subjects, including data analytics, programming, medical record-keeping, healthcare ethics, and finance. Many programs require students to complete an internship or fieldwork as part of a thesis or capstone project to graduate.
Informatics programs usually offer specialization tracks. For instance, the University of Kansas has four—each with different coursework. Students in the health policy and management track complete healthcare, finance, and human resources courses. The public health track includes coursework in epidemiology and infectious diseases. The school also offers tracks in project management and clinical informatics.
All students complete 31 credits of core coursework, covering subjects like health data, organizational leadership, and research. (You also can pursue specialization through internships or your capstone project.)
Well-regarded schools that offer informatics programs (both in-person and online) include:
In this Master of Science in Applied Health Sciences Informatics, students focus on public health applications, and graduates often work for the CDC and other public health agencies and organizations. Johns Hopkins offers its degree online and in person. The on-campus program is shorter, requiring just one year to complete. The online option is less rigid, allowing for part-time flexibility. The admissions committee encourages applicants to accrue several years of experience before applying—or, at the very least, hold a relevant bachelor's degree.
Cornell's health informatics master's track covers three core areas: health and healthcare, social and behavioral science, and information science and technology. Motivated students can complete the program in a year; graduates frequently earn a doctorate afterward. Students and faculty often collaborate on research programs. Past projects have addressed subjects like developing effective heart failure monitoring systems for mobile use and ethical concerns in medical data reporting.
The University of Pittsburgh’s online MS in Healthcare Informatics offers four tracks: data science, general health informatics, health care supervision and management, and registered health information administrator. The 34-credit program takes between 16 and 24 months to complete—depending on whether you study part-time. There also are 12-credit certificate courses available in health data analytics, health information cybersecurity, leadership in health informatics, and revenue cycle management.
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