Health Informatics & Sciences

What Are the Prerequisites for a Master’s in Health Informatics Program?

What Are the Prerequisites for a Master’s in Health Informatics Program?
A master's in health informatics can qualify you for many of the field's best jobs. Image from Pexels
Lucien Formichella profile
Lucien Formichella April 26, 2022

Admissions requirements and prerequisites for a master's degree in health informatics include a bachelor’s with a 3.0 GPA from an accredited program, knowledge of information technology, and (in some cases) relevant experience.

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As healthcare providers shift more of their attention from COVID-19 back to traditional issues, they’re finding the landscape forever changed by the pandemic in many ways—some of them even beneficial.

For instance, the 2022 Deloitte Global Health Care Outlook paper envisions long-awaited improvements to the healthcare sector, partly because COVID-19 forced providers to rely more heavily on technology—such as telehealth and wearable medical devices—to continue treating their patients remotely and safely during the public health crisis.

Telehealth visits, now common today, were rare even two years ago. (While they’ve helped increase access to healthcare for many populations, some groups, such as those with certain disabilities, have been left behind.)

Other health information technology, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics, is also becoming standard across the field. Health informatics can increase health equity, reduce healthcare spending, and improve patient outcomes.

Though a data background is helpful to prospective health informaticists, this rapidly-growing field isn’t only for data scientists. Doctors and nurses often complete an informatics master’s program to improve their practices and better serve their patients.

A master’s in health informatics (coupled with additional credentials) can qualify you for many of the field’s best jobs, including:

  • Chief medical information officer (average salary: $130,265)
  • Chief nursing informatics officer ($130,393)
  • Director of clinical informatics ($122,820)

Considering pursuing a health informatics degree? They you’ll want to know the prerequisites for a master’s in health informatics program. This article covers them and also offers detailed answers to:

  • What is a health informatics master’s?
  • What are the top schools that offer a health informatics master’s?
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What are the prerequisites for a master’s in public health informatics program?

This article outlines several of the most common master’s in health informatics program prerequisites, but they do vary by school. Some programs either require—or strongly encourage applicants to have—relevant professional experience. Others don’t and are even open to candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a different field.

Experience requirements for health informatics programs

Most healthcare informatics programs prefer experienced applicants, even at a school like the University of Pittsburgh that’s open to anyone who has completed their undergraduate degree program with at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). The program states that its admissions process favors candidates with experience in health and rehabilitation sciences, healthcare information management, computer science, and clinical practice (including nursing), or a related field. The school offers a data science track, for which it prefers candidates with a programming background.

Programs that admit career changers may require remedial or bridge coursework prior to starting their program.

Harvard University has stricter requirements. Applicants must demnostrate proficiency in computer science and statistics in areas like statistical interference and probability. The program also requires programming skills in R or Python; candidates may learn these after admission to the program (through a bridge course) but must complete work before starting master’s coursework.

Other graduate admissions reqiurements

Personal essay

Your online application will require at least one personal essay describing your interest in health informatics, your career goals, and how the program will help you achieve them.

Transcripts

You’ll need to submit official transcripts from any previously completed post-secondary degree program.

Standardized test scores

Many schools require Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test scores. However, fewer schools than ever require standardized admissions tests. Some have adopted a test-optional policy; others won’t look at the scores even if you provide them. International students still need to prove their proficiency in English, usually through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Resume

Even schools that do not require students to have relevant work or education experience ask for a resume/CV.

Letters of recommendation

The letters of recommendation (typically three) you submit are essential to your chance at admission. They should come from people who can speak to your character and work ethic. Those with relevant work experience should obtain at least one letter from their employer.

How do you pay for a master’s in health informatics?

Graduate school can be expensive. Earning a scholarship is an excellent way to reduce the cost. Check whether your school offers scholarships and whether you need to write additional essays or provide additional materials to qualify. You also may find scholarships, grants, and financial aid opportunities through government agencies and professional organizations.

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“I'm Interested in Health Informatics!”

Health informatics careers are growing faster than average as more healthcare systems switch to cloud storage databases to sort, organize, and analyze patient data. The job outlook is strong for health informatics professionals, as are salaries, particularly at the management level and above. Approximately 34,300 jobs in the health informatics medical records and health information openings will open each year from 2020 through 2030. (source) (source)

A Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) broadens your skill set and, as a result, your career options. An advanced degree in this field can offer even more opportunities to make your mark in this growing industry. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

What is a health informatics master’s?

A Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) bridges the gap between healthcare and IT. It can help people with a computer science background transition to a health career or healthcare professionals (including doctors and nurses) effectively utilize rapidly improving technology.

Curriculum

It typically takes between 15 months and two years to complete master’s in health informatics programs, depending on your school, course of study, and whether you attend full-time. Curricula can vary based on track (specialization).

For instance, the University of Pittsburgh offers four tracks: Data Science, General Health Informatics, Health Care Supervision and Management, and Registered Health Information Administrator. Each has a different set of core and elective coursework. Learning outcomes for the data science track include pattern identification, risk assessment, database management, and data decision-making. Health Care Supervision and Management students learn management and leadership techniques. Each track can lead to different careers, including chief data officer, data architect, medical informaticist, project team leader, financial analyst, and product manager. Students also can complete a certificate program for additional specialization.

The University of Pittsburgh, like other schools, also has general degree requirements, including Foundations of Health Informatics, Talent Management and Human Resources, and Security, Privacy, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Health Information Systems. Classes in programming and project management may overlap with your chosen track.

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What are the top schools that offer a health informatics master’s?

Schools with top health informatics programs include:

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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