The Best Master’s Degrees in Health Informatics

By Staff Writer

Last Updated: May 26, 2020

A master's in health informatics prepares graduates for profitable and productive careers in healthcare information technology and management in a variety of medical settings. Professionals working in this fast-growing field use technological tools, applications, and platforms to manage patient databases, maintain electronic health records, and ensure database security.

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The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education regularly assesses academic programs to ensure that they meet established standards of educational quality. Choosing a regionally accredited college or university and a CAHIIM-accredited program helps students acquire the level of training desired by healthcare employers.

Before enrolling in a health informatics master's degree, use these rankings to find the best school for your personal needs and career goals.

Methodology

See our ranking methodology here.

Top 10 Master's in Health Informatics Degrees
Rank School
1 Harvard University
2 Duke University
3 Stanford University
4 Columbia University in the City of New York
5 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
6 Vanderbilt University
7 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
8 Brandeis University
9 Drexel University
10 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

 

What to Expect From a Master's in Health Informatics Program

A master of science in health informatics requires approximately 30 credits, typically completed in two years of full-time study. While requirements vary by school, most programs offer foundational coursework in computer science, information technology, statistical methods in biomedical informatics, medical information security, and information assurance policy. Students also learn about healthcare management business practices, including legal, ethical, and privacy considerations applicable to patient care and services.

Degree-seekers should expect to complete a capstone research project or thesis. Many programs feature internship or practicum opportunities that provide professional experience. The top health informatics master's programs offer concentrations that enable students to pursue specialized courses in areas that enhance their marketability. Commonly offered concentrations include health information technology management, clinical informatics, health data analytics, public health informatics, and health informatics administration.

Career Outlook for Health Informatics Professionals

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects healthcare jobs of all kinds to grow 14% from 2018-28 in response to the rising demand for patient services across the country. Many of these jobs require expertise in healthcare informatics technology, especially as medical centers convert to electronic health record systems. Employers increasingly view a master's degree as a valuable credential for administrative positions.

For example, PayScale reports that health information management directors, who supervise medical records divisions, earn an annual median salary of $71,692. Clinical information specialists make a median salary of $77,836 a year managing patient databases and maintaining computer systems. While health information technicians can enter the field with an associate or bachelor's degree at lower salary levels, advancement into supervisory roles often requires a master's and specialized certifications.

Best Master's in Health Informatics Degrees 2020

1. Harvard University

The department of biomedical informatics, as one of 11 basic and social science departments within the renowned Harvard Medical School, features a master of biomedical informatics that places a strong focus on data science skills through two tracks.

The 48-credit full-time track admits students with a bachelor's degree who want to enter informatics-related healthcare careers. The part-time 36-credit accelerated track enrolls MDs interested in qualifying for clinical informatics specialties as well as postdoctoral students who want to integrate informatics into their research.

Both health informatics programs provide a framework in computational skills, quantitative methods, and biomedical foundations, electives in emerging fields, such as precision medicine and data visualization, and a capstone research project. Postdoctoral students interested in the accelerated master's program may apply for the biomedical informatics and data science research training fellowship that awards funding for tuition and other expenses.

Harvard is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

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2. Duke University

Officially established as a university in 1924, Duke began as a North Carolina training school for Quaker and Methodist communities in 1838. The university's top-ranked school of nursing offers several bachelor's and graduate programs, including a health informatics major within the master of science in nursing degree.

This two-year 38-credit master's in health informatics combines online course delivery with one required on-campus session each year. The curriculum offers courses in clinical information systems, strategic planning, project management, and data analytics, along with advanced practice nursing foundations.

All degree-seekers participate in an intensive, individualized field experience in a healthcare setting. This 224-hour practicum requires a project in the informatics specialty. The program prepares graduates to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center's generalist exam for nursing informatics.

Duke holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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3. Stanford University

Stanford, widely recognized for its innovative technological programs in recent years, has also garnered accolades for its quality medical education. The Stanford Medical School combines these strengths in its biomedical data science offerings.

The 45-credit master of science in health informatics offers three tracks: a full-time research-oriented academic master's; an online professional master's for part-time students; and a co-terminal program for Stanford undergraduates seeking a master's degree.

The academic master's in biomedical informatics requires two years to complete and culminates with a substantial research project. The professional master's, known as the honors cooperative program, replaces the research component of the academic master's with a work requirement in a healthcare setting.

Students in this option maintain full-time employment while taking online coursework. The co-terminal master's allows undergraduates to earn credits toward their master's degree as soon as they have completed 120 credits.

Stanford is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

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4. Columbia University

Columbia, a prestigious Ivy League university, offers top-ranked undergraduate and graduate programs. The department of biomedical informatics administers a free-standing master of arts program and a master's program designed for medical students.

The freestanding MA degree prepares graduates for healthcare informatics careers and provides a strong background for doctoral work. The degree requires 30 credits, including a research project that leads to a final culminating master's essay.

The curriculum integrates practical applications from computer science, biostatistics, biomedical informatics, and public health. Students typically complete this degree in 2-4 years, depending on enrollment status.

The MD-MA, a joint degree offered by the college of physicians and surgeons and the graduate school of arts and sciences, integrates biomedical informatics within the training of medical students. The curriculum focuses on computational skills and data-driven research applications to medicine, biology, and public health.

Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill, one of the first public universities in the U.S., opened its doors in 1795. Recognized for its academic quality, the university awards degrees in over 70 undergraduate and 170 graduate and professional programs. The top-rated interdisciplinary Carolina Health Informatics Program provides online and on-campus options for students interested in earning a professional science master's degree in biomedical and health informatics.

Degree requirements comprise 35 total credits: 12 credits of core coursework, six credits of business fundamentals and professional skills courses, six in biomedical health informatics, and eight in either a clinical health informatics or public health informatics concentration.

Each enrollee must also complete a three-credit internship experience in a placement related to the selected concentration. The degree typically takes 16 months of full-time study. The program also offers part-time study plans and a one-year fast-track option.

UNC-Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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6. Vanderbilt University

This top-ranked private university located in Nashville, Tennessee, collaborates closely with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center to offer several programs in informatics. The department of biomedical informatics offers a master of science in applied clinical informatics for working healthcare professionals, along with a research-oriented master of science in biomedical informatics designed primarily for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, or related healthcare specialists.

The 36-credit clinical MS typically takes 21 months to complete. The mostly online program delivers courses synchronously one evening per week. Each student must also attend a 1-2 day session on campus at the beginning of every semester.

This research-based master of science in health informatics requires each enrollee to complete 30 credits and a master's thesis. The curriculum enables students to develop a concentration through electives and research experiences in clinical informatics, translational bioinformatics, data science, or environmental exposure.

Vanderbilt is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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7. University of Michigan

As Michigan's oldest university, U-M opened in 1817 — twenty years before the state joined th

e union. U-M, as the flagship school of the University of Michigan System, administers over 275 programs in 19 schools and colleges. The university's academic strengths in healthcare and technology fields contribute to the interdisciplinary master of health informatics, a joint program offered by its school of information, school of public health, and medical school.

This 52-credit, campus-based master's in health informatics provides students with the flexibility to specialize in subfields, such as clinical, consumer, or public health areas. Core courses explore healthcare systems, health policy, information technology, and behavioral, cognitive, and organizational science.

The curriculum emphasizes training in analytics, data science and analytics, biostatistics, and data management. The degree requires an approved 360-credit internship, usually completed in the summer between the first and second year of the program.

U-M holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

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8. Brandeis University

Brandeis, founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community as a nonsectarian university, has always welcomed students from every religious, ethnic, and cultural background. This private research institution currently enrolls over 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students online and at its campus in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The division of graduate professional studies launched a 30-credit master of science in health and medical informatics in 2010. This fully online part-time program prepares its graduates to develop and apply information technology solutions to improve patient care in several different settings.

Required courses include perspectives on health/medical information systems, health data and electronic health records, health/medical information systems security, and data analytics and decision support for health informatics. Degree-seekers choose three electives in areas like emerging technologies, population health, data analytics, and organization leadership and decision-making.

Brandeis is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

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9. Drexel University

Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this comprehensive research institution has garnered recognition for its interdisciplinary approach to applied education. As a pioneer in distance learning, Drexel established one of the first completely online degrees in 1996. The fully online master of science in health informatics offers flexible full-time and part-time study plans for healthcare professionals looking for career advancement or students interested in entering healthcare management positions.

This interdisciplinary degree, administered jointly by the colleges of nursing and health professions, public health, and business, delivers courses in four 10-week sessions each year, typically requiring 2-3 years to complete.

The 45-credit curriculum features courses in information systems analysis and design, database management, and ethical and legal issues in healthcare management and policy. Program graduates become eligible to sit for the registered health information administration and registered health information technician certification examinations.

Drexel's MS in health informatics is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

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10. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Based in Lubbock, Texas, TTUHSC graduates the most healthcare professionals in the state. As a leader in nursing education, TTUHSC began awarding nursing baccalaureate degrees in 1981. Currently, the school of nursing offers several master's and postmaster's programs, including a master of science in nursing with a nursing informatics track.

The 36-credit nursing informatics program delivers all courses online, with occasional travel to the Lubbock campus for required field experiences or immersion work on technical and analytical competencies. The degree prepares graduates for the American Nurses Credentialing Center's board certification and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society certified professional in health information management exams.

Each applicant must hold an accredited BSN degree and have completed a minimum of two years of clinical experience, including some experience in nursing informatics or technology.

TTUHSC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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11. Milwaukee School of Engineering

The applications-oriented MS in medical informatics, offered jointly from MSOE with the Medical School of Wisconsin, prepares graduates to develop, implement, and manage information technology solutions in healthcare.

Designed primarily for working professionals, the program schedules classes once a week during the evening in four 10-week terms throughout the year. This MS in health informatics emphasizes information science applications, business principles, and program management.

Full-time students complete the 54-credit degree in five consecutive quarters of study, while part-time enrollees may take up to five years to finish all requirements. The curriculum requires a research project or internship in the summer term of the second year.

MSOE is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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12. Michigan Technological University

Established in 1885 to train mining engineers in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, MTU has grown into a major public university that confers degrees in engineering, technology, and mathematics in seven colleges and schools.

The 30-credit master of science in health informatics, open to traditional students and working professionals, offers campus-based and online options. Degree-seekers can choose to develop specialized skills through concentrations in healthcare information security and privacy, healthcare data informatics and visualization, and imaging Informatics.

The flexible curriculum consists of 12 health informatics core courses, 9-12 credits in the concentration, and 6-10 credits in electives, a thesis option, or a research project.

MTU also offers an accelerated master's in health informatics that allows undergraduates majoring in computer network and system administration to enroll in informatics graduate courses, leading to completion of the master's degree in one year.

MTU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

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13. University at Buffalo

The largest and most comprehensive school in the State University of New York System, UB enrolls approximately 32,000 students in 13 schools and colleges. The school of medicine and biomedical sciences offers a master of science in biomedical informatics that trains graduates for management roles in healthcare, industry, and biomedical research settings. This 36-credit degree usually takes two years of full-time study to complete.

Degree-seekers may choose from courses in bioinformatics, biomedical ontology, clinical informatics, public health informatics, and sociotechnical and human-centered design concentrations. Each focus requires a research thesis or practicum.

Admission to the MS program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE or MCAT scores. The department prefers applicants who have completed one or more courses in computer science, programming, biology or other health sciences, mathematics, and statistics.

UB is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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14. SUNY Downstate Medical Center

This public medical school and hospital, part of the State University of New York System, ranks among the nation's best urban medical centers. As the only academic medical center serving Brooklyn's 2.5 million residents, SUNY Downstate encompasses a teaching hospital, a research and biotechnology complex, and five colleges and schools.

Its school of health professions administers top-rated programs in physician assistant services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, midwifery, and medical informatics. The 36-credit master of science in medical informatics features an affordable tuition and convenient evening classes for working professionals.

Full-time students may complete the campus-based program in two years. Part-time learners may take up to four years to fulfill all requirements. The curriculum includes 36 credits in core courses, a three-credit master's essay, and a three-credit internship that requires 120 hours in community-based professional settings.

SUNY Downstate is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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15. University of San Francisco

This Catholic-sponsored institution, the first university established in the city of San Francisco, opened its doors in 1885. USF developed a baccalaureate nursing program in 1948. Today, the school of nursing and health professions offers undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree programs in nursing, clinical psychology, public health, behavioral health, and health informatics.

The university's 36-credit master of science in health informatics features convenient weekly classes and flexible scheduling to fit the needs of working professionals. Full-time students who enroll can complete the program in three semesters. Part-time degree-seekers may spread their plan of study over 2-3 years.

Core courses include computer science for health informatics, perspectives on health informatics, clinical decision-making support and health data analytics, statistical computing for biomedical data analytics, and ethical and policy considerations in healthcare and biomedical informatics. The degree also requires an internship and 15 credits of electives.

USF is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

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16. Medical University of South Carolina

As South Carolina's only comprehensive academic health sciences center, MUSC trains more than 3,000 students in six colleges. The college of health professions offers 12 degrees, including an affordable, hybrid MS in health informatics with full-time and part-time options.

The master's in health informatics appeals primarily to working healthcare professionals seeking career advancement in informatics with a focus on data analytics. Students earn 6-9 credits each semester. The full-time plan of study takes four semesters to complete, while the part-time option requires six semesters.

In addition to online courses, the program requires one on-campus session each semester, consisting of a five-day residency the first semester and four days for each of the remaining terms.

The master's in informatics is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. MUSC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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17. Clemson University

Founded in 1889 as an agricultural and military college, Clemson achieved university status in 1964. South Carolina-based Clemson administers over 80 undergraduate and 110 graduate programs to over 25,000 students.

Clemson, in partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina, offers an MS in biomedical data science and informatics open to students with undergraduate training in computer science, mathematics, engineering or biomedical sciences. The individualized plan of study requires 32-34 credits, typically completed within two years.

The degree requires 12 credits in biomedical informatics foundations and applications; 12 credits in computing, math, statistics, and engineering; 5-6 credits in health systems, quality, and safety; and 3-4 credits in biology/medicine. Qualified Clemson undergraduates may apply for an accelerated degree that enables them to earn up to 12 credits of graduate courses while completing their undergraduate degrees.

Clemson is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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18. Loma Linda University

Located in the San Bernardino Valley of California, this Seventh-Day Adventist-sponsored institution awards degrees in over 200 programs in health sciences. The school of allied health professions at LLU offers a master of science in health informatics that fits the needs of working professionals, available both fully online and on campus.

The 49-credit degree requires less than two years to complete. The curriculum, spread over seven quarters, features coursework in database and systems administration, informatics technology, data analytics and decision support, project management, and privacy and security issues.

In the final quarter, each student chooses between a capstone project or a professional practicum. The program offers degree-seekers the opportunity to participate in an electronic health record business internship, which provides practical experience working with healthcare record software and infrastructure.

LLU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

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19. University of San Diego

USD developed out of the merger of San Diego College for Women and the all-male San Diego University. This coeducational comprehensive research university, affiliated with the Catholic Church, offers six master's programs with convenient on-campus and online options.

The master of science in healthcare informatics integrates business and management coursework with healthcare informatics training for working healthcare professionals and students interested in joining the field. Depending on the format, the degree requires 37-42 credits, typically completed within two years.

Online students take one accelerated seven-week class each term. On-campus students take 2-3 classes concurrently and follow a traditional semester schedule. Students may choose from tracks in healthcare analytics, leadership, or informatics.

The master's program has been certified as an Approved Education Partner by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. The University of San Diego holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

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20. Lipscomb University

Established in 1891 in Nashville, Tennessee, Lipscomb offers 200 undergraduate majors and minors, 24 master's degrees, and three doctoral programs. This private liberal arts university, affiliated with the Churches of Christ, has acquired recognition for its professional programs in business, technology, and health sciences.

Together, its colleges of pharmacy and health sciences and computing and technology sponsor a master of science in healthcare informatics intended for students with educational or employment backgrounds in business, information technology, or clinical care.

This 42-credit accelerated program schedules weekend classes in a cohort format to accommodate the needs of working professionals and provide interactive learning experiences.

The curriculum offers concentrations that develop in-demand skills in the areas of data management and predictive analytics, blockchain technology, digital and mobile health, and healthcare administration. Most students finish the MS within 12 months.

Lipscomb is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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21. Saint Louis University

Established in 1818, SLU is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River. Affiliated with the Jesuit religious order, this Catholic institution enrolls 13,000 students in 14 top-ranked undergraduate and graduate programs.

SLU's master of science in health data science requires students to complete coursework in three fields: statistics, computing, and health science applications. The 30-credit program, available in full-time and part-time options, typically takes two years to complete. The plan of study combines online course delivery with conveniently scheduled on-campus offerings to accommodate working professionals.

The MS degree provides graduates with highly sought-after skills in health data manipulation, data mining, data visualization, machine learning, and predictive analytics. The curriculum culminates with a capstone experience in the final semester that allows students to apply their skills in a healthcare industry setting.

SLU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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22. University of Washington

As Washington's flagship public research university, UW enrolls over 54,000 students and awards 12,000 bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees annually. The university offers a master of health informatics and health information management for healthcare, IT, and business professionals looking to advance into leadership roles.

The degree plan combines monthly on-campus meetings with fully online weekly classes. This affordable master's program charges the same tuition rate for Washington state residents and nonresidents.

The 54-credit degree, offered over six consecutive quarters, takes approximately 18 months to complete. Its competency-based curriculum comprises courses in five key pillars: health information systems, healthcare data analytics, information governance, privacy and security, and health systems leadership. The degree culminates in a community-oriented capstone experience in a healthcare organization.

This master's degree is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. UW holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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23. University of Iowa

Founded in 1847, this top-ranked public research university enrolls over 32,000 in 11 colleges. UI sponsors the Iowa Informatics Initiative, a multidisciplinary program designed to coordinate informatics training across the institution. The Initiative offers certificate, master's, and Ph.D. options in four subprograms, including a master of science in health informatics and information science.

The MS subprogram in health informatics requires 32 credits. The curriculum comprises six credits in the health informatics core; nine credits in foundations of informatics, programming, and database systems; and three credits in statistics and research methodology. Students customize their degrees by choosing from electives in business, engineering, medicine, liberal arts, or public health.

Students with prior training in health professions can acquire a foundation in computational areas. Degree-seekers who come from backgrounds in computer science, engineering, or information science can focus on health sciences.

UI is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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24. George Mason University

Mason, as Virginia's largest public research institution, awards 140 undergraduate degrees and 127 graduate and professional degrees in ten colleges and schools. Students interested in the fast-growing field of healthcare management may enroll in the master of science in health informatics without prior experience in healthcare or information technology.

The 39-credit MS in health informatics offers a health data analytics concentration, available on campus and online, along with health informatics and population health informatics tracks available only on campus.

The program offers flexible part- and full-time plans of study leading to a degree in 22-28 months. The curriculum covers healthcare systems and applied training in computational tools in health informatics, statistical process control, and data mining.

The health informatics master's degree is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management. Mason holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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25. Stony Brook University

As part of the State University of New York System, Long Island-based Stony Brook has achieved recognition for its quality professional education, especially in health sciences and related fields.

The school of health technology and management offers a master of science in applied health informatics with concentrations in clinical informatics, data analytics, and leadership and knowledge management. The 52-credit degree admits clinically trained healthcare and computer science graduates, along with students from nonclinical backgrounds seeking careers in healthcare management.

This full-time program, offered at Stony Brook's Southampton campus, consists of two traditional 15-week semesters and four accelerated summer sessions, completed in 15 months of continuous enrollment. Its conveniently scheduled classes take place in the late afternoon and evenings to accommodate working professionals. Each enrollee must also participate in a 480-hour practicum at a large healthcare center, community-based healthcare organization, or other vendor in the New York region.

Stony Brook is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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