Part-Time Online Healthcare Informatics Degrees - MSHI Programs

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Yes! You can get your master’s degree in a part-time healthcare informatics program. The fast-growing job sector of healthcare informatics is an interdisciplinary field with many applications. For the job seeker, this can open up high demand for lucrative jobs that relate to the need for information technology within the healthcare system.

With part-time and online options for master of health informatics (MHI) programs, working professionals can advance their skills and earn their degree while continuing to work. Universities are responding to the ways that working adults are approaching higher education by offering graduate programs catering to people who need more time to complete a degree due to work or family obligations, or for people who want to advance their skills for a career change without quitting the job they already have.

An increasing population, coupled with increased digital recordkeeping, means healthcare informatics is a stable job with a lot of growth potential. Courses in this field typically cover data analytics, digital information management, information system design, and the ways in which these topics intersect specifically with healthcare. Programs with concentrations or specialties in data science or analytics could open up even more prestigious jobs or opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare occupations is projected to add about 2.4 million new jobs nationally and grow 18 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

A master’s in the field of health informatics offers high-earning potential in management, analytical, or directorial roles. Online learning opportunities provide a flexible environment for professionals who are already working in the fields of healthcare, IT, a clinical setting, nursing, or pharmacy setting who want to be able to continue working while earning an advanced degree.

While there are many online or distance learning degree programs for health informatics, they are not all created equal. Some require students to enter on a certain start date and complete the program with their cohort. Others have more flexible start dates with self-paced study for either condensed or extended degree completion timelines. Be sure to thoroughly investigate the program you are considering to find the one that works best for you.

Many programs that are not specifically described as “part-time” are considered part-time, because the student may take as little as one class at a time. If you are looking for a more accelerated, yet still self-paced and flexible program, those are available as well. Sometimes, the required credits depend on your educational and workplace background, so be sure to check with the program’s academic adviser.

Here are profiles of five part-time healthcare informatics programs.

Part-Time Online Healthcare Informatics Programs

Arizona State University – College of Health Solutions Department of Biomedical Informatics

This ASU master of health informatics is 100 percent online, with no on-site requirements. This program is accelerated, making it an excellent choice for those students who wish to complete their courses in as fast a time as possible. Students learn from faculty members who are still active in the medical community, through recorded classes that they can watch whenever it is convenient for them, although there might be specific times students must log in to access information or activities.

U.S. News and World Report ranked ASU as No. 1 in innovation since the inception of the category by the ranking program in 2016. Most part-time students take one course per 7.5-week session, although the self-paced learning is available at an accelerated rate of up to 18 credits in the spring and fall and up to seven credits in the summer. Start dates are offered in fall and spring.

Applicants to this 30-credit program must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field such as computer science, nursing, biology, medicine, pharmacy, or public health, making this program ideal for securing jobs as managers or analysts of healthcare informatics. The cost per credit is $862 for both Arizona residents and non-residents.

George Mason University – College of Health and Human Services Department of Health Administration and Policy

George Mason University, often called Mason, offers an online MSHI program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

Designed to be a 28- or 32-month program of 33 or 39 credits, courses are available as on-campus, online, and part-time options. The 100 percent online master’s in health informatics program offers courses in a condensed eight-week timeline, with students taking one course at a time for two and a half years. The online program is 39 credits and offers students with a suitable educational or work background the possibility of waiving two introductory courses. The final project could be either a capstone practicum or a master’s thesis, both of which require two semesters to complete. Undergraduates with a suitable background could join the accelerated BS to MS in health informatics program.

Distance learning students can benefit from concentrations in the fully online health data analytics field. Mason also offers a 12-month, 18-credit online graduate certificate in health informatics and data analytics, and a prior degree or experience is not required for the certificate.

The programs do not require prior work experience in healthcare or information technology for admission, although their competitive admissions committee does consider it. Mason also offers a bridge course for students new to health informatics. The cost per credit is $835, which includes a distance learning fee. Start dates for the fully online program are available in most months. The fall 2020 application fee has been waived.

The University of Scranton – College of Arts and Sciences

The online master’s degree in health informatics offered by the University of Scranton is a candidate for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Additionally, U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Scranton No. 6 in the 2020 best regional universities list.

Courses here are developed by faculty members who work in the healthcare discipline as well as health administrators from Scranton’s Panuska College of Professional Studies, and the AACSB-accredited Kania School of Management.

The program consists of 11 three-credit courses, for a total of 33 credits that cover three core concentrations: information systems, informatics, and information technology. Ten courses cover health informatics, with one specialized elective course available.

Each course is offered online in an eight-week format. Students can enter the online program in January, May, or August. Although it is possible for students to take more than one course per term, most students complete the part-time online program within two years by taking one course per term. Students can complete the final three-credit capstone course in one term.

A bachelor’s degree is required for admission. The online health informatics certificate covers the first four courses in the online health informatics program. This certificate can be completed in just eight months. If you choose to continue on with the master’s program, your certificate credits will automatically transfer. The University of Scranton charges $757 per credit plus fees for the online health informatics program and graduate certificate.

George Washington University – Milken Institute School of Public Health

George Washington University’s CAHME-accredited HealthInformatics@GW program, as they call it, can be completed within two years or as long as five years for an extended part-time online option. The program is not fully online, as it also includes two immersion visits to the Washington, DC campus.

Eight online modules are 10 weeks in length, covering a total of 45 credits. The final capstone course will allow students to use the knowledge they have gained in collecting, analyzing, and translating data to develop a solution to a real, relevant healthcare issue. This program is ideal for those healthcare or IT professionals who want to understand and manage data to improve the overall healthcare landscape.

GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health is ranked the No. 12 best public health school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, the coursework is approved by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and meets their standards for effective healthcare education.

Classes are kept small, with a ratio of about 12 students per professor. HealthInformatics@GW offers start dates each quarter. This program is designed for working professionals who have two years of full-time health experience or three years of full-time experience in any other industry; 80 percent of GW’s health informatics students have five years or more of relevant experience.

The University of Illinois – Chicago College of Applied Health Sciences

This CAHIIM-accredited master of science in health informatics program is available 100 percent online over 12 courses. The University of Illinois also offers four post-baccalaureate certificates in health informatics, which can be completed in one year, along with a post-master’s health informatics certificate which can be completed in 18 months.

The 38 credits in the MSHI program cover comprehensive, real-world issues related to integrating data into the healthcare industry, through how records are collected, how information systems are structured and maintained, and how all of the tools can be used to improve healthcare outcomes. Students can use their 12 hours of electives to gain a concentration in the developing field of health data science.

UIC’s program data shows that 88 percent of health information management graduates were employed in their field of choice within the first year of graduation.

Bottom Line: Part-Time Online MHA Programs

Online programs allow working professionals or those with other obligations to chip away at their higher education on their lunch break, in the evenings, and on weekends. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of part-time students rose to an overall increase of 13 percent between 2006 and 2016.

Colleges and universities quickly responded and increased the number and quality of their online programming. The result is that people who wish to attain a higher education no longer need to drop out of the workforce and forego the career they may already be developing.

Universities are willing and able to respond to their students’ needs for work-life balance, by allowing accelerated learning, or slower-paced classes as little as one course per eight- or ten-week term over a period of years. How you choose to study, and when, can be up to you, depending on the program you choose.

Vanessa Salvia
Vanessa Salvia
Writer

Vanessa Salvia is an Oregon-based freelance writer and editor with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. As fun as rigorous studies in math and science were, Vanessa took an independent path and developed a prolific career covering lifestyle topics for magazines and newspapers, important industries such as concrete construction and building waterproofing, and even hard science. You can get in touch at www.sagemediaandmarketing.com.

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