If you’re looking to advance in the technical or technological side of the healthcare industry, a masters degree in health information management online is a logical choice.
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It can prepare you for many different careers, and since it’s all online, you can earn your credentials from the comfort of your own home. Campus-based learning is optional.
Masters in Health Information Management Degrees Online
Maybe you’ve already earned a baccalaureate degree in health informatics and you’re looking for the next step. Maybe you earned a degree in a different healthcare field, but you’re feeling the call of information management as a lucrative, fast-growing career option.
An online masters degree in health information management (HIM) is suitable for many types of students. Though it’s a specialized degree, it’s wide-ranging enough that you can learn a broad series of subjects and skills, and you can take these things and apply them to any number of healthcare jobs.
There are several types of degrees at the master’s level for health information management:
- Master of Science (MS) in Health Information Management
- Master of Science (MS) in Management Information Systems
- Master of Health Sciences (MHS) in Health Informatics
- Master of Information Science (MIS)
- Master of Health Administration (MHA) in Health Informatics
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Health Care Administration
You’ll see a lot of overlap in these degree programs. They can all teach you about policy, advocacy, law, finance, data analytics and business administration. They can all familiarize you with the digital information systems that keep today’s healthcare industry running.
Some colleges might offer one degree type instead of the other. They might have different names for their majors, minors, specializations and degree concentrations. You’ll need to do a little research to figure out which ones are right for you.
Masters in Health Information Management Careers & Salaries
A master’s degree in health information management can lead to a wide variety of careers. You might work in a hospital or clinic; you might find employment with a retailer, insurer or financial firm. There are even opportunities in things like telemedicine if you like to stay on the cutting edge of industry developments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the health information management field include:
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|Computer and Information Systems Manager||$151,150|
|Training and Development Manager||$115,640|
|Health Information Manager in Hospitals||$112,870|
|Medical and Health Services Manager||$104,280|
|Software Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst||$96,040|
|Nursing Home Administrator||$89,880|
|Administrative Services Manager in Healthcare||$87,920|
|Business Operations Specialist||$77,420|
|Computer Network Support Specialist||$65,450|
Another thing to note about salaries is that they can be impacted by outside factors like regional job demand. Two people with the same credentials who are working the same job can have completely different salaries depending on where they live.
Choosing a Masters in Health Information Management Degree
How do you choose a school for your masters in health information management online? What criteria should you use for picking a degree program or specialization?
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Everyone has their own needs, standards and priorities, but there are a few things that all students should consider before applying to grad schools.
- Accreditation. The university should be regionally or nationally accredited. If the HIM degree is programmatically accredited, that’s a plus, but it isn’t a necessity.
- Admissions. Some graduate schools are more selective than others. Some might have fees, deadlines or financial aid requirements that you’ll need to think about before applying.
- Online class types. Some online classes are self-paced or self-directed. Others hold lectures in real time or require video conferences or other forms of direct engagement. Which kinds of classes will suit your learning needs?
You’ll also want to take a look at the school’s academic catalogue. If you want a Master of Health Sciences (MHS) but they only offer a Master of Health Administration (MHA), that might be a deal-breaker.
Masters in Health Information Management Curriculum & Courses
While every degree program is different, there are certain topics that you can expect to see covered in your health information management education. They range from the practical to the theoretical, and at the master’s level, they can prepare you for specialized work in high-earning careers.
- Introduction to Health Information Technology: If you don’t already have a background in health informatics, you’ll need entry-level courses to teach you the basics. Look for names that include “foundations,” “principles” and “introduction.”
- Finance: Depending on your degree program, finance-based courses can teach you everything from budgeting and auditing to filing insurance claims for patients and providers.
- Medical Terminology: These courses can teach you how to decipher the codes and abbreviations of the medical industry. They might be combined or supplemented with “Coding and Classification” courses.
- Human Resources Management: Even if you aren’t planning on a career in human resources, these classes can teach you valuable administrative skills in a corporate setting.
- Digital Information Systems: Information systems are the backbone of the healthcare industry, so if you aren’t familiar with their infrastructure, you’ll need to learn how to navigate them.
- Legal Aspects of Health Information Management: Covering everything from policy to advocacy, these classes can prepare you for the legal challenges of the healthcare industry.
- Data Security: Privacy is a growing concern for the healthcare industry as systems become increasingly digital. Data security courses can brief you on the risks while familiarizing you with the tools and techniques used to protect online information.
- Organizational Behavior: If you have your eye on a managerial position, you’ll want to study the structures of the modern workplace and how employees function within them.
- Special Topics in Health Information Management: “Special topics” is a term that’s used to describe ever-changing subjects. They might center on everything from the current trends and technologies of the industry to cultural shifts in the perception of healthcare.
- Practicums: Some HIM programs have real-world clinical requirements, so if you’re getting an online degree, you’ll need to make arrangements to fulfill them locally and submit them for approval to your university.
Keep in mind that every school categorizes their courses differently, so these subjects might be considered electives, specialties, core classes or something else entirely. The specifics will depend on your chosen university.
Getting into grad school can be even more complex than getting into college for a four-year degree. There’s a whole new set of admissions criteria, including:
- Transcripts: Colleges will want to see how you did with your bachelor’s degree. A less-than-stellar GPA isn’t an automatic disqualifier, but there might be restrictions to your admission.
- Resume or CV: Active professionals will want to submit their resume. Students without a lot of work experience will want to use a CV to outline their academic accomplishments.
- Test scores: Rather than the SAT or ACT, graduate schools will ask for the GRE or GMAT. Some have “formulas” that generate a score for you based on your test results; others simply weigh the results along with other admission factors.
- Statement of Purpose: This is the graduate equivalent of a college essay. It’s your chance to really speak to the person who is reading your application and make a case for yourself as a prospective student.
Some colleges will allow you into a health information management program without any previous knowledge of the subject. You may just need a BA/BS in any field to be eligible for grad school.
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Others colleges might ask for a background in health information management before you can enroll, or they might list you as a “pending” or “pre-candidacy” HIM student until you’ve finished the foundational coursework.
As an experienced college student, you’re probably familiar with accreditation, but here’s a refresher of the three types:
- Regional accreditation
- National accreditation
- Programmatic accreditation
Regional and national accreditation is called “institutional accreditation” since it’s given to entire schools. Programmatic accreditation to given to specific programs within schools, so it’s a bit different.
You’ll want to make sure that you enroll in an accredited school for your masters in healthcare information management. Not only will it ensure that your degree is recognized as a legitimate one, but if you ever have to change schools, it will increase your odds of your credits transferring smoothly.
Health Information Management Accreditation
Programmatic accreditation is offered by special accrediting boards. They’re usually within a specific industry, and they usually focus on just one or two subjects in their area of interest.
For health information management, there are two important names to know:
- Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management: CAHIIM is devoted to the review of healthcare technology degree programs. You can check their website for a full list of their curriculum requirements and standards.
- American Health Information Management Association: AHIMA is a professional organization for all aspects of healthcare information management. While not an accrediting board, they offer all kinds of industry-recognized classes and certification programs, so they’re recognized as an authority.
When in doubt about your school’s accreditation status, search the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) database. It will list all of their credentials.
Health Information Management Professional Organizations
You don’t have to join an industry organization to get ahead. However, if getting ahead is the goal, they can definitely help. They’ll connect you with resources as both a student and a working professional, and they’ll look good on a resume when you’re trying to stand out from other job applications.
Here are just a few organizations that might interest you as you seek an online masters degree in health information management:
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: The AAHAM offers everything from conferences to certification programs, so if you’re interested in becoming a Certified Revenue Cycle Executive or Certified Compliance Technician, this is the org for you.
- American College of Healthcare Executives: With almost 50,000 members, the ACHE is one of the largest organizations of its kind, and it’s leading the way with forums, networks, career events and leadership programs.
- American Health Information Management Association: As discussed above, the AHIMA is a recognized name in the healthcare industry, and they provide valuable educational resources for students at every level.
- Healthcare Financial Management Association: Meant for professionals who work in the financial sectors of healthcare, the HFMA has many tools, events and awards for those with numbers on their mind.
- National Association of Healthcare Access Management: Another large and respected organization, you might recognize NAHAM for their scholarships, but they also boast other membership perks like educational seminars and remote career counseling.
These aren’t the only professional organizations for HIM students. They’re just some of the most prominent. Don’t be afraid to look for others, especially if you’re specializing in something unique.
Health Information Management Licensing and Certification
In today’s economy, a college degree isn’t always enough to secure a job. You might need or want a professional certification to go along with it.
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Here are just a few of your options in healthcare information management:
- Registered Health Information Management Administrator: Offered by the American Health Information Management Association, the Registered Health Information Management Administrator (RHIA) is for people who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree in health informatics or a related field. Its exam will test your knowledge in things like law, policy, technology, finance and business practices.
- Registered Health Information Technician: Also offered by the American Health Information Management Association, the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) is for associate degree holders or higher. As an entry-level certification, its exam is slightly less intense than its counterpart, but it will still require you to prove your expertise in health information management topics.
You can also look into certifications like the Certified Professional in Health Informatics (CPHI), the Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC) and the Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS).
There are many options out there for HIM students. You just have to find them.
Funding a master’s degree is a bit different than funding a bachelor’s degree. You won’t be eligible for many of the grants and loans that are available to undergrads, so you might need to get creative with your financial aid.
The first step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While you’ll lose access to things like subsidized loans, there are special Direct PLUS Loans meant specifically for graduate students.
The next step is looking into state-funded financial aid. The government isn’t the only institution that offers grants, loans and work-study programs. You might qualify for several types of assistance depending on your income.
Last but not least, don’t be shy about applying for scholarships. You don’t have to be on the dean’s list to earn them. Many scholarships are need-based rather than merit-based, and there are foundations out there for healthcare students of all GPAs. As a health information management student, you’ll probably fall under their umbrella.
What Can I Do With a Masters in Health Information Management?
Health information management is a fast-growing field with many different job options for qualified candidates. You can find work in hospitals, clinics, care centers, insurance companies and private healthcare businesses. You can even work remotely in telemedicine.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a high level of job growth for the industry. While it doesn’t track health informaticists specifically, it has data available for both medical records and health information technicians and medical and health services managers.
The occupations are growing by 8 and 32 percent. These are much faster than the national average. HIM jobs are on the rise.
What Jobs Can I Get With Master’s Degree in Health Information Management?
A master’s degree in health information management can take you down many different paths.
Since it’s a technology-based degree, the most obvious career choices involve computers, networks, databases and information systems. You might become a data or systems analyst or a medical records administrator. You could even look into becoming a medical coder or software engineer if you have specialized skills.
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Management is another common track for HIM students. Earning a graduate degree can help you display a high-level proficiency in your field, and this might qualify you to become everything from a project manager to a human resources director.
There are other careers that you can consider, too. It all depends on what you want to study and where you want to go after graduation.
Are There Any Affordable Masters Degrees in Health Information Management Online?
There are many affordable programs for online degrees. In fact, it’s often cheaper to earn your masters in health information management online as opposed to attending campus-based classes. The reasons can be varied:
- Fewer student fees. As a distance learner, you won’t have to pay for things like parking, dining and housing. You might also be waived from “student activity fees” and other charges that only apply to folks on campus.
- No out-of-state tuition. This depends on the school, but some offer in-state tuition rates to online students regardless of their actual residency. They might also offer reduced rates for online students in general.
- Flexible schedules. Many schools make financial estimates based on the “traditional” model of a full-time, campus-based college student. Your costs might be quite different if you’re exploring online classes, summer semesters, accelerated degree programs or other “nontraditional” ways of learning.
Talk to your school if you have any questions about the cost of their grad school degrees. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises down the line, so hammer out the financial details in advance.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Information Management?
It usually takes around two years to earn a masters in healthcare information management. However, this is heavily dependent on credits. How many are required by your university? How many can you take per semester?
At the master’s level, a HIM degree can require anywhere from 30 – 50 credits. If you’re a full-time student, you might take upwards of nine credits per semester.
Use this equation to help you calculate your schedule:
- Total required credits / credits earned per semester / number of semesters per year
The resulting figure will be the number of years that it will take for you to earn your degree.
Universities Offering Health Information Management Online Master’s Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The College of St. Scholastica is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
DePaul University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Michigan Tech is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Northern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Northwestern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Slippery Rock University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Texas State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Mississippi is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of New England is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
UNC-Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Scranton is accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Getting Your Master’s in Health Information Management Online
If you’re ready to advance in the healthcare industry, a master’s in health information management can give you both the education and the experience to move forward. Its degree programs are designed to confront the challenges of the field, and its subjects are far-reaching enough to prepare you for many different careers.
As a bonus, many HIM degree programs are available online, so you won’t even need to live near a college campus to learn.
Start reaching out to universities and asking them about their grad school programs for health information management. You might be surprised by all of the possibilities once you enroll.
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