One of the fastest-growing areas in healthcare is informatics, and there are two ways of breaking into the field – as a nurse informaticist, or as a health informaticist. For nurses who want a new career direction, nursing informatics is a great choice, while health administrators with computer skills can build those skills with a healthcare informatics degree. Healthcare informaticists command salaries in excess of six figures annually. Organizations rely on them to manage data sets and look for ways to improve how facilities are run. Nurses are valued in the field because they increase efficiency and will in turn assist with boosting revenue for organizations.
Before enrolling in any program, it makes sense to determine if a master’s in health informatics is worth it. Graduate-level degrees are highly valuable for all nursing professions. The American Association of Colleges in Nursing advises nurses to seek out masters degrees as a way to open the door to more career opportunities. Nurses with master’s degrees in health informatics can secure positions as directors, educators, and consultants. For students looking for a traditional, on-campus program that will change their lives, Best Health Degrees has ranked the top 15 Master’s in Nursing and Healthcare Informatics.
Our Method: Ranking the Best Health Informatics Programs in the US
Best Health Degrees is focused on providing healthcare professionals and aspiring healthcare students with the best choices for their career goals. With that in mind, BHD editors sought out nursing and healthcare informatics programs across the US with 5 criteria in mind:
- Graduation Rate
- Job Placement
- National Reputation
- Salary Potential
With these practical considerations, we trust that students will find the program that will make the difference in their lives.
1. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Biomedical informatics offers an MS in Biomedical Informatics degree program that is recognized among the best health informatics masters programs in the nation. These best nursing informatics programs are available online and on campus. The Commission on Accreditation for Health informatics & Information Management (CAHIM) accredits UTHSCH’s best health informatics programs.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston was established in 1972. UTHSCH is organized as six colleges/schools — A Medical School, a Cancer Center, Dentistry, Biomedical Science, Informatics and Public Health. The school’s urban campus is home to more than 5,000 students.
Favorite Facts: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is the largest medical facility of its kind across the globe.
Degree: MS in Biomedical Informatics
2. Oregon Health & Science University
The Oregon Health & Science University’s Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology offers an MS in Health and Clinical Informatics that is recognized among the best health informatics programs that are available online or on-campus. OHSU’s best health informatics masters programs require the completion of 24 credit units spread out among the eight required courses. The Commission on Accreditation for Health informatics & Information Management (CAHIM) accredits the Oregon Health & Science University’s best nursing informatics programs.
The Oregon Health & Science University was established in 1887 as the University of Oregon Medication Department. The school’s urban campus is home to nearly 4,000 medical students studying from the School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing. US News ranks OHSU’s nursing program among the top ten in the country.
Favorite Facts: The Oregon Health & Science University operates two hospitals in the city of Portland, OR.
Degree: MS in Health and Clinical Informatics
3. Thomas Jefferson University
Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Nursing offers an MS in Health Informatics degree program that can be completed either online or on-campus. The best health informatics programs, like TJU’s, require degree applicants to hold an unencumbered Registered Nursing license. Thomas Jefferson University’s graduate school programs are recognized among the best health informatics masters programs by many college-ranking websites. The best nursing informatics programs require Thomas Jefferson University’s students to complete 36 credit units to graduate.
Thomas Jefferson University was established in 1824. Thomas Jefferson University’s 100-acre urban campus is home to more than 7,700 students studying from the College of Architecture, the College of Design, the School of Professional Studies and Science & Health.
Favorite Facts: Thomas Jefferson University is located by commuter rail just a few minutes from Philadelphia’s Center City.
Degree: MSN Health Informatics
4. University of Michigan
The University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and the School of Information offers a Master of Health Informatics (MHI) degree program that is considered among the best health informatics masters programs in the country. U of M’s Best health informatics programs requires students to complete 52 credit units over a two-year period. Students studying from U of M’s best nursing informatics programs are also required to complete an internship to gain a deeper understanding and the skills to become future Health Informatics leaders.
The University of Michigan was established 2 decades before Michigan become a state, in 1817. U of M operates with the main campus and several satellite facilities. The school’s total acreage covers more than 3,000 acres and serves more than 46,000 students.
Favorite Facts: The University of Michigan is considered one of the country’s most prestigious research academic facilities in the country.
Degree: Master of Health Informatics
5. University of Utah
The University of Utah’s School of Medicine offers an MS in Biomedical Informatics degree program that is available online and in traditional classes on campus. U of U’s best health informatics programs offer online include an Applied Clinical Informatics focus. Other U of U campus-delivered best health informatics masters programs have concentrations in Bioinformatics and Data Science. The University of Utah’s best nursing informatics programs have received accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities (NWCCU).
The University of Utah was established in 1850 and named the University of Deseret. The school holds the distinction of being a space-grant, Flagship University that houses Utah’s first medical school. The school’s urban campus is home to nearly 33,000 students.
Favorite Facts: The University of Utah is considered among the top research institutions of higher learning based on the number of research expenditures.
Degree: MS in Biomedical Informatics
6. University of California, Davis
The University of California, Davis School of Medicine offers an MS in Health Informatics degree program that is considered among the best health informatics masters programs in the University of California system and the nation. UC Davis’ best health informatics programs require the completion of 43 credit units to graduate. The curriculum for the school’s best nursing informatics programs includes 15 credit units in core courses, 19 credit units in the domain of the health informatics and 9 credit units regarding intensive research in health informatics.
The University of California, Davis, a school considered a Public Ivy school, was established in 1905 as a part of the University Farm. UC Davis became a part of the University of California system in 1959. UC Davis is a land grant and space grant institution of higher education.
Favorite Facts: The University of California, Davis’ student population is the third-largest in the University of California system.
Degree: MS in Health Informatics
7. University of Florida
The University of Florida’s College of Medicine offers an MS in Medical Sciences — Biomedical Informatics degree program that is recognized among the best nursing informatics programs in the state of Florida and the southeast portion of the country. UF’s best health informatics masters programs include the requirement for students to complete 36 credit hours. Coursework for UF’s best health informatics programs includes Applied Ontology, Theoretical Foundations of Public health, Artificial Intelligence, and Statistical Methods for Research. Additionally, degree graduates must complete a Master’s thesis regarding Research and an Independent study regarding medical sciences.
The University of Florida was established in 1853 under the Morrill Land Grant Act. The University of Florida is also a space-grant and sea-grant university that is the Flagship University of the State University System of Florida. UF’s student population exceeds 56,000 students on-campus and online.
Favorite Facts: The University of Florida is the senior member school within Florida’s State University system.
Degree: MS in Medical Sciences – Biomedical Informatics
8. Rutgers University
Rutgers University’s School of Nursing offers an MSN Nursing Informatics emphasis degree program that is considered among the best health informatics programs in the northeastern portion of the United States. Rutgers University’s best health informatics masters programs are available as a part-time or full-time student and require the completion of more than 200 hours of clinical experience plus 26 credit units. Classes that are a part of Rutgers University’s best nursing informatics programs include Clinical Inquiry, Nursing Systems, Health Care Financial Management, plus a 3 credit nursing practicum.
Rutgers University was established in 1766 and holds the distinction of being the 8th oldest institution of higher learning in the country. Rutgers University is the largest university in the Garden State.
Favorite Facts: Rutgers University is one of nine colonial universities (those established before the American Revolution) in the United States.
Degree: MSN Nursing Informatics
9. Columbia University
Columbia University’s Department of Biomedical Informatics offers an MA in Biomedical Informatics degree program that is recognized as one of the best health informatics masters programs in New York and in the country. The requirements to graduate from Columbia’s best health informatics programs include at least 30 credit units, an oral exam, and a master’s level essay. Columbia’s best nursing informatics programs are completed in four-years (by part-time students) and in two years (by full-time students).
Columbia University was established in 1754. Columbia University is an Ivy League school and a member of the nine Colonial Colleges in the United States. Columbia University’s urban campus is home to more than 33,000 students studying from the school’s twenty colleges/universities.
Favorite Facts: Columbia University holds the distinction of being the oldest school in the Empire State and the fifth oldest in the nation.
Degree: MA in Biomedical Informatics
10. University of San Diego
The University of San Diego offers an MS in Healthcare Informatics with a concentration in Applied Clinical Informatics degree program that is frequently recognized among the best health informatics masters programs across the country. Degree candidates studying for USD’s best health informatics programs are required to complete 35 credit hours, which include a non-thesis-culminating project. USD’s best nursing informatics programs partner with HIMSS — Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
The University of San Diego is a private institution of higher learning that was established in 1949 as an all-women’s college. USD is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The University of San Diego’s campus sits atop of a mesa that overlooks Mission Bay and is home to nearly 5,800 students.
Favorite Facts: US News recognizes USD among the top 100 national universities. The school also ranked ninth as the best college food.
Degree: MS in Healthcare Informatics
11. University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco’s School of Nursing and Health Professions offers an MS in Health Informatics degree program that requires the completion of 36 credit units. USF’s best nursing informatics programs can be completed in as little of one year; however, most students complete the program in two to three years. Coursework for USF’s best health informatics masters programs includes Biosignal Analysis, Consumer Health Informatics, plus a capstone project. USF’s best health informatics programs include two tracks — the Clinical Informatics path or the Health Data Analytics paths.
The University of San Francisco was established in 1855. The University of San Francisco is affiliated with the Roman Catholic (Jesuit) Church. USF operates with several campuses in and around San Francisco that offer more than 225 degree programs to a student enrollment that exceeds 11,000.
Favorite Facts: The University of San Francisco’s urban campus is nestled between the Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Degree: MS in Health Informatics
12. East Carolina University
East Carolina University’s College of Allied Health Sciences offers an MS in Health Informatics and Information Management degree that is recognized among the best health informatics masters programs in the country. ECU’s graduate best health informatics programs have received accreditation from the Council on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIM) — the only accredited best nursing informatics programs in North Carolina.
East Carolina University was established in 1907 as a public institution of higher education for teacher training. ECU operates with several campuses that serve nearly 30,000 students studying for academic degrees offered by ECU’s fourteen colleges/schools. East Carolina University is responsible for the most nursing graduates (of any single school) in the mid-Atlantic region. Favorite Facts: East Carolina University is the official place for the safekeeping of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Degree: MS Health Informatics and Information Management
13. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis offers one of the best health informatics masters programs in the nation. IUPUI’s College of Allied Health Sciences offers its MS in Health Informatics & Information Management, which requires the student to complete 30 credit units to graduate. Classes for IUPUI’s best health informatics programs include eHealth Care, Decision Support in Health Care, plus a thesis to meet all requirements. IUPUI’s graduate best nursing informatics programs have received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Health informatics & Information Management (CAHIM)
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis was established in 1969. IUPUI’s urban campus covers more than 500 acres and is home to more than 30,000 students. IUPUI’s campus is within walking distance of the State Capital building and just west of downtown Indianapolis.
Favorite Facts: A merger of Indiana University with the Purdue Indianapolis Extension established Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
Degree: MS in Health Informatics Campus
14. Adelphi University
Adelphi University’s College of Nursing & Public Health offers some of the best health informatics masters programs available online, and on-campus. Adelphi has been recognized among the best health informatics programs with the best value. Adelphi University’s best nursing informatics programs include Statistical Methods, Health Information Privacy, and Natural Language Processing, to name a few.
Adelphi University was established in 1896 as a private institution of higher education. Adelphi University operates several campuses in Garden City, Suffolk County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and Manhattan. Adelphi’s main suburban campus covers more than 70 acres. Adelphi’s student enrollment is approximately 8,000, of which 6,100 are full-time students.
Favorite Facts: Adelphi University holds the distinction of being the oldest school on Long Island, NY.
Degree: MS Healthcare Informatics Online or Campus
15. Boston University (Metro College)
Boston University’s Metropolitan College offers an MS in Computer Information Systems-Health Informatics that is recognized among the best health informatics masters programs in New England and the nation. BU’s best health informatics programs are available online, on-campus, or a blended delivery and can be completed in about 1.5 years. US News recognizes BU’s best nursing informatics programs (offered online), among the top ten graduate Health informatics in the country.
Boston University was established in 1839. The school is nonsectarian but was once affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The school’s urban campus is home to more than 34,000 students studying from BU’s 18 colleges/schools. US News recognizes Boston University among the top 50 global institutions of learning.
Favorite Facts: Boston University’s main campus runs along the Charles River and is directly across the river from the Massachusetts of Technology’s campus.
Degree: MS in Computer Information Systems – Health Informatics
What is Nursing Informatics?
A common question when comparing degree programs is “What is nursing informatics and why is it so important?” Although steadily growing and evolving each year, the field of nursing informatics is relatively new. A simple nursing informatics definition is a specialty that blends together direct patient care and technology. With nursing informatics, specialists are able to analyze systems to find better ways to care for patients. Additional benefits of nursing informatics are increased efficiency and overall cost reduction.
Nursing informatics specialists are trained to collect data and analyze it to see what technological systems need improvements within a medical organization. For instance, one of the major requirements of nursing informatics specialists is managing electronic records. Due to federal mandates, health organizations must have an electronic record system in place to receive Medicare payments. Nursing informatics degree holders know how to implement new records systems and train staff on how to use the software.
Along with training, the nurse may be responsible for creating policies on how staff must perform all electronic recordkeeping. Further benefits of nursing informatics are that organizations stay in compliance with all federal mandates and avoid fines. Not having secure and private health records can be costly to any medical organization.
What is Health Informatics?
Another question of degree seekers is: “What is healthcare informatics?” Healthcare informatics is a broad field that involves the nurse working directly for the benefit of organizations. Instead of only focusing on improving the job of nurses, a health informatics specialist will look for ways to improve all aspects of a facility’s IT infrastructure. Healthcare informatics is concentrated on the administrative aspects of an organization. Healthcare informatics job duties will likely include data security, database management, and systems analyses. For health informatics, the needs of the entire organization will be addressed. Responsibilities may even extend to looking to improve societal health outcomes. Jobs within health informatics include healthcare consultant, health information director, chief information officer, and coding auditor.
Nurses may ask “Is health informatics a good career choice?” Healthcare informatics is a highly competitive field with lucrative pay and benefits. Most organizations will require a master’s level degree for health informatics positions. To reflect the nurse’s educational background and experience, salaries are likely to exceed $100,000 annually. In comparison, entry level nurse informatics jobs will have an average salary around $40,000 per year. Job outlook within the field of health informatics is good too. Growth in the field over the next ten years is expected to increase by as much as 11 percent. This is much faster than the average for all other careers.
What is the Difference Between Nursing Informatics and Health Informatics?
Nursing informatics vs health informatics features both similarities and key differences. For both roles, the professional will work with technology within a health organization. Moreover, health informatics and nursing informatics jobs may both involve working with electronic health records. However, one notable difference between health informatics and nursing informatics is that the former focuses more on an organization with the latter concentrates more on patient care.
Health informatics jobs are no longer limited to electronic records technicians. With the degree, the nurse is qualified for positions such as clinical manager, healthcare information director, healthcare informatics consultant, data analyst, and program director.
Health informatics vs nursing informatics key points:
- Health informatics specialists may not have a nursing background while nursing informatics specialists will have years experience as a RN.
- Health informatics ensures organizations stay in compliance with federal mandates while nurse informatics will look for ways to improve patient care.
- Nurse informatics involves improving charting processes while health informatics features introducing new electronic health records systems.
- Improved patient care may be a goal of nurse informatics while better managing a medical organization’s finances is a goal of healthcare informatics.
- Individual patient outcomes are a priority within nurse informatics while healthcare informatics has whole societal medical care goals.
- For healthcare informatics, the employee may be responsible for training staff on all IT systems while nursing informatics specialists may only need to train staff on patient care systems.