Best Master's Degrees in Health Information Management

Nov 05, 2021

What is a Master's in Health Information Management Degree?

Health information management is the handling of information and data in a healthcare setting. Because privacy is so sensitive and important when it comes to the healthcare industry, there are many laws that govern health information, which means that workers in health information management must be carefully trained. A master's program in health information management will give students the training and instruction they need to responsibly handle this information. Programs usually require around 36 to 45 hours. A master's in health information management prepares students for careers in which they may manage patient records, work with insurance companies, and perform administrative duties.

The Best Masters Degree Programs in Health Information Management

School Tuition* Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
1 Northwestern University $56567 9% 94% 64% Yes Yes AP Credits
2 Thomas Jefferson University $21978 66% 70% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits
3 University of Washington-Seattle Campus $19293 52% 84% 57% Yes Yes AP Credits
4 University of Illinois at Chicago $16566 73% 61% 78% Yes Yes AP Credits
5 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities $19221 57% 83% 81% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
6 Stony Brook University $13558 44% 76% 79% Yes Yes AP Credits
7 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville $9992 60% 82% 65% Yes Yes AP Credits
8 University of Mississippi $8828 88% 66% 86% Yes Yes AP Credits
9 University of Alabama at Birmingham $8100 74% 63% 95% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits
10 University of Central Florida $8872 44% 72% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits
11 University of Michigan-Dearborn $13570 62% 56% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits
12 University of South Carolina-Columbia $14137 69% 77% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits
13 Louisiana Tech University $9603 64% 60% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits
14 The College of Saint Scholastica $15306 76% 69% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits
15 Texas State University $8664 81% 54% 76% Yes Yes AP Credits
16 Temple University $17846 60% 74% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits
17 Drexel University $36021 75% 69% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits
18 Duquesne University $23580 74% 81% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
19 Arkansas Tech University $6737 95% 38% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
20 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale $15826 66% 48% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits
21 Davenport University $15888 82% 49% 98% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits
22 Chatham University $18280 62% 70% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit our ranking methodology page.

*Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Common Undergraduate Degrees for Health Information Management

Because careers in health information management pull from a variety of skill sets, several diverse undergraduate degrees are suitable to prepare students for graduate work. An undergraduate degree in a medical field, such as nursing, would be a good fit, as would more technical bachelor's degrees, such as information systems. Business management degrees can be useful as well. Because there is a range of suitable undergraduate degrees, no specific degree field is usually required, but related degrees will be preferred.

Admissions Requirements for Health Information Management Master's Programs

A bachelor's degree will be required to begin a master's program in health information management. If your bachelor's degree did not involve any coursework in healthcare-related courses, such as nursing or anatomy, you may need to complete an additional course or two covering some of these areas to be eligible for a health information master's program to ensure that students have a rudimentary understanding of healthcare basics. Programs will look for a good undergraduate GPA, likely a 3.0 or better, and as always, you'll want strong letters of recommendation. Exams like the GRE are not typically required, but a good score may often be submitted additionally.

How to Choose a Master's in Health Information Management Program

An especially large portion of students seeking master's degrees in health information management do so part-time and online, in large part because many of them are currently in the workforce. Given this, prospective students may want to give extra consideration to whether they want to be full-time or part-time students and whether they want to complete their degree entirely or partially online. Working students will also probably want to find a program that can be completed more quickly as well. Students should also make sure the program they select meets high accreditation standards.

Health Information Management Professional Organizations

AHIMA, the American Health Information Management Association, is one of the nation's preeminent professional organizations in health information management. The organization's goal is to empower professionals working in the healthcare industry, particularly in health information management, to foster a better healthcare experience for patients. To this end, AHIMA provides a number of employer resources, such as a continuing education program. It also publishes the monthly Journal of AHIMA. Another of AHIMA's important activities is that it certifies qualified individuals in health information management who pass examinations; this both helps the qualified candidate by bolstering his or her resume and helps employers recognize quality candidates. AHIMA also sponsors and is affiliated with a number of important commissions in the health information management industry, such as CAHIIM, which accredits HIM programs, and CCHIIM, which certifies individuals. AHIMA includes a student membership level, which accepts those actively enrolled in a master's program in health information management.

Master's in Health Information Management Program Accreditation

Because most health information management programs, including graduate master's degree programs, focus primarily on vocational skills and professional training rather than having an academic (research) focus, students will often pursue their degrees at smaller institutions of learning rather than at mainline universities. This means that they should take extra care making sure their program meets high standards of accreditation. One of the predominant accrediting organizations in health information management is the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), which is associated with AHIMA. CAHIIM's high standards of accreditation ensure that accredited programs have a high degree of specialization in HIM, that their curriculum is up-to-date, and that the faculty is highly qualified. Prospective students should see whether programs they wish to apply to are accredited by CAHIIM.

Health Information Management Master's Degree Courses

The coursework in a master's program in health information management will aim to teach students how to properly handle the sensitive data they work with. Courses will range from topics on information analytics to legal requirements for data privacy to how to successfully manage a database. It will also train them on their administrative responsibilities. Overall, the core of the coursework is on training the specific skills needed in a workplace environment, making the program very career-oriented.

Health Information Management Foundational Courses

Foundational courses for this degree can include:

  • Information Management. This course teaches students how to properly organize patients' healthcare information. It teaches industry standards in topics such as documentation procedures.
  • Privacy and Security. A course in privacy and security trains students in the correct protocol for handling clients' sensitive information and ensure consumer privacy.
  • Healthcare Law. Students need to understand the many laws regarding healthcare to work in careers in health information management.
  • Database Management. Professionals in health information management utilize a range of database systems to track information on clients' health as well as employer information. This course trains them in the essentials common to these different systems.

Health Information Management Specialist & Elective Courses

Elective courses for this degree can include:

  • Healthcare Finance Management. Workers in health information management may work with finances in many ways, from interacting with insurance companies to managing budgets.
  • Data Analytics. Students will need to be able to understand how to effectively collect, record, analyze, and present the healthcare data they will manage, and this course trains them on how to do so.
  • Statistics. A good understanding of statistics is important for many health information management professionals to be able to analyze the large quantity of numerical and statistical information they track.

Licensure & Certification in Health Information Management

There are a variety of health information management certification options available through AHIMA's Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM), each of which requires an examination to ensure candidates' competency. There are certification options for HIM technicians as well as HIM administrators and even coders. While these certifications are not a replacement for a degree (especially a graduate degree) in health information management, they are advantageous for two main reasons. One is that AHIMA's rigorous standards mean that CCHIIM certification will bolster your resume. The other is that many entry-level career options in HIM will require an associate degree and/or qualifying certification. This means that students who wish to work in the HIM industry during their master's program could greatly benefit from CCHIIM certification.

Post-Graduate Options After a Master's in Health Information Management

Given that master's programs in health information management are vocational, focused on building career skills rather than on academic research, few master's students in health information management will continue their study after their master's degree, but those who wish to do so still have options. They can pursue a PhD in health information management or in health informatics, but they can also get a PhD in information science. Students who pursue PhDs related to health information management will do so to become thought leaders in the health information industry.

What Can I Do with a Health Information Management Master's Degree?

Most careers in health information management, such as a health information technician, revolve around gathering, aggregating, and tracking health information data, both patients' personal health data as well as healthcare provider information. Other careers, such as a health information manager, take on a more administrative role. A plurality of health information management careers take place in a hospital (33% to 37%), but they also take place in doctor's offices, in care facilities, or in other companies. Completing a master's program in health information services is an excellent way to prepare for any of these careers because the program will teach the skills to organize and manage large amounts of healthcare information as well as how to analyze it.

Job Outlook for a Master's in Health Information Management

There's a lot of good news when it comes to jobs in health information management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which tracks projected job growth for careers across the nation, indicates that there will be substantial growth in the field from 2019 to 2029, to the tune of two to eight times the excepted job growth of the overall economy! This significant anticipated growth means that for those who want to select an occupation that will have high chances of job security in the future, health information management careers could be an excellent choice, particularly for those who want to pursue a graduate degree in the field as it is the management positions that are on the high end of the field's expected growth.

How to Become a Health Information or Services Manager

Health information managers are the administrative force behind healthcare. Health information managers are responsible for the management of health records and other patient information at their place of work and perform related administrative functions. They may be responsible for managing and overseeing other personnel working in health information at their place of work. The BLS reports that medical and health service managers make $104,280 a year on average as of 2020. Those working in care facilities make less on average at $89,880 annually, while those working in hospitals and for the government make the most at $112,870 and $116,380 respectively. The BLS expects that medical and health services manager careers will grow by 32% from 2019-2029, eight times the 4% projected growth for the overall workforce.

Health information management specialists and health information management clerks are similar but lower-grade positions that will likely be managed by a health information manager but require similar skills of data management and have the potential for advancement.

How to Become a Health Information Technician

A health information technician performs the most essential health information management responsibilities. They record, review, and track health information such as patient data. They work regularly with the kinds of databases students learn to use in a master's program in health information management. They are responsible for the day-to-day tasks of collecting and entering this information into the database as well as analyzing information over time. The BLS says that medical records and health information technicians earn $44,090 annually as of 2020, with an estimated 2019-2029 job growth of 8%, double the overall average. While this may not seem like much of a salary for someone with a master's degree, being a heath information technician is often just the first rung of the ladder for those pursuing a career in health information management. An associate degree and/or certification is the usual educational requirement to begin in one of these positions, so health information technology jobs such as a health information technician are a good starting place for those looking to work in the health information management industry while pursuing their master's degree.

Master's in Health Information Management Program Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) funding for graduate students is not as generous as it is for undergraduate students. One advantage students in health information management programs may have is that certain federal loans make more allowances for students studying in health fields. You should contact the financial aid office of the schools you're considering to see if their health information management programs qualify for additional federal aid.

The main advantage for a student a pursuing a master's degree in health information management, though, is that these programs are often more flexible in contrast to many other master's programs (such as those that require intensive research and writing). This means that students in a health information management program will more easily be able to be active in the workforce during their studies, particularly in jobs that require just certification or an associate degree. You should reach out to your prospective school's financial aid office to see if you can be eligible for a federal work-study program in the health information industry while completing your studies.

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