Best Master's in Nursing Informatics Programs

Nov 05, 2021

What Is a Master's in Nursing Informatics Degree?

Nursing informatics explores the integration of technology and healthcare and uses technology to analyze data to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of patient care. It helps provide leaders with powerful information for decision-making and helps improve patient outcomes through changes in policies and procedures. Master's degree programs in nursing informatics are typically offered as a concentration for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Many of these degree programs are offered in an online format, but some are available in a hybrid format with multiple visits to campus and other hands-on experiences. Full-time and part-time programs are also available. The flexibility of these programs is intended to allow students to continue working in their nursing-related careers. Find out more about these master's programs here.

The Best Masters Degree Programs in Nursing Informatics

School Tuition* Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
1 University of San Diego $27762 49% 81% 82% Yes Yes AP Credits
2 University of Utah $8396 62% 70% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits
3 Rutgers University-New Brunswick $19983 61% 84% 71% Yes Yes AP Credits
4 Northern Kentucky University $11418 90% 46% 99% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits
5 University of Mary $17694 74% 60% 98% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
6 Nova Southeastern University $21206 80% 58% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
7 Vanderbilt University $49124 9% 93% 68% Yes Yes AP Credits
8 Mount Mercy University $10366 66% 64% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS 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 Nursing Informatics

It is most common, and typically required, for applicants to nursing informatics master's degree programs to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. These degree programs provide students with the necessary foundation in nursing concepts, theories, and methods needed for an advanced degree in the field. Some programs require that applicants have prior coursework in areas such as statistics and research (BSN students do). Earning a BSN helps prepare students for work as a registered nurse (RN), so applicants to master's programs may already be working as a nurse and gaining experience.

Admissions Requirements for Nursing Informatics Master's Programs

Applicants to master's programs in nursing informatics must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing and may be required to meet a minimum GPA requirement. Depending on the program, some students need to complete prerequisite coursework, have at least 2 years of clinical nursing experience, and/or some experience working in nursing informatics or technology. Applicants typically need to hold an unencumbered RN license, but do not necessarily have to currently be employed in the field. Programs can require a background check and an immunization record at admission to ensure that students are ready to interact with patients. Admissions materials for these master's programs can include transcripts, a personal statement, letters of reference, a resume, and essay responses.

How to Choose a Master's in Nursing Informatics Program

Many master's programs in nursing informatics provide students with excellent coursework that prepares them for a career and certification in the field, but some programs have unique features and formats that may be a better fit for some students. Students can begin to narrow down their program by comparing program formats and finding what works best with their schedule, such as full- or part-time. Then students can explore stand-out features of these informatics programs, such as one-on-one mentoring opportunities, standout faculty and career coaching. In a master's program, hands-on opportunities can be particularly important, so finding a program with simulation centers or intriguing internships make a huge difference.

Master's in Nursing Informatics Program Accreditation

Another important factor to consider when choosing a master's degree in nursing informatics is the program's accreditation. Many graduate programs are offered by schools that are regionally accredited, which means they have met general academic guidelines for quality and they qualify students to receive financial aid.

High-quality nursing informatics master's programs have an additional level of accreditation from nursing organizations, typically the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This organization ensures that nursing informatics programs have met nursing-specific academic standards to demonstrate quality and preparedness for a future career. Usually, master's programs in nursing informatics will also list on program pages the specific certifications that the program helps prepare students for, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Nurse Informatics Certification Exam or the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Certified Professional in Health Information Management (CPHIMS) exams. We will cover some of these certifications below.

Nursing Informatics Master's Degree Courses

Students in nursing informatics master's programs typically take some core MSN courses and then specialty courses in informatics. Depending on the program, students complete between 36 and 40 credits of coursework. Most programs include a practicum experience that helps qualify students for certification and provides hands-on learning experience in the field. Some programs can be completed in as few as 18 months, but other full-time programs may take closer to 2 years to finish. Here we examine the curriculum for these master's programs more closely, as well as the practicum experience.

Nursing Informatics Foundational Courses

Nursing informatics core courses generally focus on major concepts in nursing and leadership management. These courses aim to further develop students' leadership, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Students are likely to discuss and explore research in the field and evidence-based practice during these courses. Core MSN courses also help students further develop their advanced nursing skills working with patients. Although the names of specific courses vary greatly amongst institutions, students in these master's programs may take core courses that cover topics such as:

  • Advanced nursing roles
  • Foundations of leadership
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Quality outcomes
  • Biostatistics
  • Health systems and health policies
  • Managerial health finance
  • Research and evidence-based practice
  • Health promotion

Nursing Informatics Specialist & Elective Courses

MSN students in nursing informatics will then take specialty courses in informatics that focus specifically on the field. These courses give students the necessary background and foundation in informatics, as well as the technical skills and familiarity with current tools. A hands-on experience, such as fieldwork or a practicum experience, is usually included in these specialty courses and some programs may also include an informatics capstone course. Some examples of possible informatics specialty courses include:

  • Foundations in nursing informatics
  • Informatics system analysis and design
  • Data modeling and database management systems
  • Data to information
  • Information technology project management
  • Healthcare database systems
  • Nursing informatics practice in systems adoption

Licensure & Certification in Nursing Informatics

As mentioned, there are several common professional certifications that MSN in Nursing Informatics programs specifically help graduates prepare for. The ANCC's Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) is good for 5 years after students pass the exam. To qualify for the exam, students must have an RN license, at least a BSN, work experience, continuing education, and practice hours in informatics. There is also the CPHIMS certification from HIMSS that requires a combination of education and experience, such as a graduate degree and 3 years of work experience vs. a bachelor's degree and 5 years of experience. Students must pass a 2-hour exam to earn their CPHIMS certification, which must be renewed every 3 years.

Practicum Experience in Nursing Informatics Master's Programs

Practice hours are required for the ANCC board certification in nursing informatics, so many master's programs include a practicum experience that helps students reach this requirement. Students may complete up to 135 hours of practicum experience and some programs split this up amongst two practicum experiences. These experiences are designed to give students hands-on learning in various healthcare settings while being monitored by another healthcare professional. Students typically begin by observing other nursing informatics specialists and gaining practice researching with informatics evidence and other sources. Then students move on to performing more duties on their own but under supervision. Practicums may conclude with a final project where students use evidence to address a real-world issue.

Post-Graduate Options After Master's in Nursing Informatics

After graduation, students with their master's in nursing informatics who wish to continue their studies have several options. Graduates can pursue post-graduate certificate programs in nursing informatics. Some of these post-master's nursing informatics certification programs are available online. Other students will decide to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). DNP programs are available specifically in nursing informatics, while Ph.D. programs are available in broader fields, such as nursing science. Several schools that offer MSN programs in nursing informatics also provide easy routes for students wishing to continue to their DNP in the field. Earning a DNP in Nursing Informatics prepares students for advanced jobs and higher salaries in the field.

What Can I Do with a Nursing Informatics Master's Degree?

Nursing informatics careers are primarily available in the field of healthcare, but a degree in the field can also be applied to other closely related industries. For example, graduates can also work in settings like the government, healthcare vendors, insurance companies, colleges and schools, nonprofit organizations, and more. Graduates are typically qualified and prepared to work careers that utilize data, research, and technology. Many graduates will work in clinical settings, including home health, inpatient, and ambulatory care. Some students may wish to take their expertise and teach the next generation at colleges and universities. Graduates may take on job titles such as:

  • Nursing informatics specialist
  • Informatics director
  • Consultant
  • Health information technology project manager
  • Data analyst
  • Clinical analyst
  • Systems analyst
  • Business owner
  • Professor

Job Outlook for a Master's in Nursing Informatics

In general, the outlook for graduates with their master's in nursing informatics should be positive, as these programs help prepare students for a range of upper-level positions in healthcare and technology. Students can also apply the skills they gain in these programs to other related industries and businesses, which can also increase job prospects.

Healthcare- and technology-related positions commonly have positive job outlooks. Some of these outlooks are faster than the national average. For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for computer systems analysts was 7% from 2019 to 2029. Some jobs have even greater job outlooks, such as medical and health services managers, including health information managers, who have a job outlook of 32% from 2019 to 2029. This is much faster than average.

How to Become a Medical and Health Services Manager

As we mentioned, medical and health services managers include positions such as health information managers, which nursing informatics would fall under. Typically, medical and health services managers must hold at least a bachelor's degree and have some work experience, but many of these professionals hold a master's degree and a master's may be required for some advanced positions. These managers can have a background in nursing, health administration, health management, and more. Work experience can come from a clinical or administrative role and helps students advance to these mid- and upper-level management positions.

Per the BLS, as of 2019, medical and health services managers made a median annual salary of $100,980. In general, these managers help oversee the staff and activities of a particular healthcare department or organization. Health information managers must stay updated on the current technologies used in the field of healthcare and understand how these technologies protect, store, and organize data. They also help manage databases and understand how to access various types of information that can be used to address various issues.

How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts commonly need at least a bachelor's degree, but some positions may not require it. Other employers prefer those who have a technical master's degree or Master of Business Administration (MBA). These analysts may have a background in information science, computer science, or another related field. Continuing education is important for computer systems analysts as technology is constantly changing and professionals must stay updated on the current trends. Some analysts advance their careers with experience and move into positions as information systems managers and other advanced IT positions.

The BLS reported in 2019 that computer systems analysts made a median annual salary of $90,920. Computer systems analysts combine business and IT to develop efficient computer systems and procedures for an organization. They need to understand current technologies to find the best fit for an organization, compare costs, and manage the design, installation, and testing of systems. These analysts also typically need to help train users and perform regular maintenance on systems.

Master's in Nursing Informatics Program Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources

Several forms of financial aid are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, including those studying nursing informatics. Like undergraduates, graduate students should apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to consider any state and federal loans and grants they qualify for. Loans have to be repaid, but grants and scholarships do not and are available from diverse sources for an array of reasons.

Scholarships are available specifically for graduate students in the field of nursing informatics. Some of these scholarships are available to help cover the costs of tuition, while others are designed to help students pay for additional learning opportunities throughout the program, such as conferences. A couple of examples of scholarships for master's degree programs in nursing informatics include:

  • Nursing Informatics Conference Engagement Scholarship- The University of Utah offers this scholarship to certificate, master's, and doctoral students in nursing informatics to help them cover costs for attending conferences within the informatics community. Students must be presenting at the conference and can earn up to $1,000 for the award.
  • Online MS in Nursing Program Scholarship- The CUNY School of Professional Studies offers this scholarship to students earning their MSN, including those in nursing informatics. The award is for one semester in the amount of $1,320.
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