Advances in technology have led to changes in the healthcare industry, particularly with record keeping and patient privacy. A degree in health informatics can open up a wide range of career opportunities. Many students choose to complete a master's degree in health informatics online because they have family and work responsibilities or because they prefer the structure of an online program.

Length of Program

Because online programs offer flexible scheduling, there is some variety in the amount of time it takes to complete. For example, the program at Walden University is 33 credits, with three of those credits assigned for an independent research project. If students were to take a full-time course load the way they would in a traditional graduate program, the program would take about two years to complete. However, if students only took one or two courses at a time, it could take several years to finish. The majority of online master's degree programs in health informatics are between 33 and 36 credit hours.

Course Work

Course work in online master's degree programs in health informatics explore legal issues and ethical concerns as well as teach practical skills and administrative duties. At Southern New Hampshire University, some of the core courses include Advanced Information Technology, Operating Systems, Information Technology Project and Team Management, Computer Simulation and Modeling, Telecommunications and Networking, and Principles of Database Design. At Northeastern University, core courses include The American Health Care System, The Business of Health-Care Informatics, Creation and Application of Medical Knowledge, Data Management in Health Care, and Strategic Management and Leadership in Healthcare. Elective courses are also built in to the program so you can tailor your course of study beyond the required courses.

Practical Experience

Some programs include the option for completing an internship or practicum so students can get practical experience. At Walden University, students can get three hours of credit for a practicum. Students must find their own placement at a healthcare facility and complete 120 hours of work. Students must plan and conduct a clinical research study, which is monitored by an on-site supervisor. They must also take an accompanying online course.

Capstone Project

Some programs also require completing a capstone project, which is similar to a thesis in a traditional master's degree program. For example, at Northeastern University, students earn three credit hours for a capstone project, which encourages students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a research project that contributes to the health informatics field. The capstone project is a research-intensive project completed under the guidance of faculty advisers.

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