Best Online MSN in Health Informatics Programs

Health informatics sits at the nexus of healthcare and technology. As baby boomers age and the population continues to grow, the need and demand for quality healthcare services will only increase. By combining their clinical nursing skills with knowledge of current and emerging technology, nursing informatics practitioners help create healthcare systems that improve the delivery of medical services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% employment growth for health information technicians between 2016 and 2026.

Like many technology-heavy fields, developments in healthcare informatics occur constantly and quickly. An online master of science in nursing (MSN) in healthcare informatics provides students with knowledge of current innovations in their field and familiarizes them with the technology and tools they need to become successful healthcare informatics professionals.

1. American Sentinel University

Located in Aurora, Coloardo, American Sentinel University is a medical school dedicated to nursing and healthcare management. Providing degree opportunities at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, this school focuses exclusively on nursing certification and advancement. The MSN in informatics online at American Sentinel University takes a technological perspective of the master’s in nursing. Students learn to use the latest software systems and data analysis tools to diagnose, monitor, and track progress with precision, and provide tailored care to patients. The program offers intensive 8-week courses, with 12 courses required for graduation. Build your analytical skills and prepare for a career in upper management in this MSN nursing informatics program online.

American Sentinel University prides itself as a military-friendly school by accepting military transcripts and providing free qualifying exams to translate real-world experience into college credit. This university is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the Commission on Collegiate on Nursing Education (CCNE).

2. Duke University

Duke University’s school of nursing MSN in health informatics online spreads technological training to students nationwide from its campus in Durham, North Carolina. Study clinical information systems, project management, and strategic planning to prepare for a career as a clinical analyst, informatics researcher, or informatics manager. Pursue technological training in electronic health recordkeeping, computerized practitioner order entry, and data analytics gathering and processing systems.

The MSN informatics online degree at Duke requires 38-credit hours, including four core classes in evidence-based practice and statistics, global population health, and advanced nursing practices. Elective courses include introductory and advanced health informatics, ethical health information exchange, data analytics, and system design. All courses are online, with no on-campus requirements. However, participants must find a local healthcare institution to complete a supervised practicum to demonstrate skills acquired in the program.

The nursing school at Duke University is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

3. Nova Southeastern University

The MSN nursing informatics program online at Nova Southeastern University offers a multi-level nursing education for registered nurses and students with a BSN. For students without the BSN, NSU provides a 6-credit intensive course to transition students into advanced nursing practice. With this foundation, students enter the MSN program, which consists of 12 courses that cover everything from nursing research and critical analysis, to policy and leadership. Informatics and technology are the focus of courses such as database systems, clinical decisions support systems, and human-computer interactions.

Applications for Nova Southeastern University require either an RN certification or a BSN degree from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applications to the nursing school are accepted twice each year: by August 1 for fall admission, and by December 15 for winter admission. Applicants must submit two applications, one specialized application to the nursing program, and a general application to NSU.

MSN in Health Informatics Programs Online: An Overview

Most schools offering an MSN in health informatics provide applicants with a wealth of program information on their websites. Diligent online searches can yield information on admission requirements, program length, coursework, internship information, and licensure qualifications. Keep in mind, however, that these details may vary between schools.

Admission Requirements for an Online MSN in Health Informatics Program

Whether you choose an on-campus MSN degree or one of the many MSN in nursing informatics programs online, you must first hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Additionally, most programs expect applicants to have registered nurse (RN) experience. Since healthcare informatics programs include a heavy technology component, most schools favor RN applicants with advanced technology skills in addition to verifiable practical nursing experience. Some programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores, but many do not. Applicants must hold a current RN license, valid in the state in which they plan to practice.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online MSN in Health Informatics Program?

BSN graduates must usually complete an additional 2-3 years of study to earn their MSN in nursing informatics online. Whether these students enroll part time or full time largely dictates how long it takes them to graduate. Some MSN programs accept students who do not hold a BSN degree, or who hold an undergraduate degree in a non-nursing field. These students may complete a bridge program to bring their knowledge and skills up to the level necessary for an MSN in informatics program. A bridge program could add an additional year to the degree.

Some MSN in informatics online programs follow a cohort learning model. In this model, students go through their entire program together, meaning they start and end the program as a group. A cohort MSN in nursing informatics program online typically takes students two years to complete.

Example Courses for Online MSN in Health Informatics Students

Coursework for MSN in informatics online programs tend to reflect the school’s focus or the student’s chosen specialty. Health informatics students can choose from a variety of courses, but most schools offer similar foundation classes, providing their students with the skills to begin or enhance their careers in health informatics.

  • Advanced Health Assessment: This course provides a comprehensive overview of current and emerging health assessment procedures across the life span, including physical, functional, and mental health aspects. Students explore transcultural variations in health assessment, developing the skills needed to serve a multicultural population.
  • Data Management in Healthcare: Students learn about database application in healthcare and nursing systems. They also learn to design, implement, and manage databases to aid and support the clinical decision-making process for various healthcare professionals, including doctors, medical staff, hospital administrators, and insurance agencies.
  • Foundations of Nursing Informatics: In this course, students explore the basic elements of health informatics, such as data management; health information systems; and data organization, storage, retrieval, and interpretation. They study these aspects in the framework of nursing practice in order to deliver timely and focused patient care.
  • Nursing Informatics Leadership: This course explores the roles and responsibilities of a nurse informatics specialist working as a nurse leader and healthcare team member. Due to their knowledge of and familiarity with nursing practice and modern healthcare technology, nursing informatics professionals occupy a crucial role in healthcare delivery.
  • Nursing Research Methodologies: This course provides students with the opportunity to examine research designs and methodologies often used to advance nursing knowledge and practice. It also builds on undergraduate research and statistics courses, enabling graduate nursing students to meet the more advanced requirements of master’s-level research.

Internship Component

Similar to their on-campus counterparts, MSN in informatics online programs often include an internship component. Internships take place in a clinical setting approved by the school or program, and must be in the student’s area of specialization, if applicable. Most internship programs last for a semester and comprise 400 hours of supervised clinical experience, though the number of required hours tends to vary between schools. Some schools accept a student’s workplace as an internship location. However, students must put in additional work hours, since they cannot use their traditional work hours to fulfill program internship requirements.

Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For

  • Informatics Nursing Certification: Administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, this certification costs $270 for members of the American Nurses Association ($395 for non-members) and requires a passing score on a 175-question exam, which students must answer within 3.5 hours. ANCC requires applicants to hold an active RN license, a bachelor’s degree (preferably in nursing), and two years of professional RN experience. They must also complete at least 30 hours of continuing education units in informatics within three years of applying for the certification.
  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems: This certification, issued by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), serves professionals with at least five years of experience in the information and management systems field. Three of those five years must take place in a healthcare environment. Additionally, CPHIMS applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Affiliate members must pay $295 to take the exam, while regular members pay $325, and nonmembers pay $410.

Accreditation for Online MSN in Health Informatics Programs

Colleges and universities across the country undergo the voluntary accreditation process to demonstrate that they meet and maintain high academic standards. The Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognize several accrediting bodies that confer regional, national, and programmatic accreditation.

Regional accrediting bodies confer accreditation on degree-oriented, nonprofit, or state-owned institutions of higher learning. ED recognizes seven regional accrediting bodies in the United States. National accrediting bodies cover mostly private, for-profit institutions, which are often affiliated with religious or nonsectarian groups. In most academic circles, regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation.

Programmatic accrediting agencies operate on a nationwide level, reviewing single-purpose institutions (e.g., cooking schools) and specific programs (e.g., computer programming). The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management accredits schools offering degrees in health informatics and information management.

Job and Salary Outlook

Job Opportunities for MSN in Health Informatics Graduates

The practice of nurse informatics combines aspects of two work arenas — nursing and healthcare informatics — so professionals who complete the MSN program gain competency in both fields. These students can deliver current, evidence-based healthcare options to both medical practitioners and their patients. Graduates of MSN in nurse informatics programs have the skills and knowledge to provide quality healthcare, a professional characteristic in high demand in hospitals, hospices, and senior care facilities.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Median Annual Salary: $98,350

Medical and health services managers perform several functions, including ensuring that professionals properly use technology to deliver timely and efficient patient care.


Health Informatics Specialist

Median Annual Salary: $86,537

These specialists work with the technology department to develop medical information systems, which help medical personnel and their patients make treatment decisions supported by sound medical data.


Registered Nurse

Median Annual Salary: $70,000

RNs observe and record patient symptoms, collaborate with other medical personnel to craft plans for patient care, and advise patients and their families regarding at-home care for an injury or illness.


Source: PayScale, Nov. 2018

How Much Do MSN in Health Informatics Graduates Make?

An MSN in health informatics opens several different career paths, such as medical and health services manager. According to BLS data, general medical and surgical hospitals employ the most medical and health services managers, who earn an annual mean wage of $111,680. The District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts pay the highest salaries for these professionals. See the table below for other careers you can pursue with this degree.

Job Title Overall Mean Salary Mean Salary for Entry-Level Mean Salary for Mid-Career Mean Salary for Late-Career
Clinical Informatics Manager $90,434 $86,043 $91,583 $91,111
Nursing Director $88,397 $79,672 $83,266 $97,977
Informatics Nurse $77,064 $71,533 $78,145 $84,712
Clinical Informatics Specialist $75,115 $70,902 $78,957 $92,789
Health Informatics Specialist $61,379 $60,269 $64,448 $63,220

Source: BLS

Professional Organizations

Nursing informatics represents a relatively new healthcare arena, so practitioners in this field may benefit greatly from membership in professional organizations, where they can learn about the latest news and developments in the industry. Professional associations also provide extensive networking opportunities, and many feature job boards on their websites, where members can post or apply for open positions. Professional organizations often sponsor conferences, which offer excellent opportunities for members to grow their professional and personal connections.

American Medical Informatics Association: AMIA manages the Health Informatics Building Blocks project, which develops open-source educational materials that professionals can adapt to various settings. The association also offers certificate programs and maintains an active career center on its website.


American Nursing Informatics Association: ANIA publishes a quarterly digital journal (Journal of Informatics Nursing), sponsors an annual conference, hosts several webinars throughout the year, and administers a scholarship program for graduate-level nursing informatics students.


Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society: Members can access the organization’s career center and extensive resource library from the HIMSS website. HIMSS also administers three foundation scholarship programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

Financing Your Online MSN in Health Informatics Program

Nursing healthcare informatics is a growing field, and professionals with advanced degrees enjoy high demand in the healthcare industry. To meet this demand, schools, organizations, and the government encourage students to earn a degree in healthcare informatics by offering scholarships, grants, and other funding opportunities. Most students begin their funding search with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. However, professional organizations, businesses, and community groups often offer scholarship opportunities as well.

Scholarships for MSN in Health Informatics Students

American Association for Men in Nursing

Who Can Apply: Male RNs who have completed at least one academic semester of an accredited graduate or doctoral nursing program can apply for this scholarship opportunity. The recipient must either give a 15-minute presentation at the AAMN Conference, scheduled the year they receive the scholarship, or produce a 60-minute webinar for AAMN members on the topic of improving men’s health.

Amount: $1,500


American Health Information Management Association Merit Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be AHIMA members in good standing who are currently enrolled in at least six credits towards an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in health information management. The program requires applicants to hold at least a 3.5 or 4.5 GPA (out of 4.0 and 5.0 respectively), based on their most recent 24 credits.

Amount: $1,000 for associate degree students; $1,500 for undergraduate students; $2,000 for graduate students; $2,500 for doctoral students


American Health Information Management Association Veterans Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This program provides financial assistance for veteran service members from all branches of the U.S. military. Applicants must enroll as full-time students in an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral health informatics or information management program. Spouses of veteran service members can also apply for the scholarship.

Amount: $1,000 for associate degree students; $1,500 for undergraduate students; $2,000 for graduate students; $2,500 for doctoral students


American Nursing Informatics Association Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This merit-based scholarship serves graduate and doctoral students enrolled in accredited nursing informatics programs. Applicants must submit an essay stating their academic and career goals, an official transcript, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. ANIA stipulates that one of the recommendation letters must come from the informatics program director at the school where the applicant is enrolled.

Amount: $3,000


John Glaser Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Administered by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, this members-only scholarship accepts high-achieving CHIME applicants with at least two years of employment in a health informatics field. Applicants must submit an essay detailing the leadership roles they fulfilled in their workplace, their future career goals, and how the scholarship will help them achieve those goals.

Amount: $3,000


Nurse Corps Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Applicants to this scholarship program must be enrolled in an accredited nursing program at any level in the United States. They must not be overdue on any federal debt, and they must be willing to serve in a critical shortage facility.

Amount: The scholarship includes a monthly stipend and covers tuition, fees, books, uniforms, clinical instruments, and supplies.


Richard P. Covert, Ph.D., LFHMISS Scholarship for Management Systems

Who Can Apply: HIMSS offers this scholarship to applicants pursuing a degree in healthcare management systems at an accredited school. Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students can apply. In addition, the scholarship recipient also receives a free trip to that year’s conference.

Amount: $5,000


Steve Lieber Innovator Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This program serves undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students in programs related to health information and technology or healthcare management systems. Applicants must submit a project demonstrating an innovative use of existing or emerging technology in health information systems, with an aim to improve care and enhance the patient experience.

Amount: $5,000