Health and technology are both evolving at a rapid pace every single day, which is why a Ph.D. in health informatics is an excellent degree for the analytical professional who wants to seek a career in healthcare, business, research, or academia.
Simply put, health informatics is managing digital information in the healthcare setting. However, health informatics is a multidisciplinary field, meaning it encompasses other areas such as healthcare, business, information technology, research, and communication.
A Ph.D. is a rigorous commitment, but a health informatics degree allows you to specialize in a specific area of interest, advance your career, and be an influential leader in this dynamic, ever-changing field.
What Is a Ph.D. in Health Informatics?
A Ph.D. in health informatics focuses on understanding healthcare systems and managing them digitally by collecting, storing, and analyzing medical information. Those who pursue this advanced degree will be combining medical knowledge with informatics, engineering, and communications. The goal for a graduate degree in health informatics is to arm students with the knowledge and skills in electronic health records, advanced health informatics, global health informatics, and health system projects.
The degree may go by different names, such as a Ph.D. in health information technology or healthcare informatics, for example. In addition, there are variations of this degree, as you’ll see in this article. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a concentration on informatics focuses on nursing informatics. On the other hand, a Ph.D. in business management with a concentration on informatics emphasizes the business side of the field.
During these programs, students will take relevant coursework and complete an original research dissertation project. Some programs admit students with a bachelor’s, and for others you’ll need a master’s degree. The common minimum GPA in previous coursework is 3.0. Some programs require GRE or GMAT scores, while others do not. It is important to understand the requirements for the specific program you are interested in.
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Careers For Health Informatics Ph.D. Majors
Careers for health informatics Ph.D. majors are plentiful and important. Depending on your background and the concentration you choose, you may have in mind what career you want to pursue. Most students have a background in clinical care, computer information sciences, or business, and they pursue careers around those paths.
Our No. 3 ranking, the University of Minnesota, lists the following career opportunities for graduates:
- Business application analysts
- Chief nursing information officers
- Clinical decision support specialists
- Clinical informatics coordinators or system analysts
- Clinical support—safety managers
- Directors of nursing informatics or quality informatics
- Faculty specializing in informatics
- Healthcare informatics software developers
- Informatics nurse educators
- Information systems administrators
- Nursing/health informatics consultants
Professionals in this field can pursue jobs in pretty much any setting: healthcare, government, non-profit organizations, businesses, academics, and more. Because the degree is multi-disciplinary, there are so many options you can explore.
Health Informatics Ph.D. Salary Potential
The salary potential for health informatics Ph.D. graduates varies depending on what field they choose. The good news is that with this terminal degree, you should have no trouble finding a good-paying job in informatics because the need for these jobs is expected to grow at an 18% rate from 2018 to 2028. In addition, most careers in health informatics pay over $100,000 per year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health information managers fall into the category of medical and health service managers. These specialists can expect to bring in nearly $100,000 per year, with the top earners making over $182,600.
Computer and information research scientists also fall under informatics careers. These professionals make an average of $118,370 per year, with the highest-paid earning over $183,820. Computer and information systems managers also earn a lucrative income of around $142,530 per year.
What Are the Best Ph.D. in Health Informatics Degrees?
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University of Central Florida
Average Net Price
Did you know that the Florida Space Institute, based at the University of Central Florida, includes researchers and educators from UCF? In fact, UCF faculty are part of several NASA missions, like OSIRIS-Rex and New Horizons! Awarding nearly 17,000 degrees each year, UCF in sunny Orlando serves as one of the top-ranked universities in the nation. The impact UCF has on the state, nation, and outer space is vast.
Listed as one of the most innovative universities in the country by the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2020 Guide, UCF excels in providing top-notch online degree programs for working students. UCF’s DNP is offered online, includes 42 credit hours, and prepares nurses to step into a clinical leadership role in the healthcare setting.
In this program, you will engage in scholarly research while contributing to the creation and application of new care models. In addition, you will study “leadership, clinical management, innovative technologies, healthcare systems, and advanced clinical practice” that build your current knowledge and skills and give you the confidence to contribute to research and practice.
With a DNP degree, you can explore career opportunities such as an APN, ARNP, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse practitioner. Step one to apply to this program is to speak with a success coach through the UCF Online Connect Center. Your coach will then help you gather and submit the information you need to apply, including GRE scores and official transcripts.
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
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The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, affectionately called “The U” by students, faculty, alumni, and fans is well known for being the best in the nation in creating startup companies that start with research and innovation. Established in 1964, the U’s Department of Biomedical Informatics is “recognized as one of the most prestigious training programs for informatics in the world.” The program is set apart from others because of its wide span and depth of research opportunities in clinical and public health informatics.
The U’s Ph.D. in biomedical informatics provides coursework and research to train students to become independent researchers and go into academic careers. Eight specific tracks are available to choose from; four are application tracks, and four are methods tracks within the field of biomedical informatics. This program entails passing the comprehensive and qualifying exams, 40 hours of coursework, and 14 or more hours of research work, which lead to the completion of an original Ph.D. dissertation.
While this program’s admission process is rigorous, UT’s goal is to provide funding for all students who are admitted. Funding includes annual stipends, tuition coverage, health insurance, and financial support for research conferences. The deadline to apply for fall admission is December 1.
University of Minnesota
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As a flagship research university, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is one of the most prestigious and diverse academic institutions in the world. The current 47,493 students represent all 50 states and 130 countries, and 2,576 of them are currently studying abroad. In addition, U of M is one of only five universities in the country with an engineering school, a medical school, a veterinary school, and an agricultural school.
Reiterated from U of M’s nursing informatics video, the program’s DNP in nursing informatics prepares doctoral students to “lead the selection, implementation, and optimization of information systems to support nursing and interprofessional care.” Students can choose from twelve specialty areas, including gerontology, health and innovation leadership, and nurse-midwifery.
The 67-credit hour DNP program is three years (full-time) and primarily online, although students are required to attend a four-day session once a semester. Students will also complete 1,000 practicum hours. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA to be accepted into the program, and the GRE exam is not required. The deadlines for applications are October 15 (priority) and February 1 (final).
Dakota State University
Madison, South Dakota
Average Net Price
Surrounded by the picturesque scenery of the lakes and hiking trails in Madison, South Dakota and filled with rich history and tradition, is Dakota State University. Born in 1881 as a school for teachers, Dakota State University’s focus has evolved over the years to technology in the cyber world. DSU’s mission is to “provide learning that integrates technology and innovation to develop graduates ready to contribute to local, national, and global prosperity.”
DSU’s Ph.D. in information systems prepares students for a lucrative, fulfilling career in research, teaching, or administration, and they can choose from three specializations: health care, analytics, or health care. This multidisciplinary program includes research projects that focus on information systems and information technology, and managing these systems. Technology is at the center of DSU’s mission, and they integrate the latest advances into their Ph.D. program.
Overall, this degree includes 72 credit hours, which includes 60 credit hours of coursework, a comprehensive exam, a qualifying portfolio, and 12 hours of dissertation work. Students can complete this program on a full-time or part-time schedule. Full-time students with a master’s degree should be able to complete the program in just three years. Applicants may be accepted without a master’s degree, but they should have at least a bachelor’s degree and will need to take an additional 12 hours of coursework.
University of South Alabama
Average Net Price
The University of South Alabama, South for short, is where more than 14,000 students create a dynamic culture of learning, supporting, challenging, and engaging each other to become leaders in the world. South’s strategic plan focuses on five major priorities: student access and success, enhancement of research and graduate education, global engagement, excellence in health care, and university-community engagement.
South’s DNA in nursing informatics gives students the knowledge and skills to improve patient care, promote consumer health, apply nursing research, and educate through information technology. The program consists of 39-64 credit hours, depending on whether the student has a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Some of the required courses include Health Data Security and Computers, Clinical Prevention and Population Health, and Healthcare Policy and Finance. Although this program does not require a dissertation, students are required to complete an evidence-based research project on quality improvement in healthcare. Applicants need either a BSN or an MSN with no less than a 3.0 GPA in all coursework. The application deadline is February 28 for fall admission.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to Vogue (and many others) is “the Midwest’s Coolest City.” Founded in 1956, the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee is home to the state’s largest online education program, offering more than 850 courses and 40 online degree programs. Additionally, UWM’s College of Health Sciences contains the largest number of health-related degree programs in the state, featuring 16 undergraduate majors and 12 graduate degree programs.
The Ph.D. in health sciences from UWM is an interdisciplinary program in areas such as health and clinical informatics, communication sciences, biomedical sciences, kinesiology, and occupational therapy. While this may seem like a broad Ph.D., students will choose a concentration while completing cross-disciplinary courses in health-related education and research.
As a doctoral student at UWM, you will engage in cutting-edge research in one of the many research labs, such as the Rehabilitation Design and Disability Center or the Lyme Borreliosis Laboratory. The Ph.D. program requires 72 credits beyond a bachelor’s degree, which means that if you have a master’s degree, you can apply (at most) 36 credits to this program. Students will complete a minimum of 16 credits of coursework and complete a dissertation.
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A Christian university nestled in the mountains of Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University began offering online classes in the 1980s when they mailed VHS tapes with course content to students, and students would mail back assignments and proctor-supervised tests. Today, Liberty is both home and online home to more than 100,000 students. With 17 colleges and schools and more than 600 degree programs, there’s certainly something for everyone through Liberty.
Liberty’s Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in healthcare management is a practical, terminal business degree that is designed to equip students for leadership positions in the healthcare setting. Students will receive training in healthcare management, human resource development, quality control, and global healthcare systems. This 60-credit hour, 100% online program takes most students three years to complete.
Sample courses include Legal and Ethical Issues for Health Professionals, Managing Human Capital in Healthcare, and Grant Acquisition and Management. Applicants need a master’s degree in business or a related field with at least 30 hours of graduate business courses and a minimum 3.0 GPA in all graduate work.
American Sentinel University
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As one of the first in the nation to design online education degrees, American Sentinel University in Denver, Colorado, focuses primarily on healthcare programs. Since 2006, American Sentinel has awarded over 7,900 degrees to students worldwide and continues to offer top-notch, affordable, and relevant online education to healthcare professionals.
As one of the only online DNP informatics programs in the nation, American Sentinel’s DNP in informatics leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for healthcare leadership careers in informatics, including chief nursing informatics officers. Students have the opportunity to interact with nursing leaders from the top U.S. healthcare organizations like Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Cleveland Clinic.
This program is 28-months long and offered in eight-week courses, totaling 42 credit hours of coursework. During your first year, you will choose between a four-day onsite residency in Denver or a two-week virtual residency. American Sentinel offers competitive tuition rates and different payment options that let most graduate students graduate debt-free.
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A private, online university based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Capella University excels in online education; in fact, their coursework is created with industry leaders in online education, so you can know that you are receiving an evidence-based learning experience. Capella University offers two ways to learn online: GUIDEDPATH and FLEXPATH, both revolutionary education platforms. You can take the path finder quiz to find out which way is right for you.
Capella University’s online Ph.D. in business management and information technology management focuses on research, writing, and theory, all from a diverse organizational and global context. This program entails 11 core courses, four specialization courses, one elective course, three residencies, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Courses include Ethics and Leadership in Global Environments and Advanced Qualitative Research. The three residencies involve ten-week courses with four-day residency experiences.
Graduates of this program will be knowledgeable in emerging IT trends, technological influences, and current research in the field of IT. Applicants need to have a related master’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA on graduate coursework. GRE and GMAT scores are not needed for admission. Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.