Success as an MSN informatics nursing student begins with finding the right online degree program, and that means putting in some time and effort in researching your options. We’re here to help get your search off to the right start with our list of the best online MSN nursing informatics programs for 2020. We’ve researched online programs from schools across the U.S. and ranked them based on factors like proper accreditation, curriculum quality, and affordability. We will be publishing our full 2020 rankings list soon, but here’s a detailed look at three standout schools as a preview. As you look over these schools, remember that the right program for you will be the one that also best suits your unique professional interests, study format preferences, and work and life schedules.
FAQs About Online Nursing Informatics Master’s Programs
The best decisions are always informed ones. Below are answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions by prospective informatics MSN students.
Paying for Your Online Master’s in Nursing Informatics
Earning an informatics MSN degree can require a substantial financial commitment. And finding the cash to fund your degree may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are several ways to help ease the burden. Here are a few of the most common:
Accreditation Standards for Online Nursing Informatics Programs
Accreditation is the process through which colleges and universities, and the degree programs they offer, are vetted to ensure that they meet specifically-stated standards of quality. There are two basic types of accreditation to look for. The first is institutional accreditation, which refers to accreditation of the college or university as a whole. Institutional accreditation is handled by several national and regional agencies approved by the Department of Education (DOE). The second type, programmatic accreditation, concerns the accreditation of specific degree programs offered by colleges and universities. Accreditation of MSN programs in the U.S. is administered by two agencies: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Proper accreditation is extremely important, and you should only consider those online programs that have it. Confirming an informatics MSN program’s accreditation status is easy. You can normally find current accreditation information on each individual program’s website. If not there, check out both of these program locator tools provided by the CCNE and the ACEN. You can also find both institutional and programmatic accreditation information through this DOE database.
Looking Ahead: What’s Next After Earning Your Informatics MSN Online
It’s critical to learn as much as possible about all of your online informatics MSN program options. It’s just as important, however, to have a solid understanding of the nursing informatics profession as a whole, as well as the career landscape for informatics MSN graduates before signing on to any degree program. Here’s more on what you need to know:
Do you need a special certification to work or advance in nursing informatics?
In the United States, professional certification in nursing informatics is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Obtaining the ANCC’s Informatics Nursing Certification is not a requirement for practice in the field, however, and there is no specific state licensure of nurse informaticists (although practitioners must, of course, be licensed as an RN in their state). Nevertheless, possessing the Informatics Nursing Certification will likely increase the holder’s attractiveness to employers and enhance their chances for career advancement.
What can you do with a nursing informatics MSN?
Nursing informatics is a rapidly-growing field both in the U.S. and around the world. The use of digital technology in medical record-keeping and healthcare services management is here to stay, suggesting that the demand for highly-skilled nursing informatics professionals will remain strong moving well into the future. Career opportunities for MSN Nursing Informatics graduates exist in all sectors of healthcare services in positions with job titles such as:
- Informatics Nurse Specialist (INS)
- Clinical Informatics Nurse
- Clinical Informatics Analyst
- Health IT Security and Privacy Specialist
Leadership positions with titles such as Health Information Manager, Health IT Project Manager, Informatics Administrator, and Informatics Executive are also available.
In addition to immediate employment with healthcare service providers, MSN informatics graduates are also prepared to fill positions as both nursing informatics researchers and educators. Graduates may also opt to continue on with their formal educations to earn such credentials as the PhD in Health Informatics or DNP in Nursing Informatics. The chart below offers a look at some of the most popular career paths open to informatics MSN graduates:
How much can you earn with a nursing informatics master’s degree?
Salaries for entry-level MSN in Informatics degree holders are robust, far surpassing entry-level salaries for most other occupations. Earnings potential for many nursing informatics job titles is also quite positive, with amounts sometimes reaching past the six-figure mark. The chart below provides a look at current salary figures for two of the most popular nursing informatics job titles. Figures are taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Career||2018 National Median Annual Salary||10th Percentile||90th Percentile|
|Informatics Nurse Specialist*||$88,740||$54,360||$142,220|
|Health Information Manager**||$99,730||$58,680||$182,600|
Continuing Education & Related Degrees
Individuals interested in healthcare services technology and data management are not limited to the MSN in Informatics degree for establishing a career in the informatics field. And informatics MSN graduates interested in moving into top-tier positions can pursue an informatics-related doctoral-level degree. Here is a brief look at some of those alternative and advanced degree options:
Students interested in careers in the healthcare informatics field may want to consider a degree in health information management (HIM). HIM degree programs are most commonly offered on the bachelor’s and master’s levels. HIM programs differ from nursing informatics programs in that they do not require applicants to hold a previously-earned degree or diploma in nursing, or possess an RN license. Most HIM master’s programs, however, do require a bachelor’s degree or college-level coursework in a health, technology, or business-related field. Common job titles for HIM degree graduates include, among others, Medical Coder, Healthcare Data Analyst, Medical Research Analyst, Clinical Data Manager, and Health Information Manager.
Sometimes the differences between specific majors can be vague and confusing. Generally speaking, health informatics is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of subjects related to data management and information technology, while nursing informatics focuses more on how those subjects directly relate to patient care. A health informatics master’s degree may be good alternative to the informatics MSN for nursing professionals not interested in the stricter requirements of an MSN program. Admission into a health informatics master’s program is also typically open to non-nursing healthcare professionals seeking to advance their careers into informatics, as well as IT professionals interested in a transition into the healthcare industry.
Continuing Education Options
Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP) in Nursing Informatics
The DNP in Nursing Informatics degree is geared toward advanced nursing practitioners intent on pursuing administrative positions at the very top of their profession. Nursing informatics DNP holders are often employed as clinical health advisors to senior executives in large and complex healthcare services organizations or as independent consultants. Common job titles include, among others, Chief Information Officer, Information Systems Administrator, Clinical Systems Analyst, and Director of Nursing Informatics.
PhD in Health Informatics
The PhD in Health Informatics is a research- and academia-focused credential. A previously-earned nursing degree is not required for admission into this PhD program, although most programs require applicants to possess either a master’s degree or bachelor’s degree (with substantial professional work experience) in a medical- or healthcare-related field. Individuals who earn this degree typically establish careers in postsecondary education, as well as in senior-level research positions at universities, government agencies, medical institutions, non-profit organizations, and in private industry.