A walkthrough of the health informatics degree application process

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Person reviewing their application checklistThe field of health informatics is on the rise. Between advancements in health care technology and new government mandates that require detailed reports on a variety of metrics, an increasing amount of data is collected and leveraged every day. Consequently, there is increased demand for professionals who have the skills and knowledge necessary to work with this information. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for medical and health services managers, which can include positions in health care technology, are expected to increase by 17 percent between 2014 and 2024, adding 56,300 new openings to the market.

To keep up with the developments and trends in this expanding field, many healthcare professionals, as well as those looking to transition to the healthcare field, are pursuing an advanced degree in health informatics.

With the University of Illinois at Chicago, you have the option to further your career in this area through remote learning. If you are considering pursuing an online master’s degree in health informatics, the following steps will guide you through the application process:

Step One: Determine if a health informatics degree is right for you

A health informatics degree provides the technical knowledge, leadership skills and experience needed to improve the delivery of patient care through the leverage of healthcare data. If you are a healthcare professional looking to gain expertise in data – or a data professional who wants to specialize in healthcare – this type of degree may be the right choice for advancing your career. Common job titles for Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) graduates include Senior Technical Consultant; Manager, Pharmacy Informatics Specialist; Director of Clinical Operations; Healthcare Application Analyst; and Director, Client Programs, Senior Director of Technology.

Step Two: Choose your delivery method

Health informatics degrees are available in online formats. Enrolling in an online MSHI program offers a number of benefits to your professional career; one of the largest being that it makes it easier to work full- or part-time while going back to school. Through remote learning, you can complete your courses at the time and place of your choosing, tailoring your degree program around your work schedule or other commitments.

Step Three: Consider balancing work and school

Before enrolling in an online health informatics degree, you should also give thought to what kind of course load you wish to pursue. If you plan to continue working while earning your degree, you may find taking only one or two courses each term makes it easier to balance your academic and professional commitments. The trade-off is that if you take fewer courses each term, it will take you longer to finish the degree. On average, students complete the program in about two and a half years, but are given up to six years to do so.

Step Four: Check the deadlines

Your next step is to check deadlines to determine when you need to submit your application materials. The online MSHI program at UIC has three start dates throughout the year: spring (January), summer (May) and fall (August). Once you determine which term works best for your personal and professional obligations, make note of both the application deadline and the course registration deadline.

At UIC, prospective students work with a dedicated Enrollment Advisor. This professional will be available to guide you through the application and admissions process, answering any questions that may arise.

Step Five: Fulfill the requirements

Before you put too much effort into the application process, you should be sure that you meet the basic standards of admission. Requirements for applying to the UIC MSHI program include:

●  Bachelor’s or professional degree from an accredited institution.
●  Cumulative 3.0/4.0 grade point average.
●  Two years of relevant work experience in a related industry.
●  Three letters of recommendation.
●  Personal statement

If you are an international student, you will have additional requirements to meet, including English proficiency. You can read more about the required academic qualifications and English proficiency by country at the International Requirements page.

If you do not meet the basic requirements, dedicate yourself first to getting your grades, work experience or other metrics where they need to be before beginning the formal application.

Step Six: Update your resume and personal statement

When you apply to the UIC MSHI program, you will need to include an updated resume that details your academic and professional experiences. This document gives admissions officers a picture of your qualifications, so be sure that you edit it carefully for grammatical and spelling errors.

You are also required to submit a personal statement that details why you wish to enroll in the MSHI program. While your resume is an outline of your educational and work experiences, your personal statement should give readers a sense of who you are as a candidate.

Step Seven: Ask for references

To gain admittance, you will need to provide recommenders who can vouch for your qualifications. The application requires three recommendations from persons who are not relatives or peers who can comment on your professional or academic accomplishments. Managers or previous instructors tend to be good choices. In your application, you will need to include the names and email addresses of these three people. Be sure to ask them for permission and ensure they are willing to participate before adding their contact information to your application.

Step Eight: Order your transcripts

MSHI applicants are required to send a copy of their official registrar issued academic transcripts. Be sure to research how long it will take for your previous institution to send a copy to UIC to ensure that it will be received by the appropriate deadline. Schools usually charge a small fee for each copy of your transcript, so factor that into the cost of applying for admission.

Your transcript should include the degree earned, coursework taken after first bachelor’s degree and grading scale legend. If you attended more than one school, include a transcript from each institution.

Read more about applying to the MSHI online program through UIC at the admissions page.