Choosing the Right Health Informatics Program for You

Industry Advice Healthcare

The healthcare system is undergoing drastic technological changes and the professionals in the field of health informatics—the union of information science, computer science, and healthcare—are driving many of these advancements. Health informatics is an innovative field that allows you to exercise technical skills and improve patients’ lives on a comfortable salary.

According to Deloitte, fewer than half (45%) of frontline clinicians trust their organization’s leadership to do what’s right for its patients. Even fewer (23%) trust their leadership to do what’s right for workers. These two types of trust—to do right by patients and to do right by workers—are highly correlated and associated with significantly lower clinician burnout.

The first step to becoming a health informatics professional is to obtain a relevant degree. While some programs require a related professional or undergraduate background to apply, Northeastern University’s MS in Health Informatics is open to any professional hoping to break into the field.

“Our degree is set up with a high level of flexibility so that people can come in with any kind of background,” says Jay Spitulnik, associate teaching professor and director of Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Health Informatics at the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. “They don’t have to have any kind of technical or healthcare background.”


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Five Reasons Northeastern’s MS in Health Informatics Is Right for You

1. Uses a Flexible Learning Model

As Spitulnik mentioned, Northeastern’s MS in Health Informatics uses a flexible learning model. The program is fully online, can be taken either full or part time, and has various concentrations available to Northeastern students, including:

  • Personal Health Informatics Concentration: Includes courses such as creation and application of medical knowledge, computer/human interaction, biostatistics in public health, and completion of a thesis or capstone project.
  • Health Informatics (without concentration): Requires courses associated with business management, health informatics, technical skills (such as biostatistics and public health), and a capstone project.
  • Health Informatics Analytics Concentration: Offered in conjunction with Northeastern’s College of Engineering, offering electives such as computational modeling and structured data analytics for industrial engineering, healthcare systems modeling and analysis, and data mining in engineering. Required coursework includes classes associated with business management, health informatics, technical skills, and a capstone project.

2. Built for Diverse Professional Backgrounds

Northeastern’s program is a 100% STEM-certified interdisciplinary program, meaning you’ll learn from experts from the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and Khoury College of Computer Sciences.

The MS program is designed for students with no clinical or technical experience as well as for people with experience in either discipline.

“We have different pathways for professionals of all backgrounds to make sure they get the knowledge they need that supports their experience,” notes Spitulnik.

For example, a nurse who has an informatics job but wants to become a manager in nursing informatics would likely focus more heavily on taking additional business courses as electives to strengthen their credentials and knowledge. A more technical-focused person who comes to the program with a strong computer background might instead choose two elective courses from the informatics core and one elective from the management core to strengthen their knowledge.

3. Industry Expert Faculty

An important part of your advanced education is the faculty. In Northeastern’s Health Informatics program, most of the faculty are senior-level practitioners in the field who have deep knowledge of current industry needs and trends.

According to Spitulnik, the curriculum is “based on the perspective of real-life experience, not on the perspective of a textbook. Our faculty is well equipped to help students become health informatics professionals because they are themselves health informatics professionals.”

4. Offers Experiential Learning Opportunities

Northeastern University’s commitment to and focus on experiential learning sets it apart from other schools. Students interested in a co-op can work in a variety of settings before officially entering the field, helping them strengthen their resumés in the process.

“Our students work in real, full-time situations with people doing the kind of work that they’re going to be doing once they earn their master’s degree,” says Spitulnik. “Our students work in just about every segment of the healthcare industry in any kind of position that’s currently out there.”

A few examples of where students can work in their co-op include:

  • Project management
  • Analytics
  • Implementation
  • Device manufacturing
  • Government roles
  • Insurance companies

“We’ve got our students in the Mass Department of Public Health too,” Spitulnik says. “Our students have been so good in the past that they keep coming back to us asking for more co-op participants.”

5. Positive Career Outcomes

For students choosing a program, it’s important to learn about student outcomes post-graduation. At Northeastern, our health informatics program has a near 100% placement rate within three months of graduation. “I think that speaks for itself,” says Spitulnik. “Northeastern’s program is going to teach you what you need once you finish your degree, not just what we want you to do while you’re earning it.”

Take the First Step Toward a Career in Health Informatics

Northeastern’s interdisciplinary Master of Science in Health Informatics program prepares you to take a leadership role in addressing the combined clinical, technical, and business needs of health-related organizations. You will gain the knowledge and skills to successfully integrate systems, improve workflow, help people work together effectively, and make a real difference in the quality and effectiveness of healthcare delivery—today and in the future.

“Competency is what you need to know and be able to do to make the right thing happen in a real-world environment. That’s what we’re teaching people here,” Spitulnik says. 

Want to begin your health informatics journey? Consider checking out Northeastern’s Master of Science in Health Informatics to learn the skills you’ll need to effectively analyze, interpret, and communicate data.


Advance Your Career in an Emerging Field

Learn how health informatics graduates use information technology to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes.

EXPLORE THE PROGRAM