HOME               Degrees and Certificates  

       Faculty and Staff    

        Department News   


MS, Health Informatics and Information Management



About the Program

Q. What is health informatics?
. To understand health informatics, it is first necessary to understand the term informatics, which Hersh (2009) defines as: "the acquisition, storage and use of information."  Health Informatics or the overarching term, Biomedical and Health Informatics (BMHI) as defined by Hersh (2009) is a field that makes "optimal use of information, often aided by the use of technology, to improve individual health, health care, public health, and biomedical research."   A person who practices health informatics is commonly known as an informatician or informaticist.  

Q. What are the details of the MS HIIM program?
The MS in HIIM at ECU is designed to help meet the needs of workforce training. In addition to learning the technical aspects of health care data and information management, students will learn how to develop strong management skills crucial for planning, designing, implementing and evaluating a variety of system-wide health information systems including electronic health records, clinical decision support systems as well as computerized provider order entry systems. The master of science in health informatics and information management prepares individuals for managerial, supervisory, executive, as well as other leadership positions in health information systems.  

The objectives of the graduate program are as follows:

  1. Prepare more advanced health informatics and health information management professionals to meet the expanding needs of North Carolina.
  2. Train health informatics and health information management professionals competent in the knowledge-based, data driven health care environment.
  3. Develop leaders capable of leading the implementation of health information technologies to add value to patient care.
  4. Provide continuing education opportunities for practicing health care providers and administrators, or information technology professionals.

Q. Is the program offered on campus or on-line?
The MS HIIM program can be taken completely on-line, on campus or as a hybrid combining the two modes of learning. Students should choose the format that fits their schedule best.  

Q. What type of computer programming skills do I need to be admitted into the program?
It is recommended that applicants have familiarity with the JAVA programming language.  

Q. Do I need to be proficient in computer programming in order to be successful in the program?
The purpose of the MS in HIIM is not to train programmers, but to educate health informatics and information management professionals on aspects of integrating computing and information technologies with health care.

The requirement of either previous computer programming experience or a JAVA programming course varies according to the different options of the program. For example, the internship and thesis options both have a strong focus on health informatics. As a result previous computer programming training or experience will be important for students to succeed in those options. One course, SENG 6230 Software Engineering Foundations expects students to have previous programming experiences using Java language.

On the other hand, the RHIA option does not require the same level of previous computer course work and /or experience as the internship and thesis options.  As a result, a  previous course in computer applications will be sufficient for students to be successful in that option.

Q. What if I do not have any computer programming experience?
It is recommended that applicants take
CSCI 2310/2311 Algorithmic Problem Solving and Programming Laboratory.  This course is generally offered in the Spring Semester at East Carolina University.  

Q. What are the degree requirements and curriculum for MS in HIIM?
The MS in HIIM is a 48 sh degree consisting of 36 s.h. of
core courses and 12 s.h. of concentration courses from one of the following options: 1.non-thesis -  students complete a clinical internship 2. thesis -  students complete a research thesis under the guidance of a faculty mentor 3. registered health information administrator (RHIA) - students take courses that allow them to be eligible to take the RHIA examination.  

Individual course descriptions with the prefix COHE, BIOS, MIS, CSCI, and SENG can be found HERE.

The curriculum is designed based on standards published by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM).

Q. I have a RHIT credential and 2 year degree in Health Information Technology from a community college. How can I further my study to be eligible for the RHIA exam?
A. The RHIA option of the MS in HIIM curriculum will allow graduates to be eligible for the RHIA credential. Associate degree holders can apply for the BS in Health Services Management program and then apply for the Master Program. All prerequisite undergraduate courses for the RHIA option are taught in our undergraduate HSM program in the department.All courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs are taught online.


Admission Requirements

Q. What are the minimum admission requirements?
The minimum admission requirements for the program are:

  1. An earned undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and completion of the following prerequisite courses within 5 years of making application: computer programming (3 s.h. minimum) and statistics (3 s.h. minimum);
  2. An undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or better;
  3. Acceptable scores on the verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections of the GRE or GMAT;
  4. Positive letters of recommendation and a résumé;
  5. A statement of purpose outlining the goals for pursuing a graduate education in health informatics and information management; (In your statement include whether you are interested in the RHIA or a non-RHIA degree option.)
  6. Acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score for foreign students whose first language is not English; and
  7. Other criteria as required by the Graduate School.   

These admission criteria apply for all three options: non-thesis; thesis; or RHIA:

  1. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
  2. Official GRE or GMAT scores
  3. Official TOEFL or IELTS scores.
  4. The ECU application for graduate admission form.
  5. Three letters of recommendation.  

Q. How do I get started?
Submit an application to the
Graduate School.

Q. How long will it take to complete a program?
. The Master's program can be completed in 2–2 ½  years for full-time students taking 3 courses per semester and who take courses during the summer terms. Part time students  taking 2 courses per semester may need 3-3 ½ years to complete the program of study. Again this depends on whether the student takes courses during the summer terms.

Q. When should a student apply?
The application deadline for the fall semester is May 1.  The deadline for the spring semester is October 15.

Q. Can I enter the program as a part-time student?
The program accepts part-time students. All degree requirements must be completed within six years of matriculation.

Q. Can I transfer in credits?  
If you are accepted into the MS HIIM program, up to fifteen hours from the graduate certificate program can be transferred for credit in the MS HIIM program. Please, refer to the
ECU graduate school policy about transferring graduate level course work from other graduate level institutions.

Note: Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the HIIM degree program.


HIM and/or IT Background

Q. I already have a bachelors degree in health information management.  Why do I need a masters degree to practice health informatics?
It is common for the health information professional to hold either an associates or bachelors degree.  Most informaticians, according to Hersh (2009), have clinical degrees: MD, PharmD, MSN.  Therefore, if health information management professionals wish to be included at the informatics table, they need to possess comparable credentials.



Q. What are the prerequisites for the MS HIIM program?
It is expected that students who enter the MS HIIM will have completed an undergraduate degree in a health sciences or computer and information sciences related field, with at least one programming course (JAVA is recommended) and at least one statistics course in the previous five years.  If computer programming experience is needed, it is recommended that applicants take CSCI 2310/2311 Algorithmic Problem Solving and Programming Laboratory.  This course is generally offered in the spring semester at East Carolina University.

Q. Are there specific undergraduate pre-requisites for any of the courses in the RHIA option of the program?
. Yes. COHE 6460: Classification Systems in Health Care is part of the curriculum for the RHIA option in the masters degree program and lists 3 specific undergraduate pre-requisite courses.  They are:  Medical Terminology for Health professionals;  Anatomy and Physiology with lab;  and a Pathophysiology or Human Diseases course that includes pharmacology. 

These courses are not required as part of the admission requirements into the degree program. However, students cannot register for COHE 6460 without first providing evidence of having completed them with at least a C grade.

They can either be taken at a 4 year or a 2 year institution. Contact the program with any questions related to these pre-requisites"


Tuition and Financial Aid

Q. How much is Tuition and fees?
Tuition and fee information can be found HERE

Q. Is Financial Aid or Graduate Assistantship available?
. Financial Aid information can be found at HERE
.  Students pursuing the thesis track can qualify for graduate assistantships.



Q. For what types of jobs are graduates eligible to compete?
A. Graduates of this program are eligible to compete for the following positions in health care: health information managers, quality improvement specialists, designers and planners for enterprise health information systems, health information security and privacy officers, and chief information officers for health care enterprises.

Graduates can also compete for positions in private sector organizations such as medical software companies, pharmaceutical firms, and health care consulting firms.

Moreover, our graduates can assume positions in government and education, training, and leadership roles in academic health information technology programs in 2 year community colleges.


Tell a friend about this page.
All fields required.
Can be sent to only one email address at a time.
Share Facebook Icon Twitter Icon