Health Information Management Degrees: A Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Health information management is a lucrative field with a number of career opportunities. Earning your degree can be an excellent way to get started.

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The demand for health care and health services continues to grow, especially since the population of patients over the age of 65 will double by 2030 [1]. To meet that need, among others, health care occupations are expected to grow by 16 percent in the next decade [2]. 

Besides treating and caring for patients, maintaining patients’ records and health information is a vital part of health care, especially as technology continues to impact the industry. Health information management (HIM) handles health care data, including the “acquisition, analysis, and protection of digital and traditional types of information,” according to the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) [3]. 

Health information management is a lucrative field with a number of career opportunities projecting high growth. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that health service management jobs will grow by 32 percent by 2030, which is much faster than average [4]. Earning your degree in health information management can be an excellent start to this in-demand work, which also typically requires certification. In this article, we’ll go over HIM bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the importance of choosing a CAHIIM-accredited program, and other health-related degrees that might be worth exploring based on your interests and goals. 

Health information management degrees 

Health information management careers require understanding clinical or medical diagnoses to effectively work with data. You can earn your associate degree in health information management, or complete a certification, such as the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), to gain that knowledge and pursue entry-level roles, such as health information specialist. 

However, you may find that you qualify for a greater breadth of HIM roles with a bachelor’s in health information management, and many advanced roles prefer a master’s degree. Let’s take a closer look at each of those degrees. 

Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management 

A HIM career touches on many aspects of health, business, technology, data analysis, and finance. A BS in Health Information Management is designed to introduce you to those subjects as they relate to the health care industry. By earning this degree, not only can you build a strong interdisciplinary subject matter foundation, but you can also prepare for the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification exam. In fact, some degree programs may expect you to complete your certification exam before graduating.

Length of time

A BS in Health Information Management takes around 120 credits to earn, which can span four to five years if you attend full-time, though some online programs are designed to accelerate that timeline. Some programs also require students to take an externship as part of their graduation requirements, applying their knowledge in a practical setting. 

Learn more: What is a Bachelor’s Degree? Requirements, Costs, and More

Types of coursework 

You’ll take courses that cover subjects in health, medical coding, business, finance, data, and technology subjects. They may include:  

  • Health care administration 

  • Medical coding

  • Medical terminology 

  • Epidemiology

  • Biostatistics 

  • Financial management in health care

  • Reimbursement system 

Importance of accreditation 

Because of the highly specific and highly technical nature of health information management, it’s important to find a CAHIIM-accredited program if you are interested in RHIA certification. The exam requires you to complete a CAHIIM-approved school in order to take it. Search the organization’s program directory to learn more about your options at each degree level. 

Master of Science in Health Information Management

Whether you earn your bachelor’s in HIM or another area, you can pursue your Master of Science in Health Information Management to qualify for advanced roles, such as senior director of health information management. In fact, many students enroll in a master’s program after they’ve gained some professional experience. 

At the master’s level, you can expect to learn more about effective strategies around data collection, analysis, and management, as well as leadership. 

Length of time

The MS in Health Information Management takes around two years to complete when you’re able to attend full-time, and that timeframe may include a capstone project, though each school has different requirements. 

Learn more: The Master of Science (MS) Degree: A Guide

Types of coursework 

You’ll take advanced courses that cover subjects in health, data analysis, databases, ethics, and more. They may include:  

  • Health care financial management

  • Health care law and ethics

  • Health care project management

  • Electronic records systems

  • Health care database design

  • Health care data analytics

What can you do with a HIM degree? 

Health information management is a general term that refers to many different types of careers related to organizing, managing, and securing health care-related data. You may end up working in project management, governance, or data analysis at a number of different health care facilities. Some typical titles and salaries are:  

Job titleSalary (US)
Medical records coder$43,138
HIM specialist$45,240
Medical records coordinator$64,608
Compliance officer$73,611
Health services manager$104,280
Medical information manager$130,883

*All salary information collected from BLS and Glassdoor (April 2022)

Health care degree alternatives 

Health care isn’t limited to information management. If you’re interested in a health care career, there are a number of alternatives to explore. These include:  

Health administration involves the intersection of business and medicine, ensuring that medical facilities run smoothly. With a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration, you can explore careers in office management and health care consulting or advance to hospital administrator or clinical director with a Master of Health Administration (MHA). 

Public health involves working with the general population to promote better health and resources and educate communities. With a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and a Master of Science in Public Health (MPH), you can explore careers in public health education,  epidemiology, public policy, and more.  

Social work involves working with the general population to identify and resolve issues. A  Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) can prepare you to begin an entry-level administrative role, though many BSW graduates go on to earn their Master of Social Work (MSW) to pursue more advanced positions involving counseling and therapy.

Pharmacy tech involves assisting in running an efficient and organized pharmacy, which often requires keeping patients’ medical records organized, communicating with insurance companies, and maintaining inventory. With a high school diploma and some training, you can contribute to the organization and management of a pharmacy. 

Learn more: What Does a Social Worker Do?

Next steps

Explore whether a career in HIM is right for you with Health Information Technology Fundamentals from Johns Hopkins University or a series of courses pertaining to The Business of Health Care from the University of Pennsylvania. You’ll also find a number of health care degrees from leading universities, such as the University of Michigan. 

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Article sources


US National Library of Medicine. “Ensuring Quality Cancer Care through the Oncology Workforce: Sustaining Care in the 21st Century: Workshop Summary,  U.S. National Library of Medicine." Accessed April 4, 2022.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.