Health Informatics vs. Information Systems Management (Technology): Which Master’s Degree?

Health Informatics vs Information Technology: Which Masters?

When you're deciding whether to pursue a master's degree in health informatics and analytics or a master's degree in information systems management, it's important to dig into the details and assess the key differences between the two programs. Both degrees require many overlapping skills, including leadership, strategic planning, critical thinking, data management, data security and privacy, and technology solutions. However, they differ somewhat in terms of focus. 

If you choose to earn an MS in health informatics, you'll obtain a deep understanding of the ways to assist healthcare services by helping them comply with relevant regulations. Becoming adept at health informatics doesn't necessarily require a passion for the field of healthcare; however, it does require an ability to make sense of healthcare quality and statistics, often with a bit more specificity than would be expected of someone with a broader background in information systems management.

In contrast, if you pursue an MS in information systems management, you'll learn skills that will help you manage solutions across a variety of industries. 

At Ashford University, these two master’s degree programs move along similar paths, with some differences in emphasis and content. The courses at Ashford are each six weeks long and you take one at a time. Each course is worth three credits. The MS program in health informatics and analytics requires 39 credits and does not offer specializations, while the MS program in information systems management requires 33 credits and offers three specializations: business intelligence, IT organizational management and leadership, and project management. There are no GMAT/GRE requirements, but a 2.0 GPA from obtaining a bachelor’s degree is necessary.

What is an MS in Health Informatics?

An MS in health informatics focuses on efficiently and safely managing healthcare data. The information generated in the healthcare sector carries uniquely sensitive security concerns. The field of health informatics is all about understanding the flow of healthcare data and how to properly protect it, which requires a thorough knowledge of the technology in use and the surrounding regulatory environment. It requires many of the same strategic and tactical skills associated with information systems management, such as instilling policies, optimizing technologies, and an emphasis on meeting regulatory requirements and standards. However, the focus on healthcare sets it apart. In this field, it is essential to respect the confidentiality of patient information at all times, in accordance with federal and state law, and to be prepared to navigate ethical issues as they arise.

What is an MS in Information Systems Management?

An MS in information systems management focuses on leadership in managing the technology that helps businesses succeed. While earning a master’s degree in information systems management, you will build many of the same skills as one would in a Health Informatics program. However, there is a stronger emphasis on leadership. In an Information Systems Management program, you will learn to handle the responsibility of leading IT teams as they effectively and efficiently manage and optimize technological solutions for a business, along with the data they generate. These skills, as taught in an information systems management program, are not restricted to any particular industry. However, as you launch your career, you will need to learn the regulations and requirements governing the industry you choose to work in, which may not have been covered in your educational curriculum.

In the broadest sense, the choice between a master’s degree in health informatics and analytics versus a master’s degree in information systems management is a choice between a specialized education that will prepare you for your responsibilities in a distinct industry versus a more broad-based grounding in the principles of information technology, how it works, and how it is implemented.

What Are the Career Paths?

While there is overlap between the skills you can learn in these programs, their potential career trajectories are somewhat different. Possible career paths include (but are not limited to):

MS in Health Informatics and Analytics degree careers

  • Clinical informatics manager
  • Data architect
  • Health informatics analyst
  • Health informatics director

MS in Information Systems Management degree careers

  • Computing services director
  • Data processing manager
  • Director of application development
  • Director of business intelligence
  • Information systems director
  • IT manager
  • IT project manager
  • Technical services manager

Regardless of industry, there are opportunities for leadership as a director or manager. And, most importantly, your degree skills align with the career path you take.

You Can Earn Either Degree at Ashford University

In our digital age, we are awash in information. Great power lies with those who are able to help us make sense of it – and have a passion for it.

Health informatics and information technology are among the many online master's degree programs offered by Ashford University. Have a look at our broad array of degree options, and contact Ashford University today to empower yourself with knowledge and start your educational journey.

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By Ashford University staff

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Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.