Houston, Texas, Biomedical Informatics Certificate and Degree Programs
Prospective students interested in earning a certificate or degree in biomedical informatics near Houston, Texas, have only one school from which to choose. This article examines that school, about a 10-minute drive from the city center, looking at the several certificate and degree programs it offers. This article also includes a table that displays important information in an easy-to-access format.
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), about five miles from downtown Houston, offers certificate programs in public health informatics, applied health informatics and health informatics, as well as master's programs in applied health informatics and health informatics. It also offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in health informatics. The university was the first institution in the nation to create a school devoted exclusively to the graduate-level study of biomedical informatics.
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Comparison of Schools
Students considering a school for graduate studies in biomedical informatics will want to consider several factors. The following table offers pertinent information at a glance.
|University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston|
|School Type||4-year; public*|
|Total Enrollment (2014)||4,556*|
|Campus Setting||Large city*|
|Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)|| $6,846 in-state;
Sources: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics.
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
All of UTHealth's biomedical informatics programs are offered through the School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI), which is located within the Texas Medical Center complex near downtown Houston. SBMI's programs are heavily research-driven, which is facilitated by the school's four research centers and several research seminars held every semester. The university's programmatic offerings include three separate certificate programs, two master's degree programs and one doctoral degree program in biomedical informatics. Dual degree programs at both the master's and doctoral degree levels are also available to SBMI's most ambitious students.
Certificate in Applied Health Informatics
All three certificate programs are designed for working professionals interested in gaining new knowledge and skills related to the integration of medical technologies into the everyday practice of healthcare. Each certificate program also consists of 15 credit hours divided among five courses. This program trains students to work with Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and health information systems. Students may choose to take either five predetermined classes focused on EHRs management or five courses taken from the master's degree program in applied health informatics with the approval of the program director. Courses for the first option include the study of the U.S. healthcare system and introductory courses to applied health informatics. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Certificate in Health Informatics
This program is specifically designed for healthcare and information technology professionals already employed in the healthcare field. Two options consisting of five courses each are offered to students in this program as well. The first option includes a set of classes focused on clinical informatics, while the second option allows students to customize the program to fit their individual needs by picking any five classes from the SBMI course catalog. The predetermined courses under the first option include introductory classes in health informatics and EHRs, as well as a course in clinical support systems. The admissions requirements of this program are the same as the applied certificate program.
Certificate in Public Health Informatics
This program consists of five courses from the School of Public Health and the School of Biomedical Informatics. It is designed for allied health and public health practitioners, nurses and physicians interested in learning more about the informatics of public health. Students must take four required courses in the foundations of health information sciences, public health informatics, epidemiology and biostatistics and one elective course. In addition to all of the same admissions requirements of the other two certificate programs, applicants to this program must also submit a resume or curriculum vitae and a personal goal statement.
Master of Science in Applied Health Informatics
Students in this program learn to manage EHRs and computerized health information systems. The program consists of 12 courses for a total of 36 credit hours and is only available online. Students are trained to understand a wide variety of topics related to the study of informatics, including communication, safety, systems analysis and project management. With the exception of the culminating capstone project course at the end of the program, all courses include didactic and laboratory work.
Most of the courses required for this Internet-based degree program cannot be transferred to the master's or doctoral degree programs in health informatics. To apply, interested students must hold a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.75 and have at least three years of related work experience. Prospective students must also submit university transcripts, MAT or GRE scores, a resume or curriculum vitae, a letter of recommendation from both an employer and educator and a personal goal statement.
Master of Science in Health Informatics
This program consists of 42 credit hours and can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Students choose their coursework from among a set of predefined classes covering basic, research and advanced informatics-related topics. Most courses are scheduled in 3-hour blocks of face-to-face instruction, though some online classes are available. Students may also choose to complete the program entirely online by applying to the 'at a distance' program. Several classes require students to participate in a poster symposium at the end of the semester.
Additionally, all students must complete six credit hours of practicum courses and write a paper based upon their practicum research that will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. UTHealth also offers its students a dual master's degree program option in health informatics and public health. The admissions requirements of this program, and its online and dual degree counterparts, include the same requirements as the applied master's degree, except that applicants must have GPAs of 3.0, are not required to have previous work experience and must submit three letters of recommendation from either employers or educators.
Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics
The doctoral program is aimed at teaching students informatics concepts that can be applied to all healthcare disciplines. The program consists of 93 credit hours and takes four years to complete on a full-time basis. Part-time enrollment is not recommended. Some courses are available online, but the majority of instruction takes place on-campus. Students will be expected to participate in poster symposiums at the end of each semester, work with an advisory committee throughout the program, pass a candidacy exam with a written and oral presentation of a proposed research topic and submit a dissertation at the end of the program.
Enrolled students must also take several courses from four categories of classes, including basic, research, advanced and required courses, which cover the entire range of informatics-related studies. Students also have the option of enrolling in a dual degree program to earn the doctoral degree in health informatics and a master's degree in public health. Applicants who choose the dual degree option will study an integrated curriculum based upon each discipline and gain preceptorship experience in the field of public health informatics. All of the admissions requirements for the master's degree in health informatics apply to the doctoral program, except that a longer personal goal statement is required.