Healthcare IT is a field undergoing a rapid and unprecedented expansion. This is due in no small part to the tremendous nationwide effort to make all medical records electronic, which, as mandated by the federal government, was required as of January 1, 2014. Since the switchover, the need for professionals able to handle the billing, coding and overall administration of records has never been greater. This is best summed up by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimate that the total number of medical records and health information technician jobs will grow by 22% over the next decade ― one of the fastest rates in the nation.
The Associate of Science in Healthcare IT, sometimes called the Associate of Healthcare Information Management, is a degree that, once earned, gives job seekers in the health field a distinct leg up on the competition. And while projections suggest it will be easy to get a job for years to come, excellent jobs with room for serious advancement will continue to be highly competitive. An education in healthcare IT tells employers you are versed in medical coding languages, the administrative software hospitals and caretakers use and the ethics of working in the medical profession. Most associate degrees also require some amount of in-person experience at a professional facility, indicating to employers you have the work experience they love to see.
A healthcare information technology degree online permits working students, many of whom are already in the industry in some capacity, to earn a great degree at their own pace, which can open doors for advancement with a current employer, along with countless outside opportunities. Below, we look at this year’s two best online healthcare IT associate degrees, profiling each program’s coursework, and reviewing each school’s online platform and online student services.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||Pitt Community College||Winterville||$$$$$||1986 Pitt Tech Road|
Winterville, NC 28590
Located in Winterville, North Carolina, Pitt Community College is committed to advancing the region’s economic vitality and developing its workforce by providing learning opportunities to the community. Such opportunities include the college’s associate program in health information technology, which prepares learners to gather, process, manage, and report critical health information. Students who pursue this health informatics degree online will be prepared to oversee health department functions and coordinate data to ensure cost efficiency, quality, and adherence to government and private sector standards.
While Pitt offers the majority of its HIT degree online, two science courses in anatomy and physiology require campus-based instruction. In addition, students must complete professional practice experiences (PPEs), which can be completed near a student’s home. Pitt faculty will help distance learners coordinate their PPEs to ensure that their clinical practice occurs within an appropriate setting. Graduates of this program may be eligible to sit for the national certification exam to become a registered health information technician. This prepares students to enter careers in hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, and physician offices.
|2||Hutchinson Community College||Hutchinson||$$$$$||1300 N Plum St|
Hutchinson, MN 67501
Founded in 1928 with less than 200 enrollees, Hutchinson Community College is a two-year, co-educational college that currently educates 6,000 students. The college offers more than 120 majors in a variety of fields, including an associate of applied science in health information management. This health informatics online degree teaches students how to secure, analyze, and manage information to improve the quality of care given to a patient.
HCC delivers this degree through a fully-online program that requires no campus visits. Students must complete 66 credit hours by enrolling in core classes such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, and healthcare analytics. In addition, they can choose from a variety of elective coursework, which includes classes that discuss psychology, human relations, and technical writing. Graduates are eligible to sit for the registered health information technicians exam, which is administered by the American Health Information Management Association.
|3||Shoreline Community College||Shoreline||$$$$$||16101 Greenwood Ave N|
Shoreline, WA 98133-5696
Established in 1964 and located just 10 miles from downtown Seattle, Shoreline Community College offers more than 100 programs. Among these is its associate of applied arts and sciences in health information technology. Students earn this degree by completing 92-94 credits over a period of two years. Students who complete their health informatics degree online at Shoreline learn the knowledge and skills needed to monitor the accuracy of patient records, compile data for clinical reports, assign numerical codes for medical procedures, and protect patient confidentiality.
Core requirements in this program include studies in medical terminology, pharmacology, and health care statistics. Students must also complete a capstone course. Graduates can find work in a variety of settings including hospices, rehabilitation centers, and clinics. Shoreline offers discounts to senior citizens, Washington state employees, and qualifying veterans.
|4||Davenport University||Grand Rapids||$$$$$||6191 Kraft Avenue S.E.|
Grand Rapids, MI 49512-9396
Davenport University is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The school celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016. Students seeking to earn a health informatics degree online can do so through DU’s college of health professions, which offers an associate of applied science in health informatics technology. This program teaches students to analyze and manage patient data and health information resources by using innovative technology, such as the American Health Information Management Association’s Virtual Lab.
A 69-credit degree, this program teaches students about human disease, anatomy and physiology, health careers, and health care law and ethics. The program also requires that students obtain clinical experience. Graduates are prepared to sit for the registered health information technician exam and obtain employment at hospitals, physician practices, and insurance companies.
|5||Sinclair Community College||Dayton||$$$$$||444 W. Third St.|
Dayton, OH 45402-1460
In 1979, Sinclair’s distance learning program began as TV Sinclair; it offered two videotaped courses and enrolled about 50 students. Today, SinclairOnline is one of the largest providers of online education in Ohio; almost 6,000 students are enrolled in more than 200 online classes. Among these, Sinclair offers an associate of applied science in health information management. Full-time students enrolled in this health informatics online degree program typically earn their degree in five semesters.
This 62-credit program teaches students about disease processes, medical terminology, and computer applications for health information management. Upon graduation, students are prepared to enter positions within hospitals, law firms, insurance companies, and long-term care facilities. Moreover, those who wish to transfer their associate degree credits to a four-year institution will benefit from Sinclair’s 100+ university transfer agreements with colleges in Ohio and across the country.
|6||St Petersburg College||Clearwater||$$$$$||6021 142nd Ave N|
Clearwater, FL 33760-2822
St. Petersburg College offers students a diverse curriculum at an outstanding value; its cost per credit hour is 55% less than state universities located in Florida. SPC’s associate of science in health information technology prepares students to maintain and manage patient health information. Admission into this health informatics online degree program is competitive and enrollment is limited. All of the coursework can be completed online, with the exception of required hands-on experiences, which are obtained through professional practice courses that can be taken at a health care facility near the student’s home. These facilities include acute care hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Graduates from this program often pursue positions in physician offices, hospitals, and government agencies. Additionally, all distance learners at SPC benefit from online tutoring, library access, and technical support.
|7||Tyler Junior College||Tyler||$$$$$||1400 East Fifth Street|
Tyler, TX 75701
Tyler Junior College is one of the largest community colleges in Texas and serves about 11,000 students each semester. Many of these learners opt to pursue a health informatics degree online, which they can obtain through TJC’s associate of applied science in health information technology program. This degree prepares students to enter health information management careers with any health care provider, from large hospital systems to private physician practices. Major courses in this program teach students about computing, medical terminology, medical coding, and pathophysiology. Students must also complete 17 credits of general education classes. All degree requirements can be completed online, with the exception clinical hours, which are undertaken at an approved facility, and two anatomy and physiology labs. Graduates are eligible to sit for the registered health information technician exam.
|8||Minnesota State Community and Technical College||Fergus Falls||$$$$$||1414 College Way|
Fergus Falls, MN 56537-1000
Located in Fergus Falls, Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers an associate of applied science in health information technology/coding program. This 64-credit health informatics online degree combines the fields of healthcare and information technology; this combination of expertise is becoming increasingly important as health care providers continue to shift from paper records to electronic records.
Students in this program learn how to use diagnostic and procedural coding systems, interpret data to ensure quality management, and leverage information technology to collect, maintain, and share care-related data. Classes include human anatomy and physiology, health care delivery, and medical science. M State’s online learners receive support in the form of online tutoring and career services. All M State students enrolled in this program must also complete a background check in order to participate in clinical activities.
|9||Hazard Community and Technical College||Hazard||$$$$$||One Community College Drive|
Hazard, KY 41701-2402
Hazard Community & Technical College prepares students enrolled in its associate of applied science in medical information technology program to manage data and work closely with physicians, health professionals, and health administrators. Those enrolled in this health informatics online degree program will engage in both classroom and experiential learning, preparing them for careers at hospitals, medical clinics, and nursing homes.
The 63-credit program includes studies in medical terminology, legal and ethical issues in health information, and a clinical practicum. Prospective students who earned a composite score of 19 or higher on the ACT exam receive admission preference. The school accepts applications in early March, and new students begin classes in the following fall. In addition, Hazard readily reviews credit earned at other institutions to determine if students are eligible for transfer credit.
|10||University of Alaska Southeast||Juneau||$$$$$||11120 Glacier Highway|
Juneau, AK 99801-8697
While its main campus is located in Juneau, the University of Alaska Southeast offers an associate of applied science in health information management that is available primarily online. This health informatics online degree prepares learners for entry-level health information careers. Graduates are prepared to sit for the registered health information technician exam after completing the 60 credits needed to graduate from this program.
Students must take both general education and major requirement courses. The latter include instruction in medical terminology, medical coding, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Distance learners can enroll part-time, but they must complete this degree program within a period of five years. Students accepted into this program must also meet certain computer literacy requirements to ensure that they are prepared for the required online coursework.
|11||Spokane Community College||Spokane||$$$$$||1810 North Greene Street|
Spokane, WA 99217-5399
Founded in 1963, Spokane Community College prepares learners for technical careers through comprehensive, two-year degree programs. Among these is its associate of applied science in health information management program, which allows students to earn a health informatics degree online. Graduates will learn how to code clinical data for reporting purposes, the legal standards used for controlling and releasing data, and the computer skills needed to compile and process information for data analysis purposes.
Online students can begin in either the fall or summer. Admission requires a high school diploma or a GED, as well as the ability to type 30 words per minute. Students must maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average in their major courses and complete all major courses within a period of five years.
|12||Dakota State University||Madison||$$$$$||820 N Washington Ave|
Madison, SD 57042-1799
Dakota State University’s associate of science in health information technology program is listed among the best in the nation. This health informatics online degree pairs students with professionals and experts in the field and teaches them to maintain accurate patient records at health care facilities.
A 64- or 65-credit program, enrollees take classes in social science and mathematics in addition to their core coursework in health data systems and diagnosis coding. Students are also required to complete a supervised professional practicum. DSU also hosts a health information management club, which complements classroom study. This group actively supports the community through service and social activities. Students are encouraged to consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health information administration once they earn their associate degree; associate degree credits can be easily transferred to the bachelor’s track.
|13||Columbus State Community College||Columbus||$$$$$||550 E Spring St|
Columbus, OH 43215
The associate of applied science in health information technology at Columbus State Community College is suited for students with an interest in medicine, technology, and business. The program focuses on strengthening patient care through technological innovation. Students who pursue this health informatics degree online learn about the regulations that guide medical, administrative, and ethical/legal standards within health care delivery systems.
Courses in this program are web-based, but some campus-based exams and meetings are required. Additionally, distance learners must complete professional practice experiences at an assigned health care facility. Potential enrollees in this program must first complete the school’s health information management technician certificate, which is a prerequisite for admission. Students are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis once they have fulfilled admission requirements. Classes include topics in computer fundamentals, advanced medical terminology, and medical coding.
|14||Rochester Community and Technical College||Rochester||$$$$$||851 30th Ave SE|
Rochester, MN 55904-4999
The associate of applied science in health information technology program at Rochester Community and Technical College prepares students to enter careers as health information technicians who can secure, analyze, and oversee patients’ health information to ensure their privacy and high-quality care. Those who pursue this health informatics online degree are also taught the intricacies of coding medical diagnoses and managing the release of sensitive patient data. Graduates are also prepared to sit for the registered health information technician exam.
In this 64-credit program, students must complete coursework in natural sciences and humanities in addition to core program requirements. The latter coursework includes studying medical terminology, health records, data analysis, and management of health information. In addition, all learners must complete a capstone experience in a real-world setting.
|15||Washburn University||Topeka||$$$$$||1700 SW College Avenue|
Topeka, KS 66621-0001
Based in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn University is a public school with over 7,500 students and 1,000 faculty members. WU offers academic programs at all degree levels. Among these is its associate of science in health information technology, which prepares enrollees to analyze and manage healthcare information. Students learn to support patients as well as the hospitals and medical professionals who serve them. Graduates are prepared to enter careers at federal and state health agencies, nursing care facilities, and the insurance industry, among others.
This 73-hour health informatics online degree requires classes in medical terminology, computer competency, human anatomy, and business writing. Most full-time students complete their required classes within two years. WU also offers a one-year certificate program in health information coding.
|16||North Dakota State College of Science||Wahpeton||$$$$$||800 N 6th St|
Wahpeton, ND 58076-0002
The health information technician program at North Dakota State College of Science blends the fields of healthcare and information management to prepare students for careers that focus on providing high-quality patient care through data organization, analysis, accuracy, and safeguarding. This program teaches students to comply with laws concerning patient data and gives them the option to specialize in medical coding. This health informatics online degree does not require students to attend campus; however, two professional experiences must be completed through a combination of virtual and in-person activities.
Students engage in web-based learning laboratories and courses that include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, first aid, and CPR. Upon graduation, students are ready to assume positions in hospitals, behavioral health facilities, and government agencies. Graduates are eligible to take the registered health information technician exam.
|17||Vincennes University||Vincennes||$$$$$||1002 N First St|
Vincennes, IN 47591
One of the oldest colleges in the U.S., Vincennes University was founded by U.S. President William Henry Harrison in 1801. VU offers two- and four-year degrees, including an associate of applied science in health information management. Students seeking to complete a health informatics degree online can enroll in this two-year program and learn how to collect, maintain, and analyze the data that medical professionals require to provide robust patient care. Degree holders are experts in blending healthcare and technology to support the operation of hospitals, physician offices, clinics, insurance companies, and the government.
Admission into the program requires completing specific pre-requisites, including English, mathematics, reading, and anatomy classes. Major program requirements include coursework in data analysis, healthcare coding, pathology, and medical terminology.
|18||Northwest Iowa Community College||Sheldon||$$$$$||603 W Park St|
Sheldon, IA 51201
Northwest Iowa Community College’s associate of applied science in health information technology is offered completely online and teaches students how to ethically handle confidential health care-related information. Distance learners pursuing this health informatics degree online benefit from a very flexible course schedule. Students who complete this program are prepared to sit for the registered health information technician exam; NWICC’s graduates boast a nearly-perfect pass rate for this examination.
Students can earn this degree in four semesters with one additional summer term. Course topics include human anatomy and physiology, health records, medical terminology, and coding. These classes prepare students to succeed in the healthcare industry by overseeing the data that physicians and nurses rely on while treating patients. In addition to health care settings, graduates can find employment at government agencies, research firms, and consultancies. NWICC also offers a four-course health records certificate program.
|19||Fisher College||Boston||$$$$$||118 Beacon Street|
Boston, MA 02116
The associate of science in health information technology program at Fisher College focuses on combining health care and technological knowledge to teach its graduates how to safeguard patient data. This program teaches learners the fundamentals of record indexes, storage, and retrieval of data information.
This health informatics degree online program requires coursework that includes liberal arts in addition to the major requirements. The 72 credit-hour program is offered through six eight-week terms. Program requirements should be completed within five years of enrollment. Students must also complete a supervised professional practice experience and internship before they complete the program. Graduates can transition into a variety of careers, including clinical coding specialists, consultants, and electronic health records specialists. Additionally, tuition is the same for all students, regardless of their state of residency.
|20||Central Piedmont Community College||Charlotte||$$$$$||1201 Elizabeth Avenue|
Charlotte, NC 28204
Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Central Piedmont Community College’s associate degree in health information technology combines business, technology, and science curricula. CPCC allows distance learners to earn their health informatics degree online. This program is ideal for students who are interested in working in the healthcare industry but do not want to work one-on-one with patients. This program can be completed both in-person and online by part-time or full-time learners. Students are taught to collect, maintain, and report data for health statistics, biomedical research, and quality management. While coursework is generally web-based, classes are taught synchronously. In addition, students must complete three professional practice experience classes. Employment opportunities include working in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, health insurance organizations, out-patient clinics, hospices, and mental health facilities.
|21||Ultimate Medical Academy||Tampa||$$$$$|
Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, Ultimate Medical Academy was established as a nonprofit school in 1994. It offers comprehensive and robust curricula that help students prepare for healthcare-related careers. UMA’s associate of applied science in health information technology degree prepares students to handle private medical records, implement medical coding, and comply with medical laws related to digital patient data. Enrollees complete 48.5 credits of major-related courses as well as 15 credits of general education requirements. Students enrolled in this program also receive 45 hours of hands-on experience under the supervision of a professional. The program can be completed by full-time students in as little as 17 months. Distance learners at UMA also have access to online tutoring, job interview coaching, live learning labs, a student-friendly online library, and tech support 24/7.
|22||Ozark Christian College||Joplin||$$$$$||1111 N Main St|
Joplin, MO 64801
Ozarks Technical Community College offers an associate of applied science in health information technology program; this degree can be completed online. Learners must earn 69 credits in this program, which prepares them to enter the healthcare industry as data quality managers. Courses include medical coding, medical terminology, and organization and supervision in health care. In addition, students are required to complete a professional practical experience in a real-world setting. Online classes are accessible through the Canvas learning management system. Moreover, because OTC is headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, all students must complete a class that focuses on the U.S. and Missouri state constitutions. Upon graduation, students can enter careers at hospitals, clinics, nursing care facilities, and insurance companies; they can also sit for the registered health information technician exam.
|23||Indian River State College||Fort Pierce||$$$$$||3209 Virginia Ave|
Fort Pierce, FL 34981-5596
Located in Fort Pierce, Florida, Indian River State College offers an associate of science in health information technology program that can be completed entirely online. This program teaches students the knowledge and skills needed to collect, maintain, and analyze medical data to provide quality patient care. Three in four students who graduated in 2016 were employed in their field within nine months of graduation.
Students must complete 70 credits to meet program requirements, which include coursework in medical-legal aspects, quality improvement, and medical coding. Students learn through a combination of online lectures, virtual labs, and internship opportunities. IRSC accepts applications for admission into the program until the cohort is full, and classes begin once a year in August at the start of the fall semester.
|24||Roane State Community College||Harriman||$$$$$||276 Patton Lane|
Harriman, TN 37748
With nine locations across Tennessee, Roane State Community College first opened in 1971 and currently serves more than 6,000 students. The college offers an associate of applied science in health information technology program, which can be completed online. However, distance learners must still complete professional practice experiences, which can be undertaken at a healthcare setting near a student’s home.
Before enrolling in the program, students must successfully complete a series of courses, including classes in medical terminology, human anatomy, and physiology. Degree coursework teaches students about medical terminology, health care statistics and reporting, and computer applications. This program requires a total of 66 credit hours. While the curriculum for the online and on-campus degree programs slightly differ, students learn the same topics and gain the same competencies.
|25||Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College||Shell Lake||$$$$$||505 Pine Ridge Drive|
Shell Lake, WI 54871-8727
Located in the northwest region of the state, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers an associate of applied science in health information technology online degree. The program prepares graduates to enter careers that focus on collecting, analyzing, and processing electronic medical records. A two-year program, this health informatics online degree includes online coursework and in-person clinical rotations during the second year. Students can elect to follow the program career pathway option, which allows them to become medical coding specialists. Students must earn 61 credits in a combination of general education and technical courses in order to meet graduation requirements. Program-specific coursework includes classes in medical terminology, procedure coding, and digital literacy. Following graduation, students can expect find employment as data analysts, health information technicians, and insurance specialist.
With an online health information technology degree in hand, graduates can move into a number of positions that fall under the BLS classification of “Medical Records and Health Technicians,” with roughly 185,000 employed under this status nationwide. The overall annual wage for employees in this field, as of May 2014, comes in at $38,860. The BLS further divides employment into a few industry categories, which breakdown as follows:
|Career||Number Employed||Average Salary|
|Medical Record and Health Technicians in General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||66,860||$41,350|
|Medical Record and Health Technicians in Offices of Physicians||39,090||$33,910|
|Medical Record and Health Technicians in Nursing Care Facilities||12,690||$37,670|
|Medical Record and Health Technicians in Outpatient Care Centers||7,160||$36,680|
|Medical Record and Health Technicians in Management of Companies and Enterprises||5,290||$43,320|
Bearing in mind that these are the biggest types of employers nationwide, students in an associate program will want to position themselves to jump on a position that ideally has a large base of employees and a salary at or above the national averages listed above.
Students earning their healthcare information technology degree part-time, while also maintaining a part-time or full-time position, will want to make sure an online healthcare IT associate degree qualifies them for a higher wage or another position with said employer. If neither is the case, these students will want to identify ideal employers in their area and begin to prepare the appropriate application materials so they can begin their hunt shortly after they’ve earned their degree. A great school will have career counselors that can refine students resumes and cover letters and direct them to the right employers as they near graduation.
Again, given the sheer number of health admin job openings, finding a position should not be hard, but the amount of effort you put into the process, especially with regards to your health information technology degree, can be the difference between another job and a truly excellent career.