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Master of Science in Health Informatics Programs
2012-2014 Student Handbook

Program Description and Goals Master of Science in Health Informatics Admission Process
Transfer Credit Degree Requirements for the Master of Science in Health Informatics
Course of Study for the Master of Science in Health Informatics Practicum

Program Description and Goals

The formal study of informatics at the master’s level is designed as a multi-disciplinary approach to accomplish these important goals:

  1. Understand the scope of the discipline of health informatics;
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the literature of health informatics;
  3. Demonstrate skills in knowledge engineering and knowledge structuring;
  4. Apply the acquired skills set in a selected domain of health informatics;
  5. Develop informatics solutions to biomedical problems based on current research; and,
  6. Understand opportunities and limitations of current technologies used in health informatics.

To accomplish a trans-disciplinary and integrative structure and to allow students to select courses appropriate to their backgrounds and professional goals, the Health Informatics curriculum has been conceptualized as a matrix. Each cell of the matrix represents a learning experience in three areas: basic informatics, research, and advanced informatics. Within the curriculum, each student, in cooperation with the student’s Advising Committee, will select the combination of courses and experiences that most directly meets the student’s educational needs.

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Master of Science in Health Informatics Admission Process

The applicant should present to the Registrar’s Office the following:

  1. Official transcripts from every post-secondary school attended, both in the United States and abroad. All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by a professional agency (such as Educational Credential Evaluators or World Education Services) on a course-by-course basis. This evaluation is at the applicants’ expense.
  2. A baccalaureate or higher degree in an appropriate area, e.g., science, medicine, nursing, dentistry, MIS, engineering, or computer science
  3. A personal statement detailing the applicant’s interest in the program
  4. A resume or curriculum vitae (as appropriate)
  5. A Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) score
  6. Grade Point Average (GPA) in previous (degrees) coursework
  7. A minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test; a score of 87 (writing 26, speaking 23, reading 21, listening 17) on the internet based test; or a minimum score of 213 on the computer test is required for international students.
  8. Three letters of reference from educators and/or employers
  9. Courses taken and degrees received at U.S. schools must be from regionally accredited schools.

Applicant materials will be organized into a portfolio for review by the admissions committee. The admissions committee will consider such areas as:

  • Health, MIS, Computer, or Engineering related degree
  • Health-care work experience
  • Database work experience
  • Informatics work experience
  • Demonstrated expertise in programming
  • GRE or MAT score
  • GPA in previous degree
  • Success in overcoming social, economic or educational disadvantages, race and ethnicity.

Master of Science in Health Informatics application deadlines:

Fall admission - July 15
Spring admission - November 15
Summer admission - March 15

Interview

The second component for admission is a personal interview. Applicants who have been recommended by the admissions committee may be invited to interview with two faculty members. Faculty members are either requested by the applicant or assigned by the admissions committee. Separate interviews may be conducted due to scheduling conflict. The interview is expected to focus on the applicant’s goals and how they can be achieved in the master’s program, communication skills, and understanding of the program.

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Transfer Credit

Transfer credit for equivalent courses taken elsewhere may be awarded and used to meet degree requirements if their equivalency to a SBMI degree program course is approved through a Petition for Equivalency Credit.

Support courses that are taken at other institutions that enhance a student’s degree plan should be determined by agreement and approved by their advising committee. A Petition for Equivalency Credit is not required for these support courses. Contact the Office of Academic Affairs for information. The maximum number of transferable semester credit hours is 12 for the master’s program.

Applicants who are presenting coursework from universities or colleges outside the United States to meet admission or graduation requirements are referred to the section on International Applicants in this catalog for a listing of additional requirements.

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Degree Requirements for the Master of Science in Health Informatics

Academic Requirements

Credit hours must total at least 42 semester hours for all courses in the degree plan. Six of those semester credit hours will be in support courses that might not be offered by the school. Support courses could include areas such as cognitive sciences from Texas A&M University, computer science from Rice University, mathematics from the University of Houston, measurement courses from The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston, or courses studying healthcare outcomes from The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston. Each student follows a degree plan developed with an Advising Committee. A total of 42 semester credit hours must be completed prior to graduation.

A full-time student in the Program in Health Informatics has up to four years (12 semesters) from the time of entry to complete the required course work. A part-time student has up to eight years (24 semesters) from the time of entry to complete the required course work. Continuous enrollment is required unless approval from the advising committee is obtained. A maximum of one year of an approved leave of absence will be allowed for continuance in the program. If more than one year of leave occurs, the student must apply for readmission to the program.

Each course with an HI prefix in the Health Informatics degree plan is a graduate-level course and should be passed with a grade of “B” or better. Only one course grade of “C” is allowed. The minimum grade point average (GPA) required for graduation is 3.0 on all HI courses.

Other Requirements

In Residence Requirement: The term “in residence” refers to the requirement that a student completes a total of 30 semester credit hours over the course of the program at UTHealth. A student must fulfill his or her in residence requirement in order to receive any academic degree from the School.

Computer Requirement

Every student is required to have reliable access to a computer that meets the minimum requirements. Students are encouraged to purchase a laptop that meets the minimum UTHealth requirements.

Computer requirements are listed on the website and are subject to change.

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Course of Study for the Master of Science in Health Informatics

Traditional Track

The curriculum of the Master of Science degree in Health Informatics includes required didactic courses and a practicum. Didactic courses (lecture/discussion, demonstration and student laboratories) are presented to provide facts, concepts, and theories related to the techniques and procedures of health informatics. The courses include instruction in basic informatics, research, advanced informatics and support courses. The practicum is designed to give the students the opportunity to apply theory and techniques in the hospital, research, or private laboratory setting.

Each student will develop a degree plan with written approval of their advising committee. A degree plan will be filed that includes a minimum of:

  • 6 semester credit hours in foundation courses
  • 6 semester credit hours in basic informatics
  • 6 semester credit hours in research informatics
  • 3 semester credit hours in advanced courses
  • 6 semester credit hours in support courses
  • 6 semester credit hours in practicum courses.

Changes to the degree plan must be approved in advance in writing by the advisor/advising committee.

The Advising Committee must approve support courses before a student enrolls in the course unless the courses are transferred and accepted for credit at the time of admission. Approval of the transferred courses must be completed at the time of transfer to the program. Only six semester credit hours of support courses will be accepted toward the degree requirements.

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Practicum

Prior to beginning the practicum, the student must submit to the Office of Academic Affairs a copy of their proposal. The proposal must be approved in writing by all members of the advising committee. Another part of the practicum that students must prepare is a ‘state of the science’ paper based on research in the student’s area of interest. The ‘state of the science’ paper will be developed in cooperation with the student’s advising committee. Students will have the experience of disseminating the knowledge they have gained by sharing it with the larger community. It will not be a requirement that the paper actually be published, due to the inability to predict journal-publishing times. However, the paper must be of sufficient quality to be accepted for publication in a refereed journal and must be submitted for publication. The advising committee will be responsible for monitoring the quality of this paper, as well as the practicum. The ‘state of the science’ paper approach has been chosen because it gives more flexibility to conduct different kinds of research, such as concept analysis, discussion of implementation issues, or investigation of new data in Health Informatics. All research papers, theses, and dissertations authored by degree candidates are available to interested members of the general public upon request.

Sample Curriculum  
Course No. Course Title Semester Credits
Fall Semester  
HI 5310 Foundations of Health Information Sciences I 3
HI 5352 Statistical Methods in Health Informatics 3
HI 5354 Cognitive Engineering in Health Informatics 3
Total 9
Spring Semester  
HI 5351 Research Design and Evaluation in Health Informatics 3
HI 5304 Advanced Database Concepts 3
HI 5311 Foundations of Health Information Sciences II 3
Total 9
Summer Semester  
HI 5313 Introduction to Electronic Health Records 3
HI 6314 Knowledge Acquisition 3
Total 6
Fall Semester  
HI 6301 Health Data Display 3
HI 6308 Consumer Informatics 3
Support Course 1 3
Total 9
Spring Semester  
HI 6000 Practicum in Health Informatics 6
Support Course 2 3
Total 9
Grand Total 42

For further curriculum information, please contact:

UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics
Office of Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin Street Suite 800
Houston, Texas 77030
Telephone: (713) 500-3591
Email: SBMIAcademics@uth.tmc.edu

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