MHCI FAQ

Rutgers' new Master of Health Communication and Information (MHCI) program focuses on the communication, information, and media aspects of health-related policies and practices. Classes will explore the critical systems and interactions that support wellness in interpersonal, community, organizational, and public settings. Our new program is designed to enable you to navigate and leverage the intersections of communication, information, and media in an environment of information overload. Our MHCI degree focuses on the various communication modalities as well as the strategic and managerial aspects of information systems in healthcare. 

Work with expert faculty who integrate theory and practice to keep you abreast of current healthcare practices and trends. Gain a multidisciplinary perspective on how communication and information can affect outcomes for illness and disease. Acquire the skills needed to contribute to the evolution and development of healthcare campaigns and interventions. 

The program includes instruction in the development and use of health-related and care-related messages and media, communication, information, and interaction in provider-patient contexts. We cover:

  • the goals and strategies of healthcare promotion;
  • relationships, roles, situations, and social structures in the context of health maintenance;
  • designing organizational and informational structures to manage health provision;
  • applications that address disease prevention and crisis communication preparedness;
  • health advocacy and communications concerning treatments;
  • creation, storage, retrieval, and management of information resources in the service of the health professions.

Please see our latest FAQ list. 

What are the goals of the program?

The MHCI program’s goals include the following:

a). Breadth of discipline: We provide students with the skills to reason, study, develop, and communicate knowledge across the spectrum of health and wellness dilemmas and opportunities by bridging communication, media, information science, technology, and healthcare.

b). Theory and method: We provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to understand and apply theories, methods, and processes for the generation, storage, retrieval, use, management, interpretation, evaluation, and communication of health data, information, and knowledge.

c). Technology: We provide students with the ability to create, design, apply, adopt, use, and evaluate the practices of health information and communication, including emerging media technologies, the dissemination of information, and the processes of sense-making.

d). Human and social context: We provide students with the ability to apply social and behavioral sciences to the evolution and development of interpersonal communication skills, healthcare campaigns and interventions, technical and organizational solutions and policies, and their application for organizing, coordinating, managing, and delivering high-quality healthcare.

How will the MHCI program help me professionally?

Those who successfully complete the program will be prepared to:
 

  • Design, implement and evaluate health communication strategies and programs
  • Evaluate the power and limits of communication, information, technology, and media to influence personal and community health and wellness
  • Analyze the relationships among communication, information, technology, and media to personal and public health/wellness  
  • Develop evidence-based designs to address health issues of target populations 
  • Design and lead organizational structures to support new communication and information needs in relation to treatment and prevention 
  • Plan and conduct behavioral analysis in the context of patient and providers 
  • Examine complex health-related problems regarding data, information, and knowledge 
  • Employ ethical practices in health communication research, health-related practices and policies, the design of health information systems, and the creation of health-related content 
  • Apply health communication and information strategies and programs in real-world contexts 

Employers are constantly seeking talent who have skills in areas such as communication, teaming, problem-solving, critical thinking, conflict management, and social impact. Our MHCI program addresses all of these and more. You will leave the program with demonstrable enhanced skills in all these areas.

Why seek a master’s degree?
  • Stand out in the crowd—only about 13% of Americans have an advanced degree.
  • Add a credential to your existing healthcare professional certifications or licenses.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of all jobs will require a master’s degree by 2022.
  • Increasingly, employers value the problem solving, critical thinking, and technical skills that graduate-level education provides.
  • You are likely to earn more.
    • A 2017 analysis by Northeastern University found that holders of advanced degrees currently earn a 26% wage premium on average over those with only a bachelor’s degree.
  • You will likely have less unemployment risk and more job security.
Why consider a healthcare-related master’s degree program?

"With the launch of our new Master in Health Communication and Information degree in January 2021, I can't think of a better time to enter this critical market as we realize how vital the role of communication and information is for public health." 
                                                                              —Richard Dool, D.Mgt., MHCI Director

 

The healthcare profession is a growing and dynamic field.
 

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for health information states:
    • “Employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.”
  • Consider the anticipated growth in these healthcare related positions projected through 2024:
    • Medical and health services managers—17% increase in jobs
    • Health educators and community health workers—13% increase in jobs
    • Social and community service managers—10% increase in jobs
    • Advertising, promotion, and marketing managers—9% increase in jobs
    • Public relations specialists—6% increase in jobs
  • Trends suggest an expanding job market for those with knowledge and skills in health data analysis and information especially in the greater New York City region where  demand will be higher when compared to the nation as a whole.
Why pursue a Master in Health Communication and Information?
  • MHCI is the only Health Communication and Information Master’s degree in the Northeast U.S. (NY-NJ-CT-PA), there are no competing programs nearby.
  • MHCI is nested within an exceptionally rich environment for health professions and health scholarship including Rutgers University–New Brunswick, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, the RWJBarnabas Health System, and New Jersey’s high density of health, health tech, and pharma industries.
  • The interdisciplinary nature of MHCI provides a good match for individuals with an interest in creating their own MHCI experience.
  • We offer experiential Learning opportunities to add to your credentials (internships, fellowships and research assistants).
Why does the MHCI degree blend communication, information, and media?

No matter your role in the healthcare profession, you will benefit from strong analytical and communication skills. This is true whether you are determining the appropriate communications for a medical procedure, presenting the outcomes of a program, or deciding the best way to share patient data with another healthcare provider. You will need strong interpersonal skills to ensure that patients understand medical procedures and associated care and that the appropriate contacts have access to a patient’s medical history and information.

You will likely work closely with the health information systems used in the organization. Being information literate from a strategic and program standpoint is important for succeeding and excelling in this information-intensive profession. As best practices in the effective utilization of information are constantly evolving, this area is something that even seasoned professionals are engaging with to advance their organization’s goals and status in the marketplace. The combination of effective communication skills and the utilization of information systems will be a clear differentiator for the healthcare professional.

As you advance to a management level, the need to be able to evaluate current systems and processes and decide where improvements or changes need to be made will be critical. In this role, you also need to be able to convey your work to other people within or outside your organization. Oftentimes, these professionals may not have the intimate knowledge of data analysis that is involved in your reports. As such, the ability to break down and explain this information from various disciplines in a way that all interested parties can understand is critical.

We see the intersections of communication, information, and media as a unique opportunity for the healthcare professional. If your interest is more deeply focused on health informatics and data science, MHCI may not be right fit. The same is true if you are more interested in health policy.

If you find value in the MHCI degree but also want some in-depth knowledge of health informatics or policy, you may take up to two courses (6 credits) from another graduate program in these areas and transfer them into your MHCI degree as elective courses.

Who would benefit from the MHCI degree?

In general, those who are in the early or mid-stage of their healthcare career, those who aspire to a healthcare-related career, or those who may want to pivot into this dynamic profession will benefit tremendously from earning the MHCI degree.

Here are some examples of those currently in the healthcare profession:

  • Health organization communication professionals
  • Health organization supervisors, managers, or directors
  • Health organization unit or practice Leader
    • Nurse practitioners
    • Admissions director or assistant director
    • Healthcare, hospital, or hospice administrator
    • Medical manager
    • Medical office manager
    • Medical or health services manager
    • Patient access supervisor
  • Others:
    • Medical executive assistant
    • Hospital administrative assistant / administrative medical assistants
    • Social and community service manager
    • Healthcare human resource manager
    • Patient services representative
    • Family advocates
    • Health interpreters
    • Healthcare project manager
  • Those who aspire to a healthcare career  
What organizations would hire a MHCI graduate?

There is an array of organizations who may hire MHCI Graduates. Here are some examples:
 

Rutgers Hospital Systems (RWJBarnabas Health, University Hospital, etc.)

  • Other hospital systems
  • Healthcare-focused nonprofit and community organizations
  • Healthcare-focused foundations
  • Healthcare-focused higher education programs
  • Medical and laboratory practices
  • Health insurance companies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Medical services companies
  • Medical device companies
  • Healthcare-focused governmental agencies or units
  • Disease management industry 
  • Health information publishing
  • Entities servicing the healthcare industry (e.g. marketing, advertising, PR, consulting, and other services)
  • Licensure, certification, and credentialing organizations:
    • Physicians (ACCME)
    • Health education specialists (NCHEC)
    • Public health professionals (NBPHE)
    • Nurses (ANCC)
    • Pharmacists (ACPE)
    • Veterinarians (AAVC)
  • Healthcare unions
If you are concerned about this being a new program, consider these facts:

We understand that there can be issues to work out in new programs. However, the MHCI is “new” only in that we decided to spin it out of our existing Master of Communication and Media (MCM) degree program and make it a full stand-alone master’s program specifically designed to meet the demands in the healthcare market. The courses have been offered by our expert faculty for more than 10 years. We continuously update and enhance our existing courses and the MHCI is a blend of our communication, information, and media courses into one unique degree.

Who teaches in the MHCI program?

We have expert faculty who bring both extensive academic and professional credentials to our classrooms. Our current faculty have more than 250 years of combined professional healthcare experience. We also have world-class healthcare researchers who bring their insights into their classes. As an example, Rutgers has been at the forefront of COVID-19 research, including the design and patent for a rapid COVID-19 saliva test. We employ a “learn it today, apply it tomorrow” approach expertly blending theory and practice.

Why enroll in this degree program now?

This is really a personal decision and you should consider several factors:

  • Your available time and your means to absorb the costs
  • Your professional goals
  • The requirements of your profession

In general, the earlier or faster you earn a master’s degree, the more you can leverage it as a credential. The master’s degree should be seen as a key career differentiator and an investment that will pay off over the course of your career. As we noted earlier, you will stand out (only 13% of Americans have an advanced degree), earn more income, and have less unemployment risk.

There is also a lot of attention on healthcare today, and this will not likely slow down any time soon, so the demand for talent will be a critical issue. It is a good time to add to or enhance your credentials if you are in the profession or aspire to enter it.

Can this degree be completed while working full-time?

The MHCI has been developed for the working healthcare professional, allowing you to earn a master’s credential while working full-time. Over 60% of current SC&I master’s degree students work full- or part-time. Classes are offered at night, online, and on weekends.

How much work should you expect in the MHCI program?

It is a fully credentialed master’s degree so it does take an investment of time each week. It requires you to balance your professional, personal, and student lives with good time management and organizational skills. If you enroll as a full-time student (3 courses) in a semester, you can expect to spend 8-10 hours each week in your course work. You can decide how many courses to take each semester—one course to remain active, two courses to qualify for financial aid, and three courses to be considered full- time. Over 500 of our master’s students have completed the comparable Master of Communication and Media degree, with over 60% of those working full-time. If they can do it, you certainly can. We expect the MHCI degree students to have a similar experience.

How long will it take to complete the MHCI degree?

You can accelerate or decelerate your MHCI degree as you need, based on your professional and personal circumstances. You can complete the degree in as little as 15 months or as long as 48 months. Most of our master’s program students finish in 18–24 months. We offer summer and winter courses to help you finish the degree as you decide and to also help manage your workloads. More than 90% of SC&I master’s program students finish their degree once they start.

How many credits and courses are needed?

The degree requires 36 credits or 12 courses. There are both core (required) courses and elective courses.

  • 5 Core courses
  • 2 Research courses
  • Capstone
  • 4 Electives

Core Courses:
 

  • Health Communication 17:503:501
  • Health Sciences Information 17:503:502
  • Mediated Health Communication 17:503:503
  • Health Communication Campaigns and Interventions17:503:504
  • Interpersonal and Relational Facets of Health Communication 17:503:505
  • Participatory Community Engaged Research Methods and Ethics 17:503:511
  • Health Communication Research  17:503:512
  • MHCI Capstone 17:503:513

You can also design your own MHCI learning experience through your selection of four elective courses. Here are some examples:
 

  • Persuasion and Advocacy
  • Organizational Communication
  • Information and Communication Project Management 
  • Information Professions and Community Engagement
  • Family Communication
  • Non-Profit Leadership and Communication
  • Communication Ethics
  • Conflict Management
  • Negotiation and Communication
  • Health Literacy: Patients, Organizations, and Societies
  • Science and Health Journalism
  • Social Responsibility and Community Wellness
What is involved in the MHCI application process?

The application process is fairly straightforward. The details can be found with this link.

Overall, the process includes:
 

  • Our online application
  • A copy of your resume
  • Your undergraduate transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement (300-500 words)
  • GRE (see below on waivers)
  • $70 Application Fee (Waiver Available based on attendance in a MHCI Information Session, offered monthly)
Are there different requirements for International Students?

Yes, there are some different requirements for MHCI international student applicants. These are listed on our site.

The main differences are:

  • The TOEFEL or IELTS English Proficiency Test
  • A WES or NACES Transcript review
  • A short video interview (recorded, not live)
Do I have to take the GRE?

In general, we require the GRE; however, we offer three waiver options:

  1. If your undergraduate GPA was 3.5 or higher, we will waive the GRE.
  2. If you have 5 years or more of full-time work experience, we will waive the GRE.
  3. If you a have another advanced degree (master’s, doctorate, or juris doctor), we will waive the GRE.

If any of the three apply to you, the GRE will be waived. There are some other potential waivers. For more information, contact MHCI Director Richard Dool at richard.dool@rutgers.edu.

When do I need to apply?

For Spring 2021, no later than December 15, 2020

For Summer 2021, no later than April 15, 2021

For Fall 2021, no later than August 1, 2021

 

For International Students:

For Spring 2021, no later than December 1, 2020

For Summer 2021, no later than May 15, 2021

For Fall 2021, no later than July 1, 2021
 

Are Financial Aid, Scholarships and Instructional positions available?

Most of our Master's students pay for their degree in one of three ways:

  • Financial Aid (Loans)
  • Tuition support from an employer
  • Personal funding

There is more information on financial aid at this site.

There are limited scholarship opportunities. Most of our funds go to our Doctoral students.

We do not offer Graduate Assistantships in the MHCI program. We do offer two academic support positions each semester (Fall & Spring). The “Grader” position is for a student to support a faculty member with an undergraduate course. The Grader works 5 hours per week and is paid approximately $1,600 for the semester. There is also an “Instructional Assistant” (IA) position. The IA works 10 hours per week and is paid approximately $3,300 for the semester. These positions are posted every semester.

Who do I contact for more Information?

Please contact the MHCI Director:

Richard Dool, D. Mgt.

richard.dool@rutgers.edu

908-627-2600 (NJ)