Health Information Coding Specialist
Health Information Technology Home
Entry-level coders analyze health records and assign the appropriate code to each
diagnosis and procedure according to national and international guidelines. They perform
research and rely on their knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and disease
processes to determine the correct codes and sequences.
Coders then use a software program to assign the patient to one of several hundred
“diagnosis-related groups (DRGs),” or “ambulatory payment classifications (APCs)”.
Other coding systems used by the medical coder are known as encoders. Those who specialize
in coding are called health information coders, medical record coders, coder/abstractors,
or coding specialists.
For more information on the field of Health Information Technology, click on the health
information management association links below.
American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
Median Wage (US)*
Students that achieve the Health Information Coding Specialist Certificate can expect
to obtain jobs in inpatient facilities, outpatient clinics, physician offices, or
insurance companies as entry-level coders.
For more information related to career opportunities in this field, please visit AHIMA.org/careers
The Great Falls College MSU coding program is accredited through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) . The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) distinguishes coders by exhibiting commitment
and demonstrating coding competencies across all settings, including both hospitals
and physician practices. Based upon job analysis standards and state-of-the-art test
construction, the CCA is creating a larger pool of qualified coders ready to meet
potential employers' needs. The CCA designation has been a nationally accepted standard
of achievement in the health information management field since 2002. More than 8,000
people have attained the certification since inception. The CCA is the only HIM credential
worldwide currently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) .
The successful completion of the Health Information Coding Specialist Certificate
will assist the student in qualifying for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential national exam; sponsored by AHIMA.
Fall 2021 MUS Student Health Insurance Premiums will be changing. Please check the Health Insurance website and/or Student Central for confirmed premium rates. Students will be charged an additional fee of $21 per credit for online/hybrid courses.
Students seeking federal financial aid (which includes grants and loans) must complete
the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which online at fafsa.ed.gov. As a result of completing a FAFSA, an applicant will receive a federal Student Aid
Report (SAR) in the mail or online. An electronic version of the SAR is automatically
sent to the schools listed on the FAFSA. To list Great Falls College MSU, use our
school code: 009314.
Students applying for financial aid may also be required to provide proper federal
income tax information, completed verification materials, and any other information
requested by the Financial Aid Office. Students must apply for financial aid annually.
Assistance is available to prospective students applying for financial aid. In addition,
financial aid counseling for new students is an integral part of the admissions and
orientation process. Once enrolled, students may receive counseling and assistance
as needed. For assistance, please call 406-771-4334, or write to the Financial Aid Office, Great Falls College MSU, 2100 16th Ave S, Great Falls, MT 59405, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great Falls College MSU also offers a wide variety of different scholarships to assist
you in paying for your college. To view a list of current scholarship offerings, please
see our scholarship page.
Scholarships are available through AHIMA and MHIMA (Montana Health Information Management
AHIMA Foundation - Merit Scholarship Information
Many students need preliminary math, science, and writing courses before enrolling in the program requirements. These courses may increase the total number of program credits. Students should review their math and writing placement before planning out their full program schedules.
NOTE: Curriculum is based on a full time schedule. The courses listed below do not have to be taken in the specified order. However, if you do take them in this order, it will ensure that you have completed all prerequisites for each course. Also, since not every course is offered every semester, it will ensure that you do not have to delay graduation because a certain course is not offered when you decide to take it. Please note that if you attend part-time and/or require developmental courses in Math and/or English, it will take longer to complete your program.
Indicates prerequisites needed.
Placement in course(s) is determined by placement assessment.
A grade of C- or above is required for graduation.
For the complete course list and for more information on pre-requisite courses, please
visit the catalog page for this program.
For the General Education credits (Math, Writing, Comm, Soc, and Psych courses), we
will accept them up to 25 years in the past. When the credits are over 25 years,
the student must RETAKE all General Education courses.
For the Program Requirement credits (HIT/HICS core courses), we will accept them up
to 10 years in the past
IF the student has past or current job experience related to any allied healthcare
Testing out is allowed in the following methods:
Testing out is allowed in the following methods:
Our Health Information Coding Specialist Program at Great Falls College MSU is approved
by the AHIMA Foundation’s Professional Certificate Approval Program. This designation
acknowledges the coding program as having been evaluated by a peer review process
against a national minimum set of standards for entry-level coding professionals.
The approval time frame is March 31, 2019 and expires on March 31, 2022 with annual
interim approval during these years.
The program is accredited by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) .
Students that complete the Health Information Coding Specialist Certificate can easily
transfer into the Health Information Technology two-year degree program at Great Falls College MSU.
Kristine HanckeHICS Program Director