CIM Certificate and Associate of Science Degree

SBCC offers both an associate degree and a certificate program in Cancer Information Management (CIM). Both the CIM associate degree and certificate programs are designed to prepare you for a career working in hospital-based and population-based cancer registries. The certificate program is provided for students who already possess a college degree. Completion of either program leads to eligibility to take the Oncology Data Specialist (ODS) national credential exam.

The CIM Programs are fully open to any person who has been admitted to SBCC. No additional application or prerequisites are required.

To be eligible to take the ODS exam, candidates must meet education and experience requirements. The routes (A1, A2 and B) are detailed below.

Route A. Experience: Successful completion of 160 hours of work practicum in a ODS-staffed Cancer Registry (may be part of a NCRA-approved program curriculum) AND Education Path 1a): Successful completion of an NCRA-Accredited Associate Degree Program, OR Education Path 2a): Successful completion of an NCRA-Accredited Formal Education Certificate Program AND successful completion of a minimum of an Associate’s degree or equivalent (60 college-level credits).

Route B. Experience: 1,950 hours (equal to one year full-time) experience in the Cancer Registry field AND Education: Successful completion of a minimum of an Associate's degree or equivalent (60 college-level credits) INCLUDING or IN ADDITION TO SPECIFIC COURSEWORK: Two semesters of HUMAN Anatomy and/or Physiology (grade of C or better is required).

The CIM program at Santa Barbara City College is an NCRA-Accredited Formal Education Program. For more information on the ODS exam eligibility routes, please see ODS Exam Eligibility.

For eligibility purposes, the Council on Certification-approved definition is: the cancer registry field consists of individuals working in or supervising cancer registry and organizations or companies that actively support cancer registration. Cancer registration involves collection, management and analysis of cancer incidence data for all of the following purposes:

  • research
  • quality management/improvement
  • cancer program development
  • cancer prevention and surveillance
  • survival and outcome data
  • compliance of reporting standards
  • development of accreditation standards for Cancer Registration

A well-prepared candidate's experience should include all basic aspects of a cancer registry, including but not limited to casefinding, abstracting, follow-up, reporting, cancer committee, cancer conference, state and/or NCDB submissions.

Cancer registries play an important role in the fight against cancer. Cancer registration is the basic method by which information about the incidence, type, extent of disease at time of diagnosis, treatment methods used and survival of patients with cancer is systematically collected. Cancer registry professionals are responsible for the collection, analysis and dissemination of cancer data. Specific duties include:

  • Identifying reportable cancer cases.
  • Abstracting patient cancer data from patient records, pathology, radiology and surgical reports.
  • Coding and staging primary site, histology and extent of disease.
  • Monitoring timeliness, completeness and accuracy of cancer data.
  • Performing cancer patient follow-up activities to identify second primaries, recurrence and spread of disease.
  • Reporting cancer data to health care officials, hospital administrators, physicians and regulatory organizations for use in cancer prevention and control.
  • Assisting medical staff and epidemiologists in special studies and research.
  • Supervising staff.
  • Assuring patient privacy and data integrity and security

Cancer registry professionals are needed in hospital-based and central cancer registries throughout California and the United States. Since the passage of the Cancer Registries Amendment Act (Public Law 102-515) in 1992, the number of central cancer registries has increased dramatically. Legislation has been enacted throughout the country requiring health care facilities and physicians to report their cancer cases. Due to limited educational opportunities, there are not enough cancer registry professionals to fill available positions in this rapidly growing field.

$25,000 to $100,000

With the exception of the 160 hours of work practicum in a ODS-staffed Cancer Registry (Practicum Class CIM 275), all courses in the CIM Program are offered totally online. All course content and exams are delivered online. Students interested in pursuing an online degree must be highly motivated, independent learners and possess excellent organizational and time management skills. Students must have email and internet access. No on-campus attendance is required. As such, students must be familiar use of the internet, email, uploading and downloading files, and various common word processing programs. Please review the technical requirements for the HIT/CIM department.

Please direct any questions to

SBCC’s CIM program provides high quality cancer information management education and training to a diverse population of students in order to fill community and employer needs for credentialed CIM professionals.

The CIM Program is approved by the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). As graduates, students are eligible to apply for the national examination for certification as a Oncology Data Specialist (ODS).

Apply to SBCC here. There is no separate application for the CIM Program. These 8 steps to Apply and Enroll will guide you through the entire process and give you more department-specific information.

Here are department requirements for the CIM Certificate. To earn the CIM AS Degree, you must complete all CIM Department requirements plus SBCC's General Education requirements. The above link lists CIM department requirements in their recommended course sequence. Here is a breakdown of specific course prerequisites. 

Students enroll in classes prior to each semester and fees are paid prior to each semester.
Fees are different for students who are California residents and non-residents.
California resident enrollment fee = $46 per unit
Non-resident tuition and fees = $331 per unit

Cost of CIM Department Requirements:
California residents = $46 x 47 units = $2,162
Non-residents = $331 x 47 units = $15,557
(Transfer credit will reduce the cost. If GE classes are taken through SBCC, then that will increase the cost.)

Additional fees will apply. A full list of fees is available from the Cashier's Office.

For procedures to verify completion of HIT prerequisites and for a list of CIM program class prerequisites and course advisories, see the Course Prerequisites page. See the Transcript Evaluation page for instructions on how to complete a transcript evaluation.

Information is available from SBCC's Financial Aid Office. You can chat or email them from the Financial Aid homepage, or call them at: (805) 730-5157. They can also give you information about Board of Governors Fee Waivers, scholarships, etc.

Please note that advance planning is required to complete the necessary paperwork in short time frames!

Once you have registered and paid for your courses, please review our Orientation for Enrolled Students. During the first week of class, you will complete online orientation exercises designed to familiarize you with the course and the online classroom. If you have any problems or difficulties with one or more of these steps, contact us immediately.

Once you have registered for your class(es) and the online bookstore has opened for the semester, you may purchase or rent textbooks online at

Below are the required GE areas, with SBCC's fully online course options in parentheses following each category:

A. Natural Science with lab (BOT 121 or BIOL 120 or BIOL 122+123)

B. Social and Behavioral Science (HIST 100 or 101 or 102 or POLS 101)

C. Humanities (AJ 105 or ART 215 or MUS 115 or 118)

D-1. English Composition (ENGL 110)

D-2. Communication and Critical Thinking (will be met with Math)

E-1. Intermediate Algebra (MATH 107 or placement higher than MATH 107)

AND Choose 3 out of the following 4 -

 E-2. American Institutions (met with area B courses listed above HIST 100 or 101 or 102 or POLS 101)

E-3. PE/Health (PE 163A + HE 101)

E-4. Oral Communication (COMM 122 or 162)

E-5. Multicultural/Gender Studies (met with area C courses listed above - AJ 105 or ART 215 or MUS 115 or 118)

AND you also need

F. Information Competency (LIBR 101)

Students must complete all department requirements with a grade of 'C' or better. Pass grading is not permitted in a student’s major area of study. An overall grade point average (gpa) of 2.0 is required at SBCC and across all colleges attended.

Candidates must complete at least 20% of the CIM department requirements through SBCC.

Students who are newcomers to online learning, or have a low comfort level with computers, may want to limit their first semester to 3 units. Students who work full-time and have family and personal commitments are advised to limit enrollment to 6 units per semester. Students who work 20 hours per week, and have family and personal commitments, are advised to limit enrollment to 9 units per semester. It is recommended that students limit their enrollment in SBCC's short 6 week summer session to one HIT/CIM class.

For more information, see our Course Load Guidelines.

Additional Information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Gwyer Schuyler
HIT/CIM Academic Counselor