The best online medical assistant programs can be a great choice for working adults who want a start in the healthcare field. One of the fastest-growing allied health careers is Medical Assisting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates job growth for medical assistants from 2020 to 2030 to be 18 percent, which is much faster than other jobs across the country. An online medical assistant associate’s degree can be a perfect start for a career in healthcare.
Job satisfaction in this career is high, as U.S. News and World Report rank this career #2 in Best Jobs Without a College Degree, #6 in Best Healthcare Support Jobs, and #52 in 100 Best Jobs. Best Health Degrees has researched some of the best online Medical Assisting programs.
Our Method: Ranking the 15 Best Online Medical Assistant Associate’s Programs
To rank the 15 Best Online Medical Assistant Associate’s Programs, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications
1. Durham Technical Community College
You’ll want to explore this online AAS in Medical Assisting program from Durham Tech that is entirely online.
At an estimated $5320 tuition and fees, this 70 credit hour degree will prepare you for an entry level position as a Medical Assistant within 20-21 months. Among the courses you’ll take are Basic Anatomy & Physiology, Medical Law and Ethics, Medical Terminology, Exam Room Procedures, Laboratory Procedures, Symptomatology, and Infection Hazard Control. You’ll also take classes in Writing and Inquiry, Public Speaking, as well as Math Measurement & Literacy.
This program has accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), considered the gold standard for this career. On successful completion of the coursework, you’ll be eligible to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) exam to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA).
Fast Fact: Durham Tech has its beginnings in 1948 as a Practical Nursing (LPN) program
Degree Awarded: AAS
2. Independence University
If you have 19 months to two years for an online degree program, you should give the Medical Assistant Associate of Occupational Studies curriculum at Independence University a look. IU holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Requiring 95 credit hours, you’ll learn not only about medical office procedures, but will understand the clinical processes Medical Assistants need as well. Studies range from medical terminology, computer foundations for healthcare, healthcare documentation, law and ethics, medication administration, electrocardiography, and others. Courses in English, communications, and psychology are also part of the program. There’s also a capstone project required.
Independence University has a unique approach to the externship component of this program. The school will fly you, all expenses paid, to Salt Lake City for a weekend of hands-on experience at a medical facility.
Fast Fact: Independence University will pay up to $500 for your certification exams
Degree Awarded: AOS online medical assistant program
Learn more about this online medical assistant degree!
3. Weber State University
Perhaps not always viewed as the standard Medical Assistant role, this AAS Medical Lab Technician degree from Weber State University can give you a solid background in an important component of Medical Assisting.
You’ll study the key areas of laboratory assistance with subjects in hematology, phlebotomy, medical lab practices, microbiology, and protocols. Your studies will include didactic coursework as well as laboratory experience (conducted concurrently to classes) in a clinical setting or your place of employment. While in the laboratory, you’ll work with a mentor who will evaluate your competencies and submit a report to the school along with comments.
In addition to laboratory studies, students must take general education courses (either at Weber State University or at a college or university near you). Weber State University is in Ogden, Utah. Additionally, the school has accreditation from the National Accrediting Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NAALP).
Fast Fact: Forbes ranks Weber State University as one of its “Top Colleges 2019”
Degree Awarded: AAS for medical assisting
4. Barton Community College
Here’s an online and hybrid AAS in Medical Assistant designed with the working adult in mind.
This program requires 64 credit hours for completion and includes an internship in an ambulatory care facility. The curriculum is a blend of general education and courses in your major. You’ll take English, communications, anatomy and physiology, and technical math. Among the Medical Assistant classes are studies in Basic Medical Lab Techniques, Medical Terminology, Medical Coding, Patient Care, Medication Administration, and Nutrition Therapy.
Upon graduation, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam. You’ll understand the role of a Medical Assistant in office administration, assisting physicians in patient care, and routine laboratory procedures. The program will also prepare you to handle patient health records, understand the law and ethics of healthcare, and more.
Fast Fact: Barton Community College has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and is in Kansas.
Degree Awarded: AAS medical assisting
5. American National University
In as few as 20 months, you can earn an Associate degree in Administrative Medical Assistant entirely online.
The program’s curriculum is 96 credit hours and offers six areas of concentration. While the school website doesn’t readily provide specific coursework information, it does discuss the skills you’ll develop with this degree. Among the competencies you’ll develop are office operations (including coding and billing skills), patient and healthcare professionals’ communication, laws and ethics in healthcare, basic anatomy, pathophysiology, body systems, and teamwork. The educational path will qualify you to sit for the National Certified Medical Office Assistant exam.
American National University has accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), both Department of Education recognized agencies. Additionally, the AAS Medical Assistant degree program has accreditation from the CAAHEP.
Fast Fact: American National University dates to 1886 and has campuses in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia
Degree Awarded: AAS medical assisting
6. Penn Foster College
Penn Foster is an online, private, for-profit college that offers a Medical Assistant Associate’s degree. Students can complete the program in four semesters. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) accredits this program.
The syllabus provides you with a wide range of topics, including anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, laboratory procedures, medical-surgical processes, nutrition, pharmacology, etc. Beyond the clinical skills you need to be an effective Medical Assistant, you’ll study computer applications, law and ethics for healthcare providers, English composition, and communication. Your last course in this program is an externship, where you’ll complete 160 hours (unpaid) in a healthcare setting.
This degree requires you to take proctored exams at the end of each semester. You choose the time, location, and approved exam proctor. Speaking of exams, completion of this AS will allow you to take certification exams of the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC), Certified Clinical Medical Assistant certificate (CCMA), etc.
Fast Fact: Penn Foster started in 1890 as a school for Pennsylvania coal miners
Degree Awarded: AS medical assistant programs
7. Stratford University
You can receive an online AAS in Medical Assisting degree from Stratford University within 15 months. This program will train you in the various aspects of Medical Assisting from office administration to helping in patient exams and laboratory testing.
Classes include Basic Clinical Procedures, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Ethics and Law, Professional Procedures, Medical Insurance, Coding and Billing, and also exams and Special Procedures. Classes in Arts and Sciences are also part of the curriculum. You’ll also participate in an externship in a healthcare facility to get hands-on experience.
Stratford University is a private, for-profit institution and holds accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools ( ACICS). The Medical Assisting degree program has accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Fast Fact: Stratford University has campuses in Virginia and Maryland
Degree Awarded: AAS
8. Umpqua Community College
Based in Oregon, Umpqua Community College has an online Medical Office Administration Associate’s degree designed to prepare you for an entry level position in a medical office or facility.
The program will take 2 years for completion and offers courses in various areas of Medical Assisting. You’ll take classes in Business Communications, Medical Terminology, Medical Office Procedures, Records Management, Elements of Supervision, Math, Anatomy and Physiology, Principles of Business Management, Accounting, Business Law, and more. This degree requires 91 credit hours for completion.
This degree is through the Office Technology Programs of UCC. Additionally, the program has accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU).
Fast Fact: UCC is located in Roseburg, Oregon
Degree Awarded: AAS
9. Olney Central College
Olney Central College in Illinois, provides a hybrid Medical Office Assistant AAS degree which is designed to qualify you to work in medical offices, hospitals, insurance companies, and other areas.
The 68 credit hour curriculum includes studies in medical office and clinical processes, anatomy, law and ethics, general psychology, insurance and coding, spreadsheets, statistics, as well as public speaking. You’ll also participate in an internship. Most students can complete the program in two years.
OCC is one of four Illinois Eastern Community Colleges and has been offering degree programs since 1963 and holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Fast Fact: USA Today named Olney Community College the #1 community college in Illinois
Degree Awarded: Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree for online medical assisting programs
Learn more about this online medical assistant degree!
10. National American University
If you’re looking for a solid curriculum for an AAS in Medical Administrative Assisting degree, you may want to review the program at National American University.
You’ll take studies in medical terminology, records management, pharmacology, coding and billing, and a choice of a Medical Assistant practicum or an introduction to US healthcare delivery. Additionally, students who want to pursue certification must take the 160 hour practicum experience. This program requires general education courses which include communication, English composition, math, humanities, behavioral social science courses in Human Growth and Development and Foundations of Cultural Competence. The total number of hours for this degree is 90 credit hours.
National American University has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Fast Fact: Niche gives this school a grade of “B-“
Degree Awarded: AAS for online medical assisting programs
11. Ultimate Medical Academy
In 18 months, you can earn your Associate’s degree in Medical Administrative Assistant accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
You can expect to learn the skills Medical Administrative Assistants need in topics such as communication, law, ethics, records management, diagnostic and procedural coding, medical terminology, patient relations, and healthcare computer fundamentals. You’ll also take general education studies in English composition, sociology, math, general biology, and critical thinking. This program can help you prepare to sit for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam.
Tuition at UMA includes textbooks, software, and ebooks. UMA offers students 24/7 technical support, one-on-one tutoring, help with writing your resume, and more. This Associate Degree is 62 credits and takes most students 18 months to complete.
Fast Fact: UMA is a private institution
Degree Awarded: AS in Medical Administrative Assistant degree program
12. Liberty University
Liberty University provides an online AAS in Medical Office Assistant degree with a 64-credit-hour curriculum.
Among the topics you’ll study are medical office systems, billing, coding, ethics and law, anatomy and physiology, communication, and participating in a clinical externship. Additionally, this curriculum requires general education studies in critical thinking, social and scientific inquiry, and also communication and information. Liberty University describes this program as preparing you to understand risk management, patient confidentiality, and HIPAA.
Liberty University has been offering online degree programs since 1985. Furthermore, students can complete this AS in Medical Office Assisting totally online with courses lasting eight weeks. LU also has a liberal transfer policy allowing you to transfer up to 75% of your degree program. Liberty University has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC).
Fast Fact: Niche ranks Liberty University at #2 in its “Best Online Colleges in America”
Degree Awarded: AS for online medical assisting programs
13. State Fair Community College
Offered online, the Medical Assisting program at Missouri’s State Fair Community College will qualify for the Professional Certificate in Medical Assisting (PCMA) and to pass the certification exam. Coursework in this degree includes Medical Terminology, Laboratory Procedures, Administrative Procedures, CPR for Healthcare Providers, Pharmacology, and also Advanced Skills.
General education courses in English composition, biology, history, algebra, sociology, and also psychology. Students study human disease, medical conditions, and also microcomputer applications. Furthermore, there is a clinical component to this online program conducted at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare sites and other health facilities. You’ll want to discuss with an admission advisor to find out how you can complete your practicum in your area.
Fast Fact: State Fair Community College receives a grade of “C+” from Niche
Degree Awarded: AAS for online medical assisting programs
14. Keiser University
You can receive an AS degree as a Medical Assistant from Keiser University. The 60 credit hour program is available online.
Students learn the clinical requirements to be a Medical Assistant and the administrative and clerical tasks necessary in a healthcare environment. Course topics inculde anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, laboratory processes, and also medical ethics. Additionally, students practice what they learn in the classroom with an externship at a healthcare facility.
General education courses are required in subjects such as English composition, humanities, history, math, as well as social and behavioral sciences.
Fast Fact: “Both U.S. News & World Report and Niche highlighted Keiser as one of the top schools in the country for 2020” (Keiser University)
Degree Awarded: AS
15. Daytona College
In the 70 weeks, you can earn an online AS degree in Medical Assisting from Daytona College.
This best online program will allow you to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), EKG Technician Certification (CET) and the Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT) exams. The curriculum will train you in conducting patient intake and assessment, manage patient electronic health records, scheduling of patients, coding and billing, medication administration, and collecting and processing of specimens.
Daytona College has regional accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the Medical Assisting programs are recognized by American Medical Technologists (AMT). If you have a Medical Assisting diploma, you can transfer to the AS degree.
Fast Facts: Daytona College began as a school training massage therapists and expanded its degree offerings in 2007 to include nursing and allied health education
Degree Awarded: AS
Learn more about this online medical assistant degree!
The BLS expects the Medical Assistant jobs are to grow at a much faster than average rate. They will increase by 23 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. News and World Report ranks this career at #6 in Best Healthcare Support Jobs and #52 in 100 Best Jobs. An online medical assistant associate’s program can help you get there.
What Can You Do with a Medical Assistant Associate Degree?
Having an associate degree in Medical Assisting will do several things for your career prospects. An online medical assistant program demonstrates you have the necessary education to be an effective medical office staff member. Additionally, the associate degree will prepare you to sit for certification exams, another prized indicator of your qualifications.
Certification can be obtained by passing the exam for Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists. Medical Assistants will have excellent job prospects, and those with an associate degree and certification may have even better prospects.
What Do Medical Assistants Do?
Medical Assistants have dual responsibilities in a healthcare setting. They have administrative tasks and clinical duties. Administratively, you’ll find yourself managing patient records, doing coding and billing, handling insurance reimbursements, filing insurance claims, and scheduling patient appointments. They also maintain medical records and handle business communications. Sometimes these duties are split into their own role. Administrative medical assistants have just administrative duties and are similar to medical secretaries.
On the clinical side, you’ll be called on to help physicians and nurses with patients in exam rooms. Jobs duties include taking patient histories, taking vital signs, recording patient vitals, collecting laboratory specimens, administering medication (under supervision), and assisting with minor surgeries.
Most online medical assistant programs and associate degree programs include internships or externships as part of the Medical Assistant curriculum. These practicum experiences provide clinical training and administrative training. They put learning into practice and prepare you for entry-level positions.
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
Graduates can find jobs in many areas of the health care industry. They work in doctor’s offices/physician’s offices, medical clinics, outpatient clinics, related healthcare systems, and also hospitals. Furthermore, about 57% of Medical Assistants work in offices.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for medical assistants in May 2021 was $37,190. Salary expectations range from $29,070 to $48,170. The top industry employers of Medical Assistants are below. Also, certified medical assistants tend to earn more than their uncertified counterparts. Furthermore, many employers prefer to hire employees with a medical assistant certification or a certified medical assistant.
|Top Industries||Annual Salary|
|Outpatient care centers||$38,270|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||$37,800|
|Offices of physicians, doctor’s offices||$37,150|
|Offices of chiropractors||$30,100|
Should I Choose an Associate’s Degree or Certificate?
Basically, there are three ways to become a Medical Assistant. Prospective medical assistants can earn an associate degree, a certificate/diploma, or get on-the-job training. Let’s look at the differences and the benefits. Keep in mind that your job potential and salary may depend on whether you’re certified as a Medical Assistant. Generally, individuals should be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or equivalency for all the routes.
What is a Medical Assistant Associate Degree?
Associate degrees from a community college, technical or vocational school may take a little longer but may help you land a job with a bigger salary and greater responsibilities. Accredited associate degrees will prepare you to sit for, and pass, CMA or RMA exams.
These credentials are valued by employers. Degree programs may go into greater depth with regard to clinical and administrative skills and prepare you for management or leadership roles within a medical setting. Having an associate degree will also be a great benefit if you should decide to pursue a four-year undergraduate degree.
What Is an Online Medical Assistant Certificate or Diploma?
Since Medical Assistants aren’t usually licensed (but, check with your state medical board) certificate/diploma training is acceptable. Certificates and diplomas in Medical Assisting are also provided at community colleges, technical institutes, or vocational schools.
The medical assistant certificate program route to becoming a Medical Assistant is shorter. It typically takes 12 months or less and also prepares you to sit for certification exams and may help you gain an entry-level position. Having a diploma will provide a stepping stone should you decide to enter an associate degree program.
Some physician offices will train you in specific procedures and protocols for their practice; or, they may send you to an outside training program. This administrative and clinical training is only the skills needed for that particular practice and may not prepare you to take the CMA or RMA Exams. Employers may, or may not, pay you during the training period.
Should I Get a Certificate Online or On-Campus?
There was a time when most people thought online programs were inferior education experiences, but that’s no longer the case. Now, you can attend a medical assistant online program to earn a degree or diploma. Furthermore, you can go to school and work to support your family.
Colleges, technical and vocational schools have developed programs designed specifically for working adults that provide online students with the same curriculum, and faculty, as on-campus students. Even with studies that involve internships or externships (as most Medical Assisting programs do) students are able to complete those practicum experiences at a facility near them or through virtual simulations.
What Do You Learn in a Medical Assistant Program?
A medical assistant program covers various topics. In addition to classes and coursework, many programs have an internship or a hands-on externship. So, students practice skills and gain competence for the certifying exam.
Below are some common medical assisting classes and online coursework students take in online medical assistant programs.
- Medical Transcription
- HIPAA law
- Medical Terminology
- Administrative Training
- Medical Office Management
- Healthcare Reimbursement and Claim Cycle
- Anatomy and Physiology and Pathophysiology
- Student Success and Career Success
- Diagnostic Procedures
- Introduction to Computers
- Healthcare Communication
- Medical Administrative Assisting
- Medical Law, Ethics, and Records Management
- Diagnostic Coding for MAA/MOBS
- Procedural Coding for MAA/MOBS
- medical billing and medical coding
- Health Information Management for Electronic Health Records
- Office management and patient scheduling
- Medical Records Management
- Scope of practice and job duties
- Computer Fundamentals 3.0 credits
- Interpersonal Professional Communications
- Patient Relations
Accreditation for Medical Assistant Programs
Most employers only hire graduates from an accredited medical assistant program. So, medical assistants should research the accreditation status of the school and program. Furthermore, only attend regionally accredited institutions.
An individual can get a job as a medical assistant even if their program is not accredited. However, to become a certified medical assistant, your program must be accredited. So, if you are interested in certification, make sure the program you attend has accreditation from one of the 2 medical assistant certification bodies below.
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
Paying for a Medical Assistant Program
Historically, schools had different tuition rates for in-state students and out-of-state students. Online students are usually treated the same as on-campus students when it comes to tuition and fees. Most schools don’t charge online students out-of-state tuition. So, to easily compare the cost of a program, try to find the per credit tuition rate. Students who have a full time study path also sometimes pay less than part time students. This happens when schools charge the same rate for up to and over 12 or 15 credits per semester.
Furthermore, accredited programs let students apply for financial aid and Federal Student Aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Additionally, these schools frequently offer scholarships, federal student loans, and other financial aid opportunities for students in medical assistant programs.
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