The Best Online Medical Assistant Schools & Programs in 2021

Review 2021’s best online medical assistant schools and programs, get details on accreditation, and read about financing options for your training needs. Take the first step toward your medical assistant degree today.

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Written By

Shannon Lee

- Bio

Shannon Lee has been a freelance writer, editor, and novelist for over 25 years. Her work has appeared on Fox Business, Forbes, MSN, Bob Vila, Modernize, Nashville Scene, MoneyGeek, MVP Parent, and many other outlets; her writing on home improvement led to an editorial position with The Spruce in 2021. She's written extensively on higher education, relationships, and the intersection of technology, health, and medicine. When she's not freelancing, Shannon also writes fiction novels.

Expert Review

Alexander Belkin

- Bio

Alexander Belkin is an experienced medical assistant on his way to becoming a licensed physician. He has received a double major in neuroscience and biology from Brandeis University and is experienced in internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, pediatrics, oncology, neurology, and clinical pathology. When he’s not at the hospital, Alex works with the United States Medical Licensing Examination board creating study material and practice exams.

last updated

Last Updated: 09/21/2021
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Medical assistants perform both clinical and clerical duties in a wide range of healthcare settings. On the clerical side, they record patient histories, schedule appointments, and enter patient data into automated systems. On the clinical side, they give injections, measure vitals, and prepare specimens for laboratory tests.

In May of 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual salary of $35,850 for medical assistants. The top 10% of professionals in the field earn $50,580. The BLS also reported an estimated 19% growth in medical assistant job openings between 2019 and 2029, much faster than average.

The path to becoming a medical assistant can be as short as a few months, with more rigorous programs running between 18 months and two years. Online learning has made the process even more convenient. Online medical assistant programs use a variety of distance learning tools to manage and delivery academic coursework. In asynchronous programs, students can finish their coursework when and where it’s most convenient.

If an online medical assistant program could be right for you, check out EduMed’s list of the best schools in 2021.

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About the ranking

X

Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 North Idaho CollegeCoeur d'Alene, ID Public $ 2

North Idaho College has medical assistant certificate and associate’s degree programs that are blended with a combination of online and on-campus learning. To be admitted, applicants are required to have a high school diploma, a minimum 2.0 grade point average in human biology and technical mathematics prerequisites, and the ability to type at least 35 words per minute. A background check is also required.

Once students enroll, they take coursework in medical coding, clinical skills, pharmacology, and medical office software. Students also complete an externship in which they work six hours and participate in one-hour lectures every week. During this time, they observe and perform administrative and clinical duties in a medical setting and then discuss them with a faculty member to reinforce everything they've learned.

Program Highlights:

Medical Assistant Intermediate Technical Certificate

  • Credits: 49
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $141.50/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Medical Assistant Associate of Applied Science

  • Credits: 64
  • Length: 2 1/2 years
  • Cost: $141.50/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
34%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
2 Blackhawk Technical CollegeJanesville, WI Public $ 2

Blackhawk Technical College offers a hybrid medical assistant diploma that teaches students how to play an integral role in a clinic or doctor’s office by scheduling patient appointments and receiving patients when they arrive, maintaining medical records, doing diagnostic tests, and assisting nurses and doctors with examinations and medical treatments. Students also become familiar with healthcare laws and regulations so they understand how to work to the highest medical and ethical standards.

This program combines face-to-face instruction with online coursework completed on the MyEdChoice platform, which allows students to watch lectures live or at the times that work best for their schedule. When students complete their coursework, they participate in a practicum in an ambulatory healthcare environment.

Program Highlights:

Medical Assistant Technical Diploma

  • Credits: 32
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $5,464 for the complete program
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs; Higher Learning Commission
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
6%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
3 Central Arizona CollegeCoolidge, AZ Public $ 2

The medical assistant certificate program prepares students at Central Arizona College for the rigors of the field. Students learn about medical terminology, HIPAA regulations, the differences in public and private insurance systems, and obtaining a medical history from a patient. The curriculum is also designed to help students pass the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) examination from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

To participate in the online portion of this hybrid program, students should have a PC with Windows 8 or newer or a Mac with macOS 10.6 or later. Also, they should have a personal email account and use the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft Edge, as well as Windows Media Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Word.

Program Highlights:

Medical Assistant Certificate

  • Course hours: 540
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $2,495 for the complete program
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs; HLC
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
21%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
or
About the ranking

X

Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Renton Technical CollegeRenton, WA Public $ 2

Renton Technical College’s medical assistant certificate, which takes two years to complete, provides a foundation that allows students to acquire the affective, psychomotor, and cognitive traits that are needed in the medical assisting profession. By the time students graduate from this program, they are prepared to work with patients from different backgrounds, complete administrative duties like billing and scheduling, understand medical and legal ethics that guide the field, and work effectively as members of a medical team. Specific classes offered in this program cover clinical procedures, medical terminology, human disease and treatment, and medical insurance coding.

Prospective students are expected to have a high school diploma or GED and demonstrate a proficiency in verbal and written English. Applicants must undergo a background check and prove that all their required vaccinations are current.

Program Highlights:

Medical Assistant Certificate

  • Credits: 70
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $130.04/credit
  • Mode: Fully Online
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
10%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
2 College of Southern NevadaLas Vegas, NV Public $ 1

The College of Southern Nevada has a medical assisting certificate that prepares students to earn a Certified Medical Assistant credential, training would-be professionals to work in various jobs, such as medical office assistant, clinical medical assisting, lab assistant, and billing clerk positions. The program combines in-person and online instruction so students get a full understanding of the rigors of working in various medical settings. Specific coursework covers pharmacology, medical assistant techniques and procedures, and medical office management.

Program Highlights:

Medical Assisting Certificate of Achievement Program

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 1 1/2 years
  • Cost: $109.75/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
21%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
3 Madison Area Technical CollegeMadison, WI Public $ 1

The medical assistant technical diploma offered by Madison Area Technical College can be completed in about one year and is offered on a hybrid basis. To be admitted, the school expects applicants to have a high school diploma, GED, or an associate degree or higher. Also, admitted students should go through a background check, provide proof of immunizations, and have an active Healthcare Provider CPR certification.

Once admitted, students take coursework that covers medical assistant procedures, healthcare digital literacy, medical terminology, and healthcare law and ethics. Coursework culminates in a practicum in which students get hands-on clinical, laboratory, and administrative experience under the supervision of trained professionals. After completing the program, graduates go on to work as medical assistants, phlebotomists, pharmacy aides, medical records clerks, or EKG technicians.

Program Highlights:

Medical Assistant Diploma

  • Credits: 33
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $5,799.35 for the complete program
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: HLC; Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
17%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4 Arkansas Tech UniversityRussellville, AR Public $$ 1

Arkansas Tech University’s medical assistant associate degree program is provided in a hybrid format that allows students to learn concepts through virtual classrooms and video recordings, while reinforcing what they've learned in on-campus laboratory experiences. In addition, students participate in a 160-hour internship in a medical setting, such as nursing homes, flu clinics, physician clinics, and hospitals.

After going through the online and hands-on training provided by Arkansas Tech University, program graduates leave with a deep understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, basic pharmacology, and medical assistant practice. Through this coursework, students develop strong critical-thinking, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.

Program Highlights:

Medical Assistant Associate Degree

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $129/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: HLC; Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
45%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission

Why Online School for Medical Assisting?

There was a time when earning higher education meant sacrificing work and family obligations to sit in a classroom. But with online learning, students can get the education they need without uprooting their family, changing their schedule, or taking time off work. And there are a ton of valuable online and school support resources for medical assistant students that can help you along the way. Here’s more on why online education for medical assisting might be right for you.

Flexibility

Online learning allows earning a certificate, diploma, or degree on a more reasonable timetable, which is great for those who have full-time jobs (or even part-time jobs!), family obligations and the like. Medical assistant programs teach a great deal of information that can be conveyed through online courses, thus making it one of the best options for those who want to work in the allied health field but don’t have the time to visit a campus multiple times per week.

Affordability

The relatively short nature of medical assistant programs online makes them affordable by nature. Instead of paying for 2 to 4 years for an associate or bachelor’s degree, some programs can be completed in as few as 3 months. Learning online can also take commuting, parking, and similar costs out of the equation, allowing you to focus your costs on the coursework and fieldwork exclusively.

Explore today’s most affordable online medical assistant programs.

Speed

In online medical assisting programs, students learn only what they need to enter the workforce with confidence. This focus on the most important knowledge and skills is why so many programs can be completed within months. Even after accounting for the time it takes to complete a certification exam and find a job, students might be looking at a total of one year from the start of the program to getting comfortable in their new profession.

Types of Online Medical Assistant Programs

There are three primary types of medical assisting programs, all of which can be taken mostly or partially online: the certificate, diploma, and the associate degree. How do you know which one to choose? That depends on a few factors, including your desired career trajectory. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the three types of online medical assistant programs available today.

Certificate

In most cases, certificates are the fastest way to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to move directly into the workforce upon graduation. Certificates can be completed in one year or less, and some programs require only a few months of study. However, they usually require an externship, which can add some time to the pursuit of the certificate. Certificates can often be earned through community colleges; if the program is accredited, students will be able to sit for a variety of exams to earn medical assisting certification.

Diploma

The diploma is often considered interchangeable with the certificate, but there are some subtle differences. Diploma programs tend to be offered through hospitals or clinics, and provide more hands-on clinical experience than certificate programs. Since many diploma tracks are hands-on right from the start, students might not have to participate in an externship or similar clinical component. It’s important to remember that those who graduate with a diploma or certificate, even if they go on to obtain certification, might not see as high of a starting salary as those who earn the associate degree.

Associate degree

These degrees typically take two years to complete, and are usually found at community colleges. The longer time period means students not only take courses in medical assisting, but in general education, as well. The result is that they can enter the workforce upon graduation or use their associate degree as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree, which might allow them to move into more advanced medical positions. The associate degree also offers the possibility of making a higher starting salary, as well as an edge over other applicants who have less education.

What You’ll Learn: Key Knowledge & Skills

When you take medical assisting courses, the knowledge you obtain is often applied directly to the job. That’s why each course in a program is vitally important. Since medical assistants are expected to hit the ground running when they start a new job, it’s critical to garner the knowledge and skills necessary through each course. Here are a few of the courses you can expect to take and why they matter so much.

Medical Front Office: Medical assistants handle a variety of tasks, including billing, scheduling, and other duties in the front office. Understanding how the front office works is the first step toward a smoother experience for patients.

Medical Records: Keeping up with medical records makes a tremendous difference, and the job often falls to the medical assistant. This course teaches students all they need to know to handle the electronic health records for a typical medical office.

Anatomy: Students might take several anatomy courses, all designed to give them a firm understanding of the human body and how the systems work together during times of health and illness. Knowing the basics can help graduates enter the workforce prepared.

Insurance and Billing: When dealing with front office tasks, medical assistants will often have to know the ins and outs of medical insurance, billing practices, and coding. Several courses might be devoted to this subject, although many of the detailed tasks may be reserved for certified medical billers and coders.

Patient Examinations: Knowing how to handle a patient examination, from welcoming the patient to checking the vital signs to assisting the physician or nurse, are all important aspects of the job. Other courses might also relate to this one, such as courses in nutrition, vital signs, and common diseases.

Other courses might include phlebotomy, ethical and legal issues, a variety of laboratory tests, safety in the medical office, medical equipment and supplies, psychology, and administering medication.

How Much Does an Online Medical Assistant Program Cost?

The cost of medical assistant programs varies widely. Some programs charge by the credit hour, while others charge for the entire program from start to finish in one lump sum – this is especially true when the program is short and will be completed within the span of a typical college semester. For instance, our spotlight schools on this page range from $2,599 to $17,900 for their medical assistant programs.

To learn how you can finance your education, and for even more detail on cost, please visit our page on financial aid for online medical assistant programs.

How Long Is Medical Assistant Training?

The length of a medical assistant program depends upon the final outcome – whether you earn a certificate, diploma, or degree. Certificate and diploma programs usually take a year or less, with the certificate taking just a little less than the diploma. The associate degree often takes two years to complete, but might be finished faster if the student takes accelerated programs. To learn more about how long specific programs take to complete, check out the schools in our ranking list.

  • Does Accreditation Matter?

    Though many factors go into choosing the best online medical assisting program for you, accreditation might matter most of all. When a school or program earns accreditation, it means that school or program has been examined by an independent body and found to meet the rigorous standards of a quality education. In other words, accreditation ensures that your degree, diploma, or certificate teach you what you need to know.

    Why does this matter so much? First, it’s important to remember that federal financial aid is available only to accredited schools; attend a school without accreditation, and you will likely have to pay for it out of your own pocket. It also speaks to career advancement, as medical assistants must graduate from an accredited program in order to sit for the certification exam. And finally, employers will readily accept credentials from a person who has graduated from an accredited program, but maybe not from someone who attended a non-accredited institution.

    Medical assistant programs are accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). When learning more about a school, look for information on accreditation on the school’s website. If the accreditation is not stated there, look to one of the two agencies. If it’s still difficult to find information about accreditation, contact the school directly to get a solid answer.

  • Do I Need to Become Certified?

    In most states, certification is not a requirement. However, many employers prefer to hire those who have earned certification, as it proves that person has a strong working knowledge of all the things medical assistants need to know to begin their work. There are five certifications available for medical assistants:

    CMA

    The American Association of Medical Assistants provides the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.

    RMA

    American Medical Technologists provides the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential.

    NCMA

    The National Center for Competency Testing offers the National Certified Medical Assistant option.

    CMAA

    The National Healthcareer Association is home to two options for medical assistants: The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

    In most cases, an applicant must be 18 years of age or older to sit for an exam. They must have also completed certain guidelines, such as graduating from an accredited program or obtaining a certain amount of work experience. For more information, visit our page dedication to medical assistant certification online.

Financing Your Online Medical Assistant Program

Students who attend accredited medical assisting programs might be eligible for federal financial aid in the form of grants and loans. Grants are financial aid awards (often provided to those who demonstrate financial need) that do not have to be paid back. Student loans are often available for those who don’t receive enough grant money to cover their educational expenses. Loans can be subsidized, meaning the student will not pay interest until they are out of school, or unsubsidized, meaning that interest begins accruing immediately.

They might also be eligible for a variety of scholarships specifically designed for those in medical assisting or the allied health field in general. Scholarships, like grants, do not have to be paid back. However, sometimes scholarships can be quite competitive. For more info, read our full page on scholarships and financial aid options for medical assistants