Medical Assistants are important members of any healthcare team. Their role encompasses helping the physician in patient examinations, taking a patient's medical history, vital signs, preparing samples for laboratory testing, scheduling and other clinical or administrative duties.
According the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the aging of the Baby Boomers and increasing access to medical insurance, the Medical Assistant can look forward to a steady, ten-year job growth (at a fast 23% increase) and a median salary expectation of around $30,000 per year.
Physician offices, in and outpatient clinics and other healthcare facilities use Medical Assistants to care for patients and families. There are two ways to become a Medical Assistant, either through courses leading to a certificate offered through vocational or technical schools; or, by obtaining an Associate degree from a community college.
Best Medical Degrees has researched a variety of Medical Assistant Associate degrees and compiled the following list that ranks schools by tuition cost, accreditation and program length. These ten schools offer online degrees for those who want to pursue a career as a Medical Assistant.
There are several states that offer free tuition at state community colleges for those residents pursuing an Associates degree. If you choose an online program in your state, you may want to see if you qualify for such a tuition waiver. Associate degrees typically require two years to complete and will also allow you to pursue a Bachelor degree later, if you want. Tuition for community colleges normally is considerably lower than for a four year institution.
Depending on your current job, you may qualify for employer provided tuition reimbursement, as you continue to work and pursue your degree. Your Human Resources department should be able to guide you through the process if this is an available benefit.
Federal Financial Aid
Grants and student loans are offered for students pursuing an Associate degree by the federal government. To determine your eligibility for federal aid, you'll need to complete the online Federal Student Aid form.
Veterans, Active Military, Spouses and Dependents
Schools, in an effort to attract military personnel, often have reduced tuition cost for active and retired military. Some offer reductions for spouse and dependents, as well. Check with your admission advisor to see if you qualify for any veterans tuition reduction.
Be certain that whatever program you choose is accredited by an independent agency that's recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This guarantees that the school, and program, meets quality standards as established by the Department of Education. Additionally, if your program requires certification or licensure, be certain that the program meets such requirements.
1. Craven Community College
Located in North Carolina, Craven Community College was founded in 1965 in New Bern and serves over 10,000 online students. Craven Community College is part of the 58 North Carolina Community College System and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and offers an Associate in Applied Science degree. The school has a current enrollment of over 30,000 students and offers degrees and certificates in 27 different fields.
Successful completion of this program will allow the graduate to take the national certification exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Courses will include in appointment scheduling, coding and processing, billing, collections, transcription; performing routine laboratory procedures, electrocardiography, supervised medication administration and ethical/legal issues associated with patient care.
Length of Program: 71 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,216 (residents); $4,288 (non-residents)
2. Penn Foster College
Dating back to 1890, Penn Foster College, located in Arizona, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the medical assistant program is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Starting as one of the first distance learning institutions by offering miners safety and engineering courses through the mail. One hundred and twenty-five years later, Penn Foster College offers am online Medical Assistant Associate Degree.
Students will explore clinical procedures, medical coding, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, electronic medical records and law and ethics in medicine. Graduates will be qualified to sit for certification exams by National Healthcareer Association CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant)
American Medical Technologists RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) and
American Association of Medical Assistants CMA (Certified Medical Assistant).
Length of Program: 50 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $4,200
3. Guilford Technical Community College
This Jamestown, North Carolina school offers an online Associated Applied Science degree with an emphasis on medical office administration. GTCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges (COC) and has been in existence since 1958, when it opened its doors to 50 students. Today, enrollment exceeds 17,000 students and represents the third largest community college in North Carolina.
Students enrolled in this program will study a variety of courses, including, general psychology, records management, introduction to sociology and general psychology, emerging technologies, along with business management and office publication design. The school maintains graduates will be qualified for careers in business, government and health clinics.
Length of Program: 64 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $4,864 (resident); $17,152 (non-residents)
4. El Paso Community College
Located in El Paso, Texas, this college was founded in 1969 following a vote by El Paso citizens to create a junior college; however, the school was not opened in 1971 when the Texas legislature provided funding for the college. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), El Paso Community College provides a Medical Assisting AAS degree which takes approximately two years to complete.
Coursework includes studies in medical laws and ethics, medical terminology for medical assistants, pharmacology and administration of medications, medical assistant laboratory procedures, electrocardiography, procedures in clinical settings, medical insurance, along with introduction to psychology and other courses.
Length of Program: 60 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,640 (residents); $12,000 (non-residents)
5. Olney Central College
One of four Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, Olney Central College offers an online Associate Degree in Medical Assisting . Although the school doesn't specify the type of degree, it is a medical office assistant program. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the Olney Central College degree trains students for positions in medical office assistants, medical transcriptionists, medical receptionists and other medical office personnel.
Students will study introduction to medical terminology, electronic records management, clinical processes, general psychology, medical insurance and coding, technical writing and business computer systems.
Length of Program: 68 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,644 (residents); $8,160 (non-residents)
6. Herzing University
This is an online Associate of Applied Science degree in medical assisting offered by Herzing University, a non profit school located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and founded in 1965 as a computer training institute. The university holds accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report for its online business programs and consistently is ranked a "Military Friendly School" by G.I. Jobs' list.
The AAS in Medical Assisting prepares students clinical and laboratory procedures, apply legal and ethical concepts to healthcare, effectively communicate with patients, clinical staff and others and create and enter data into healthcare documents. Studies include topics in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology for healthcare professionals, psychology and critical thinking.
Length of Program: 60 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $6,280 (per semester)
7. Alexandria Technical and Community College
Established in 1961 in Minnesota, Alexandria Technical and Community College opened with 21 students enrolled in three programs. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Alexandria Technical and Community College Associate in Applied Science degree with a focus on medial administrative specialists.
This AAS degree will cover topics such as basic pathology, medical reception, medical terminology, electronic health records, introduction to ICD coding, healthcare systems and practices and applied medical terminology.
Length of Program: 60 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $11,820
8. Keiser University
Keiser University was founded in 1977 and is located in West Palm Beach, Florida. The institution is a private, not-for-profit university and holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 50 colleges in the Southern U.S. Region and for its service to veterans.
Offering an Associate of Science degree in medical assisting, this program offers training in the performance of clinical and administrative functions, clinical training in local health care facilities and preparation for the Registered Medical Exam given by the American Medical Technologists.
Length of Program: Not provided
Estimate Tuition Cost: $17,664
9. Liberty University Online
Liberty University Online, founded in 1985 is a division of the nation's largest nonprofit, Christian University. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and offers an online Associate of Applied Science in medical office assistant.
The curriculum for this degree includes studies in anatomy and physiology, medical office systems and procedures, insurance, coding, infection control, medical ethics and the law, medical terminology and introduction to healthcare professions.
Length of Program: 61 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $23,790
10. Stratford University
Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), this Virginia public benefit corporation, was established in 1976 and specializes in adult education. Offering an online Associate of Applied Science program in medical assisting, this program involves 20 courses and completion is estimated to take up to 24 months.
Courses included in this degree include patient care, provide injections and phlebotomy, patient intake, urinalysis, take patient history and vitals, EKG/ECG, electronic medical records and patient preparation for examination. Core courses involve medical computer applications, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical law and ethics along with pharmacology and other pertinent subjects.
Length of Program: 90 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $33,300