Online Medical Assistant Programs
Online medical assistant programs, available at the certificate and associate levels, aim to prepare students for important roles in patient care. You can enroll in a medical assistant training program to learn both medical office administration and clinical procedures for patient care. These include scheduling patients, billing insurance providers, measuring vital signs, and explaining physician instructions.
In small offices, medical assistants often handle a wide range of duties, whereas they may specialize in one particular area in larger healthcare facilities. In all cases, they work closely with doctors, nurses, and other practitioners to ensure that their patients' care experience is thorough and seamless.
Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs
The beauty of certificate programs is their brevity. Most certificates take no more than a year to complete with a full-time schedule, which means you can enter the workforce more quickly. To enroll in a certificate program, you only need a high school diploma or GED, whether attending online or on campus.
Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Medical Assistant Certificates
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Recommend Rate|
|# 1||Purdue University Global||$14,358||71% (430 reviews)|
|# 2||Liberty University||$11,700||57% (320 reviews)|
|# 3||Daymar College||$19,450||33% (3 reviews)|
|# 4||American National University||$8,244||25% (4 reviews)|
|# 5||Baker College Online||$9,920||60% (93 reviews)|
|# 6||Carrington College||$34,050||0% (5 reviews)|
|# 7||Penn Foster Career School||Not Provided||46% (155 reviews)|
|# 8||Penn Foster - Healthcare||Not Provided||47% (15 reviews)|
Online Medical Assistant Certificate Program Curriculum
Professors discuss the two sides of the medical assistant profession during a certificate program: administrative and clinical. You'll generally take 36-48 credit hours of classes on these topics.
Many online certificate programs have an externship requirement. Once you enroll, you'll work with a program advisor to find a placement site near your home, which can include a hospital, private medical practice, or urgent care center. An on-site supervisor will oversee your work and ensure that you complete the minimum time requirement.
Online Medical Assistant Associate Degrees
Program directors design these degrees to take two years of full-time study to complete either online or on campus. In reality, most associate students need longer to finish. Though recent data is scarce, the Urban Institute's research suggests that most enrollees take closer to four years to earn their diploma for a variety of reasons.
Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Medical Assistant Associate Degrees
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Recommend Rate|
|# 1||Daymar College||$19,450||33% (3 reviews)|
|# 2||Independence University||$14,585||56% (124 reviews)|
|# 3||American National University||$8,244||25% (4 reviews)|
|# 4||Davenport University||$19,338||100% (3 reviews)|
|# 5||National American University Online||$10,575||40% (75 reviews)|
|# 6||Penn Foster Career School||Not Provided||46% (155 reviews)|
|# 7||Penn Foster - Healthcare||Not Provided||47% (15 reviews)|
|# 8||University of the Incarnate Word||$32,576||100% (2 reviews)|
Online Medical Assistant Associate Program Curriculum
In most cases, you'll take the same 36-48 credits of medical assistant classes that you would in a certificate program. You may also have room for one or two healthcare-related electives in your schedule, but this varies by school. You'll also take 30-40 credit hours of general education courses and complete an externship to gain hands-on experience.
Overview of Online Medical Assistant Programs
The medical assistant field is growing rapidly, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting an 18% increase in new jobs through 2030. Colleges are racing to keep up with enrollment demand by offering more online programs in the major. You can potentially qualify for many medical assisting roles by earning either a certificate or associate degree in the discipline, because both types of program cover the knowledge and skills required of professionals. However, associate degrees also contain general education courses that may transfer more easily to another college if you decide to pursue a subsequent bachelor's degree.
The medical assistant field is growing rapidly, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting an 18% increase in new jobs through 2030.
In general, the medical assistant curriculum focuses narrowly on training students for these roles and doesn't feature optional concentrations. You may end up specializing in either the administrative or clinical side during your medical assistant career, but you typically can't start preparing for this during your studies.
To learn more about medical assistant programs, check out our Guide to Online Medical Assistant Programs.
The core curriculum is similar for most online medical assistant degrees and certificates. Below, we list some medical assisting courses you're likely to take if you enroll in either type of program.
Anatomy and Physiology
Faculty introduce the systems of the human body and the ways in which they interact. They typically discuss normal organ system health along with common disease pathologies that can disrupt their functions.
Clinical Billing and Reimbursement
This course describes the considerations and procedures particular to healthcare professionals, such as billing codes, medical insurance reimbursement, privacy regulations, and electronic health record software.
Professors introduce legal topics relevant to your role as a medical assistant, including major legislation such as HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act. They often discuss the lines between medical law and ethics, as well as the duties of confidentiality and retention of medical records.
Medical Office Applications
This course is a survey of both commonly used technology tools and soft skills needed in medical assisting, such as communication and organization. Lessons may cover scheduling, accounting, and business writing for clinics and doctors' offices.
This class introduces the standardized written and oral classifications that help medical personnel understand their patients' situations. Faculty emphasize the importance of accurate spelling, pronunciation, and differentiation of diagnoses and treatments.
Medical assistants can dispense medication in most states, so this course teaches the responsibilities inherent to that function. You'll study various drugs and their physiological effects on the body, along with the most common methods of dispensing them.
Accreditation for Online Medical Assisting Programs
It's important to ensure that a school is accredited before you apply, because this means that it passed a voluntary review by an organization dedicated to educational quality. Many trade and vocational schools opt for national accreditation, which tends to have lower academic standards but still qualifies the institution to accept federal financial aid. Regional accreditors generally review academic institutions such as two- and four-year colleges. Regionally accredited colleges typically don't accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools, so keep this in mind if you think you might want a bachelor's degree in the future.
It's important to ensure that a school is accredited before you apply, because this means that it passed a voluntary review by an organization dedicated to educational quality.
Individual programs can also seek accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). You don't need to graduate from an accredited program to work as a medical assistant, but it is required to qualify for a Certified Medical Assistant credential. This isn't the case for other professional certifications.
Next Steps for Medical Assistant Program Graduates
You can choose several paths once you earn your medical assistant qualification. Read on for a few options you might consider.
Do I Need to Get Certified as a Medical Assistant?
There's no legal requirement for medical assistant certification, but it can only help your ability to market yourself to employers. Some medical assistant programs advertise their curriculum as helping students prepare for particular certification exams. If you're interested in a specific certification, you might give more weight to schools that intend to help you sit for that exam.