Medical assistants usually work in doctors’ offices or other healthcare facilities. Although their duties vary depending on the facility in which they work, medical assistants generally perform basic-to-intermediate administrative, clerical and clinical tasks. They work closely with healthcare professionals of all kinds, and may schedule appointments, record patient histories and personal information, help with examinations, prepare blood for the lab, and measure and record vital signs. Although educational requirements vary, professionals with a diploma, a certificate or in some cases an associate degree, may find employers more ready to hire and train them.
Although hiring requirements vary state by state and facility by facility, students pursuing a career as a medical assistant can increase their chances of being hired, as well as their starting salary, through post-secondary education. Online study offers students a flexible and affordable means to achieve the degrees and certifications to which employers in the medical field are most attracted. The following page helps potential students better understand their options when looking for a program to pursue.
Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factorsData Sources:
Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.
1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.Notes:
Though licensure requirements vary by state, those pursuing a degree in medical assisting can take advantage of the flexibility of an online degree. Students can choose from a number of options and specialties with an online program, and expand their school options beyond their own state lines. But doing your research is key in finding a top program that meets your state’s licensure requirements. We’re helping with some of the research and the tough decisions that will guide you to the right program for you.
|Rank||School Logo||School Name||Location||Tuition||Financial Aid||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate||# of Online Programs||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||Independence University||Salt Lake City, Utah||$18,021||79%||-||100%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
In just 22 months students can graduate from Independence University's online option for receiving an associate degree in occupational studies. Graduates pursue positions such as medical assistants, pharmacy technicians or medical coders. The program entails 90.5 credit hours in coursework such as Principles of Drug Administration and the Psychology of Motivation. You will have access to one-on-one mentoring and free tutoring services. Additionally, all students receive a laptop and tablet with enrollment.School website
|2||Weber State University||Ogden, Utah||$4,611||58%||-||50%||2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
At Bellevue University, students interested in becoming a medical or clinical laboratory technician or technologist can apply for the online program to complete a bachelor's degree in health science. Curriculum covers 40-41 credits in classes such as Wellness for Life, Abnormal Psychology and Medical Terminology. You must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in order to graduate. BRUIN Support helps online learners with academic advising and there is 24/7 technical assistance available through the Service Desk. Applicants must demonstrate satisfactory completion of high school.School website
|3||University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point||Stevens Point, Wisconsin||$6,698||15%||81%||62%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Students seeking a career as a medical office assistant can major in health science at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Although the majority of the program is delivered on campus, certain classes are offered online. In order to graduate, you must maintain a 2.0 GPA while working through 120 credits in topics such as medical terminology and health economics. You will also be required to work with a local agency or medical facility to complete a field experience. Admissions criteria are based on class rank, ACT or SAT scores, GPA and community involvement.School website
|4||Bellevue University||Bellevue, Nebraska||$6,840||62%||-||32%||1||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Students interested in becoming a Clinical Laboratory Assistant (CLA) can register for Weber State University's online certificate program. You must work at or have access to a laboratory, as well as partner with a professional mentor who is willing to supervise your work. On top of clinical experience, students will complete the class Core Clinical Laboratory Skills with a grade C or higher in order to graduate. Curriculum covers lab safety, specimen processing, phlebotomies and urinalysis.School website
|5||Illinois State University||Normal, Illinois||$9,827||49%||89%||73%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|6||Park University||Parkville, Missouri||$11,730||49%||85%||27%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|7||Davenport University||Grand Rapids, Michigan||$15,936||93%||78%||41%||3||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|8||University of Cincinnati-Main Campus||Cincinnati, Ohio||$9,322||58%||76%||72%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|9||Columbia College||Columbia, Missouri||$7,887||27%||-||40%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|10||Ferris State University||Big Rapids, Michigan||$11,144||69%||78%||51%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|11||Dakota State University||Madison, South Dakota||$6,984||61%||83%||43%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|12||University of Wisconsin-Green Bay||Green Bay, Wisconsin||$6,298||28%||73%||53%||1||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|13||Cleary University||Howell, Michigan||$17,500||94%||47%||39%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|14||University of Southern Indiana||Evansville, Indiana||$7,104||45%||92%||41%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|15||Northwood University||Midland, Michigan||$23,860||93%||67%||57%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|16||Colorado Christian University||Lakewood, Colorado||$22,360||96%||-||41%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|17||University of Mississippi||University, Mississippi||$7,644||65%||78%||64%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|18||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, Florida||$20,760||100%||70%||43%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|19||St. Joseph's College-New York||Brooklyn, New York||$24,500||95%||67%||69%||1||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|20||New England College||Henniker, New Hampshire||$23,162||77%||99%||36%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|21||Louisiana State University at Alexandria||Alexandria, Louisiana||$4,984||75%||33%||28%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|22||National University||La Jolla, California||$13,016||4%||-||50%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|23||Concordia University-Saint Paul||Saint Paul, Minnesota||$21,250||97%||57%||49%||2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|24||Belhaven University||Jackson, Mississippi||$22,726||100%||43%||51%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|25||Oregon Institute of Technology||Klamath Falls, Oregon||$8,110||60%||73%||50%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|26||East Carolina University||Greenville, North Carolina||$4,365||42%||70%||61%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|27||Granite State College||Concord, New Hampshire||$7,200||6%||-||21%||2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|28||State University of New York at Canton||Canton, New York||$6,470||85%||83%||33%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|29||University of Wisconsin-Parkside||Kenosha, Wisconsin||$6,298||8%||62%||35%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|30||Nebraska Methodist College||Omaha, Nebraska||$13,632||75%||35%||49%||2||No||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|31||Louisiana Tech University||Ruston, Louisiana||$6,401||75%||63%||57%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|32||Clarkson College||Omaha, Nebraska||$11,976||58%||52%||17%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|33||Metropolitan State University of Denver||Denver, Colorado||$5,693||18%||64%||31%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|34||Norfolk State University||Norfolk, Virginia||$5,318||40%||85%||37%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|35||SUNY Polytechnic Institute||Utica, New York||$6,470||90%||64%||45%||1||No||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|36||Montana State University-Billings||Billings, Montana||$4,397||53%||-||28%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|37||National Louis University||Chicago, Illinois||$12,456||5%||76%||25%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|38||Warner Pacific College||Portland, Oregon||$22,050||98%||53%||45%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|39||Southwest Baptist University||Bolivar, Missouri||$21,600||82%||90%||48%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|40||Tiffin University||Tiffin, Ohio||$22,800||91%||76%||44%||2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|41||Mid-America Christian University||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||$15,912||44%||-||38%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|42||Mercy College of Ohio||Toledo, Ohio||$11,880||21%||58%||47%||1||No||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|43||South Texas College||McAllen, Texas||$2,330||2%||-||-||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|44||University of Louisiana at Lafayette||Lafayette, Louisiana||$5,407||44%||51%||54%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
No universal educational requirements exist for medical assistants. This means that aspiring professionals in the field have myriad training options from which to choose – although they need to be cognizant of state exams and other requirements that may apply. Many medical assistant programs can be achieved in two years or less at a junior college, community college, technical college or vocational school. However, these schools continue to add online programs to help students earn their credential they need in the most flexible academic environment possible.
Also called degree programs, students can take medical assisting diploma coursework at trade and vocational schools online. These programs generally last between one year and 18 months, but can be completed in as little as eight or nine months. Courses focus on a combination of both clinical and administrative skills. Many online programs offer self-paced study, while others have various real-time elements, meaning that students interact with professors or peers via chat or other communication tools. Concepts of medical assisting diploma programs include human anatomy and medical terminology, as well as pharmacology and front office procedures. Students also receive training in first aid, as well as how to prepare patients for exams. Entry requirements typically include a high school diploma or equivalent.
Full-time students can usually earn an online AAS degree in medical assisting in two years or four semesters. Programs consist of an estimated 65 credits, split with 50 credits going toward medical assistant core courses, and 15 credits going toward general studies elective courses. Students who achieve an associate degree can enter the workforce right away. They also become eligible to take the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) examination, as well as the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) examination. Achieving an online associate degree from an accredited institution will propel many students to the top level of potential earnings and ready them for certifications that make them much more marketable for more lucrative positions.
Many medical assistants train to handle a wide range of clerical and administrative responsibilities. Yet some professionals may seek specific training to better serve the medical facility in which they work – or the physician from whom they work. Medical assistants tend to steer their education into one of three categories:
Clinical medical assisting: This educational track focuses mostly on patient care. It includes hands-on work with patients, documenting their vital signs, preparing them for medical exams, performing minor treatments and counseling them on self-administered care or how to take medication once they return home. While they may do some administrative tasks, such as managing the inventory of medical supplies, students pursuing this course of study usually concentrate on the clinical. To become a formally trained clinical medical assistant, students pursue a certificate course or a two-year associate degree. Most online classroom experience is supplemented with real-world "practice" study that prepares them for the rigors of the job.
Administrative medical assisting: Students in an administrative medical assisting program learn how to manage the day-to-day operations of a health care facility. This includes managing patient records, accounting and billing. This line of work requires excellent written and oral skills, telephone communication skills and organizational skills. Students who become administrative medical assistants may serve as liaison between insurance companies and patients, and could be responsible for basic business operations.
Specialized medical assisting: Specialized medical assistants work in a narrowly focused field, and their education reflects that. They must complete an accredited training program and successfully pass a certificate test. Specialists may focus on areas such as family medicine, geriatrics, OB/GYN, internal women's health, surgery and many other specific fields of interest.
Certifications are not always necessary, but students often find that supplementing education with certification improves their job prospects and their potential salary. There are five accredited organizations that provide certifications for medical assistant students or graduates, all of which may be prepared for and taken online.
It can be a challenge evaluating the potential online medical assistant degree, diploma, and certificate programs across the country. Some schools offer options for focusing on a number of specialties, others are more generalized. How much do the programs cost, what types of schools are out there, and is financial aid available? The search tool below assists prospective medical assistant students find the best match for building their careers, sorting programs by factors including the cost of tuition, the kind of accreditation, online resources and other assets new students need for success.
Since there is no unified standard of requirements for medical assistant training and education, it is important for students to be meticulous in their own research regarding the criteria of the institutions they are considering. Cost and affordability are, of course, factors to consider, as are the availability of financial aid and scholarships. But other factors may trump price. Look for the following attributes in any school you consider.
Accreditation is the process of reviewing and approvingan institution or program by a government-endorsed agency. This process ensures a standard of academic excellence that is recognized by other educational entities and employers. This attribute is arguably the most important aspect of school selection. The Institute for Credentialing Excellence is the governing body responsible for accrediting all recognized certificates. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the largest accreditor in the health/sciences field. The organization maintains a list of accredited medical assisting programs throughout the country, for both traditional and online courses of study. The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) also maintains a list of accredited programs on its website.
Studies show a direct correlation between the level of student support provided by a school and graduation success rates. Students should have access to an advisor who helps them enroll and determine their course structure and schedule, as well as their concentration and areas of study. The advisor should remain with the student through graduation, helping him or her adjust to new levels of academic challenges along the way. Upon graduation, alumni should receive support from their school in help with job placement or in the pursuit of further post-secondary education. Alumni should receive these services for the rest of their lives at no extra cost.
Since distance-learning students are limited to mostly digital interaction, they must be supported by valuable resources that they can access online, including communication technology, remote support and digital libraries. For medical assisting students, it is especially important for their school to coordinate some kind of hands-on work program, because some of the subject matter requires students to physically engage with equipment and tools in order to become competent in the field.
The healthcare industry is in constant flux, and technology, procedures and tools are always evolving. The student must choose a school that displays a demonstrated connection to actual, real-world facilities. This could be achieved through faculty work in the field or partnerships with healthcare entities. Only then can students ensure that the skills they are learning will be the most up-to-date, the most applicable and the most marketable.