Online Medical Assistant Programs Directory

Unlike many other job fields over the past decade, the healthcare industry continues to see record growth. At the forefront of that industry are medical assistants. MAs are often the first contact – the gatekeeper to good health – in most facilities. And unlike many other jobs within the medical and health information fields, medical assistant positions cannot be outsourced. There are no MAs working remotely from home or in a call-center half a world away. Therefore, local, hard-working, qualified medical assistants are needed in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and urgent care centers everywhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical assisting field is expected to grow 23% over the next decade, a rate much faster than the average. But as the field grows, the job market is becoming more competitive.

Currently, there is no formal degree required to become a medical assistant. In the past, it was possible to be hired with no experience and receive on-the-job training. However, with the increasing complexities of the healthcare system today, employers want candidates they can be confident will succeed in the position. That confidence comes through certification. The American Association of Medical Assistants offers the Certified Medical Assistant exam. Passing the CMA guarantees to an employer that the candidate has a thorough and current understanding of healthcare delivery. While not yet a mandate, AAMA certification is quickly becoming the entry-level standard in the medical assisting field.

Historically, post-secondary degree holders make higher salaries than those with only a high school diploma or equivalent. They also tend to be hired more often for specialized positions than those without. But in the field of medical assisting, higher education is taking on an even greater importance. The only way to qualify for the CMA exam is to graduate from an accredited degree program. So, not only will a medical assisting degree give you an advantage in the job market, it’s almost an unofficial requirement.

With so many people now pursuing medical assisting degrees in order to capitalize on the rapidly-growing field, more institutions than ever are offering them. But as more programs become available, the sea of choices becomes even harder to navigate, especially in the online marketplace. Because of this, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to not only help you find the perfect online medical assisting program to fit your needs, but also to give you a better understanding of the process as a whole. Our hope is that this resource becomes a valuable

Featured Affiliate Programs

Here are five accredited schools offering medical assisting programs

Follow the links to receive more information about these sponsored online schools.

1. Kaplan University

2. Herzing University

3. Keiser University

4. San Joaquin Valley College

5. Allied Schools

Top Online Medical Assisting Programs

Because of the hands-on nature of medical assisting programs, it is difficult to find quality accredited programs that are offered completely online with no campus visits. The proper training required for job duties such measuring patient vitals, handling medical instruments, administering injections, and collecting specimens doesn’t lend itself very easily to distance learning. All quality programs should require some lab and clinical work as a part of their curriculum. As such, the programs that offer the most flexibility for students are online hybrid programs, combining online lectures with on-campus labs and physical clinical work.

In order to determine the best online medical assisting degrees, we started by thoroughly researched over 350 of the top accredited programs. We then used weighted metrics to grade them in the following key areas:

  • Value: Instead of just focusing solely on low tuition costs, we graded value. We weighed the tuition fee against program length and total number of credit hours to arrive at an average, per month cost. We then took into consideration factors like salary potential and debt prevention in order to arrive at a score.
  • Reputation: We determined a program’s reputation based on where a school placed on popular college ranking systems, as well as their accreditations and graduation and retention rates. It should be noted that most medical assisting degrees are awarded mostly by technical schools and two-year community colleges. Two-year institutions have historically lower graduation rates because of the tendency of students to transfer to four-year universities. Therefore, we weighed heavier on retention rates and program completion rates when calculating the final grade.
  • Response: Because distance communication is a key element of online course, we graded each school on the timeliness and quality of their response to our program-specific inquiries.
  • Transparency: Each program received a grade based on our ability to access the information we feel is most vital in determining the quality of a medical assisting program, such as accreditations, curriculum information, graduate certification rates, and faculty directories.

The following list represents the top 10 online medical assisting programs:

#1South Piedmont Community College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Diploma

In-state Total Program Cost: $6624 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: $24288

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)

Department Website:

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 2,658

Retention Rate: 58%

Graduation Rate: 7%

Overall Grade: A

Value Grade: A-

Reputation Grade: B-

Response Grade: A-

Curriculum Grade: A-

#2Macomb Community College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Certificate

In-state Total Program Cost: $7520 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: $9682

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 22,914

Retention Rate: 63%

Graduation Rate: 12%

Overall Grade: A

Value Grade: A+

Reputation Grade: C

Response Grade: A-

Curriculum Grade: A-

#3Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Certificate

In-state Total Program Cost: $9549 (above average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: $17732

Institutional Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 3,660

Retention Rate: 29%

Graduation Rate: 29%

Overall Grade: A

Value Grade: B+

Reputation Grade: C

Response Grade: A-

Curriculum Grade: A+

#4Chippewa Valley Technical College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Diploma

In-state Total Program Cost: $6036 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: N/A (same as in-state)

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 6,074

Retention Rate: 63%

Graduation Rate: 32%

Overall Grade: A

Value Grade: B-

Reputation Grade: B-

Response Grade: A-

Curriculum Grade: A-

#5Central Oregon Community College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Certificate

In-state Total Program Cost: $7560 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: $15498

Institutional Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 6,312

Retention Rate: 51%

Graduation Rate: 19%

Overall Grade: A

Value Grade: B-

Reputation Grade: C

Response Grade: A-

Curriculum Grade: A+

#6Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Diploma

In-state Total Program Cost: $6225 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: $9057

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 10,406

Retention Rate: 55%

Graduation Rate: 42%

Overall Grade: A

Value Grade: A-

Reputation Grade: B

Response Grade: B-

Curriculum Grade: A

#7Arkansas Tech University

Degree Type: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting

In-state Total Program Cost: $7080 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: N/A (same as in-state)

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 12,002

Retention Rate: 67%

Graduation Rate: 45%

Overall Grade: A

Value Grade: A+

Reputation Grade: B-

Response Grade: B-

Curriculum Grade: A-

#8Spokane Community College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Certificate

In-state Total Program Cost: $5340.27 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: N/A (program not available to out-of-state students)

Institutional Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 9,974

Retention Rate: 58%

Graduation Rate: 26%

Overall Grade: A-

Value Grade: B-

Reputation Grade: C

Response Grade: A-

Curriculum Grade: A+

#9Highline Community College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Certificate

In-state Total Program Cost: $7990 (above average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: $20603

Institutional Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 6,443

Retention Rate: 63%

Graduation Rate: 28%

Overall Grade: A-

Value Grade: B-

Reputation Grade: B

Response Grade: B-

Curriculum Grade: A+

#10Johnston Community College

Degree Type: Medical Assisting Certificate

In-state Total Program Cost: $3116 (below average)

Out-of-state Total Program Cost: $10988

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 4,021

Retention Rate: 67%

Graduation Rate: 24%

Overall Grade: A-

Value Grade: A+

Reputation Grade: B

Response Grade: A+

Curriculum Grade: F

Directory of Online Medical Assisting Programs

Using the Directory

Filter through more than 6,200 medical assistant training programs at more than 2,000 schools using the program directory we’re compiled for you. Use the directory to locate the program that best matches your study preferences, career goals, and lifestyle. Then, learn everything you need to know about qualifying to become a medical assistant in the guide that follows.

Guide to Applying to Online Medical Assisting Programs

Along with giving you a list of the top schools, we also want to provide a comprehensive guide to applying to these, or any, online medical assisting programs. Here you’ll find an overview of the various degree types, admission requirements, tuition comparisons, and a list of frequently asked questions.

Types of Medical Assisting Degrees

There are three types of medical assisting degrees that qualify you to sit for the CMA exam. All three have their own program requirements and completion timeframes, and each has their own distinct advantages depending on your personal schedule, finances, and ultimate career goals.

Overview of Degree Types

Medical Assisting Certificate
  • Focused program made up of core clinical courses, without many of the general education and liberal arts classes included in an associate degree program
  • May not be eligible for transfer credit if you decide to further your education in the future
  • Often the least expensive programs, due to lower number of credit hours
  • Can be completed in as little as 9 months
Medical Assisting Diploma
  • Nearly identical to certificate programs
  • More credit hours that expand on the core clinical courses with specialty classes
  • Credits may not transfer
  • Can completed in as little as 12 months
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Medical Assisting
  • Average of 30 more credit hours than certificate programs
  • Includes more general, liberal arts, clinical, and administrative classes
  • Allows for easy transfer of credits toward a bachelor of science degree, should you decide to further your education
  • Because of the high number of credit hours, tend to be the most expensive option
  • Average of 24 months to complete

All three degree types will prepare you to begin working as a medical assistant immediately upon completion and certification. The choice between them depends on your specific needs and goals. If you have want to spend less on tuition and join the workforce as soon as possible, you should consider a certificate of diploma program. If one day you might want to advance in the medical field to a position that requires a higher level of education, you’ll find an associate degree program to be more beneficial to you.

Admission Requirements

Before applying to any program, you need to make sure that you meet all of the admission requirements. Otherwise, you might end up wasting a lot of time and paperwork only to have your application denied. For most new students, basic admission requirements include a high school diploma (or equivalent) and SAT or ACT scores. However, every school has the potential to have their own, unique requirements. And given the specialized nature of medical assisting, many programs have their own admission guidelines beyond the school’s general ones.

We’ve researched every program and compiled the most common admission requirements for medical assisting programs in order to assist you in the application process.

Overview of Admission Requirements

GPA

Many schools have minimum program GPA requirements that must be maintained in order to remain enrolled in their competitive programs.

Examples:

  • South Piedmont Community College: 2.5 minimum GPA
  • Macomb Community College: 2.5 minimum GPA
  • Chippewa Valley Technical College: Minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Central Oregon Community College: 2.5 minimum GPA
Drug Screening and Criminal Background Check

Like most patient-facing careers with access to controlled substances, medical assisting students are required to pass a drug screening and criminal background check before their clinical work can begin. Some schools require both before granting admission to the program.

Examples:

  • Macomb Community College
  • Central Oregon Community College
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Immunizations, TB Testing, and CPR Certification

Medical Assisting students are required undergo (or provide proof of) both immunizations and tuberculosis testing before being allowed to work in a clinical setting. Many also require CPR certification. Some programs require some, or all, of these to be completed prior to admission into the program.

Examples:

  • South Piedmont Community College: CPR
  • Macomb Community College: Immunizations
  • Central Oregon Community College: Immunizations
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College: CPR, Immunizations

Below is a sample of the complete admission requirements for several of our top schools. Always be sure to check with your school’s program director and admissions office for any specific requirements they may have, as they can vary greatly between institutions.

Samples of Complete Admission Requirements

South Piedmont Community College Medical Assisting Diploma
  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • College Placement Test (unless exempted by minimum SAT or ACT scores)
  • Current Healthcare Provider CPR certification
  • Take the TEAS V test (Test of Essential Academic Skills)
  • Letter of recommendation from high school health occupations teacher showing proof of completion of the Allied Health Science or Medical Science classes, or from employer confirming 6 months employment for points, if applicable
  • Minimum Program GPA of 2.5
Macomb Community College Medical Assisting Certificate
  • A high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Official SAT or ACT scores
  • Health history and physical examination including diagnostic testing and immunizations
  • Criminal background check and drug screening

Link to requirements

Central Oregon Community College Medical Assisting Certificate
  • A high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Demonstrate minimum math proficiencies
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 in core program classes
  • Submit to a background check and drug testing
  • Complete the required immunizations
  • sign required consents
  • Take the ACCUPLACER placement test and receive the minimum scores

Link to requirements

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Medical Assisting Diploma
  • A high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Admission Assessment or equivalent, or ACT assessment taken within the last five years
  • Typing proficiency of 25-words per minute
  • Academic Skills Assessment (Compass) with appropriate benchmark scores is necessary
  • Attend mandatory orientation
  • Submit required immunization documentation
  • Proof of an annual flu vaccine
  • Complete caregiver background check
  • Complete an American Heart Association Health Care Provider CPR course
  • Complete an American Heart Association Heart Saver First Aid course.

Tuition Comparison

There are many factors that affect the tuition cost for any online program. Degree type, total credit hours, residency status, and school-mandated fees can all increase or decrease the price of your education. To help you make a more-informed decision, we’ve created these financial comparisons from our top-ranked online schools to give you a better understanding of the online education marketplace.

Medical Assisting Program Comparison (all prices for complete program)

#1 South Piedmont Community College – Diploma

  • In-state: $6624
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $24288
  • Tuition Page Link:

#2 Macomb County Community College – Certificate

  • In-state: $7520
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $9682
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#3 Lake Washington Institute of Technology – Certificate

  • In-state: $9549
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $17732
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#4 Chippewa Valley Technical College – Diploma

  • In-state: $6036
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $6036
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#5 Central Oregon Community College – Certificate

  • In-state: $7560
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $15498
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#6 Northeast Wisconsin Technical College – Diploma

  • In-state: $6225
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $9057
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#7 Arkansas Tech University – Associate

  • In-state: $7080
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $7080
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#8 Spokane Community College – Certificate

  • In-state: $5340.27
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: N/A
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#9 Highline Community College – Certificate

  • In-state: $7990
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $20603
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

#10 Johnston Community College – Diploma

  • In-state: $3116
  • Average In-state: $7631.82
  • Out-of-state: $10988
  • Tuition Page Link: Link

It’s common for students living in the same state as an institution to pay a lower tuition rate than those who don’t. That is predominately the case with online medical assisting degrees. 8 of the top 10 programs charged out-of-state students a significantly higher rate, in some cases more than triple that of the in-state tuition. The increased cost, as well as the potential for on-campus lab and clinical work, make some of these programs prohibitive for out-of-state students.

Additional Fees

When calculating the total price of any program, you need to factor in additional expenses associated with higher education, such as books and supplies. But you should also research your program for any fees charged in addition to the per-credit tuition cost. There are often special program fees and school-specific charges that you will need to plan for.

Examples of Additional Fees Charged by Programs

#1 South Piedmont Community College
  • $2/credit Tech Fee
  • $2/credit Student Activities Fee
  • $15/course Science and Health Fee
  • $7/course On-line Learning Fee
  • $3.50/course Blended Learning Fee
#2 Macomb County Community College
  • $5/credit Technology & Facilities Fee
  • $10/credit Student Services Fee (source)
#3 Lake Washington Institute of Technology
  • $5.86/credit Comprehensive Fee
  • $3.90/credit Facilities
  • $3.90/credit Safety/Security Fee (source)
#5 Central Oregon Community College
  • $0.25/credit Green Energy Fee
  • $10/credit On-line Course Fee
  • $450-600 Lab Fee (source)

Frequently Asked Questions of Prospective Medical Assisting Students

Q: Do I need a degree to become a medical assistant?

Technically, no. There are no regulations mandating a degree. It may be possible to find an employer who will hire a medical assistant and train on the job. However, the chances of that happening are growing increasingly unlikely. As the field of medical assisting continues to grow, so does the competition. Most employers today require certification as a condition of employment. To qualify for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam, you must graduate from an accredited program. So while not technically a regulation, earning a degree issteadily becoming a requirement.

Q: Is there any difference between degrees earned online versus on campus?

No. Online students receive the same degrees as traditional on-campus students. The curriculum is the same, the only difference is how that curriculum is delivered: in-person or via the internet. The choice between an online education and an on-campus one should be made based only on your specific needs, not on the false assumption that one degree is lesser than the other.

Q: What’s most important to look for in an online medical assisting program?

The first thing you should look for in any program is accreditation, both at an institutional level and the program level (if applicable). An accredited school is one that has been evaluated by an outside governing body it to ensure that it meets specific educational standards. Medical assisting students should also check that any program they apply to has its own, separate accreditation. The main accrediting bodies for medical assisting programs are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Graduating from an accredited program is the only way to be eligible to take the CMA exam.

Q: How do I know if a program is accredited?

Accreditation is the first criteria in all of our top school rankings. Every one of the programs in our rankings for top online medical assisting programs are verified to be accredited. However, if you are researching a school not in our rankings, a search for “accreditation” on the school and department webpages is the best place to start. Most accredited schools list their current accreditation status. If their accreditation status isn’t listed, the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator tool has institutional accreditations included in their search results.
For medical assisting program information, you can also go directly to the source. Both the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) have online directories of currently accredited programs.

Q: How do online medical assisting programs work?

Every program can differ based on the school and degree type: certificate, diploma, or associate degree. However, most online medical assisting programs follow the same general structure. Lectures and course materials are either delivered synchronously or asynchronously.

Synchronous lectures are streamed live to online students at a specific time. It is like going to a regularly scheduled class, but in front of a computer screen instead of on-campus. Synchronous classes have the benefit of live interaction with professors and classmates that other formats don’t.

Asynchronous lectures are prerecorded and can be accessed anytime, but with a set deadline for completion of all course materials. Asynchronous courses allow for the most flexibility.

Q: Do online medical assisting programs require clinical work?

Yes. Because of the hands-on nature of medical assisting, even online courses may include lab work that must be completed on campus, and all quality programs are guaranteed to include a set number of clinical hours which must be completed in before graduation.
Always check your prospective school’s program guide for specific details on clinical requirements, as they could greatly affect your ability to complete a program from out-of-state.

Q: How long does an online medical assisting program take to complete?

The completion timeframe depends on both the program and degree type. Some schools have separate part-time and full-time programs, each with their own lengths. Also, certificate and diploma programs can be completed much quicker than associate degree programs because of the lower number of total credits required. In general, certificate programs can be completed in as little as 9 months, but typically take a year. Diploma programs average 12 months. Associate degree programs generally require 24 months to complete. However, these are just averages. You should always check with your school for the specific timeframe of any program.

Q: What is the employment outlook for medical assistants?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for the medical assistants is $29,960 per year, with an expected growth of 23% over the next decade. When leveraged against the relatively low cost of some of our top online programs, a medical assisting degree appears to be a sound personal investment.