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Online Colleges for Medical Assistants

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Medical assistants are valuable members of a healthcare team. They may take patient information, prepare examination rooms and enter data into electronic health records. As a result of the valuable services they provide, these healthcare professionals provide a bridge between the clinical and administrative sides of medical care.

To ensure only qualified individuals perform the essential tasks completed by medical assistants, some states may require workers to be certified. For example, in Washington, medical assistants must have a healthcare credential issued by the Washington State Department of Health. Other states don’t require certification, but their medical boards recognize state-specific certifications. That’s the case in California where the Medical Board of California recognizes the voluntary California Certified Medical Assistant credential.

Where state-specific designations are not available, medical assistants can pursue a national certification. These are voluntary programs, but many employers prefer to hire only medical assistants with one of these credentials. The CMA, awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants, is one well-known option. However, to earn a CMA, medical assistants must graduate from an accredited post-secondary medical assisting program. 

Fortunately for busy adults, medical assisting lends itself well to distance learning. Online medical assistant degrees are available from many schools and at several levels. Keep reading for an overview of the top schools in the field, an explanation of what degrees are available, and a look at the medical assistant career outlook.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

While there are a number of online medical assistant colleges, a few rise to the top in terms of accessibility, prominence and graduation rates. Using a proprietary methodology, OnlineColleges.com analyzed data from colleges that offer an online medical assisting program and found these to be the top five institutions for this field in the nation.

1

Herzing University-Madison

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$13,690
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
31
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Herzing University has firmly established itself as a destination for healthcare education. The Madison campus is the first of four locations to place in the top five rankings for the best online medical assisting schools. Originally known as the Wisconsin School of Electronics, the Madison campus is also the main hub for Herzing University.

Medical assisting students can enroll in a fully online bachelor of science in healthcare management. This degree provides comprehensive training in all aspects of a medical assistant's job. There is also another option that typically takes two years to complete, which may be appropriate for those interested in an online associate degree in medical assisting.

Herzing University - Madison ranked high in prominence with nearly 11 percent of all degrees and certificates conferred in 2014 being in the field of medical assisting. The school also topped the list for accessibility and accepts 100 percent of applicants.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

5218 E. Terrace Dr.
Madison, Wisconsin 53718
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2

Herzing University-New Orleans

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$13,690
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
26
Accredited
School Type
4-year
The New Orleans campus of Herzing University earned the second spot on this list of best online medical assistant colleges. The campus is actually located in Kenner, Louisiana and has a slightly smaller number of distance education classes than what is available through the Madison campus.

Students enrolled at Herzing University - New Orleans can earn a bachelor of science in healthcare management to prepare them for careers in medical assisting. This degree is available both fully online and through a hybrid option. The hybrid option combines online with on-campus coursework.

The school ranked high in the OnlineColleges.com analysis in part because it received a fourth place score for its graduation rate. It also accepts 100 percent of applicants, making it a highly accessible university.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

Location:

2500 Williams Blvd.
Kenner, Louisiana 70062
Go to School Website 
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3

Akron Institute of Herzing University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$11,480
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
32
Accredited
School Type
4-year
For 45 years, the Akron Institute of Herzing University has been offering cutting-edge education. However, students no longer have to travel to Ohio and can instead learn from the comfort of their own home.

Medical assisting students can earn a bachelor's degree online at the Akron campus of Herzing University. The school is also home to one of the nation's fully online medical assistant diploma programs.

Students applying to the Akron Institute of Herzing University don't need to worry about receiving a rejection letter. The school accepts all applicants. The school also ranked high for prominence.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Location:

1600 S. Arlington St. #100
Akron, Ohio 44306
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4

Harrison College-Indianapolis

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$14,400
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
24
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Harrison College has not one, but three, campuses in Indianapolis. However medical assisting students don't need to travel to Indiana. Instead, they can study from home through one of the school's online medical assistant certification programs.

The school offers both an online medical assisting diploma program and an online associate degree program in medical assisting. Both programs prepare graduates to take credentialing exams and be certified with a professional designation such as that of Certified Medical Assistant or Registered Medical Assistant.

In addition to having a high accessibility rating – the school accepts 100 percent of applicants – it also ranks second for prominence. More than 18 percent of the degrees, certificates and diplomas it awarded in 2014 were in the field of medical assisting.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Location:

550 E. Washington St.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
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5

Herzing University-Minneapolis

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$12,140
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
28
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Rounding out the top five of the OnlineColleges.com analysis is another Herzing University campus. The Minneapolis campus is located outside Twin Cities and evolved from the former Lakeland Medical-Dental Academy.

The medical assisting program at the school results in a bachelor of science in healthcare management. This degree is available fully online. There is also an online associate degree in healthcare management although this program is not designed for future medical assistants.

Like other Herzing University campuses, the one in Minneapolis accepts 100 percent of applicants, making it exceptional in terms of accessibility. It is also notable for having the second highest graduation rate of the surveyed schools. Its graduation rate was 68 percent in 2014.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

5700 W. Broadway Ave.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55428
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Featured Online Medical Assistant Colleges

In addition to the schools that ranked in the top five of the OnlineColleges.com analysis, there are other high-quality institutions offering online medical assisting programs. Here are five more worth considering. All five of these schools had a 2014 graduation rate that was at or above 50 percent.

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$8,858
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
17
Accredited
School Type
4-year
The Clarion campus welcomes 5,500 students to western Pennsylvania each year. The school, originally founded in 1867, offers more than 100 academic programs. However, you don't have to travel to campus to receive a high-quality Clarion education. Clarion Online offers a number of distance learning options that enroll students from across the country.

For those planning a career in medical assisting, Clarion University offers an online associate degree in allied health. The school also has two online non-credit courses in the field. These courses are for a Certified Medical Assistant and Medical Administrative Assistant.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

840 Wood St.
Clarion, Pennsylvania 16214
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Keiser University-Ft. Lauderdale

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$18,528
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
39
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Keiser University is a private, nonprofit school that specializes in career-focused educational programs. Its Ft. Lauderdale campus offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees that are available online, on-campus or through a hybrid program combining both class types.

The school offers a program for an online associate degree in medical assisting. A separate, similar online associate degree is available in the field of medical assisting science. Both programs are designed to help graduates go straight from the classroom to the workplace.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Location:

1500 Northwest 49th St.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309
Go to School Website 
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Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$12,774
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
14
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Nebraska Methodist College says it is among the best nursing and allied health schools in the nation. The school enrolls more than 1,000 students each year and is affiliated with the Nebraska Methodist Health System.

Future medical assistants can travel to campus to earn a medical assisting certificate, or they could study online for a bachelor of science in healthcare management. The bachelor’s degree is available through a hybrid program combining online learning with on-campus requirements.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Location:

720 N. 87th St.
Omaha, Nebraska 68114
Go to School Website 
GO

Saint Francis University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$26,464
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
3
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Founded in 1847, Saint Francis University is one of the oldest Catholic universities in the country. Its 600-acre campus is in Loretto, Pennsylvania. For those who are unable to study on-campus, the university provides a number of online degree programs.

Saint Francis University offers two online bachelor's degrees and three online master's degrees. Those interested in a medical assisting career may find the online Bachelor of Science in health studies provides the skills and knowledge they need.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Location:

117 Evergreen Drive
Loretto, Pennsylvania 15940
Go to School Website 
GO

Siena Heights University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$15,865
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
46
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Siena Heights University is another Catholic institution with a long history of academic excellence. The school was established in 1919 and has its main campus in Adrian, Michigan. It offers more than 50 majors.

Online learners can prepare for a career as a medical assistant by enrolling in the Bachelor of Applied Science degree program. Siena Heights University has been offering the degree since 1975, and it is notable for being highly customizable. Students can select from a number of majors in the program, including medical assisting.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1247 E. Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221
Go to School Website 
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Want to see additional online colleges for medical assisting?
Search our school directory to find the right program for you.

Interview with an Expert
Each of our students will work with an advisor from
the time that they inquire with our institution until graduation.

Lori Timmis

Associate Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies

Siena Heights University

Interview with an Expert
Lori Timmis

Lori Timmis

Associate Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies

Siena Heights University

Q: What qualities make Siena Heights’ online Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) major in medical assisting an outstanding program?

A: One of the key things for us is student engagement. We've been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, and in their best online bachelor's degree programs ratings, we're #2 [in the nation] for student engagement.

We have institutional standards we've created for online course delivery. Those standards have helped in terms of delivering quality online classes to students. We are a small, private institution, and we look at students at a whole.

In regards the actual degree itself, we have offered the Bachelor of Applied Science degree for close to 40 years. It has focused on the adult student and the nontraditional student who has not only college credits but also work experience. We were the first in Michigan to deliver the Bachelor of Applied Science to adult students in that capacity. We are really proud of that.

Q: What support does Siena Heights offer their online student body?

A: Each of our students will work with an advisor from the time that they inquire with our institution until graduation. In addition to personal advising, we have e-tutoring for students where they have the ability to work with a tutor directly. We also have library assistance and support. We have financial aid assistance. We have also veteran and career services.

Q: How does an online program in medical assisting differ from an on-campus program?

A: In regards to this particular program, we are sectioned into an 8-week accelerated format. So that's a little different than going to campus and meeting in the classroom. But that's one minor piece. More of the emphasis is on how our degree is structured.

Our BAS is an inverted major. The student comes in with an associate degree in medical assisting or they've completed a training program that led to a credential or work experience. They bring that into Siena Heights, and we are able to establish the major [from that] in the BAS. We establish the major in medical assisting and will offer [that student] upper division courses that will help them in terms of being in the workforce.

Online Medical Assistant Degrees

Students investigating medical assistant schools will quickly learn there are several education options in the field. Some programs may result in a degree while others confer a diploma or certificate. Here are the basics of each level of education.

Online Medical Assistant Diploma Programs

Diploma programs are among the quickest ways for students to get into the workforce. An online medical assistant diploma can usually be earned in as little as 12-16 months.

The curriculum is typically focused only on those classes directly relevant to medical assisting. Students might take courses on medical terminology, anatomy, healthcare systems and clinical assisting. Upon graduation, students should have the skills and knowledge required for entry-level positions in the field.

Online Medical Assistant Certification Programs

An online medical assistant certificate is similar to a diploma program. Some schools may have certificate programs that last one year while others may be completed in as little as 9 months.

Like diplomas, certificates offer an introductory education into the field of medical assisting. Students learn about both the clinical or administrative side of medical practice. They may have an externship or practicum requirement at the end of the program.

Online Associate Degree in Medical Assisting

Those who want to expand their career options may find an online associate degree in medical assisting best meets their needs. Often completed in 20 to 24 months, these programs provide a more comprehensive education in the field of medical assisting.

An associate degree may include general education requirements in the areas of math and English. It may also incorporate additional training hours. That may make it easier for graduates to meet eligibility requirements for professional certifications such as those of a Registered Medical Assistant. Students who hope to move into more advanced positions or leadership roles could benefit from earning an associate degree.

Online Medical Office Assistant Programs

Most medical assisting programs cover both clinical and administrative aspects of working in a healthcare practice. However, those who are interested in focusing on the administrative side of work may want to look for an online medical office assistant program.

These programs provide an education specifically in medical office management. Coursework typically covers ethics, office management, patient records and insurance coverage. Unlike other medical assisting programs, there is no clinical training. Some online programs may include virtual field trips or internships to help students see real-world examples of how medical office assistants work. Graduates usually earn either a diploma or a certificate.

Medical office assistants may be called medical secretaries or medical administrative assistants. Some states may require these professionals be licensed. Before enrolling in a program, check your state's requirements to ensure your program meets its criteria.

Students may also want to see if the program will help them successfully obtain the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant credential from the National Healthcareer Association. Known as the CMAA, this designation indicates a medical office assistant is able to competently handle electronic health records, understand government privacy laws and run a medical office efficiently. Although not required by law, employers may prefer to hire those with a CMAA credential.

Medical Assistant Career Outlook

Those who earn a diploma, certificate or degree in medical assisting may have the ability to work in a variety of healthcare management capacities. However, not surprisingly, these graduates most often pursue a career as a medical assistant.

Medical Assistant
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2014 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$29,960
Annual Job Openings Annual job openings refers to the average job openings each year, 2012-22, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
584,970
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Postsecondary non-degree award
Compared to nurses and doctors, medical assistants have a relatively new profession within the field of healthcare. However, many medical clinics could not operate as they do today without the help of these professionals. Medical assistants are often responsible for performing both administrative and clinical duties. They may make appointments, check-in patients and take vital signs. Career prospects may be strongest for those who are familiar with electronic health records or who have earned a professional certification.
Salary
Number of Jobs
Job Growth
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Methodology and Sources

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria, using the weights specified:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 20%
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 30%
  5.  Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources

  1. Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, National Healthcare Association, http://www.nhanow.com/certifications/medical-administrative-assistant
  2. Frequently Asked Questions, California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants, http://www.ccbma.org/faqs.html
  3. Medical Assistant, American Medical Technologists, http://www.americanmedtech.org/GetCertified/RMAEligibility.aspx#133024-route-1-education
  4. Medical Assistant, Herzing University, https://www.herzing.edu/career-programs/healthcare/medical-assisting
  5. Medical Assistant, Washington State Department of Health, http://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate/MedicalAssistant/FrequentlyAskedQuestions
  6. Medical Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
  7. Medical Assistants, The Medical Board of California, http://www.mbc.ca.gov/Licensees/Physicians_and_Surgeons/Medical_Assistants/Medical_Assistants_FAQ.aspx
  8. Medical Assisting Online, Keiser University, http://www.keiseruniversity.edu/medical-assisting-science-online/
  9. Medical Assisting Programs, Harrison College, http://harrison.edu/programs/school-of-health-sciences/medical-assisting-programs
  10. The Most (And Least) Expected Places to Work as a Medical Assistant, Ameritech College of Healthcare, http://ameritech.edu/blog/common-places-work-medical-assistant/
  11. What is a Medical Assistant?, American Association of Medical Assistants, http://www.aama-ntl.org/medical-assisting/what-is-a-medical-assistant#.VyASInqUK8C
  12. Why More Employers are Hiring CMAs, American Association of Medical Assistants, http://www.aama-ntl.org/docs/default-source/employers/more-emps-hire-cma.pdf?sfvrsn=4