Medical assisting is a fast-growing healthcare field that involves performing administrative and clinical tasks in doctor's offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, and other healthcare organizations. Educational programs in medical assisting revolve around teaching students the skills and responsibilities of being a medical assistant, such as patient and phone etiquette, scheduling and organization, medical terminology, and techniques for drawing blood and changing patient dressings.

Unlike medical coding, which focuses on assigning specific codes to patient medical records (i.e. for billing and insurance purposes), medical assisting covers a wider variety of tasks in a healthcare setting. Medical assisting is also a broader field than clinical laboratory science, which is intended to uncover and provide laboratory information to help doctors diagnose and treat patients.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 634,400 medical assisting jobs in the United States in 2016, and this number is projected to grow significantly by 2026. Below, we'll dive deeper into the best and most affordable colleges that offer medical assistant degree programs online, the different types of online medical assistant training that are available, and what students can expect if they pursue this career path.

Medical Assistant FAQs

A variety of medical assistant certification programs grant students the opportunity to complete all coursework online. In almost all cases, these online courses are paired with an externship in an in-person clinical setting so a student can earn hands-on medical assistant training as well.
Accreditation is one sign of a strong online medical assisting program. Another is that it requires externships that allow students to gain hands-on, practical experience. The program should also have relationships with various healthcare entities (like medical centers or hospitals) in order to help connect students with internships and job opportunities in medical assisting.
Online medical assistant certification programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Graduates of accredited medical assisting programs are eligible to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants Certification Exam.

Best Online Colleges for Medical Assisting in 2019-20

To assist students who are interested in earning a medical assistant degree online, we've compiled two lists: one for the best medical assistant schools online and one for the most affordable online colleges for medical assisting.

Our lists provide an overview of each school as well as its online medical assistant certification programs so students can make an informed decision and select the ideal college and program for their unique needs and preferences.

Visit our methodologies page to learn more about how we use official data to evaluate schools.


Rasmussen College-Minnesota

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
St. Cloud, MN
School Type

What is Rasmussen College-Minnesota like?

Headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota, Rasmussen College is a private college that focuses on offering affordable in-person and online degrees for the real world. It strives to help students save money on their medical assisting education by granting credit for prior learning, scholarships, grants and seamless transfer policies.

For Medical Assisting Students at Rasmussen College

As one of the best medical assistant schools online, Rasmussen offers a medical administrative assistant certificate program that can be completed entirely online in as few as 12 months. This program, which is delivered asynchronously through the Blackboard Learn online learning platform, focuses on healthcare, customer service and office management skills. It is designed for students who hope to pursue careers as medical secretaries or medical administrative assistants.


West Virginia Junior College-Morgantown

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Morgantown, WV
School Type

What is West Virginia Junior College-Morgantown like?

West Virginia Junior College-Morgantown began offering online programs in 2011 through WVJC Online, its online education delivery platform. In the early 1970s, WVJC became one of the first institutions in the state of West Virginia to develop a curriculum in medical assisting.

For Medical Assisting Students at West Virginia Junior College-Morgantown

At WVJC, students can pursue a unique Clinical Medical Assistant program that gives them the opportunity to take their medical assistant classes online in an asynchronous format and receive clinical training on subjects like phlebotomy, EKGs and injections from an in-person instructor. It helps students balance family, work and school so they can become medical assistants without having to reschedule their lives to attend classes.

The program also includes an externship so that students can apply the skills they've learned in the real world with real people.


Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Fergus Falls, MN
School Type

What is Minnesota State Community and Technical College like?

Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers a variety of on-campus and online career and technical training programs for students who want to jump into the workforce or enhance their current job skills. The school's career services center hosts a regular Job Search JumpStart Workshop that students pursuing a medical assistant degree online can attend on an M State campus to learn about resume writing and how to land a job.

For Medical Assisting Students at Minnesota State Community and Technical College

An online Medical Administrative Assistant Associate of Applied Science, Medical Office Assistant Diploma, and Medical Receptionist Diploma are all available at M State. The Medical Office Assistant Diploma and Medical Receptionist Diploma both focus on topics such as appointment schedule management, patient registration procedures, and electronic health record preparation.

However, the Medical Office Assistant program, which takes a bit longer to complete, educates students on a few more advanced topics like CPT and HCPCS level II procedure and ICD-CM diagnosis coding.


Cowley County Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Arkansas City, KS
School Type

What is Cowley County Community College like?

When it was first established in 1922, Cowley College had facilities in the basement of Arkansas City High School. Since then, the school has grown to a campus in Arkansas City, two educational centers, an online college, outreach centers, and a service center. Students interested in medical assistant training online at Cowley may apply for a tuition scholarship through the Health and Human Services Department.

For Medical Assisting Students at Cowley County Community College

As one of the best medical assistant schools online, Cowley offers an online medical assisting course in the fall and spring semesters that can help students master the skills they need for a Vocational Certificate in Medical Office Support. It is taught by an instructor who began her career as an entry-level medical secretary and eventually advanced to her current position as an office manager.

While the course has an open enrollment and is an option for those who are not looking for a full program, students who wish to pursue the certificate are required to apply for program admission.


Northwest Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Bemidji, MN
School Type

What is Northwest Technical College like?

Known as a public technical institution, Northwest Technical College is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Since its programs are highly transferrable, students who decide to earn a medical assistant degree online can transfer many of their credits and eventually receive an associate medical assistant degree online. In addition, the school offers free tutoring sessions for students taking medical assistant classes online via Skype or phone.

For Medical Assisting Students at Northwest Technical College

At NTC, students can choose from two different medical assisting programs including an Associate of Applied Science Healthcare Administrative Specialist degree and a Healthcare Administrative Support diploma. Both programs are delivered via D2L Brightspace, the school's online learning software.

While the 36-credit diploma focuses on administrative skills and prepares graduates to assist with medical office management, the 60-credit medical assistant degree online revolves around the technical skills necessary for medical office management and requires an internship.


Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Rome, GA
School Type

What is Georgia Northwestern Technical College like?

A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, Georgia Northwestern Technical College offers technical education and workforce development opportunities on-campus and online. High school students who would like to begin their medical assisting education before they graduate can enroll in GNTC's dual enrollment program and take diploma, certificate, or degree classes.

For Medical Assisting Students at Georgia Northwestern Technical College

GNTC's online medical assisting programs, which are delivered via Blackboard, include an Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management Technology, and an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting. A Medical Assisting Diploma, Medical Front Office Assistant Certificate, and a Medical Language Specialist Certificate are available as well.

The Medical Language Specialist Certificate may be a good fit for a student who is interested in medical transcription and report analysis while the Medical Front Office Assistant Certificate can be a good option for someone who would like to secure an entry-level receptionist position in a healthcare setting.


Central Texas College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Killeen, TX
School Type

What is Central Texas College like?

Central Texas College is a public, open-admission community college that offers degrees and certificates in career and technical fields. Its main campus in Killeen provides medical assistant training online through the Blackboard learning platform. Medical assistant students who have been in the military can get credit for their training and experience and earn their certificate or medical assistant degree online sooner.

For Medical Assisting Students at Central Texas College

Students can take medical assistant classes online at CTC, one of the best medical assistant schools online, by enrolling in an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Office Terminology or a Certificate of Completion in Medical Office Technology Professional, Medical Office Technology Specialist, or Medical Office Technology Support.

The Medical Office Technology Professional certificate is 30-credit hours and includes classes such as computer applications, spreadsheets, and medical software applications while the 42-credit Medical Office Technology Specialist program features an internship component and focuses on other more advanced subjects like medical insurance and business communication.

The 18-credit Medical Office Technology Support is the shortest certificate available and a good fit for someone who would like to enter the medical assisting field as soon as possible.


Ogeechee Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Statesboro, GA
School Type

What is Ogeechee Technical College like?

Located in Statesboro, Georgia, Ogeechee Technical College offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates via a traditional face-to-face format, hybrid, or online. OTC students who pursue medical assistant training online can receive online tutoring through Smartthinking as well as resume and interview assistance from career services.

For Medical Assisting Students at Ogeechee Technical College

Those who are interested in the technical aspect of medical assisting can benefit from OTC's Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management Technology, which can help them develop leadership skills and land positions in various components of the health information system.

OTC also offers a Healthcare Office Assistant Certificate for students who would like to work as receptionists in healthcare environments. Both of these online medical assistant certification programs allow students to enroll during any semester and can be completed in a synchronous format through Blackboard.


Hazard Community and Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Hazard, KY
School Type

What is Hazard Community and Technical College like?

While Hazard Community and Technical College has several campus locations in Eastern Kentucky, the school also offers medical classes online through Blackboard. Over the years, HCTC has been admired by medical assisting students for its small class sizes, one-on-one tutoring, and affordability. The school helps students gain real-world experience in healthcare settings by arranging practicums on-site.

For Medical Assisting Students at Hazard Community and Technical College

At HCTC, students may choose from an Associate of Applied Science, Diploma, or Certificate in Medical Information Technology. Graduates from these programs prepare medical records and reports, maintain files, order supplies, perform accounting tasks, and help patients in various healthcare environments.

The certificate may be ideal for students who would like to complete their medical assisting training online in as little as 4 months while the associate degree makes more sense for those who would like to dive deeper into the subject matter and are willing to dedicate 16 months.


Craven Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
New Bern, NC
School Type

What is Craven Community College like?

Established in 1965, Craven Community College is a community college in North Carolina with three campuses and online offerings. Craven offers a number of First Year Experience (FYE) programs to help medical assisting students with academic advising, career exploration, tutoring, and more.

For Medical Assisting Students at Craven Community College

A Medical Office Administration Diploma can be completed online in three consecutive semesters at Craven. This medical training degree online consists of a plethora of courses related to medical assisting such as medical terminology, medical office procedures, and record management. Students can complete the Medical Office Administration Diploma through the Moodle online learning system.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Medical Assisting Program Overview

Online medical assistant schools generally offer programs at the certificate or associate degree levels. Regardless what medical assistant degree level online students pursue, they can expect to take courses on subjects such as medical administration, human anatomy, office practices, medical terminology, and medical administration.

Likewise, in terms of skills, medical assisting students pursuing a certificate or associate degree are primarily expected to focus on the various skills that are used in a career as a medical assistant. This includes how to record vital health information, medical terminology and patient etiquette, how to use computers and medical software, methods of preparing treatment areas for use and other skills in this vein.

Let's take a closer look at both types of programs - associate and certificate - and the differences between them.

Requirements to Enroll

  • Certificate:
    To be eligible for a certificate program, students need a high school diploma or GED. They may also be required to show proof of U.S. citizenship and meet minimum cumulative high school GPA requirements.
  • Associate:
    Students generally need a high school diploma to enroll in these programs. Some programs have minimum cumulative high school GPA requirements and require that students be U.S. citizens and eligible to work in the country.

Time to Complete

  • Certificate:
    Approximately nine to 12 months
  • Associate:
    Approximately 18 to 24 months

Common Courses

  • Certificate courses include:
    • Medical terminology
    • Pharmacology
    • Clinical and administrative procedures
    • The human body in health and disease
  • Associate courses include:
    • Anatomy and physiology
    • Phlebotomy
    • Medication administration
    • Patient care
    • Clinical and diagnostic procedures
    • Office administration
    • Core education courses in subjects such as math and humanities

What You Can Learn

Familiarity with the healthcare field
  • Certificate:
    When students begin online medical assistant certification programs, they can expect to focus on medical terminology and basic pharmacology in order to familiarize themselves with the healthcare field.
  • Associate:
    At the start of an online associate degree in medical assisting, students usually get to know the various systems in the body and common clinical terms and medical word structures. They'll also learn about basic pharmacology including drug categories and classifications, drug schedules, side effects, dosage calculations, and the rights of medication administration.

Administrative vs. clinical tasks

  • Certificate:
    While some medical assistant programs solely focus on administrative tasks such as checking patients in or submitting insurance forms, others are geared toward clinical tasks like asking patients about their medical histories and preparing them for exams. There are some programs that expose students to both administrative and clinical tasks.
  • Associate:
    A primary focus of an online associate program in medical assisting is exposing students to a medical assistant's administrative tasks: scheduling appointments, filing insurance claims and communicating with patients. The second year of these programs typically focuses on clinical duties such as performing basic lab tests and drawing blood. It may even teach students how to administer medication to patients under supervision.

Hands-On Training

  • Certificate:
    Online certificate in medical assisting programs do not always have a clinical component. However, many students choose to participate in one even if it is not required, so they can gain firsthand experience in the field.
  • Associate:
    A clinical externship is usually a required part of an online associate in medical assisting program, so that students have the opportunity to earn practical experience in the field.

Medical Assisting Specializations


Phlebotomists use venipuncture, finger pricks, or heel pricks to draw blood samples from patients and blood donors and ensure they are properly prepared for medical testing. In addition, they may conduct blood transfusions, which are procedures that save thousands of lives every year. They are trained to calm anxious patients down and ensure their experience is as pleasant as possible.

To become a phlebotomist, students will need to complete a short certificate or training program that consists of courses such as medical ethics, blood collection procedures, and proper storage and handling of blood samples. Phlebotomists can be found working in hospitals, nursing homes, doctor's offices, clinical labs, and blood donation centers.

Pediatric Medical Assisting

Pediatric medical assistants support pediatricians in providing care to infants, children, and teenagers. They are typically patient individuals who love children and are passionate about providing them with a fun and comforting experience at the doctor.

Front office pediatric assistants focus on administrative tasks such as greeting patients and their families, scheduling appointments, verifying insurance, and data entry. Back office pediatric assistants perform clinical duties like preparing exam rooms for patients and collecting height, weight, and other vital health information.

Pediatric medical assistants can complete general medical assistant training online via a certificate or associate degree program.

EKG Technicians

Also known as electrocardiogram technicians, EKG technicians use EKG equipment to monitor and test the cardiovascular performance of patients. They are trained on how to attach electrodes to a patient's chest, arms, and legs and use an EKG machine to obtain a quality reading.

EKG technicians distribute their readings to doctors so they can review and interpret them. They play a vital role in helping doctors detect irregularities with the heart and diagnose cardiovascular problems.

While some EKG technicians enter the field with a high school diploma and on-the-job training, many complete certificate programs in EKG technology. These programs include courses such as cardiac anatomy and physiology, electrical conduction in the heart and 12-Lead EKG administration.

Complementary Fields of Study

There are a few subjects that students participating in medical assistant training online can study to further their knowledge in the field and/or stand out to potential employers. While some of these subjects can be double majors, others can be studied as minors or in just a few extra courses on the side.

Medical billing and coding is a vital administrative task for many medical assistants. It involves submitting claims to insurance carriers, coding and classifying medical diagnoses and procedures, and solving common insurance billing problems.

Students pursuing a medical assistant degree online can double major in medical billing and coding or take additional classes related to the subject so they can sit for a national certification exam such as the Billing and Coding Specialist Certification (CBCS) from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) or the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

The administrative tasks of medical assisting focus on the business side of healthcare rather than direct patient care. Students pursuing medical assistant training online who would like to develop a strong business foundation that supports their careers can benefit from double majoring or minoring in business administration. A business administration program usually consists of courses like financial and managerial accounting, introduction to marketing, and operations management.

While a business administration program concentrates on general business, healthcare administration places more emphasis on managing people in a healthcare environment. The courses in a healthcare administration program are more specific and may include healthcare information technology, healthcare marketing, and hospital administration.

Students enrolled in medical assistant classes online who would like to hone in on their people management skills and learn about the business side of healthcare specifically may find double major or minor in healthcare administration.

Medical Assistant Career Paths

There are many different avenues medical assisting students can pursue after completing medical assisting training online. They can work as medical assistants, medical records and health information technicians, or phlebotomists, just to name a few.

Below, we'll further discuss what students can expect if they choose to any of these career choices. We'll dive deeper into the job duties and responsibilities of each career as well as the requirements for landing a position in each one.

Medical Assistants

What does a medical assistant do?

Medical assistants who have graduated from medical assistant schools online can choose to focus on administrative tasks, clinical tasks, or both. While administrative medical assistants spend their performing tasks like filing records, handling insurance claims, and answering phones, clinical medical assistants typically record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patient rooms for exams, and explain treatments to patients.

What degree do you need to become a medical assistant?

To work as a medical assistants, students typically need to complete an associate degree or certificate.

Do you need to be certified to become a medical assistant?

Although there are no federal laws that require certification, many students choose to sit for the CMA credential to help them become more marketable to potential employers.

Medical Records/ Health Information Technicians

What does a medical records/ health information technician do?

Medical records and health information technicians usually work in office settings where they compile, process, and maintain the medical records of a healthcare entity. They are responsible for protecting the security of medical records by maintaining confidentiality, reviewing medical records for accuracy and compliance with federal regulations, and retrieving medical records for doctors, technicians, and other medical professionals.

What degree do you need to become a medical records/ health information technician?

To start working as one of these professionals, students typically need to earn a certificate or an associate degree.

Do you need to be certified to become a medical records/ health information technician?

Many employers require that they sit for the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam or another national certification.


What does a phlebotomist do?

Phlebotomists focus on drawing blood from blood donors or patients so that medical lab testing can be performed. They usually work in hospitals, doctor's offices, blood donor centers, and diagnostic laboratories. It is their responsibility to calm down nervous patients, to verify patient identity and to label blood vials clearly and accurately. In addition, phlebotomists must keep needles, blood vials, test tubes, and other medical instruments sanitary and clean.

What degree do you need to become a phlebotomist?

While a medical assisting degree online is not required, many phlebotomists choose to earn an associate degree or complete a short training or certificate program.

Do you need to be certified to become a phlebotomist?

Although national certification for phlebotomists is only necessary in a few states, it can be helpful for earning a position. Certification is offered by organizations such as the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians and the National Phlebotomy Association. Phlebotomists in most states must also complete at least six credits of additional training each year.

Medical Assistant Certifications and Exams

There are a few subjects that students participating in medical assistant training online can study to further their knowledge in the field and/or stand out to potential employers. While some of these subjects can be double majors, others can be studied as minors or in just a few extra courses on the side.

To sit for the CMA exam, students must complete a postsecondary medical assistant training program that has been accredited by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The CMA may be attractive to prospective employers because it shows that students have been educated and tested in a wide variety of general, clinical, and administrative duties of a medical assistant.

The NRCMA exam shows employers that a student has the medical knowledge and medical assistance skills to provide direct patient care in healthcare environments. This exam is offered to students who have completed a relevant program that has been accredited by the Allied Health Education and Accreditation of the American Medical Association (CAHEA), Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or any accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Students who are interested in taking the RHIT exam are required to complete an associate degree in Health Information Management (HIM) that's been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The RHIT certificate shows that students have what it takes to ensure the quality of medical records and use software to analyze patient data. It can help them advance to management positions.

ASPT offers a number of certifications for EKG technicians, medical assistants, phlebotomists, and patient care technicians. The requirements to sit for these certifications vary but most of them necessitate the successful completion of an accredited training or degree program. These certifications can help students enhance their skills, advance their careers, or broaden their experience.

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations can help students attending medical assistant schools online make connections with prospective employers, stay up-to-date in the field, and learn from professionals in medical assisting.

AAMA strives to provide medical assistant professionals with educational and networking opportunities. Students pursuing medical assistant training online can join to lock in a discount on the CMA (AAMA) certification and participate in volunteer and networking events.
The AHCAP's mission focuses on advancing professional development and leadership of healthcare administrative professionals. It offers monthly news, access to private forums, career assistance, and a number of professional development opportunities that students enrolled in medical assistant classes online can take advantage of.
Professional development is the primary goal of AAHAM. Membership benefits for students in online medical assistant certification programs include networking events, educational opportunities to increase knowledge and skills, and access to seminars and conferences.
ARMA is a national registry, with members in all 50 states. Its goal is to advance the status of medical assistants. The organization assists with continuing education and hosts various networking events throughout the year and welcomes those enrolled in medical assistant training online.

Related Rankings

If this page has not covered the information you're looking for, we encourage you to visit the following pages.

Our Partner Listings