The Best Online Associate Medical Assistant Programs 2021
| TBS Staff
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Online medical assistant associate degree programs prepare graduates for administrative and clinical roles in physicians' offices, healthcare facilities, and hospitals.
These professionals can expect strong job prospects: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for medical assistants to increase 23% between 2018 and 2028 — much faster than the national average for all occupations.
This guide ranks the best online medical assistant associate degree programs to help students find the right programs for their career goals. We also cover important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
The Best Online Associate Medical Assistant Programs
A community college founded in 1962, GNTC offers an associate of applied science in medical assisting. Students can complete many of the core requirements online.
The program requires general education courses as well as relevant medical coursework. Notable choices include legal and ethical concerns in the medical office, medical office procedures, and administrative practice management. Students complete an externship at an approved location to complete the 63 credits.
The program accepts students ages 17 or older once students apply to the community college itself. Learners must take placement exams through the school or standardized testing.
Founded in 1966 and serving over 4,000 students, SFCC offers an online associate of applied science in medical assisting. Students can complete 61 credits, mostly online.
Program requirement includes medical assisting clinical procedures, medical assisting advanced skills, allied health career development, and medical assistant administrative procedures. Students complete a medical certification first before completing the rest of the associate degree requirements.
Applicants need a high school diploma to qualify for admission. Students may need to take a placement exam for general education courses.
A community college founded in 1977, Keiser offers an associate of applied science in medical assisting. Students can complete all the required courses online.
Required courses for the associate degree include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical office management, and laboratory procedures. An externship totaling seven credits completes the program requirements. Learners must pass the comprehensive examination before completing the externship.
Students need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit standardized test scores.
A public community college founded in 1907, DCB offers an online associate of applied science in medical assisting. Students gain eligibility to sit for the registered medical assistant certification exam.
Students complete required courses within the major such as medical disorders, basic procedure coding, lab and diagnostic procedures, and healthcare law and ethics. Students can satisfy both general education and core requirements online.
Applicants need a high school transcript or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. The school does not require SAT or ACT scores, but students need to take a placement exam without them.
Online Online Associate Medical Assistant Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.
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Featured Online Associate Medical Assistant Programs
What Is a Medical Assistant Associate Degree?
Medical assistant associate programs prepare students for entry-level administrative and clinical roles in hospitals, physicians' offices, and healthcare facilities. These programs also prepare learners to pursue further study through a bachelor's program. Many graduates with an associate degree can complete a four-year bachelor's degree with just two additional years of study.
During medical assistant associate programs, students gain skills and knowledge in patient communication, office management, and organization. Many medical assistant degrees require an internship or practicum, giving students practical experience in the field.
Most associate degrees in medical assisting take two years of full-time study to complete, though many schools also offer accelerated programs. Applicants typically need a high school diploma and must submit transcripts. Some schools may also require a minimum GPA or SAT or ACT scores.
Choosing an Online Medical Assistant Degree Program
To ensure they find the right program for their needs, students who are researching prospective online medical assistant degree programs should consider several factors, such as cost and transfer policies.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants play a critical role in the support of healthcare providers. They typically perform clinical and administrative tasks, such as taking patient histories, measuring vital signs, and performing basic lab tests. Most medical assistants work in physicians' offices, though it is also common to work in hospitals and outpatient care facilities. These professionals sometimes specialize in assisting a particular type of practitioner, like a chiropractor, optometrist, or podiatrist.
Depending on a medical assistant's work environment, they may perform administrative or clinical tasks. In larger hospitals with numerous support staff, medical assistants typically focus on clerical duties, like patient scheduling, records management, and correspondence. Smaller practices may require medical assistants to take on clinical responsibilities, including drawing blood, preparing specimens for lab tests, or even administering injections or medications, depending on state regulations.
Medical assistants can pursue professional credentials, such as certified medical assistant, to increase their competitiveness in the job market. Successful medical assistants are personable and detail-oriented, with excellent analytical and technical skills.
Medical Assistant Jobs
Graduates with a medical assistant associate degree can work as medical assistants, medical and health services managers, and pharmacy technicians. Below, you'll find important information about these jobs, including average salaries.
Medical assistants perform supportive clinical and administrative duties in hospitals, physicians' offices, and other healthcare facilities. They may take patient histories, measure vital signs, or assist physicians with exams. They also schedule patient appointments, maintain health records, and fill out insurance forms.
Medical assistants tend to perform a broader spectrum of tasks in smaller facilities, while those employed by larger practices often specialize in administrative or clinical work. Most employers prefer candidates with a medical assistant associate degree and certification.
Sometimes called healthcare administrators or executives, medical and health services managers develop and coordinate health services. Most of these professionals work in hospitals, physicians' offices, or residential and outpatient care facilities. They hire and train staff, prepare and maintain budgets, and ensure compliance with the latest laws and regulations.
These professionals may oversee an entire facility or a smaller department within a facility. Most employers require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree in a field like health administration, health management, or public health administration. This profession also includes nursing home administrators, who need specific state licenses to practice.
Pharmacy technicians support pharmacists by interfacing with customers and helping to dispense medications. Most pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies. These professionals take patient information, count tablets, measure liquid medications, and mix formulas. They may also perform administrative duties. In hospitals, pharmacy technicians often prepare dosages and dispense medication to patients.
All pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Most pharmacy technicians receive on-the-job training and hold a high school diploma or a postsecondary certificate, though employers often prefer candidates with an associate degree.
Educational Paths for Online Medical Assistant Programs
In addition to entry-level employment, graduates with a medical assistant associate degree can pursue further study through a bachelor's program. We cover several common bachelor's degrees for graduates below.
- Bachelor's in Nursing: Bachelor's in nursing programs build on the administrative and clinical experience students gain during an medical assistant associate degree program. Many schools offer bridge programs for certified medical assistants to pursue an accelerated associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). ADN and BSN programs usually require a practicum in addition to coursework in anatomy, patient interaction, and diagnostic procedures.
- Bachelor's in Healthcare Management: A bachelor's in healthcare management emphasizes business and leadership skills specific to the healthcare industry, preparing students for roles as supervisors and administrators. Students who aspire to an executive leadership position are best suited to a bachelor's in healthcare management. Coursework examines topics like quality management, payment systems, data management, and human resources.
- Master's in Public Health: Earning a medical assistant associate degree online can be the first step toward a bachelor's or master's in public health, especially if you enroll in a bridge program. Graduates with a master's in public health can work as public health practitioners, educators, researchers, and policymakers. Coursework explores topics such as health management, biostatistics, and epidemiology. Most public health master's programs require an internship or practicum at a community organization or public health agency.
Accreditation for Online Associate in Medical Assisting Degrees
Students should only consider accredited medical assistant programs when researching schools. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to academic rigor, faculty qualifications, and student learning outcomes.
Students benefit from attending accredited schools in several ways. First, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid opportunities, and many schools only accept transfer credits and degrees from accredited institutions. Additionally, many employers will only hire hire candidates with an accredited degree.
Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee regional accrediting bodies.
Programs within a school can also receive programmatic accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools both accredit medical assisting programs. Students seeking medical assistant certification need a degree accredited by one of these organizations.
Medical Assistant Professional Organizations
Medical assistant students and graduates can take advantage of a variety of professional organizations to support their careers. Many of the following organizations offer benefits like student discounts, scholarships, continuing education, and networking opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Medical assistant certificates and diplomas typically take one year to complete, while a medical assistant associate degree takes about two years of full-time study to complete.
Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks to support healthcare practitioners. They may perform general administrative duties or specialize in an area like ophthalmic or podiatric medical assisting.
Obtaining medical assistant certification typically takes 1-2 years and involves passing an exam administered by a national credentialing organization.
Yes, many schools offer online medical assistant associate degree programs.
Though requirements vary by state, most employers prefer medical assistants with an associate degree and professional certification.
Generally, a medical assistant associate degree takes two years of full-time study to complete, though some schools offer accelerated programs.
A medical assistant associate degree gives students the administrative and clinical skills they need to pursue medical assistant certification and apply to entry-level jobs in the field.
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