The Best Online Associate Medical Assistant Programs
| 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.
|#1||Keiser University Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|#2||Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome, GA|
|#3||Dakota College at Bottineau Bottineau, ND|
|#4||State Fair Community College Sedalia, MO|
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The Best Online Associate in Medical Assistant Programs
Founded in 1977, Keiser University is a career-focused, nonprofit institution with 21 campuses throughout Florida, including a main campus in Fort Lauderdale. In addition to campus-based programs, the university offers many online programs, including a medical assistant associate degree.
The 60-credit associate of science in medical assisting science includes 20 medical assistant credits and 16 clinical credits. Online classes cover topics such as pharmacology, medical office procedure with insurance, and computerized medical office management. During the clinical component, students complete an externship at an approved local site to gain practical experience in the field.
Graduates can sit for the American Medical Technologists' exam to become registered medical assistants. Applicants must submit verification of a high school diploma or equivalent.
In 2008, Northwestern Technical College and Coosa Valley Technical College combined to become Georgia Northwestern Technical College. As a member of the Technical College System of Georgia, GNTC focuses on workforce development and technical education. GNTC hosts students on its seven campuses and online. The school offers a hybrid associate of applied science in medical assisting.
The 63-credit program includes 28 pre-occupational credits and 35 occupational credits. Pre-occupational courses include medical terminology for allied health sciences, anatomy, and physiology. The occupational curriculum includes courses like medical insurance management, pharmacology in the medical office, medical assisting skills, and administrative practice management.
At least 50% of the coursework for this program takes place online. Degree candidates can complete in-person components on campus in Floyd County or Walker County. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent.
Established in 1906, Dakota College at Bottineau is a member of the North Dakota University System. DCB offers certificate and associate medical assistant programs. Students pursuing the associate of applied science in medical assisting take medicine and healthcare administration courses, preparing for clinical and administrative roles in outpatient centers, chiropractic offices, and surgical clinics.
Classes include clinical procedures, basic procedure coding, clinical specialties, and office management. The two-year program culminates with 180 clinical hours at an approved medical facility. Students who want to enter the workforce sooner can earn a one-year medical assistant certificate, which seamlessly transfers to the medical assistant associate degree.
Applicants must submit high school transcripts or GED reports. Transfer students must also submit transcripts from previously attended higher learning institutions. Candidates must also submit ACT or SAT scores, though these are only used for advising and not for admission decisions. Students must pass a background check to qualify for the program.
State Fair Community College hosts seven physical campuses throughout Missouri and an online division. The school serves more than 4,700 learners, with approximately 2,350 learners taking online courses. SFCC also offers several medical assistant programs online.
The school offers a professional certificate and an associate of applied science in medical assisting. The associate program comprises 61.5 credits, including general education, medical assistant, and elective courses. Learners study topics like medical terminology, administrative procedures, and clinical procedures. Elective options include customer service management, human disease and condition, and microcomputer applications.
While learners take most courses online, they must complete in-person clinical requirements at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare and its ambulatory sites. Students who wish to take any courses on campus can do so at the Clinton site.
Learners who want to enter the workforce in one year can complete the certificate program at SFCC. These graduates can easily transition into the associate program while they gain work experience. Graduates can sit for certified phlebotomy technician and certified clinical medical assistant exams.
SFCC offers open enrollment. However, health programs have more competitive admissions.
Online Associate Medical Assistant Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation. This should help you find the program that is best suited to your needs and professional goals.
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.
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. Below, we cover several important considerations for prospective students.
Individual program costs vary, but public schools typically cost less than private schools, and in-state students often pay less than out-of-state students. However, many programs allow online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency, so be sure to check for that before enrolling in a program.
Students with prior credits or relevant professional experience should research program transfer policies. Many schools honor transfer credit for prior education, military, or life experience, which can save students time and money when working toward a degree.
A school's size and type can affect tuition rates, class sizes, and student engagement. For instance, a small private school may offer higher tuition rates but more one-on-one attention from faculty than a large public school.
While the typical associate degree takes two years of full-time study to complete, some programs offer accelerated timelines that allow students to graduate in as little as one year. These programs often have higher per-semester costs, but the overall tuition is lower because you aren't in school as long.
Many fully online medical associate programs exist, but some online programs require on-campus visits. Students should ensure they can meet any on-campus requirements before committing to a program.
Most associate medical assistant programs culminate in a capstone or final project. Some schools also require a practicum or internship. Prospective learners should choose a program with requirements that align with their career goals and interests.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
American Association of Medical Assistants
AAMA awards the certified medical assistant (CMA) credential. Members enjoy access to CMA exam discounts, exclusive web content and AAMA publications, and industry networking opportunities. They may also attend the AAMA annual conference.
American Registry of Medical Assistants
ARMA represents thousands of allied health professionals, including nurses, corpsmen, and military medics. Applicants must submit evidence of a high school diploma or equivalent, a copy of their signed social security card, and a copy of their photo ID. Applicants may also need to submit transcripts from their medical assisting programs.
National Healthcareer Association
NHA advocates for more than 75,000 allied healthcare workers in the United States, including healthcare students, educators, employers, and employees. Members enjoy access to industry publications, career resources, and military benefits to assist with certification.
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