Best Online Medical Assisting Programs

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Medical assistants play a vital role in today’s healthcare industry. These professionals typically serve as go-betweens for patients and doctors. Their duties often include checking patient vital signs and diagnostics, administering injections, collecting blood and other bodily samples and other tasks that must be performed before and after physician exams. Medical assistants also update patient records, and are often proficient at using electronic health record (EHR) software programs.

Educational requirements for medical assistants and other supportive healthcare personnel are relatively relaxed; many enter the workforce with a high school diploma or less. Aspiring medical assistants can boost their career standing and expand their job opportunities by earning an associate degree in their field. Medical assisting associate programs cover all fundamental areas of patient care and support. These programs usually include clinical practicum courses, which allow students to receive supervised onsite training from experienced medical assistants and other healthcare professionals. Many of today’s students choose to earn their associate degree in medical assisting online. Web-based students follow the same demanding curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of post-degree job opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule of most online medical assisting associate programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that may interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online associate degree in medical assisting and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


Online associate degree programs in medical assisting provide a comprehensive overview of the principles, laws and ethics guiding modern patient care and support. Courses will cover basic diagnostics, medical technology, patient record-keeping and healthcare administration. During the latter stages of their online program, students will have the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained in clinical practicum courses. The best online medical assisting degree programs also prepare students for additional career requirements, such as professional certification.


Online associate degree in medical assisting programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students will be able to access course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their own home. Current technology also allows them to study away from their desktop computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online students can usually coordinate onsite courses at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities near their current residence.


Although most states do not have formal education requirements for medical assistants, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that many employment-seekers in this field have a postsecondary background. Candidates with an associate degree will be well-positioned to compete for top positions in the job market. An associate degree in medical assisting will also prepare students for alternative careers, such as EMTs and paramedics, occupational therapy assistants and aides, nursing assistants and orderlies and healthcare administrators.


Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online associate degree in medical assisting programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online associate in medical assisting, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific associate degree requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Olney Central College

 2/548.7%Olney, IL


The Medical Office Assistant degree at Olney Central College is a 68-credit program that can be completed almost entirely online in four semesters. Two internship requirements must be fulfilled in-person after the first year in the program. Graduates are equipped with the ability to effectively communicate with patients, transcribe and manage medical records and fulfill office administrative tasks such as filing and making appointments.

Olney uses the Desire2Learn LMS to deliver its online course materials. Once they have login credentials for the school, students can take a free introduction to online learning course that will help them determine if online learning is right for them. Students will earn half a credit hour for completing the course. Online students can access their classes nearly every day of the year, at any time that fits their schedules, and they can utilize several student services such as advising, tech support and library access.

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Minnesota State Community and Technical College

 2/533.08%Fergus Falls, MN


Minnesota State offers a medical office assistant AAS degree which provides career training for students aspiring to land administrative positions within the healthcare industry. The 44-hour program combines courses in medical terminology, medical coding, and office technology with training in basic clerical skills, including patient registration, appointment-setting, and personal communication. Students will also study introductory anatomy and disease processes and functions. Graduates must complete a combined curriculum of required courses and restricted electives to fulfill all AAS requirements.

Applicants to M State’s online medical assistant program are required to complete developmental prerequisites in reading, writing, and math. Online coursework can be accessed through the SpartanNet student portal. The AAS medical office assistant program is offered entirely online through its eCampus, as well as at M State’s Moorhead and Wadena campuses.

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Minnesota West Community and Technical College

 2/549.68%Granite Falls, MN


Minnesota West offers a medical administrative secretary AAS degree which provides training in how to maintain discretion while performing clerical duties for a medical office. The program comprises 60 credit hours and includes coursework in both general education and optional electives. The recommended course sequence begins with basic human anatomy and disease conditions and progresses to include increasingly advanced courses in business, machines and transcription, medical office procedures, and management.

Applicants to this school’s online medical assistant certification program must have a high school diploma or GED. Once granted admission, students are required to take a college assessment test and complete an orientation course. Online coursework is delivered through D2L Brightspace. Non-degree-seeking students may take courses individually online or as part of a comprehensive degree or certificate plan.

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Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

 3/554.95%Fort Lauderdale, FL


The 60-credit, Medical Assisting Science degree at Keiser can be completed fully online with the exception of a five-credit externship that is fulfilled at the end of the program. Through instruction in pharmacology, medical law and ethics, office management and procedures and more, students are prepared to take the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credentialing exam. Upon graduation, they will have the skills necessary for office administration, assisting physicians and preparing insurance claims.

Kaiser uses Blackboard for online course delivery. Once logged in to the system, students have access to their school email, digital library and a 24/7 tech help desk. Students communicate with their instructors and classmates through email, discussion boards and class wikis. They can turn on notifications to alert them when assignments are approaching their due dates, and a to do list is automatically populated for each class to keep students organized and on top of assignments. To explore Blackboard’s interface, log in as a guest with kudemo as username and password.

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Northland Community and Technical College

 2/535.01%Thief River Falls, MN


Northland offers an AAS medical assistant program to prepare students for entry-level employment in a variety of professional settings, including hospitals, clinics, or government agencies. Through completion of 60 course credit hours, the AAS program provides foundational instruction in medical language applications, electronic health records, business communications, and more. Students may also select an additional elective course from NCTC-recommended topics in public speaking or interpersonal communications.

Students enrolled in the medical assistant online program at NCTC must complete specific core requirements in order to earn their degree. Whether the student has satisfied these prerequisites through previous college credits or is taking the courses at NCTC, they must receive a “C” grade or better in each course to meet graduation requirements. Online coursework is delivered through D2L Brightspace. The suggested course sequence includes four to six courses over four semesters.

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Alexandria Technical & Community College

 2/558.27%Alexandria, MN

With the exception of a student orientation and an internship, the Medical Administrative Specialist AAS can be completed fully online. This 70-credit program, which can be completed in two years, is designed to prepare students to take the national certification exam from the National Healthcareer Association. Students take a combination of classes that give them the skills to manage and organize an office, work closely with other people and create and transcribe medical records. They graduate with a basic knowledge of human anatomy, technical writing and ICD coding.

ATCC is a member of Distance Minnesota, an organization that provides access to online courses and programs across the state using the Desire2Learn LMS. Students enrolled in ATCC's medical administrative program can use Distance Minnesota's resources, including tools to help with time, money and stress management. Through the D2L platform, students access all course materials, communicate with their professors and classmates on discussion boards and take quizzes.

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Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical

 2/530.31%Winona, MN

Southeast Technical’s AAS medical administrative assistant degree combines general education and technical coursework to provide training with a unique emphasis in humanities, liberal arts, and social science. The 60-hour program includes courses in pharmacology, advanced medical machine transcription, medical office procedures, and legal and ethical aspects of healthcare information. Students are required to fulfill prerequisites in some courses involving math, writing and/or reading comprehension skills as they relate to core coursework in billing, coding and transcriptioning in this program.

Applicants to the medical assistant program online at Southeast Technical must have a high school diploma or GED and schedule a time to take a placement exam approved by the school. Students enrolled in the online AAS degree in medical assisting must meet minimum course goals in liberal arts and sciences specific to the curriculum, as required by Southeast Technical administration. Online coursework is delivered through D2L Brightspace.

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Dakota College at Bottineau

 1/523.81%Bottineau, ND

The Medical Assistant AAS at DCB is a two-year program that is, with the exception of an internship, completed entirely online. Students are exposed to information regarding human anatomy, medical transcription, procedure and diagnostic coding, office management, CPR and human relations. Upon earning the AAS, graduates are eligible to take the American Medical Technologists (AMT) certification exam.

Students at Dakota College use the Moodle LMS to access materials for their courses at Bottineau, as well as online classes offered at other North Dakota University System schools. Online tests and quizzes are taken using Respondus LockDown Browser to ensure student honesty while working through the questions.

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Rochester Community and Technical College

 2/519.89%Rochester, MN

Rochester’s online AAS medical administrative assistant degree is one of several comprehensive career/technical programs offered by the school in this field. The online medical assistant degree comprises 60 credit hours and introduces students to medical terminology, medical transcription, business communications, microcomputer business applications and more. Students may take courses individually or as part of Rochester’s AAS degree in medical administrative assisting; additional available programs include a medical administrative assistant diploma as well as an AS degree.

Applicants should have satisfactory reading and math skills, as well as the desire to improve their problem-solving abilities. The suggested course sequence begins in the fall and runs through the spring semester, though some courses are available during the summer term. Students may complete the program on a full-time or part-time schedule according to their preference; part-time students may begin in any semester. Online coursework is delivered through D2L Brightspace.

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18 months to 2 years
Program Costs
$6,000 to $20,000 in annual tuition
Related Areas of Study
Nursing, Practical Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Medical Laboratory Technician, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Biomedical Equipment Technology, Surgical Technology, Pharmacy, Radiology/Radiologic Technology, Physical Therapist Assistant Studies, Health Sciences
Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

Job Placement

The projected job outlook for medical assistants and other supportive healthcare personnel is quite favorable. A growing number of patients seeking medical care has fueled the demand for qualified medical assisting professionals. More than 20 million previously uninsured Americans now receive medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and an aging baby boomer population has added to the uptick of patients requiring geriatric care.

The following table explores unemployment rates for medical assistants and other assistive professionals working in the healthcare industry.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2016)
Occupational Therapy Assistant 1.2%
Phlebotomist 1.6%
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer 1.9%
Paramedic 3.0%
Dental Hygienist 3.1%
MRI Technologist 3.1%
Clinical Laboratory Technician 3.4%
Surgical Technologist 3.8%
Medical Assistant 4.0%
Physical Therapist Assistant 5.8%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Of the 10 careers listed on the table, medical assistants face the second-highest unemployment rate. However, this figure is still significantly lower than the national unemployment rate for all occupations, which currently sits at 4.9%.

Earning a Living

According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, medical assistants with an associate degree earn a median annual salary of $27,800 during their first five years on the job and $34,600 after 10 years in the workforce. The table below explores salary expectations for employees with associate degrees in medical assisting and other healthcare-oriented fields.

Associate Degree Field Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Medical Assistant $27,800 $34,600
Physical Therapist Assistant Studies $47,400 $57,400
Medical Laboratory Technology $37,200 $48,500
Health Information Management $33,900 $47,600
Medical Laboratory Technician $35,400 $45,300
Health Information Technology $32,000 $39,300
Medical Office Administration $28,200 $34,400
Medical Billing and Coding $29,600 $33,200

Source: The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, medical assistants earned the lowest salaries at the entry-level mark and the third-lowest salaries at the mid-career mark. However, this profession experienced the fourth-highest rate of salary growth after 10 years on the job: an increase of 24.4%.

Associate degree field of study is not the only variable used to predict salary expectations for medical assistants. Earnings for these employees will also depend on specific job titles, as well as other factors like employer size, certifications and city/state of employment. The next table looks at career salary growth for five common career paths in medical assisting.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Medical Assistant $29,376 $30,552 $34,060 $36,829
Certified Medical Assistant $33,959 $38,251 $42,014 $46,485
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant $29,125 $35,016 $35,669 $39,464
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant $29,432 $39,236 $40,695 $40,081
Medical Technologist $47,547 $51,276 $57,520 $63,000

Source: PayScale

The average career salary growth rate for all five occupations listed is 33.28. Certified medical assistants experience the highest rate of growth: an increase in earnings of 36.9% between the entry-level and late-career stages. Certified medical administrative assistants placed a close second with 36.2% salary growth after 20 years in the workforce.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate with an associate degree in medical assisting will be qualified for dozens of entry-level roles; those who obtain certification will enjoy even more job opportunities. Medical assistants and three other related career pathways are outlined in the section below.

Medical Assistants: Medical assistants offer basic patient care and support services at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. The BLS notes that nearly 600,000 medical assistants are employed nationwide, and this profession is projected to grow by 23% between 2014 and 2024.

EMTs and Paramedics: EMTs and paramedics care for sick and injured individuals in emergencies and critical situations. All states require these professionals to be licensed, although licensure requirements vary by state; many EMTs and paramedics obtain their license through certification with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies: These professionals (also known as nursing aides) offer basic patient care and support at hospitals, as well as nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. All nursing assistants and orderlies must earn a state-issued license; licensure requirements vary by state, but often include a comprehensive exam, background check and continuing education courses.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians: Also known as medical laboratory scientists, these professionals specialize in the collection and evaluation of blood, urine and other bodily fluid samples. Some states require medical laboratory scientists to earn full licensure.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians $30,590 23% (+138,900 jobs)
EMTs and Paramedics $31,980 24% (+58,500 jobs)
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies $25,710 17% (+267,800 jobs)
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians $50,550 16% (+52,100 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to medical assisting is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for medical assistance professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • American Association of Medical Assistants: The AAMA is home to the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) professional credential, as well as other professional development and continuing education opportunities. Membership options are available to professionals and students in their first or second year of postsecondary education.
  • American Academy of Physician Assistants: Founded in 1968, the AAPA is today the nation’s largest professional organization for physician assistants with nearly 109,000 members in all 50 states. Membership perks include free webinars and continuing education courses, complimentary magazine and journal subscriptions, and substantial discounts on various goods and services.
  • American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA): This organization is recognized nationally as the premier hub for professional health information management (HIM) education and training. The AHIMA website features information on certification and career options.

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