Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs

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Also known as health information technicians, medical billing and coding professionals play a vital role in the healthcare industry. Modern medical care involves a complex billing and coding system used to organize patient records for insurance purposes. Billing and coding professionals are trained to navigate this classification system; they translate patient diagnoses and medical histories into the appropriate clinical codes required to process insurance claims. Some billers and coders work at hospitals and outpatient care centers, while others are employed by insurance companies and coverage providers (known as ‘payers’).

Aspiring professionals and specialists in this field often begin their career with an associate degree degree program in medical billing and coding, health information management or other related fields. Many of today’s students are choosing to obtain their associate degree in medical billing and coding online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of postdegree job opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of many online associate programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare responsibilities and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based classes.

Learn more about what you can do with an online associate degree, diploma, or certificate in medical billing and coding and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online medical billing and coding associate programs provide a thorough introduction to all essential tools and practices used in the industry. The curriculum for these degree programs will also cover subjects like healthcare data laws and ethics, medical statistics, billing and reimbursement procedures for healthcare services, pharmacology and various coding and classification systems used for patient records. Other areas of study include human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and pharmacology.

WILL AN ONLINE MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online medical billing and coding programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students are able to access course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own schedule. Current technology also allows them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET AS A MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING GRADUATE?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that many careers in medical billing and coding are attainable with a high school diploma or equivalent, so candidates with an associate degree will be well-positioned to compete in the job market. Professional certifications in this sector include the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) credentials; these personnel must earn a license in some states, but employers may require their employees to be certified regardless of state-specific laws and regulations.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING PROGRAMS?

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 medical billing and coding associate degree programs in the United States. If you are considering an online medical billing and coding associate program, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific associate degree requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Davenport University 71.25 40% Grand Rapids, MI

Davenport University offers more than 50 career-focused programs, including an online program in Health Information Technology. Akin to other accredited online medical billing and coding programs, Davenport’s online associate of applied science degree allows students to work with the latest technology and software designed for storing, managing, and accessing medical records and healthcare information. Davenport uniquely allows students to participate in the HIT program at any of their 13 on-campus locations as a complement to their online education. Alternatively, the online medical billing and coding degree program can be completed entirely online in Davenport’s "Global Campus."

Online courses at Davenport, which are taught asynchronously in Blackboard, help students develop strong critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze, manage, and utilize patient data care. As early as their second semester at Davenport, students enroll in information technology and statistics courses critical to their success in the field. Furthermore, students utilize the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Virtual Lab. This internet-based work environment allows students to access the Master Patient Index, Electronic Health Record, and Release of Information software which working professionals in this niche of the industry use on a daily basis.

Students enrolled in this online certificate program for billing and coding can expect to complete the degree in two and a half years (five semesters), after they have acquired the requisite school's 69 course credits. Michigan residents pay $707 per online credit hour while non-residents pay only $450 (not including books or fees). Students who successfully complete this program become eligible to take the Registered Health Information exam offered by the AHIMA. Learners interested in pursuing further education in the health information technology field at Davenport can seamlessly transition into the school’s online B.S. health information management program.


Program Overview
Department: College of Health Professions
Program name: Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology
Accrediting body: CAHIIM
Tuition: $707/credit in-state; $450/credit out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Credit requirements: 69 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years (full-time)
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: ACT or SAT

Contact
Department phone: (800) 686-1600
School email: info@davenport.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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2 Cowley County Community College 64.50 49% Arkansas City, KS

Cowley County Community College administers several accredited online programs, including an associate of applied science degree in medical coding. CCCC is a vocational community college that prepares students for entry-level careers in medical facilities, including outpatient care centers, home health care services, and public health departments.

To help students prepare for a professional position, CCCC offers a wide variety of resources. The program's courses provide real-world coding experience using the same electronic mediums utilized in the field, which helps students transition into their future careers. CCCC’s instructors draw from three decades of work experience in the field. Unlike in some online medical coding and billing degree programs, CCCC's instructors are available for career and employment consultation even after a student completes the degree.

This program features open enrollment, but students seeking a medical billing and coding degree online from CCCC must apply for admission. Students must complete a total of 65 credit hours to complete the degree and learners who can take a full-time course load can expect to finish over the length of four semesters. In the final semester, students must complete a coding practicum as well as a coding exam preparation course.

Cowley County and Kansas residents pay $267 and $297 per three hour course, respectively, while residents of other U.S. states and international students pay $438 and $579 for the same course hours. Prospective full-time students who hold Kansas residency may apply for a tuition scholarship. The school encourages learners who seek a bachelor’s degree to enroll at Southwestern College after earning their certificate at CCCC. While all 69 credits will transfer to Southwestern, students should plan on pursuing approximately 18 additional months of coursework to complete this medical billing and coding program online bachelor’s degree.


Program Overview
Department: Health and Human Services
Program name: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Coding
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $315/3-credit course in-state; $456/3-credit course out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Credit requirements: 65 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years (full-time)
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Department phone: (620) 442-0430
Admissions email: admissions@cowley.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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3 Northwest Technical College 59.75 41% Bemidji, MN

Northwest Technical College offers a medical billing and coding program online. The school's associate of applied science degree program includes a diverse range of instruction to prepare students to work in the medical field. Coursework at Northwest Tech include topics such as anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, U.S. healthcare systems and medical billing and insurance, as well as college-level courses in writing, bioethical issues, psychology, public speaking, and customer relations management. All online students at Northwest Tech study and analyze the U.S. healthcare system, coding procedures, and medical terminology. Student scores on the Accuplacer assessment determine if they must take "college readiness" courses, such as reading, writing, and math, to adequately prepare them for academic success in the program. Additionally, both online and on-campus students must complete an internship in order to graduate.

Northwest Tech partners with Distance Minnesota to provide a supported online learning experience for their students. Along with three other colleges and universities in the state, Northwest Tech enables online students to take advantage of online course planning, career counseling, and technology support through the Distance Minnesota website. Featuring an online support center, including live chats with qualified education coaches, this partnership helps improve the student's online experience.

Northwest Tech's accredited medical online and billing program requires 60 credits to graduate. Students that transfer from other colleges might be eligible for transfer credit, although this process is considered on a case-by-case basis. Tuition for full-time online students costs $197.01 per course credit for an approximate total of $11,820.60 per year (excluding books or fees). To help students pay for their tuition, Northwest Tech offers two types of scholarships for both first-year and returning students. Exclusively reserved for female students, the school administers a medical coding grant to help defer the cost of typical expenses incurred while being a student. Students interested in pursuing a bachelor’s of applied science after completing the medical coding program may transfer up to 60 credits into Mayville State’s online business administration program.


Program Overview
Department: Health Care
Program name: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Coding
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $197/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Credit requirements: 60 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years (full-time)
Program start dates: fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling

Contact
Department phone: (218) 333-6600
Admissions email: admissions@ntcmn.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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4 Northland Community and Technical College 57.75 49% Thief River Falls, MN

Mayville State’s offers an online medical billing and coding program. Distance learners seek this associate of applied science degree take most of their classes in a structured sequence that culminates with classes in cultural diversity, pathophysiology, interim ICD coding, and inpatient billing. To be admitted to this program, students must earn an Accuplacer assessment minimum score of 78 in reading comprehension and 50 in arithmetic. Students must complete all required courses with a grade of a "C" or higher in order to graduate.

The faculty and online courses alike are held to a high standard at Northland. The school’s "Quality Matters" (QM) program is a faculty-centered peer review process designed to uphold academic standards in the online learning community. Northland utilizes the Brightspace course management software, which allows instructors to create course websites for their online students. QM is in place to monitor the usage of this Brightspace platform among other types of quality control throughout the school's online medical billing and coding degree program.

Students need 60 credits to graduate from this online medical billing and coding program. Full-time students can expect to complete this program in two years. The cost of tuition is slightly higher for online students than on-campus students, $197 per credit hour. Including books and fees, online students can expect to pay approximately $3,431.75 a semester or about $13,727 in total. While it is possible for students to transfer credit from previous colleges and universities, Northland requires potential transfer courses to be no more than five years old. Most students at Northland Community and Technical College receive some form of financial aid. The first recommendation is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Secondly, students may apply for several grants and scholarships offered internally at Northland or by external organizations.


Program Overview
Program name: Associate of Applied Science - Medical Coding Specialist
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $197/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Credit requirements: 60 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years (full-time)
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling

Contact
Department phone: (800) 959-6282
Admissions email: enroll@northlandcollege.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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5 Central Maine Community College 55.00 41% Auburn, ME

Central Maine Community College offers career and technical education to over 3,000 students. In addition to its main campus in Auburn, CMCC offers courses across three other counties and online. The online medical billing and coding program at CMCC is both career-focused and academically driven. Graduates from CMCC demonstrate theoretical, technological, and interpersonal skills applicable in a variety of employment settings and for continuing their education. The school requires students to complete an externship for practical application of their new skills and hands-on experience.

As an accredited medical billing and coding certificate program, CMCC offers all required courses online. Using their web-based delivery system which students can access 24/7, the medical coding and electronic health records program can save students time and money as they pursue their education. This is not a self-paced program, however, and students must keep up with assignments and meet due dates. Furthermore, each semester starts and ends on established dates unlike many online programs. This provides a more structured pacing for students who wish to enroll in a program with more clearly defined parameters and timelines. Students enrolled in online learning at CMCC follow the same academic guidelines as those who take in-classroom courses.

Prerequisites for enrolling in this online medical billing and coding program include a high school diploma or GED, as well as minimum scores test scores: 480 or higher in math, reading, and writing on the SAT; 41 on Math Accuplacer and 42 on Algebra Accuplacer; 68 or higher on Reading Accuplacer; and 6 or higher on Writing Placer Accuplacer.

Students enrolled in CMCC's accredited online medical billing and coding program must complete 62 credits to graduate. Maine residents, New England RSP participants, and non-resident students can expect to pay $92, $138, and $184 per credit hour, respectively, excluding books and fees. Financial aid is available in the form of grants, waivers, loans, and work study programs, for which students can apply using CMCC’s financial aid site.


Program Overview
Program name: Associate of Applied Science - Medical Coding and Electronic Health Records
Accrediting body: CIHE - NEASC
Tuition: $92/credit in-state; $184/credit out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Credit requirements: 62-63 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: SAT or ACCUPLACER

Contact
Department phone: (207) 755-5273
Admissions email: enroll@cmcc.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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6 Highland Community College 52.75 66% Highland, KS

At Highland Community College, students pursue associate degrees, technical certificates, or health science programs on campus or online. HCC’s online medical billing and coding degree program offers an associate of applied science degree. In addition to programmatic classes, distance learners will take courses in the humanities, fine arts, and social and behavioral sciences for a well-rounded education. Highland’s website also offers a detailed review of each course in the school’s curriculum, complete with an online syllabus and schedule for every class. HCC requires students to complete a coding practicum before they graduate.

Students can complete the school's medical coding program in 64 credit hours. Online class tuition costs for both in-state and out-of-state students are $129 per credit hour, including fees. International tuition costs $315 per credit hour. Unlike many online medical billing and coding degree programs, HCC offers textbook rental at a cost of $16 per credit hour. HCC accepts transfer credits, which departmental chairpersons consider on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the course and a student’s schedule, learners take classes on eight week and 16-week groupings, which are coordinated via an HCC academic adviser. Placement test scores provide essential information for HCC administrators, allowing them to pair students with the best English, math, and reading courses for their needs. The school accepts ACT or SAT scores for placement purposes. Students who have not taken the ACT or SAT must take an Accuplacer assessment at HCC before enrolling in courses.

HCC offers financial assistance based on academic talents and need. To be considered for federal financial aid, students must fill out the FAFSA. The school also offers several scholarships for which incoming and continuing students may apply.


Program Overview
Program name: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Coding
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $78/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Credit requirements: 64 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years (full-time)
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Department phone: (785) 442-6000
Admissions email: admissions@highlandcc.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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7 Central Texas College 49.00 23% Killeen, TX

Central Texas College offers an associate of applied science degree in medical coding. Online students may take these courses entirely online or hybrid of both online and in-person in the classroom. As part of their course sequence, enrolled students complete a practicum in the field in which they learn the process of coding medical records in hospitals and physician offices. In addition to the AAS, graduates prepare to pursue a variety of medical certifications.

CTC instructors utilize the Blackboard Learning Management System to deliver online courses and establish contact between students, their instructors, and fellow students. Courses may have on-campus requirements for which online students must appear in-person. CTC limits this component to 15% of the instruction time per class. In-person requirements may include orientation, lab work, and exams. Alternatively, some online courses in this accredited online medical and billing program are self-paced, wherein students must meet loose deadlines for completing and submitting assignments, and will not have on-campus obligations.

Students must complete a total of 60 credit hours to graduate, which they can expect to complete over the course of two years (or four full-time semesters). Each semester, the curriculum is balanced with degree-specific and general education courses. The online medical billing and coding degree program at CTC also offers an on-campus “evenings and weekends” course selection, allowing for yet more student scheduling flexibility -- a particularly attractive aspect for students interested in taking a hybrid of both online and on-campus courses.

To help students defray the cost of their education, all online learners pay $225 per credit hour. The Central Texas Foundation provides approximately 200 students with financial awards each year. These scholarships are both merit- and need-based. Incoming and continuing students must apply for this assistance online via AcademicWorks.


Program Overview
Department: Office Technology
Program name: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Coding and Billing
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $235/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Credit requirements: 60 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years (full-time)
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling

Contact
Department phone: (800) 792-3348
Admissions email: Admissions@ctcd.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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8 Cosumnes River College 46.00 33% Sacramento, CA

Cosumnes River College offers an online medical billing and coding degree program wherein students can earn an associate of science degree (AOS) in health information technology. CRC also offers an accredited billing and coding certificate program online for coding specialists. Outside of mandatory directed practice courses, students can complete all AOS degree requirements online. The two directed practice courses are unpaid externships that allow students to gain hands-on lab experience at approved healthcare facilities under professional supervision. Students pursue a number of elective courses and independent/small group studies that they use to further develop a specialization in the health information technology field. The availability of certain electives depends on the availability of course offerings at the time of enrollment. To learn more about these courses and independent studies, see the current course catalog section labeled "Special Studies."

Students must earn a grade "C" or better in several core courses before receiving official acceptance into the program. Additionally, students in this online medical billing and coding program complete the requirements determined by the CRC Allied Health Practicum Guidelines. This "pre-enrollment" information can be found here or at the Careers and Technology Division Office.

Courses at CRC are not self-paced and require students to meet deadlines and engage in class participation online. This provides less flexibility for students but offers a more structured framework with clearer timeline expectations. Students should expect to spend approximately three hours a week in online discussions and learning about new assignments, plus an additional nine to 15 hours a week on homework. Learners must complete a total of 60 credit hours to earn this accredited online medical billing and coding program degree. Domestic and international students can expect to pay approximately $275 per credit hour, including enrollment fees. To help students fund their education, CRC offers a wide variety of financial assistance, including grants and scholarships.


Program Overview
Department: Careers & Technology
Program name: Associate of Science in Health Information Technology
Accrediting body: CAHIIM
Tuition: $46/credit in-state; $296/credit out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED; coursework in biology, medical language, & pharmacology
Credit requirements: 60 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years (full-time)
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling

Contact
Department phone: (916) 691-7411
Admissions email: admissions@crc.losrios.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Minnesota West Community and Technical College 80.68 59% Granite Falls, MN

The online medical and billing program at Minnesota West Community and Technical College is part of a slate of 40 different online programs that aim to provide the same quality and hands-on attention afforded by on-campus courses. The 34-credit program prepares students for employment in hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies as a medical billing specialist. The program is 34 credits and includes courses like advanced coding, pharmacology, and disease condition. Students should be familiar with word processing software, spreadsheets, and databases before enrolling, but if they don’t, program courses such as “Introduction to Microcomputers” will quickly get them up to speed.

Designated a “Military Friendly School,” particularly for mobile military students, it’s dedicated to making the online experience user friendly. For anyone considering an online education, the school offers the free, non-credit course “intro to online learning,” to help potential students try out the platform before enrolling in classes. Once enrolled, help is available to online students in multiple ways, including an “Ask a Question” forum, live chat, and email and phone assistance. For those students who prefer an on-campus experience, the school offers classes at five different campuses serving Southwest Minnesota, most of which are situated near national parks and historical towns.

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2 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College 65.45 56% Fennimore, WI

Located in Fennimore, Wisconsin, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is a smaller school that emphasizes the employability of its students. Interested students can take a campus tour that features career assessment activities and a cost of living exercise. Faculty members are all experts in their fields and have connections in the workforce. All courses, including online medical and billing programs, stress not only career-specific knowledge, but also general skills that are essential to getting hired, such as good communication and professionalism. The medical coding certification online program is no exception. It consists of 32 units completed over two semesters with standard courses in CPT coding and medical terminology as well as classes on interpersonal communication and healthcare law and ethics. The estimated total tuition cost is $4,520 with book prices for each quarter ranging between $590–$1,480. Graduated students will be eligible to take the national certification examination of the American Health Information Management Associate and will have employment opportunities in positions like outpatient coder, inpatient coder, and coding analyst.

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3 Minnesota State Community and Technical College 60.23 48% Fergus Falls, MN

Minnesota State Community and Technical College serves more than 8,000 students across four campuses in the West Central and Red River Valley areas of Minnesota. The school features an active campus life, including regular TED-style talks and community events, such as family movie night. For those looking for off-campus fun, outdoor activities are in abundance, particularly at the Detroit Lakes campus, situated in an area known for having 412 lakes within a 25-mile radius. The school encourages students to blend on-campus and online courses to suit their schedules and lifestyle. The Medical Coding and Insurance program offers medical coding classes online that prepare students to become billing specialists for medical services companies. Minnesota State’s program is 50 credit hours and includes courses like pathophysiology, medical terminology, and hospital billing. The cost is estimated at $197 per credit bringing the total tuition to $9,850 with around $3,000 worth of other costs like books and fees. Some students may need to take developmental courses pending their Accuplacer assessment. Those who complete the program are eligible to take several national coding exams for special certifications that can increase their earning potential, and with the school’s 92% average pass rate on licensure exams, students can be confident they will have the necessary knowledge to succeed.

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4 Moraine Park Technical College 56.14 35% Fond du Lac, WI

Among the many medical billing and coding schools online, Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin is one of the oldest. It has been educating students for more than 100 years and prides itself on the fact that over 90% of its graduates find jobs within six months of graduation. With many active military students, it was an early adopter of distance learning technologies and has been offering online classes for over two decades. The school offers associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates, and apprenticeship programs in a variety of fields, including healthcare. Its medical billing and coding online program can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis, and the units can be transferred toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health and Information Technology. Students can expect to pay around $130.35 per credit and over $500 for books. Moraine’s program is designed to be completed in one year. For students looking to advance their education even further, the school has transfer agreements with at least 40 colleges and universities, guaranteeing that students who meet minimum requirements can easily transition into a four-year degree program.

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5 Community Care College 55.91 65% Tulsa, OK

Students at the private, non-profit Community Care College enjoy a learning experience with all the modern amenities. The school’s 66,000 square-foot campus facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma includes a learning resource center, student lounge, fitness center, computer labs, and a reading room. The school’s career-oriented online programs are equally up-to-date. Students in the accredited online medical billing and coding program, which is offered as both a 44-week technical diploma or an 84-week degree program, can count on the latest revisions of the International Classifications of Diseases (IDC) being covered. Current topics in medical terminology and basic courses in anatomy are also included in the course list. The 44-week diploma will cost students around $15,693 for tuition and fees and the 84-week program around $29,466. When students are ready to hit the workforce, the school offers a unique service to help with resume building and personal branding.

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6 Northwest Technical College 55.91 41% Bemidji, MN

Northwest Technical College in Minnesota was founded in the 1960s and began with only two programs aimed at male students (carpentry and automotive mechanics). Today, the school has a much more diverse student population and offers 32 fields of study in seven distinct career paths. Students taking medical coding classes online can pursue three different program options: a certificate, diploma, or degree. All three choices are comprehensive programs that cover topics such as patient account management and diagnosis and procedural coding, among other core technical classes. Northwest’s program is 42 credit hours and will run students $206–$304 per college credit. The degree program includes a required internship that gives students hands-on, practical experience before entering the workforce. If a true college experience is what you are after, the college’s partnership with Bemidji State University provides on-campus students with all the amenities of a four-year college, including on-campus housing, health services, and dining and fitness facilities.

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7 Georgia Northwestern Technical College 53.64 19% Rome, GA

Georgia Northwestern Technical College is the largest college in Northwest Georgia and the fifth largest technical college in the entire state. It focuses on preparing its students for careers in technology, business, health, and public service. Beyond academics, it has a strong athletics program that includes basketball, cheerleading, golf, and volleyball. Students interested in medical billing and coding online courses can enroll in the Health Information Management Coding course. Unlike many programs, which consist only of core technical classes, the Health Information Management Coding curriculum requires 11 credits of general education courses in english, math, and basic psychology, or Interpersonal Relationships and Professional Development, creating a well-rounded career-focused education. It’s a 55 credit program which is going to cost students $5,731 in tuition and around $2,000 for books.

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8 Rochester Community and Technical College 53.18 48% Rochester, MN

As a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) System, Rochester Community and Technical College is an accredited online medical billing and coding school with a long history of success. It is the oldest public two-year college in Minnesota and strives to provide the same college experience for its students as a four-year university. Students enjoy leadership opportunities in the student government, student clubs, and are invited to participate in athletics, concerts, theater, and other events. Online learners are eligible for the same MnSCU scholarships as their on-campus counterparts, which is a nice benefit for people looking to enroll in medical coding programs online. Students who successfully complete Rochester’s 41-unit Coding Specialist program are eligible to take the AAPC national exam and earn the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential. Currently the program will cost students around $192 per credit.

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9 Dakota College at Bottineau 48.18 28% Bottineau, ND

Dakota College at Bottineau is a medical billing and coding online school that has been accredited since 1971. The school is located in North Dakota near the Turtle Mountain Forest, and students call themselves the Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks. The robust athletics program gives students the opportunity for plenty of school spirit with teams they can root for in football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey. The Medical Coding program at Dakota College is a one-year program that is only available online. To earn a diploma, students will need to complete 34 units of classes that include technical coding courses as well as studies in biology, pharmacology, and psychology. Tuition and fees will total around $4,000 for students with book costing upwards of $1,000. Similar to other program, after completing their degree, students will be able to take the Certified Medical Office Assistant exam.

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10 Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical 44.55 40% Winona, MN

Minnesota State College Southeast (MSC) values small class sizes. The average class size is fifteen students per instructor, allowing for quality one-on-one instruction in a diverse range of programs, from the unusual Band Instrument Repair to the ever popular Nursing and Accounting programs. The result is a high graduation rate and a 94% job placement rate over the last five years. Online students get equally attentive service. In addition to an instructor, each course has a program advisor to help guide students, making MSC an excellent choice for an online medical billing and coding school. The Medical Coding Specialist program requires the completion of three general education courses and fourteen core technical classes. Students can earn a diploma or take additional coursework to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. In total, it’s a 46 credit program designed to last around 16 months. Tuition and fees will cost $8,610 with books and supplies estimated to cost students around $1,533.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Columbus State Community College 70.71 88% Columbus, OH

This Ohio institution opened its doors in 1967 and recorded an initial enrollment of 67 total students. CSCC today serves more than 26,000 students seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees. Recognized for facilitating student success and closing achievement gaps through its Student Success Innovation Fund program, the school was named as one of the 19 2015 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges.

The school currently offers 18 associate degrees and 48 professional certificates for online students, including a medical coding certificate program. This track is part of CSCC's Health Information Management Technology (HIMT) division. The program is 22 credits in length, and can be completed in three semesters; coursework always begins during the summer semester. With the exception of a hybrid course in human anatomy that requires some on-campus sessions, all of the coursework in this program is delivered exclusively online. The curriculum covers a wide range of subjects, including anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology and components of healthcare documentation, as well as the ability to review, code, classify and index patient diagnoses for accounting and insurance purposes. Students must pass a background check and drug screening before they are admitted into CSCC's HIMT programs.

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2 University of Alaska Fairbanks 69.52 53% Fairbanks, AK

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) was founded in 1917, and is currently the only postsecondary institution in the state of Alaska that is classified as a 'tier one university' by U.S. News & World Report. In 2016, the school's freshman retention rate stood at 76% ― more than 12 percentage points higher than the national average for public higher learning institutions. UAF also boasts an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, and nearly two-thirds of all courses taught at the university have fewer than 20 students.

A certificate in healthcare reimbursement is available online through the UAF eLearning and Distance Education department. This 30-credit program includes introductory coursework in medical terminology and human diseases, medical coding, administrative procedures and outpatient reimbursement, as well as mathematics in healthcare and medical technology. Students learn how to analyze medical records, code and index diagnoses and perform other duties related to healthcare reimbursement. The curriculum also prepares them for important postdegree career steps, such as earning national certification through the national certification through the American Academy of Professional Coders exam and American Health Information Management Association coding exam. The healthcare reimbursement certificate online program can be completed after one year of full-time study.

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3 Drexel University 65.71 68% Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 1891, this private, nonprofit Philadelphia institution offered its first online degree program in 1996. Drexel has since become a leader in postsecondary distance education, and today offers more than 140 online degree and certificate programs. Nearly 5,200 online students from across the globe are currently enrolled at Drexel, representing more than one fifth of the total student body; the school's Digital Dragon page serves as an online hub where distance learners can interact and collaborate. The school earned a top 20 ranking in a 2016 survey of the country's most innovative national universities published by U.S. News & World Report.

An online medical billing and coding certificate program is available through Drexel's renowned School of Nursing and Health Professions. This fully online 18-credit program is organized into four 10-week quarters spanning one calendar year. Coursework will cover the four most common coding manuals currently used in healthcare professions: CPT; HCPC; ICD-9-CM; and ICD-10. Once students have completed the program, they will be prepared to sit for certification exams from the American Medical Billing Association, the AAPC and the American Health Information Management Association. Students who wish to continue with their education after earning their certificate may apply their coursework toward Drexel's Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Services Administration degree pathway.

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4 Lanier Technical College 60.24 28% Oakwood, GA

Lanier Technical College (LTC) seeks to provide communities and companies in northeast Georgia with the technical skills and education that will encourage economic and civic progress. LTC offers over 40 programs in-person and online to students in the Oakwood, Forsyth, Barrow, Dawson, and Jackson communities in Georgia. The online Medical Coding Specialist Certificate program trains students with some education or experience in a health profession to excel at ICD-9-CM and CPT/HCPCS medical coding. The program is completed in three semesters through instruction and participation in medical coding classes online, such as Medical Insurance, Human Diseases, and Document Production. Through its ties with local companies, LTC offers career planning and job placement services that help students find jobs after graduation almost 95% of the time.

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5 Alexandria Technical & Community College 59.52 67% Alexandria, MN

Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) offered three academic programs -- carpentry, farm mechanics and machine shop -- and served 21 students when its doors first opened in 1964. The school has grown to nearly 3,000 enrolled students since that time, and is today a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. ATCC's current academic selections include 12 associate degree and professional certificate programs delivered exclusively online.

The college's online medical coding specialist diploma program is 45 credits in length, and most students complete all course requirements within five semesters. The first year is dedicated to foundational knowledge and skills, with entry-level coursework in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, pathology and medical reception. The second year delves into ICD coding, CPT and other specialized areas of the profession, as well as medical law and ethics. The program culminates in a required two-credit internship, allowing students to receive supervised training from experienced professionals at real-world worksites; internships usually takes place during the summer semester. All other courses in the program are delivered fully online. This comprehensive curriculum will prepare students to earn additional credentials, such as the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) certification from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

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5 Montana State University-Billings 59.52 59% Billings, MT

Montana State University Billings (MSUB) was founded in 1927, and today comprises five degree-granting colleges. The university's leading provider of technical and vocational education is City College at MSUB, which is located less than 10 miles from the flagship campus. The college currently offers more than 30 degree and certificate programs, and enrolls roughly 1,400 full- and part-time students every year. Additionally, City College currently serves as the U.S. Department of Labor OSHA training provider for the entire state of Montana.

City College currently offers nine academic programs aimed at aspiring healthcare professionals, including a Certificate of Applied Science in Medical Coding and Insurance Billing that can be completed online. This one-year program spans 11 courses for a total of 31 credits. The curriculum includes foundational studies in medical terminology, diagnostic and medical coding, medical office administration and human biology, as well as business writing and mathematics. The program culminates in a capstone course, which allows students to create a comprehensive project demonstrating the knowledge and skills they have gained. The capstone courses also includes job-shadowing and national certification exam prep. Students who complete the program will be qualified to seek employment at hospitals, clinics, extended care centers and other healthcare facilities.

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7 Hutchinson Community College 58.93 59% Hutchinson, KS

Located in south-central Kansas, Hutchinson Community College was founded as a coed junior college in 1928 and recorded an initial enrollment of 187 students. The school has grown to roughly 6,100 students -- one-third of whom are over the age of 24 -- and degrees and certificates are currently offered in more than 120 academic fields of study. Hutchinson has also drawn widespread attention for hosting the National Junior College Athletic Association's Division I Men's Basketball Championship, also known as 'The Tournament', which brings together student athletes from across the country.

A total of 18 degree and certificate tracks are offered online at HCC, including multiple options for aspiring healthcare professionals. An online certificate for health coding specialists is available for distance learners at HCC. This program consists of 16 courses spanning a total of 45 credits, and is normally completed after three semesters of full-time study. Foundational courses in the first two semesters cover subjects like pharmacology, medical terminology, healthcare information technology and human anatomy. The curriculum also includes coursework in ICD-10-CM/PCS and CPT coding; a coding lab and health record coding practicum course are also required. Additionally, those seeking a two-year degree may choose an online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) pathway in health information management.

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8 Dakota State University 58.93 80% Madison, SD

Founded in 1881, Dakota State University (DSU) is headquartered in the town of Madison, South Dakota. The institution emphasizes the importance of technology in all academic and professional fields. Students are issued tablet devices for use in classrooms, and all degree programs include technology and/or computer science course components. DSU's distance learning programs are also extensive. Students from across the globe are welcome to enroll in the school's online courses and degree programs, which are led by faculty members that teach the same subjects in on-campus courses.

The online Health Care Coding Certificate program at DSU spans 35 to 36 credits in length. Although some foundational biology and computer science courses are required, most of the curriculum is rooted in the legal, logistical and technological aspects of medical billing, coding and health information management. The program also includes a coding internship course, which students must complete onsite at a hospital, clinic or other preapproved healthcare facility. Most students complete all certificate requirements within one academic year, and graduates are fully prepared to sit the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Certified Coding Associate exam. The certificate also serves as a useful stepping stone for students who plan to advance into DSU's Bachelor of Science in Health Information Administration degree program.

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9 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College 55.12 56% Fennimore, WI

Located in the town of Fennimore, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC) is a member of the 16-school Wisconsin Technical College System. More than 50 vocational degree and certificate programs are currently offered, and the school boasts a 95% employment rate within the first year of graduation. SWTC is also a popular destination for nontraditional students; according to U.S. News & World Report, 46% of the student body is 25 or older.

The college's medical coding specialist diploma program is available in a fully online format. This 32-credit pathway consists of 13 courses, and can be completed in just two semesters of full-time study. Initial courses introduce foundational topics like medical terminology, human anatomy and health data management. During the second semester, most courses delve into healthcare reimbursement, applied coding and other specialized areas of the field. Students who successfully complete the diploma program will be qualified to handle tasks related to ICD-9 CM, ICD-10 CM, ICD-10-PCS, and CPT coding systems. Graduates will also be eligible to sit for the national certification examination of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). They may also progress into the associate in health information technology degree track as part of SWTC's Career Pathways program.

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10 Weber State University 54.40 62% Ogden, UT

This institution headquartered in Ogden, Utah, has been recognized for positive student outcomes. In 2016, Washington Monthly awarded Weber State first-place ranking in its 'America's Best Colleges for Adult Learners' poll. According to the survey, the university's alumni earn an average annual salary of $50,867 after 10 years in the workforce -- the sixth-highest income among the nearly 1,200 schools considered for the ranking. Part-time students comprise more than half of Weber State's total student body, and nearly three-quarters are employed while attending courses.

Weber State's Dumke College of Health Professions offers an online healthcare coding certificate pathway. This 31-credit program consists of 10 courses, which most part-time students complete within four semesters. The first three terms are largely dedicated to foundational studies in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and medical terminology. During the final semester, students take courses in ambulatory and physician office coding, ICD-10-PCS coding and classification systems. A practicum course is also require, where students apply the knowledge and skills they have gained in a simulated healthcare setting. Students who successfully complete the program will be equipped to handle inpatient and outpatient tasks using the ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, and CPT coding systems. All prospective certificate candidates must complete a background check, drug screen and proof of immunizations before being admitted into the program.

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11 Charter Oak State College 54.29 0% New Britain, CT

Founded in 1973, this small Connecticut institution serves a population of fewer than 1,800 students. Charter Oak is a leading destination for students of all ages and backgrounds; according to data from the 2015-16 academic year, nearly two-thirds of all students are women and the median student age is 39 years. The college has also been recognized for its credit transferral system; under the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program, students can receive programmatic credit from previous employment, military training and other accomplishments. This flexible policy enables students to complete their programs at a lower cost and in less time.

Charter Oak's online medical coding certificate program consists of seven courses spanning 21 total credits. The curriculum includes foundational coursework in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology, as well as health information management, reimbursement procedures and two courses in medical billing and coding. The program also prepared students to obtain postdegree certifications through organizations like AHIMA and AAPC. Additionally, students who have earned a bachelor's degree may choose to pursue Charter Oak's online health information management certificate. The curriculum for this track includes medical billing and coding, along with other foundational HIM areas such as medical technology, healthcare law/ethics and health services leadership and management.

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12 Great Basin College 54.05 25% Elko, NV

Established in 1967, this accredited institution based in the city of Elko is a member of the Nevada System of Higher Education. GBC currently serves 3,800 students enrolled online from across the United States. The college's Academic Success Center offers free live tutoring for all students using Skype, as well as email-based tutoring services. More than 70 online degree and certificate programs are available to students at GBC, including several options for aspiring healthcare professionals.

The online certificate of achievement in professional medical coding and billing is a 34-credit program that features nine required courses. Foundational topics include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and healthcare administration. The curriculum also delves into diagnostic coding, reimbursement procedures and other specialized areas of the industry. Students receive training in the ICD-9 and CPT coding systems; their coursework includes a coding practicum, which allows them to apply skills and knowledge within a simulated environment. The program culminates in a comprehensive online exam; exam-takers will be given 48 hours to complete the test, although most complete all questions within seven or eight hours. GBC's professional medical coding and billing certificate program is designed for completion after two semesters of full-time study.

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13 Gogebic Community College 53.81 55% Ironwood, MI

Located on Mt. Zion in the town of Ironwood, Michigan, Gogebic Community College (GCC) is an accredited two-year public community college noted for its relatively low education costs. The tuition rates for in-district and out-of-district students both fall below $200 per credit hour, and most spend between $5,000 and $8,000 for each year of their education. GCC also boasts a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and more than 60% of the college's 1,099 students are female.

The college's medical coding and billing specialist online certificate program spans 40 credits in length, and is designed for completion after four semesters of part-time enrollment. Initial courses tackle anatomy and physiology, health information management, medical terminology and other foundational subjects. The latter semester will consist of coursework in ICD-10-CM/PCS and CPT coding, as well as ambulatory care coding. A 60-hour clinical internship at an acute-care facility will also be required; students must complete a background check, drug screen and physical examination in order to take part in their internship course. Students leave GCC prepared to work at hospitals, clinics, long-term care centers and other healthcare facilities, as well as insurance companies. Program graduates will also be qualified to sit for national certification exams.

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14 Barton County Community College 51.43 57% Great Bend, KS

Founded in 1965, this Kansas institution serves brick-and-mortar students from seven surrounding counties and online students from across the globe. Barton County Community College operates four campuses across the state of Kansas, including a Fort Riley training center that specializes in educating U.S. military personnel after they have completed their service. Online education at BCCC is highly affordable -- $150 per credit hour, on average -- and the school has become a popular destination for nontraditional students; more than 40% of the student body is 25 years of age or older.

The college's online medical coding certificate program emphasizes coding procedures for physician's offices, clinics and ambulatory care services. The curriculum features foundational courses in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, healthcare law and ethics, as well as a three-part medical coding sequence. Other requirements include an introduction to business English and two computer science courses. All courses are delivered exclusively online. The program culminates in a medical coding internship. Students who successfully complete this medical coding certificate pathway will be qualified to handle tasks using the ICD-9, CPT, and HCPCS coding systems. The coursework will also prepare them to sit for the AAPC national certification exam.

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15 Northwest Technical College 51.19 41% Bemidji, MN

Established in 1969, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College today serves more than 11,000 students. Roughly 60% of students at CSTCC are enrolled part-time, and nearly half are between the ages of 25 and 64. The college is also renowned for its racially diverse student population; more than 40% of current students belong to minority groups, with 30% identifying as African-American. CSTCC currently offers 20 online associate and certification programs, including multiple learning tracks for aspiring medical billing and coding professionals.

The Coding Specialist Certificate pathway spans 35 credits in length, and can be completed online after four semesters of part-time study. The curriculum for this program includes coursework in human anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and healthcare reimbursement procedure, as well as coding processes for the ICD-10 and CPT systems. Students seeking a two-year degree can pursue an online Associate of Applied Science in health information management technology; most students complete this 65-credit program within four or five semesters. Additional online associate programs are offered in healthcare informatics and healthcare programming and analysis. Both of these programs consist of 65 course credits, and are usually completed after four or five semesters of full-time study.

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16 Fisher College 49.52 76% Boston, MA

Founded in 1903 and located in Boston's historic Back Bay neighborhood, Fisher College is a private nonprofit institution originally created to educate and train the city's immigrant workers. Fisher remains highly diverse to this day; women comprise more than 70% of the student body, while international students represent 20%. The college has also been recognized for services for military servicemembers and veterans. Since 2011, G.I. Jobs has listed Fisher as one of the nation's top 'military-friendly schools'.

The college's healthcare-oriented options include an online medical coding certificate program that spans 13 courses and 37 credits in length. The program begins with foundational courses in English, computer science and healthcare technology. The curriculum also includes coursework in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and disease studies, as well as a four-course series in coding and classification systems. The program culminates in a capstone course, which allows students to develop a comprehensive project that highlights their strengths and areas of expertise. The program is designed for completion in less than two years of full-time study; 42% of students earn their degree within 18 months. Students who successfully earn their medical coding certificate from Fisher College will be qualified to work in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities that code patient diagnoses for reimbursement purposes.

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17 Ogeechee Technical College 47.86 29% Statesboro, GA

Ogeechee Technical College (OTC) is a public, two-year technical school located in Statesboro, Georgia. The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia has twice named OTC as Technical College of the Year since the award was first conferred in 2010. The school today serves a large number of nontraditional students; more than 60% of the student body are enrolled part-time, and 45% are between the ages of 25 and 64. Additionally, women make up nearly 70% of the current student population.

OTC offers two educational pathways for aspiring healthcare information specialists. The school's online medical coding certificate program is 24 credits in length, and features eight online medical coding courses. Most students complete this pathway within two semesters; graduates are fully prepared to sit for the CCA (Certified Coding Associate), CCS (Certified Coding Specialist), and CCS-P (Certified Coding Specialist, Physician-based) exams. Students seeking a two-year degree program may choose to pursue the Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology from OTC. This online degree program spans 64 credits in length. The curriculum includes foundational courses in medical coding, healthcare statistics, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and other related fields, as well as sociology, psychology, economics and other liberal arts fields. Most students earn their AAS in health information technology after six semesters.

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18 Sinclair Community College 45.71 45% Dayton, OH

Located in Dayton, Ohio, Sinclair Community College is considered one of the largest community colleges in the country; the current on-campus and online population exceeds 20,000 full- and part-time students. The college has also been recognized as a provider of degrees with a strong return-on-investment (ROI); the tuition rates at Sinclair are among the lowest in Ohio, and the average student who completes a degree program at the college will see his/her annual income rise 114% one year after graduation.

An online medical coding and billing specialist certificate pathway is available through Sinclair's Health Sciences division. The program consists of nine courses spanning 23 total credits. The curriculum includes foundational studies in healthcare delivery, diseases, human anatomy, physiology and medical terminology, as well as introductory and advanced billing practices. Students will learn how to handle tasks using the ICD-10-CM, CPT and HCPCS coding systems; these skills will equip them to work in a wide range of healthcare facilities, including physician's offices, outpatient centers and health insurance companies. All courses can be delivered fully online, and most students earn their certificate after two semesters. Those who successfully complete the program will be prepared to sit for the Certified Professional Coder-Apprentice (CPC-A) and Certified Coding Specialist-Physician (CCS-P) exams.

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19 Cowley County Community College 37.26 49% Arkansas City, KS

Founded as a junior college in 1922, Cowley County Community College (CCCC) today offers degrees and certificates in more than 80 different technical and vocational fields. The college has been recognized for its low tuition rates; according to U.S. News & World Report, out-of-state students pay $4,123 in annual tuition while in-district and in-state students pay less than $3,000 on a yearly basis. The school also serves a large number of nontraditional students; nearly half the student body is enrolled part-time, and more than one-third are between the ages of 25 and 64.

The online medical coding certificate program at Cowley College spans 11 courses for a total of 35 credits. Most students earn their certificate after two semesters. The first semester is largely dedicated to foundational studies in subjects like pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and healthcare law and ethics. The second semester consists of specialized courses in CPT and ICD-10 coding systems, bioethics and reimbursement methodology. Additionally, students must complete a practicum course in a virtual healthcare office. Those seeking a two-year degree may pursue an online Associate of Applied Science in Medical Coding degree through CCCC; this 65-credit track requires four semesters of full-time study, and culminates in a coding practicum course. Students who have completed the coding certificate program will be able to apply most of their course credits toward this associate degree.

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There are several factors that differentiate online medical billing and coding degree programs from one another. While there are many aspects that are standard in any program, choosing a program with the proper concentration and course offerings is crucial.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING DEGREE

Medical billing and coding professionals tend to specialize their studies around one specialized area of the healthcare field due to the variability of terminology across the many medical disciplines. The following are a few examples of common concentrations:

Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
Cancer registry coding This concentration specifically focuses on coding cancer cases. You would learn how to maintain detailed registries of these cases, review and record patient data, and assign classification codes. In some states, certification from the National Cancer Registrars Association may be required. Cancer registrar, registry coordinator, director of revenue cycle, data abstractor, clinical billing specialist
Cardiology coding Cardiology coding pertains to the treatment performed by cardiologists and requires an in-depth knowledge of cardiovascular medicine and terminology — including coronary interventions, pacemakers, and heart catheterization — as well as anatomy and physiology. Physician coder, medical biller/coder, hospital insurance specialist, hospital outpatient coder
Dermatology coding Similar to cardiology coding, you would learn about the terminology and practices specific to dermatology. Common terminologies include debridement, flaps, lesion excisions, and Mohs micrographic surgery. Plastic surgery and dermatology coder, patient coordinator, pro-fee coder, dermatology coding, billing, and insurance specialist

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING DEGREE

The healthcare industry offers many opportunities for students who have either an undergraduate degree or online certificate program in medical billing and coding. Each program will have its own unique curriculum, but they will all include some of the same foundational courses. The following are a few examples of common medical billing and coding courses:

  • Medical ethics: This course is arguably the most important, as any career in medical billing and coding involves the handling of sensitive health information data. Students learn how to accurately represent healthcare services and products, and how to maintain record confidentiality. This course emphasizes the importance of adhering to standards and regulations enforced by credential agencies, laws, and insurance providers.
  • Medical reception: This course teaches customer service skills that are needed when interacting with patients about their medical histories and financial matters. This course is especially useful for customer-facing roles, and prepares students for general reception desk tasks such as liaising with with referral services.
  • Pharmacology: This course is relevant for medical coders and covers how to classify prescription treatments, as well as the specialty codes and terminology involved.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING DEGREE?

How long it takes to complete accredited online medical billing and coding programs online depends on a variety of variables. Common factors include whether you’re earning a degree or a certification, which specialization you are pursuing, and whether you’re study full- or part-time. Another factor is whether your online program is offered synchronously or asynchronously. An asynchronous program allows students to complete coursework at their own pace, while synchronous programs progress at a steady rate just like in-person courses.

On average, students can earn an associate degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years. Certification programs can take as few as four months or as many as 15 months to complete, although they usually take less than a year.

Accreditation for online medical billing and coding degrees

Studying at an accredited institution is incredibly important. Academic accreditation demonstrates that an institution’s curriculum, faculty, governance, and academic resources have met a set of common standards. Attending an accredited institution qualifies you to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation is also important because it allows students to transfer credits to another university, or apply for a graduate program at a different school than where you earn your undergraduate degree.

There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is the more prestigious form, and many universities only accept transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions. Some schools earn accreditation from both national and regional agencies. Colleges and universities are accredited regionally by the Council of Higher Education Association (CHEA) or the Department of Education (DoEd). The CHEA and DoEd oversee accrediting agencies and ensure that they meet regulatory criteria and that they are qualified to determine the quality of schools and universities. To see a database of accredited institutions, visit the DoEd or CHEA websites.

Fortunately, many online medical coding and billing degree programs are accredited both regionally and at the programmatic level. Many programs have earned a field-specific accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Job Placement

The BLS projects strong job growth for employees in the healthcare industry, including medical billing and coding professionals. The Affordable Care Act is one of the primary reasons behind this trend; roughly 20 million previously uninsured Americans currently receive medical coverage under the ACA. The aging baby boomer population also ensures a continuous need for qualified healthcare administrators in the coming years.

The following table looks at 10-year projections for some of the most popular careers in healthcare administration.

Occupation Industry Projections (2014-24)
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians 16% (+29,000 jobs)
Medical and Health Services Managers 17% (+56,300 jobs)
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians 16% (+52,100 jobs)
Medical Assistants 23% (+138,900 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Unemployment rates are relatively low for medical billing and coding professionals, particularly those that earn certifications in their field. For example, a recent report by the American Academy of Professional Coders found that certified coders face an unemployment rate of 1.4%. By comparison, the national unemployment rate for all occupations currently sits at 4.9%.

Earning a Living

According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, individuals with an associate degree in medical billing and coding earn a median annual salary of $29,600 during their first five years on the job and $33,200 after a decade in the workforce. However, the earning potential for medical billing and coding professionals will largely depend on their academic background and certification levels. Featuring U.S. News & World Report data, the table below shows salary expectations for medical billing and coding professionals with different credential levels.

Occupational Title and Certification Median Annual Salary
Certified Professional Coder $48,000
Certified Professional Coder – Payer $55,000
Certified Professional Coder – Hospital Outpatient $56,000
Certified Professional Medical Auditor $59,000

Source: U.S. News & World Report

In addition to certification levels, salary expectations for medical billing and coding professionals also depend on an employee’s number of years in the workforce. The next table looks at 20-year salary growth rates for medical billing/coding specialists and other common career pathways in healthcare administration.

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 Billing/ Coding Specialist $32,987 $36,523 $41,729 $42,000
Registered Health Information Technician $35,325 $38,593 $40,968 $45,974
Health Informatics Specialist $58,963 $76,970 $73,697 $70,780
Health Information Manager $54,334 $73,336 $74,820 $80,183
Health Care Administrator $51,000 $67,000 $77,000 $75,000

Source: PayScale

All careers listed on the table experience 20-year salary growth at a rate of at least 20%. Health information managers recorded the highest growth: a 47.6% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Health care administrators placed a close second, with 47.1% salary growth after two decades in the workforce.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate with an associate degree, diploma, or certificate in medical billing and coding (or other fields related to health information management) will be qualified for dozens of entry-level positions; those who also obtain certification may further expand their job opportunities. Four common careers related to medical billing and coding are outlined below.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: These professionals oversee patient data at their place of employment, ensuring all records are accurate, up-to-date and easily retrievable. Many of today’s medical records and health information personnel are trained to work in paper-based and electronic medical record systems. Maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality is also essential to the occupation.

Medical Transcriptionists: Also known as healthcare documentation specialists, these personnel transcribe voice recordings of physicians, nurses and other health workers into thorough, accurate written descriptions. These transcriptions are then used for diagnoses, test results and other data found in patient records.

Medical and Health Services Managers: Also referred to as healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, these professionals oversee the patient care services at hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. Their jobs include management of areas like recruitment and hiring, billing, coding and budget planning.

Bill and Account Collectors: These professionals assist individuals and organizations who have overdue bills. According to the BLS, 14% of bill and account collectors work in ‘healthcare and social assistance’. They often work with clients to develop short- or long-term payment plans, and may also offer credit advice and debt counseling when necessary.

Occupation Median Annual Salary
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians $37,110
Medical Transcriptionists $34,890
Medical and Health Services Managers $94,500
Bill and Account Collectors $34,440

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to medical billing and coding 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 billing and coding professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA): A national program that connects health informatics professionals and students, AMIA offers individual and professional memberships. The organization holds yearly conferences and provides fellowship opportunities, as well as online courses and webinars covering different topics related to medical informatics.
  • 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.
  • Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS): An international organization with a branch in North America, HIMSS works to provide training and professional development for members. The HIMSS website features a vast online resource library, links to professional development opportunities and an events calendar.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
Diploma Programs
1 Alexandria Technical & Community College Alexandria, MN
2 Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI
3 Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN
4 Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
5 Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical Winona, MN
6 Minnesota State Commnunity and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN
7 Dakota College at Bottineau Bottineau, ND
8 Indian Hills Community College Ottumwa, IA
9 Rochester Community and Technical College Rochester, MN
Certificate Programs
1 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
2 Renton Technical College Renton, WA
3 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Fennimore, WA
4 Weber State University Ogden, UT
5 Dakota State University Madison, SD
6 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
7 Lake Land College Mattoon, IL
8 Presentation College Aberdeen, SD
9 University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK
10 Montana State University - Billings Billings, MT
11 Great Basin College Elko, NV
12 Barton County Community College Great Bend, KS
13 Hutchinson Community College Hutchinson, KS
14 Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA
15 Northland Community and Technical College Thief River Falls, MN
16 Collin College McKinney, TX
17 Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome, GA
18 West Goergia Technical College Waco, GA
19 Darton State College Albany, GA
20 Kirkland Community College Roscommon, MI
21 Columbus State Community College Columbus, OH
Associate Programs
1 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
2 Northwest Technical College Bemidji, MN
3 Cosumnes River College Sacramento, CA
4 Cowley County Community College Arkansas City, KS
5 Central Maine Community College Auburn, ME