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 in medical billing and coding program and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

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

Online medical billing and coding associate degree 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 WITH MY MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING ASSOCIATE DEGREE?

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 ASSOCIATE 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. 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 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.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1

Drexel University

 5/567.36%Philadelphia, PA

campus-Drexel-University

The Program

The Medical Billing and Coding Certificate program at Drexel University can be taken completely online. The curriculum prepares students to take three different credentialing exams: Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS), Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Coding Specialist (CCS). The entire program can be completed within a single year, once students fulfil the six required courses. Currently, this program is only offered on a part-time basis. Special tuition assistance is available for applicants who are already employed by certain health care partners. Drexel University is not authorized to provide online courses to residents of Maryland.

The Platform

This college uses the Blackboard Learn course management system to facilitate online course access, lectures, multimedia sharing, forum discussions and chat sessions between distance learners and instructors. Online students can access several support teams during their learning experience at Drexel, including an accounts office, the Korman Center Help Desk and online instructional support. In addition to Blackboard, Drexel relies on a number of auxiliary services to facilitate online learning, such as Collaborate, Camtasia, Kaltura, Qualtrics and Respondus.

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2

Renton Technical College

 1/562.67%Renton, WA

campus_renton_technical_college

The Program

Students can earn a Medical Coding Specialist (Physician Based) certificate completely online from Renton Technical College. This program has three start points through the year, allowing prospective coding professionals to enroll during the fall, winter or spring. This certificate will familiarize students with the ICD 9, HCPCS and CPT coding standards. To graduate with this certificate, students are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and earn a total of 104 credits.

The Platform

Students enrolled in online courses have access to a number of remote student services, such as tax credit assistance, a degree audit, bookstore resources and admissions assistance. RTC uses the Canvas learning management system to provide distance learners with access to online classrooms. Topics that will be covered in this program's online courses include disease pathology, excel and health information management systems. Admitted students are encouraged to take the Canvas Orientation session to become familiar with the distance learning process.

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3

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

 1/553.09%Fennimore, WI

campus_southwest_wisconsin_technical_college

The Program

The Medical Coding Specialist technical certificate provided by Southwest Tech allows students to prepare for the credentialing exam hosted by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). All of the classes are held completely online, covering coding standards such as ICD 9, CPT and CM. To apply, prospective students must submit their high school transcripts or GED, along with Compass or ACT scores. To graduate, students must maintain a C grade average for the duration of the program.

The Platform

Southwest Tech uses the Blackboard learning management system, which allows students to connect with classmates and instructors through course wikis, shared files, discussion boards, web conferences and chat sessions. It is recommended that students dedicate about 10 hours a week to each course. New students are expected to complete a distance learning orientation to become familiar with the Blackboard layout and operations.

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4

Weber State University

 1/534.73%Ogden, UT

campus_weber_state_university

The Program

WSU's Institutional Certificate in Health Care Coding and Classification can be earned entirely online. Students will gain experience with the ICD 9 and CPT coding standards through this 21 credit hour program. Applicants must submit their high school transcripts or GED, ACT or SAT scores and a completed admissions form. Prospective students have three opportunities throughout the year to enroll, with application deadlines on August 1, December 1 and April 15. Enrolled students must complete two prerequisite courses in medical terminology and biomedical care. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to take the Certified Coding Association (CCA) credentialing examination.

The Platform

Distance learners will become familiar with eWeber, the centralized portal for online student resources, account management and IT support. WSU uses the Canvas learning management system to provide students and instructors with virtual classrooms comprised of discussion boards, shared multimedia files, exams, calendars and assignments. Some lectures and assignments can also be downloaded from iTunes U. Required online course topics include diagnosis coding, pathophysiology and pharmacology.

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5

Dakota State University

 2/540.7%Madison, SD

campus_dakota_state_university

The Program

The certificate program in Health Care Coding at DSU can be completed entirely online. Residents of Nevada, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Washington D.C. are not eligible to enroll in this certificate program. Students will gain exposure to coding systems such as CPT, ICD-9 and several third-party protocols. Upon completion of this program, graduates will be qualified to take the Certified Coding Associate exam. After gaining additional work experience, graduates may also take the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) or Certified Coding Specialist ― Physician based (CCS-P) exams.

The Platform

DSU uses the Desire2Learn course management system to provide students with access to a virtual classroom environment. Coursework is delivered as shared classroom files. Instructors and students discuss assignments, readings and lectures through online message boards and email. The student services available for distance learners include a digital bookstore, library services, tutoring and academic advising.

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6

University of Alaska Fairbanks

 1/532.24%Fairbanks, AK

The Program

Prospective distance learners can earn a certificate in Healthcare Reimbursement entirely online through the University of Alaska. Students will become familiar with the ICD-10 and CPT-4 coding standards during this 31 credit hour program. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED or qualify for admission. Enrolled students must pass a prerequisite course in English before graduation.

The Platform

The Blackboard learning management system is used to connect distance learners with a virtual academic environment that supports classroom wikis, uploaded assignments, discussion forums and chat sessions. Some of the student services available to online students include career services and admission advising. CTP Coding, Medical Terminology and Data Quality and Reimbursement are just some of the online courses students will take during this certificate program.

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7

Lake Land College

 2/534.46%Mattoon, IL

The Program

The Medical Coding Specialist program provided by Lake Land College allows students to earn a professional certificate completely online. Coding standards such as CPT, HCPCS and ICD-9 are covered extensively during this two-year program. Graduates will be prepared to take several credentialing exams offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To apply, prospective students must pass a placement examination and submit an intent to enroll form. Before graduation, students have a choice between completing a capstone internship or taking additional coding certification prep.

The Platform

This academic institution uses the Canvas learning management system to provide students with access to online course assignments, quizzes, collaborative tools and live web conferences. Canvas is also available for iOS and Android platforms, making it easy for distance learners to access coursework from mobile devices. The Canvas Training Demo Courses allow prospective students to test-drive the online learning format.

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8

Presentation College

 3/541.33%Aberdeen, SD

The Program

The Medical Coding certificate program at Presentation College is offered exclusively online through the PC Virtual distance learning program. The program consists of 35 credit hours, which can be obtained within a total of 13 months. Students will become familiar with the CPT, ICD-9 and HCPCS coding methodologies during this program. The admission requirements for Presentation College include a minimum high school GPA of 2.0 or a minimum GED score of 450. Prospective students must also meet standardized test requirements, such as a minimum score of 18 on the ACT or a minimum of 860 on the SAT.

The Platform

The PC Virtual courses are delivered through the Moodle learning management system, an open source platform that supports group chats, classroom wikis, assignment submission, discussion boards, quizzes and shared file access. To assist new distance learners, PC has put together virtual student guides to assist with basic computing needs.

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9

University of Alaska Anchorage

 2/525.04%Anchorage, AK

The Program

The Healthcare Reimbursement certification program at UAA can be completed entirely online. To apply, prospective students must have a GED or high school diploma and submit placement test scores. Program participants will gain exposure to the ICD-10 and CPT-4 coding systems. After gaining at least three years in the medical coding field, program graduates will be qualified to take two national credentialing exams: the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Physician Based Certified Coding Specialist (CCS-P).

The Platform

The University of Alaska's distance learning programs are instructed via the Blackboard learning management system. The office of Student and Enrollment Services provides applicants and new students with remote career advising and financial aid support.

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10

Montana State University – Billings

 2/523.84%Billings, MT

The Program

MSUB's Certificate of Applied Science in Medical Coding and Billing can be earned completely online or on-campus. According to the suggested plan of study, this program can be finished within two semesters. The admissions requirements include official high school transcripts or GED scores, COMPASS placement exam scores and immunization forms.

The Platform

This institution uses the Desire2Learn course management system to provide students with access to educational multimedia, discussion boards, assignments, surveys, grades, academic email and quizzes. The majority of online classes at MSUB are asynchronous, allowing students to sign on at any time to complete coursework. However, some instructors may assign synchronous, live discussions that will be outlined in class schedules. Some of the online course topics include pathophysiology, procedural coding and medical terminology.

Quick Facts

  • Waterman, Wilson, Mcrae Scholarships available in the amount of $1,000 for outstanding graduate students
  • Graduate teaching and research assistantships available
  • Students with less than a 3.0 undergraduate GPA may qualify for conditional admission
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11

Great Basin College

 1/524.04%Elko, NV

The Program

Great Basin College, in partnership with the Career Step vocational program, offers a Certificate of Achievement in Professional Coding and Billing that can be earned entirely online. This program is designed to be completed within 8 months or two semesters. Students will prepare for several national credentialing tests, including the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Coding Assistant (CCA) and Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exams. To meet the certificate graduation requirements, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0, meet computer skill requirements and complete prerequisites in human relations, mathematics and English.

The Platform

GBC's WebCampus is powered by the Canvas and Career Step learning management systems. This environment can be accessed from computers and mobile devices, and it features dedicated virtual classroom web pages, shared educational documents, assignments and discussion forums. The Career Step curriculum focuses on the ICD-9 coding system, since federal legislation has delayed the use of ICD-10 until late 2015.

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12

Barton County Community College

 1/527.96%Great Bend, KS

The Program

The Medical Coding certificate program can be earned almost entirely online from BCCC, with the exception of the capstone internship. Enrolled students will gain exposure to coding systems such as ICD-9, HCPCS and CPT. This 44 credit hour program can be completed within 15 months. Applicants must submit high school transcripts, ACT or ASSET scores and a completed admissions form to be considered for this program. After graduation, students will be qualified to take the Certified Professional Coder examination.

The Platform

This community college is part of the eduKan consortium of six colleges that pool online learning resources and materials for students. The BARTonline classes are powered by Pearson's eCollege learning management system. Students will use Barton's proprietary Cougar academic email system to communicate with professors and manage their accounts. Some prospective course topics include medical terminology, business English and basic pharmacology.

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13

Hutchinson Community College

 1/527.16%Hutchinson, KS

The Program

The Healthcare Coding Specialist certification program provided by the Allied Health department can be earned completely online. This 45-credit program can be finished within three semesters of full-time study. To meet the application requirements, prospective students must have a GED or high school diploma.

The Platform

Hutchinson Community College uses the ANGEL learning management system to provide students with access to a virtual classroom environment that includes discussion boards, online exams, shared classroom documents and scheduled assignment deadlines. Some online course topic examples for this certificate program include pharmacology, computers in healthcare and reimbursement methodologies.

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14

Shoreline Community College

 1/529.96%Shoreline, WA

The Program

The Virtual College at SCC offers a certificate for future Medical Coding and Reimbursement Specialists that can be completed 100% online. Students will gain familiarity with ICD-9, ICD-10, PCS and CPT coding standards. Additionally, students will be prepared to take several national credentialing exams after graduation to earn the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Coding Associate (CCA) designations. This program can be completed within 15 months. Before graduation, students must complete prerequisite courses in math, composition and human biology. Program applicants are expected to have a typing speed of 30 words per minute prior to enrollment.

The Platform

This community college uses several learning management tools to deliver course content online, including Blackboard Collaborate, Canvas and Tegrity. Blackboard is used for live web conferencing audio sessions for scheduled class meetings. Canvas gives students mobile and computer access to a virtual classroom environment, which includes chat sessions, discussion boards and shared course materials. Tegrity is used to record campus-based lectures for later viewing on computers and mobile devices. Distance learners have access to a wide range of remote student services, such as tutoring, live librarian assistance and advising.

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15

Northland Community and Technical College

 2/535.01%Thief River Falls, MN

The Program

Northland offers a Medical Coding Specialist certificate that can be completed 100% online. Students pursuing this certificate may be eligible to receive tuition funding through the Northland Community and Technical College Foundation scholarship program. This 25-credit program can be completed within two semesters, or one full year of study. To apply, prospective students must submit copies of a GED or high school transcripts, immunization forms and a $20 application fee along with a complete admissions form. Upon graduation, students will be eligible to take a national credentialing exam for medical coding. This certificate program covers CTP, PCS and ICD-10 coding systems.

The Platform

This college uses the Desire2Learn course management system, a virtual classroom that consists of course notifications, discussion boards, chat rooms, quizzes, surveys and an assignment drop box. Students are expected to have a webcam for online conferences. Some of the online courses students can expect to take in this certificate program include: Medical Terminology, Advanced Medical Transcription and Electronic Health Records.

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16

Collin College

 1/510.95%McKinney, TX

The Program

The College of Continuing Education at Collin College offers a hybrid format Medical Coding and Medical Billing certificate, with courses provided on-campus and online. Students must also complete an externship program at a health care agency before graduation. These externships are competitive, and students are not guaranteed placement. After completing this six-course certificate program, students will be qualified to take the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam to earn a nationally-recognized professional credential.

The Platform

This institution uses the Ed2Go system to manage student accounts, tuition payments, class enrollment and new student orientation. However, courses in medical coding and billing are provided by Gatlin Education, a virtual professional training system. Some course topics in the Medical Coding and Billing certificate series include Pathophysiology, Health Career Success and Electronic Health Records.

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17

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

 1/520.6%Rome, GA

The Program

The Medical Coding certificate program offered by GNTC's Business department can be completed 100% online or on campus at the Walker County or Floyd County locations. Unlike many of the colleges described on this list, applicants do not need a GED or high school diploma to enter this certificate program. Students can earn the certificate after completing the 24 required credit hours.

The Platform

Prospective distance learners are encouraged to take the SmarterMeasure assessment exam to gauge preparedness for online studies. This school relies on the ANGEL learning management system to deliver course materials, assignments, quizzes and discussion environments to online students. Some courses use Pearson's MyMathLabsPlus and MyITLab to provide students with specialized learning materials. Some of the courses students can anticipate taking in this certificate program include Document Production, Medical Procedure Coding and MedTerm.

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18

West Georgia Technical College

 1/515.3%Waco, GA

The Program

The Medical Billing Clerk certificate can be earned completely online at WGTC. Classes taken at this academic institution are valid for up to seven years. To apply, students must submit one of the following test scores: SAT, COMPASS, ASSET or ACT. Applicants must also have a GED or high school diploma to enter this program.

The Platform

The ANGEL learning management system is used to connect students and faculty through discussion boards and classroom web pages. Assignment submissions are facilitated through Drop Box. New students can attend a virtual college orientation before classes begin. During this 22-credit hour program, students will take courses in document production and Allied Health medical terminology. It is important to note that Mac computers are not supported by the ANGEL system or this college's tech support services.

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19

Darton State College

 1/513.83%Albany, GA

The Program

Darton's Medical Coding certificate can be earned 100% online within two years. After the completion of this program, students will be prepared to take the Certified Coding Assistant exam for a professional credential. To apply, students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 and a high school diploma or GED. The minimum standardized test scores for admission to this program are 870 on the SAT or 19 on the ACT. Prerequisite courses include Medical Terminology, Fundamentals of Computer Applications and Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Health Care Professional.

The Platform

This academic institution uses the Desire2Learn course management system to provide students with access to course announcements, quizzes, surveys, assignments, blogs, calendars, chat sessions, discussion boards and classroom goals. In addition to Desire2Learn, this college uses the Wimba and Respondus system to facilitate live web conferences and examinations. Darton notes that a high speed Internet connection is particularly important, since students will be attending Virtual Lab sessions provided by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

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20

Kirtland Community College

 1/517.48%Roscommon, MI

The Program

Kirtland CC's FlexNet program allows students to earn a Medical Billing and Coding certificate online on a self-paced schedule. This is a noteworthy format, since many of the other academic institutions on this list use an asynchronous schedule with assignments due weekly. The self-paced program is designed to be completed within a single year. The FlexNet program is offered in partnership with several other institutions, including Davenport University, Franklin University, Ferris State University and Northwood University.

The Platform

This college relies on the Canvas learning management system so that students can access classroom notifications, conversations, assignments, course files, grades, quizzes, group projects and discussion boards. Canvas also has its own apps designed for Android and iOS platforms, which allow students to access online classes from mobile devices. Students enrolled in this certificate program will take online courses such as CPT Coding, Health Information Management and Intro to Computers.

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21

Columbus State Community College

 1/510.86%Columbus, OH

The Program

The majority of this coding certificate program can be undertaken online or in a hybrid learning format; some of the laboratory and clinical courses require on-site meetings. Students will gain familiarity with coding systems such as CPT, ICD-9 and third party reimbursement protocols. This college also offers several other related online certificate programs for Health Information Management Technicians and Health Data Analysts. Prospective students must have a GED or high school diploma and complete prerequisite courses in computer fundamentals and concepts. Additionally, applicants must meet placement requirements for composition and statistics courses. This certificate program can be completed within three semesters. This institution is not authorized to admit distance learners who reside in Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon or Wyoming.

The Platform

CSCC uses the Blackboard course management system to provide students with access to a virtual learning environment. Students can take an online orientation to learn more about Blackboard's classroom pages and how to access announcements, podcasts, lectures, assignments and tests. Instructors and students use forum threads and email to discuss content in further detail. Some of the topics coding students will encounter online are human anatomy, medical terminology and pharmacology.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1

Alexandria Technical & Community College

 2/558.27%Alexandria, MN

campus_alexandria_technical_community_college

The Program

This Medical Coding Specialist diploma program can be completed within five semesters, including a summer internship. Students have the option to complete their coursework entirely online. This program has a $200 scholarship that students might be able to qualify for if they maintain a 3.0 GPA. Students enrolled in this program will gain exposure to ICD, CPT and HCPCS coding standards.

The Platform

Like Northwest Technical College, this college is also part of Distance Minnesota, the consortium of other state colleges providing classes online. Colleges participating in this program use the Distance2Learn course management system to deliver lectures, course files and forum discussions to distance learners. Students enrolled in this program gain access to online advocates who can assist with the distance learning transition.

Quick Facts

  • ATCC maintains a partnership with Distance Minnesota, a directory of sorts for online programs and courses conducted at Minnesota schools.
  • For prospective students, the site features an online education quiz prospective students can take to determine if the online interface is the right fit.
  • ATCC also has a toll-free number (1-800-234-1222 ext. 4601) prospective students can call with all questions and concerns about the online experience.
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2

Moraine Park Technical College

 1/534.21%Fond du Lac, WI

campus_moraine_park_technical_college

The Program

Through the FLEx program at Moraine Park, the Medical Coding Specialist Technical Diploma can be earned within a single year and exclusively online. Once students complete this program, they will be qualified to take the Clinical Coding Associate (CCA) and Clinical Coding Specialist (CCS) examinations for professional credentials. Before graduation, students must complete an Applied Coding exit assessment.

The Platform

Moraine Park Technical College uses the Pearson eCollege system, which allows students to check their technology compatibility, create an academic email account, get technical support and attend a virtual student orientation. Online classes can range from 4 to 16 weeks, so it's important to check the course duration on your class schedule. The FLEx diploma programs begin once every eight weeks, providing prospective students with ample opportunity to enroll throughout the year.

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3

Minnesota West Community and Technical College

 2/549.68%Granite Falls, MN

campus_minnesota_west_community_and_technical_college

The Program

The Medical Coding Specialist diploma offered by MWCTC can be earned fully online. The entire program takes approximately one year to complete on a full-time schedule. Some of the recommended prerequisites include word processing knowhow and experience using databases.

The Platform

This institution uses the Desire2Learn course management system, providing students with the ability to access web conferences, shared multimedia files, assignments, quizzes and discussion boards. Students who need technical assistance can access a support knowledge base and live chat support. Distance learners can also attend an online new student orientation, which covers admissions, advising, eStudent services, class registration, textbooks and student policies at this college.

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4

Northcentral Technical College

 1/526.1%Wausau, WI

The Program

Future coding professionals can earn a Medical Coding Specialist diploma by earning a total of 44 credits completely online through Northcentral Technical's distance learning program. Prospective students must complete prerequisite courses in english, math and computers before they can graduate with this diploma. Students can apply to the program at any time during the year, thanks to this college's open enrollment policy. To qualify, prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED.

The Platform

The learning management system used at this college is Desire2Learn, a web app that provides students and faculty with access to an academic email account and enrolled courses. Virtual classrooms are comprised of calendars, class materials, quizzes, chat sessions and forum discussions. These courses can range in length, between 18 weeks to a full semester. Students are encouraged to take an online self-assessment before they begin the program to see what a self-directed learning environment is like.

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4

Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical

 2/530.31%Winona, MN

The Program

The Medical Coding Specialist diploma can be earned fully online. Students must earn a total of 44 credits to graduate, with 37 of these credits fulfilling the technical requirements. Enrolled students must also complete general education courses in computers, mathematics and english. The admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED, a $20 application payment, Accuplacer Placement Exam results and a completed application form.

The Platform

Distance learners attending Southeast Tech sign onto the Desire2Learn learning management system to access course materials, educational multimedia, quizzes and forum discussions. Online courses are held on an asynchronous schedule, allowing students to sign on at any time of the day to access course materials. This institution provides several digital student services for distance learners, including course evaluations, IT support and advising. Some topic samples covered by the online courses include medical insurance, coding and pharmacology.

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6

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

 2/533.08%Fergus Falls, MN

The Program

This college provides students with an opportunity to earn a Medical Coding and Insurance diploma exclusively online through its eCampus. To graduate, students will earn a total of 50 credits, which include program-specific courses, electives and general education. Students will learn how to process a variety of claim and plan types, including Medicaid, Tricare, Medicare and workers compensation.

The Platform

The SpartanNet online gateway provides students with access to all of their online academic services, including email, grades, transcripts, class schedules and billing. Students can access their online classes through the Desire2Learn course management system. Minnesota State also provides 24/7 digital tutoring opportunities through the Smarthinking and Eduwizards platforms. Some of the course topics students might encounter in this diploma program include outpatient coding, medical billing, insurance and outpatient coding. Online courses are provided on an asynchronous schedule, providing students with the flexibility to sign onto classes at any time of the day.

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7

Dakota College at Bottineau

 1/523.81%Bottineau, ND

The Program

Prospective Dakota College students can earn a medical coding diploma fully online. The required courses can be completed within a year, with each course lasting approximately eight weeks. It is important for prospective students to check the authorization status of their home state, since Dakota College is unable to provide online courses to people residing in 14 states. To be considered for admission, applicants submit their SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts and immunization records.

The Platform

This academic institution is part of the North Dakota University System Online (NDUSO), a network of 11 colleges that have pooled their distance learning resources. Dakota College uses the Moodle learning management system, which supports discussion forums, chat sessions and educational multimedia. Distance learners also have access to remote student services, including an online bookstore, a business office for tuition management, tutoring and disability support. Some of the course topics students will explore in the program include human structure and function, business communications and computer applications in healthcare.

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8

Indian Hills Community College

 1/524.44%Ottumwa, IA

The Program

IHCC offers a diploma program in Medical/Insurance Coding that can be completed 100% online. This program begins every fall semester, and the diploma can be earned within a single year. To qualify for admission, prospective students must submit copies of high school transcripts, ACT or COMPASS scores and pass a background check. In lieu of transcripts, applicants may also submit scores from a high school equivalency diploma.

The Platform

Students use the Blackboard learning management system to access their Indian Hills Community College courses, syllabi, exams, assignments, grades and discussion boards. The MyHills distance learning system includes support services, such as an IT Help Desk, an online orientation, academic advising, computer tutorials and library services. Medical/Insurance coding students will take some of the following courses online: health records laboratory, virtual lab exploration and pharmaceutical applications.

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9

Rochester Community and Technical College

 2/519.89%Rochester, MN

The Program

RCTC offers a Coding Specialist diploma program that can be taken completely online. To apply, prospective students must have at minimum typing speed of 35 words per minute, pass a background check and submit a completed application form. New students must take the Accuplacer placement exam before enrolling in courses; this test is used to determine your prerequisite course schedule. Students enrolled in the Coding Specialist program will gain experience with ICD and CPT coding systems while preparing for coding credentialing examinations.

The Platform

This college uses the Desire2Learn course management system, which gives distance learners access to online courses, group discussion boards, a digital whiteboard, chat sessions, lecture note files, grades, class schedules and important announcements. Before courses start, new students are required to take an online tutorial on the Desire2Learn system. Future students have the option to test drive the online learning environment.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1

Davenport University

 3/539.57%Grand Rapids, MI

campus_davenport_university

The Program

The Associate in Applied Sciences in Health Information Technology (AAS HIT) can be completed either online or at the Livonia campus location. After students complete this undergraduate degree program, they will be qualified to take the Registered Health Information Technician examination to gain a nationally recognized credential from the American Health Information Management Association. The recommended program sequence for this AAS degree spans four years of study, with students taking 16 credits each semester.

The Platform

DU relies on the Blackboard learning management system to deliver course files to students. Blackboard supports a wide range of multimedia communications, including web conferences, chat sessions, discussion boards and classroom wikis. It is recommended that students dedicate 12 to 15 hours each week to each online class. Some class topics that AAS HIT students might encounter online include diversity in society and health record content.

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2

Northwest Technical College

 2/535.58%Bemidji, MN

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The Program

The Associate in Applied Sciences in Medical Coding at NTC can be can be completed online, with the exception of hands-on experiences like the ADMM 2285 Internship class. To complete this undergraduate program, students must earn a total of 60 credits. Prior to enrollment, prospective students are expected to take an Accuplacer assessment exam to determine whether they need to take additional math or composition courses. In addition to a completed application form, future students must also submit high school transcripts or a GED.

The Platform

This academic institution collaborates with Distance Minnesota, a multi-college consortium that pools resources to provide students with a broad range of online courses and distance learning preparation. The learning management system used to deliver coursework is Desire2Learn, which gives students access to classroom discussion boards, assignment files, digital exams and surveys. Some online course topics for medical coding majors include: medical terminology, pharmacology and pathophysiology.

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3

Cosumnes River College

 1/526.37%Sacramento, CA

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The Program

Prospective students can earn an AS in Health Information Technology by taking online courses. However, CRC explains that "on-campus final exams, or off-campus-proctored final exams could become a requirement in the future." Additionally, students must complete an unpaid internship at an approved healthcare institution. Before enrollment, students need to complete drug screening, a background check and a physical exam. Students must also pass health information and biology prerequisite courses before graduation.

The Platform

This college leverages the Desire2Learn course management system to give students access to syllabi, shared files, discussion boards, quizzes and chat rooms. Students are given a Gmail account administered by the college for academic correspondences. Students who need distance learning assistance can contact the help desk five days a week. Some example topics of online courses include continuous quality improvement, introduction to electronic spreadsheets and human disease.

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4

Cowley County Community College

 1/532.76%Arkansas City, KS

The Program

Future coding professionals can earn an AAS in Medical Coding completely online, with the exception of the Healthcare Coding Practicum. Students can graduate from this program in 18 months. This program encompasses multiple coding standards, including ICD 9, ICD 10, HCPCS and CPT. The Allied Health Center at CCCC offers a limited number of Health and Human Services Department Scholarships for students who enroll in this program. This college uses an open enrollment schedule, so prospective students can apply at any time.

The Platform

This two-year college uses the Blackboard learning management system to connect students with course materials, such as syllabi, handouts, assignments, quizzes, web conferences, multimedia content and discussion forums. Before students begin their classes, they must attend a mandatory Blackboard Orientation session online. Students also have access to a number of student services, including a 24/7 helpdesk, tutoring, financial aid and disability services.

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5

Central Maine Community College

 1/523.41%Auburn, ME

The Program

The Associate in Applied Science for Medical Coding and Electronic Health Records can be earned online, with the exception of the practicum externship. This program can be completed within two years and applied toward a future bachelor's degree. To be considered for admission, prospective students must first have a high school diploma or GED. Students who enroll in this AAS program will become familiar with ICD and CPT coding standards.

The Platform

This institution uses the e-Racer course management system, which supports audio and video lectures, chat sessions, discussion boards and multimedia content. CMCC reminds students that this is not a self-paced program; students are expected to turn in assignments and complete readings by set deadlines. Before enrollment, prospective students must first discuss the academic policies with a college advisor. Some potential course topics in this undergraduate program include business communications, medical terminology and psychology in the workplace.

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Timeline
18 months to 2 years
Program Costs
$6,000 to $20,000 in annual tuition
Related Areas of Study
Healthcare Administration, Health Information Management, Health Informatics, Medical Assistant, Medical Technology, Data Management, Information Security
Accreditation
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.

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 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.