Online Medical Assistant Degree

More online colleges offer medical assistant degrees as need for primary care rises. Medical assistants are a type of health care helper.  They typically use a mix of data entry and patient care skills to support doctors and patients. If you like to multi task, a medical assistant degree may  prep you for a field with a bright outlook.

An online medical assistant degree program typically studies the skills needed to help a medical office or practice run well. To do this, many programs may blend online coursework with labs and an externship. When looking into medical assisting there may be online programs at all levels. Most common are associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

At each level, you may learn methods to work with patients and their data. From office procedures like medical billing and coding. To routine patient exam prep and first aid. Associate degree programs generally tend to prep grads to look for an entry level medical assistant job. In many cases, the course work may serve as a study map for MA certification exams too. 

Bachelor’s degree programs are typically practical. They may help you grow a wide range of specific health care skills. Some of the popular majors include health care admin, health sciences, nursing and informatics. Master’s degree programs are more likely professional. Some may prep for entry into a career like physician assistant (PA). And others, may help you step into a leader role in a healthcare career.

If a degree program is not your goal at this time, there may be two options. A diploma program or a medical assistant certificate program. Both may be available at community or technical colleges. These programs may take about one year. While not degree programs, they may provide the medical assistant training you seek. 

Medical Assistant Associate Degree 

An online associate degree in medical assistant is typically a 2-year degree. It may entail about 65 credits spread into coursework, labs and a practicum.

Many online colleges award an Associate of Applied Science. Instead, they aim to prep grads to seek entry level medical assisting jobs. In the first part of the program, you are likely to take practical courses. These may discuss the health care industry and things that go along with it. Like ethics, patient privacy, billing and coding for medical records. 

Another set of courses could be more hands on. These may help you understand the clinical duties MAs have in physician’s offices. Such as getting the exam room ready and taking patient vital signs. Along with these courses, you may grow professional skills. These typically are more about how to communicate and interact with patients, coworkers, insurance companies etc.  

To apply into AAS programs, you typically need a high school diploma or GED. Some schools may look at your GPA and there may be an admission test. Tuition, like admission policy varies. Per the 2018-19 NCES data, the average total cost of attending a public community college is $9,400.

Medical Assistant Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree usually takes four years, entail 120 credits and may include a final project and internship. Many online colleges award a Bachelor of Science (BS) in health science. The Medical Assistant major is not a typical one at this level. That said, a BS in Health Science may prep you to pursue a range of health care professions. From clinical informatics to patient advocacy.

Coursework in health science often studies health as well as illness, and disease prevention. To this end, classes may explore biostatistics, health and human growth, and leadership.

To apply you are likely to need a high school diploma, its home school equal or GED (and may be transcripts). Some online schools may also assess your GPA, SAT or ACT scores. You may or may not need references, an essay and a phone interview. If curious about cost, the average tuition at a public college in 2018 to 2019 was $14,600 per year. It is typically more expensive for private nonprofit schools ($41,100) and for-profit schools ($22,700). Financial aid may be available to those who qualify.

Physicians Assistant Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is a professional graduate degree. There are many majors, including Physician Assistant (PA). A MS – PA program is the least education one needs to go after an entry level PA job. If this is your goal, you may want to prep for it as an undergrad. Some schools may offer a joint BS / MS which may take about 28 months if you study full time. 

PA courses typically focus on diagnostics, clinical lab science and the human body. You may study its systems as well as health, illness, disease and drug treatments. At the same time, you may go through medical rotations. These are in place to grow your clinical skills. They tend to cover different specialty areas of the medical profession. Like oncology, pediatrics, women’s health and emergency medicine. It is likely these involve in person practice at health care facility.

To apply, you should check each school since admissions policies vary. It may be common for applicants to send in transcripts, resume, grades, and a goals statement. Some schools may only accept grads of accredited programs and who are certified. Tuition is another variable. The average cost, if at public college from 2018-2019, was $11,617.

Medical Assistant Certification

Certification is not always a must. Some of the certs to know about are:

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists
  • National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from the National Center for Competency Testing
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from the NHA

What could I pursue with an Online Medical Assistant Degree?

An online medical assistant degree may be an entry point to a range of careers. To be able to see more patients, doctor’s offices are likely to hire support staff. In particular, they may turn to medical assistants for help with both clinical and administrative duties. For these entry level roles, one tends to need an associate degree. But there could be other types of health care professionals with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

1. MEDICAL ASSISTANTS

Medical assistants may be the first person you see before your doctor comes into the exam room. Here, they may take your blood pressure, height and weight. Then record this data into a software system.

2. ADMINISTRATIVE MEDICAL ASSISTANT

Administrative MAs typically do the medical office tasks. Things like filling out insurance forms, billing and coding. They often answer the phone and schedule patient appointments too.

3. CLINICAL MEDICAL ASSISTANT

Clinical MAs are likely to have more to do with patient care. It may, for e.g., be their job to prepare blood samples for lab tests. Or, their duty may be to sterilize the exam room tools and dispose of contaminated supplies.

4. DENTAL ASSISTANT

Dental assistants work with dentists. They are typically the ones who prep patients, sterilize tools, and talk about oral care with you. If state rules allow the dental assistant may polish teeth and apply fluoride. Depending on the setting, one may need on the job training. Or, graduate from a dental assistant program.

5. PHLEBOTOMIST

Phlebotomists typically draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations. As per the BLS, you must graduate from a phlebotomy program to enter this field. 

6. PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT

Physician assistants tend to practice medicine as part of a team and work in all areas of medicine. No matter the niche (e.g. primary care), PA’s may  diagnose, treat and prescribe meds. Because the role is complex, one typically needs at least a master’s degree. 

7. MEDICAL & HEALTH SERVICES MANAGER

Medical and health services managers typically work in the admin side of health care. So, they may oversee people, projects, workflow and budgets. Some of the settings they find jobs in could be doctor’s offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, clinical dept’s. Depending on the setting, employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

8. HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNICIAN

Health information techs typically do medical record coding and billing. This role tends to take an associate degree in medical coding or informatics. These programs teach about health care IT and how the United States health care system uses it for profit and patient care. 

9. REGISTERED NURSE

RNs may work in direct patient care and must graduate from an accredited nursing program. According to the BLS, the role is a far reaching one that includes taking down specifics about medical history. As valuable members of health care teams they may also perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results.

Is Pursing an Online Degree in Medical Assistant worth it?

 Jobs in health care (both support and clinical ones) are growing much faster than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 19% growth outlook through 2029. To stand out, having a certification may help. And knowing how to use electronic health records (EHRs) may be helpful.

Let’s say you want more duties, skills, knowledge and income. Once a graduate, you might also have a clearer picture of next steps based on your experience. In that case, you might need extra education and you have to weigh those costs. 

Those who prefer admin might pursue a career in management. The BLS predicts 32% growth through 2029 for these jobs. If you enjoyed patient care, you might seek other career paths. One of the fastest growing careers today is Physician Assistant. As PAs may perform many similar duties of primary care physicians, this is likely to continue. The estimate is 31% growth to 2029 for this sector. 

Registered nurses may also see increased growth as more people need care. This is especially so for those with chronic conditions. Like arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity. Through the next years, the forecast is bright with 7% growth predicted to 2029.  Salaries for all these careers vary a lot. Medical Assistants earned a median annual salary of $34,800 in May 2019. Many  worked in medical facilities such as outpatient care centers, hospitals, Physician’s offices and for chiropractors.

Online Medical Assistant Degree Jobs & Salary

Occupation Average Salary Jobs
Medical Assistants $34,800 154,900
Dental Assistant $40,080 38,700
Phlebotomist $35,510 29,500
Physician Assistant $112,260 37,000

Top States for Jobs as a Medical Assistant

State Jobs Annual Mean Wage
CA 96,850 $40,120
TX 65,170 $32,550
FL 57,410 $33,920
PA 29,280 $33,490
NY 27,730 $38,590

What classes could I take with an Online Medical Assistant Degree?

Medical assistant courses have a few goals. To prep grads with the basics of patient care, lab practices and medical office tasks. When you study these areas, you may also learn about the health care system and industry. That usually brings in areas like gov’t policy, medical insurance and patient privacy.

Many of the more administrative tasks may deal with how to record patient histories and process billing info. You  may also study the software used to schedule patients and manage electronic health records. The laboratory practices typically aim to grow hands on skills. Things like taking vital signs and temperature. Through them you may learn to give injections, sterilize tools and the like.

When you go for a medical assistant degree online you may study these topics and more. But each level could present material in a different way. Below are some of the classes you may find at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.

Associate Degree Classes

Associate’s degree classes cover theory, general ed, clinical and admin skills and an externship. The general ed topics may cover allied health, English, ethics, and medical terminology. These college classes may help you learn to write in a clear way. At the same time, helping you understand the language of health care.

A series of anatomy and physiology classes could be mainstays too. These help you learn about the human body and its systems. They may also set the context for later labs and skill sets. The health care industry relies on privacy rules and ones that govern insurance claims. So, you may also take classes that explain electronic health records, claims, billing and reimbursement. 

The following classes may also be part of your program:

Pharmacology

This course tends to discuss medications. It may cover the classes of drugs plus how to calculate dosages. While learning these things, you might come to understand the therapeutic and adverse effects of the drugs many medical offices use.  

Medical Coding

The course may begin with an overview of coding concepts, terms, and procedures. In particular, you may study code diagnoses using ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. Side topics explain general coding guidelines. Such as the ones used for inpatient and outpatient procedures and physician office coding including HCPCS I,II.

Clinical Procedure Labs

This class covers the wide array of clinical tasks that medical assistants perform. Things like taking patients’ blood pressure, pulse, temperature and respiratory rate. Along with these, you tend to learn how to find veins, inject medication, draw blood and more. 

Externship

This is usually the final course of your Medical Assistant program. You might need to complete 160 unpaid hours in a real setting. Along with the hours which you record, you might have to keep a journal to describe your experiences.  

Bachelor’s Degree Courses

BS in health sciences classes are practical. You might take general education classes, core topics and a capstone. Core topics may likely look at the United States health care system. Its ideas, policies, systems and tools. How they come to be, and how they impact decisions in the health care industry.

Many  programs do this by taking you through some business focused courses. These may frame pricing, profit, market supply and demand as well as risk issues. Another aspect is quality mgmt. This area relates to metrics and workflow. So, you might learn how to measure patient wait times, reduce waste and cut costs.  

The following classes may also be part of your program:

Health Care Finance

This class typically looks at the numbers side of health care. To do this, you may study accounting and financial mgmt. These classes may help you understand key ideas and principles. Like investing and financing.

Health Care Systems

This class typically aims to teach students about the health services found in the U.S. Their nature, structure and function. Side topics are likely to explore health care costs, access, gov’t policy. It may include many hot button topics like end of life decisions, reproductive tech and services for the elderly and indigent.

Health Care Reimbursement

In this class you typically study the ways a health care org secures payment for services. You are likely to look at managed care, Medicaid, Medicare, gov’t policy and more. At the end of the class you might know how to use research tools to make mgmt. decisions.

Health Care Quality Management

The goal of this course is to introduce you to the mgmt of operations. Then also study how health care org can improve processes, delivery, and outcomes. To understand these ideas, you may study patient wait times, productivity, tracking and other metrics. 

How long does it take to earn a Medical Assistant Degree online?

It may take about two years to earn an associate degree in medical assistant online. If starting with a bachelor’s degree, these programs tend to take four years. Master’s degree programs take about two years after that. You may find more accelerated full time programs. As well as ones that stretch your degree over a part time format.  

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
Herzing University Associate 60 3 24
Liberty University Associate 60 6 18
San Joaquin Valley Community College Associate 60 4 15
Bellevue College Bachelor’s 127 4 24
Purdue University Global Bachelor’s 180 quarter credits 4 24
Southern New Hampshire University Bachelor’s 120 6 24
Touro College Master’s 30 3 12
Yale University Master’s N/A 1 28
Stony Brook University Master’s 30 1 15

What Accreditation is There for a Medical Assistant Program?

With many online programs out there, it may be wise to check program accreditation. Graduating from an accredited program may be a rule for practice in some states. And, could be a mandatory rule to qualify for industry certs.

There are two agencies who approve online medical assistant programs.

  • CAAHEP – Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
  • ABHES – Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

They do differ in scope. But both set norms that approved schools follow to map out their curriculum.

15 Schools with Online Medical Assistant Degrees

Many online schools offer medical assistant degrees. To help you find them, here are 15 schools with online degrees in medical assistant at all levels.

  1. Herzing University
  2. Liberty University
  3. San Joaquin Valley Community College
  4. American National University
  5. Davenport University
  6. Grand Canyon University
  7. Bellevue College
  8. Purdue University Global
  9. Southern New Hampshire University
  10. Capella University
  11. Touro College
  12. Yale University
  13. Stony Brook University
  14. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  15. University of North Dakota

FIND A MEDICAL ASSISTANT ONLINE PROGRAM

Let’s take a closer look at the online medical assistant degrees that these 15 schools have to offer.

1

Herzing University

Associate of Science in Medical Assisting

Fully Online


This program entails 60 credits. Many of these are gen ed and a health science elective. But the bulk balance is typically core courses and labs with an internship. In the  first courses, you are likely to study medical terms, billing, coding and how to work with EHRs and insurance claims. Medical assisting courses may stack theory with practice. In them, you could learn about vital signs, first aid, injections and patient exam prep. Sample courses might include:

  • Patient Privacy
  • Medical Assisting with Lab
  • Pathophysiology

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,200
Grad $10,800

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,512

Average Net Price:
$23,908 


This program entails 60 credits. Through it, you may grow the skills to manage patient data and office ops. So, it typically has less to do with the clinical side. And more to do with office systems, medical billing and bookkeeping. You may also study these areas through a Christian lens. Sample courses might include:

  • Compliance
  • Medical Terminology
  • Health Science Concepts

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $22,747
Grad $7,980

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,550

Average Net Price:
$28,181 

3

San Joaquin Valley Community College

Associate of Science in Clinical Medical Assisting

Online / Campus


This program entails about 60 credits and may take as few as 15 months. The goal of the classes is to typically prep grads to apply for jobs in medical offices and clinics in CA. As a result, you may learn the ins and outs of drawing blood. And, at the same time, you may study the tasks related to keeping patient records up to date. Sample courses might include:

  • Drawing Blood
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Patient Exam Prep

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $18,176 
Grad N/A

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$4,499

Average Net Price:
$25,516 

4

American National University

Associate of Applied Science in Administrative Medical Assisting

Fully Online


This program typically entails 96 credits. While the school may offer a clinical variation, it is only available in person. This one is typically online and may cover health care admin to help you gain admin skills. Some of the things you are likely to study are health care law, ethics, billing and coding. While studying these topics, the program  may also touch on teamwork and communication. Sample courses might include:

  • Pathology and Body Systems
  • Health Care admin
  • Operational Office Functions

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,208  
Grad $7,296 

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$23,545 

Average Net Price:
$25,516


This program typically entails 61 credits and a 180 hour practicum. It usually focuses on the three key areas of medical assisting. Patient care, lab practices and medical office protocols. While studying, the program may nurture the growth of interpersonal skills. Sample courses might include:

  • Intro to Health Careers
  • Medical Terminology
  • Client Patient Care

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $19,338
Grad $14,958

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$19,338

Average Net Price:
$16,061

6

Grand Canyon University

Bachelor of Science in Health Science

Fully Online


This program entails 120 credits. It typically focuses on four areas of content and study. Patient care, leadership & mgmt., risk mgmt. and ethics as well as trends and issues. The school is likely to teach from a Christian worldview and highlights the need to understand a patient’s unique needs. You may also have several open electives to choose based on your interests. Sample courses might include:

  • Effective Communication
  • Applied Statistics for Health Care
  • Health Care Systems

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $17,800
Grad $10,175

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,322 

Average Net Price:
$21,332

7

Bellevue College

Bachelor of Science in Health Science

Fully Online


This program typically entails 127 credits. One of the goals is to teach you analyze health, illness, injury, and disease prevention. This may often apply to lifespan issues that people face as well as ones communities deal with. To do this, you typically learn about the human body, behavior and aging process. There are also topics that cover medical ethics and leadership. Sample courses might include:

  • Nutrition for Healthy Living
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Health Communication

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $9,246
Grad N/A

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,650

Average Net Price:
$8,828

8

Purdue University Global

Bachelor of Science in Health Science

Fully Online


This program entails 180 quarter credits. It typically studies the changing face of health care through courses and an internship. To do this, you may explore themes like disease control and population health. Along with them, there may be  admin topics and a set of classes about health, healing and wellness. The school also offers a Medical Assistant Certificate or BS / MS path. Sample courses might include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Practices in Public Health
  • Environmental Health

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,358
Grad $9,768

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,289 

Average Net Price:
N/A

9

Southern New Hampshire University

Bachelor of Science in Health Science

Fully Online


This program entails 120 credits. It is likely for someone who has an associate degree in medical assistant and ones like it. The courses are typically practical and aim to grow skills useful to health care delivery. As a result, you may study finance, strategy and performance metrics. A final capstone typically asks you to work on a project in your clinical niche. Sample courses might include:

  • Health Care Economics
  • Ethical & Legal
  • Health Care Delivery Systems

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $31,136
Grad $18,810

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$3,913

Average Net Price:
$39,743 

10

Capella University

Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration

Fully Online


This program entails 180 quarter credits. The courses typically aim to show you how to affect health care outcomes. As a result, it tends to look at areas through the lens of leadership and planning. You may also study patient safety, health care finance, ethics and wellness promotion. Sample courses might include:

  • Managing Population Health
  • Health Care Budgeting
  • Reimbursement Systems

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,540
Grad $14,767

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$3,781

Average Net Price:
$17,368


This program entails 30 credits and is approximately one year. It is typically for eligible students with a BS in physician assistant degree and a NCCPA cert. The course material are usually available online in a guided format. First courses may cover topics such as epidemiology and health sciences. Woven throughout are master’s projects in which you must conduct research. Sample courses might include:

  • Health Care Delivery Systems
  • Evidence Based Medicine
  • Medical Ethics

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $20,550
Grad $12,240 

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,995

Average Net Price:
$24,916

12


This program typically aims to develop one’s ability to diagnose and treat disease and illness. It is patient centered and may also take an organ system approach. This is a method that looks at each medical concept through the study on one biological system at a time. It could also weave into  the system you studied through later classes. Apart from coursework, you may complete clinical rotations in the focus area of the profession. Sample courses might include:

  • Human Anatomy I, II, III
  • Basic Science I, II, III
  • Patient Assessment I, II, III

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $55,500 
Grad $43,300

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$54,176 

Average Net Price:
$18,073 

13

Stony Brook University

Master of Science in Physician Assistant

Hybrid


This post professional program entails 30 credits and is typically for certified PAs only. A goal of the course is to generally enhance clinical reasoning. At the same time, it aims to grow skills in admin, mgmt., education and research. While there may be  core courses, you could also choose electives to personalize your studies. Some of the choices are in palliative care, nutrition, aging, and marketing in health care. Sample courses might include:

  • Research Writing for Health Care
  • Clinical Prevention
  • Evidence Based Medicine

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $27,845
Grad $23,100

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,615

Average Net Price:
$15,605

14

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Master in Physician Assistant Bridge Program

Fully Online


This program entails 16 credits of required classes. And, is typically for the graduated Physician Assistant to enhance their undergraduate PA degree to the Master’s degree. Three classes are clinical courses with the same goal. To update and boost existing clinical skills and knowledge of the primary care PA. The fourth is a research experience. Sample courses might include:

  • Bridge Clinical Track I, II, II
  • Research Experience

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $18,260
Grad $13,555

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,866 

Average Net Price:
$4,654

15

University of North Dakota

Master in Physician Assistant Studies

Hybrid


This program entails 90 credits. It is typically for practicing health care pros and students alike. The course plan may aim to draw from clinical areas, diagnostics and professional issues. So, while you may study the human body and patient care, you could also learn about ethics and cultural sensitivity. Many of these classes are virtual, and rotations may be at UND partner sites. Sample courses might include:

  • Diagnostic Studies
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Pharmacology

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $15,895
Grad $18,434

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,506

Average Net Price:
$15,654

*Unemployment Earnings.  Sources for school stats and data include the NCES and IPEDS.