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Online Associate degree in Medical Assisting

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Medical and dental assistants are often the first and last persons people see while visiting their physicians. They serve to bridge the gap between the medical and administrative sides of the practice. This means they need to know how to carry out administrative tasks like maintaining electronic health records as well as perform clinical duties like taking a patient's blood pressure, collecting blood samples or taking x-rays. Types of medical or dental assistant jobs can range from clerical, or clinical, administrative medical or dental assisting. Those who would like to advance in their career can specialize in an area of their interest, such as dental or pediatric medical assistants.

As with other industries, technology is changing the role of medical and dental assistants with the introduction of electronic health records, telehealth options, software that can help diagnose and help in disease control, as well as the increasing use of mobile devices to track wellness. According to Coyne College, big data analytics will play a part in medical assistant roles with data analytics skills being used to provide more efficient and personalized healthcare.

An online medical and dental assisting degree program can help you gain the administrative, clinical and technical skills you need to work in this evolving field. Medical and dental assisting online programs may suit recent high school graduates and working professionals who cannot attend on-campus courses due to work, family or other commitments.

Online Associate Degree Programs in Medical and Dental Assisting

Prerequisites:

High school diploma or GED

Typical Duration:

Two years of full-time study

No. of online colleges offering this program:

50

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See Methodology
Ranking Seal
Our ranking of the best online colleges for medical and dental assisting take into consideration factors that would be important to prospective online students. We've sifted data from the Integrated Postsecondary Data Systems (IPEDS) and the Bureau of Labor Statstics (BLS), both federal databases, to provide our ranking of featured online colleges for an associate degree in medical and dental assisting.

Be sure to take a look at our methodology for details on the factors we've considered. You'll be happy to know that many of these factors are likely to be as important to you in your search for the best online associate degree in medical and dental assisting.

1
Daymar College-Clarksville, Clarksville, TN-
Admission Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
49%
No. of Online Programs
11
Tuition Fees
$15,000
Program Offered:
Online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Medical Assisting — Administrative. The program aims to prepare students with knowledge of medical terminology and office procedures required for a successful career

Flexibility:
  • Fully online program
  • It may include a combination of asynchronous and synchronous activities in an e-learning environment
  • Full-time students may be able to complete the online program in 18 months
Quality Factors:
  • Daymar College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
Credit Hours:
  • 92 quarter credit hours
  • Transfer credit may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions in courses where the student has acquired a grade of C or better
Differentiators:
  • The program aims to prepare students for the National Certified Medical Office Assistant (NCMOA) examination. This is a national certification exam available through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), an independent certification organization
  • The online program includes a capstone course, but no internship is required
  • Students may earn transfer credit from previously attended accredited institutions. Credit may also be awarded through military training and experience, and prior learning experience
  • Online tutoring and academic support services are available
  • Access to college internship seminar programs, interviewing tips, and other career preparation services
Type of Institute:

Private, for-profit

Scholarships Offered:
  • Scholarships such as the Commonwealth Scholarship, Presidential Scholarship, Learn and Earn Scholarship and Advantage Scholarship may be available to eligible students. Please visit the school website for more details.
2
Dakota College at Bottineau, Bottineau, ND-
Admission Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
No. of Online Programs
23
Tuition Fees
$3,607
Program Offered:
Medical Assistant (Online Associate of Applied Science); Medical Administrative Assistant (Online Associate of Applied Science).

The medical assistant program aims to give a practical experience to students in a combination of clinical and administrative duties. The medical administrative program aims to prepare students to take on a wide variety of tasks through a mixture of general, medical and administrative or management courses.

Flexibility:
  • The medical assistant program is fully online
  • The medical administrative assistant is a hybrid program and can be completed in as little as two years
  • Online classes are offered every semester -- fall, spring and summer
  • Courses are offered in 16-week or 8-week terms
Quality Factors:
  • Dakota College at Bottineau is a SARA-approved institution
  • It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
Credit Hours:
  • A minimum of 62 credits
  • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions
Differentiators:
  • Medical Assistant (Online Associate of Applied Science)
    • It may include courses such as business mathematics, human relations, clinical specialties and principles of nutrition
    • Students may choose a course in wellness as an elective
    • A 180-hour cooperative education experience at an approved medical facility is included to give students hands-on experience
    • Students who complete the program may be eligible to appear for the registered medical assistant examination through American Medical Technologists (AMT)

  • Medical Administrative Assistant (Online Associate of Applied Science)
    • It may include courses in subjects such as medical terminology, principles of management, basic diagnosis coding and office management
    • Students who complete the program may be eligible to appear for the certified medical office assistant (CMOA) examination through American Medical Technologists (AMT)
    • A maximum of 30 credits can be awarded for prior learning through standardized assessment, professional training and certifications, military training, and an experiential learning portfolio
    • Online students may have access various library resources such as books, journals and databases
Type of Institute:

Public

Scholarships Offered:

For those who qualify, the college offers New Students Scholarships and Returning Students Scholarships. Please visit the college website for more details.

3
Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD-
Admission Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
No. of Online Programs
16
Tuition Fees
$2,736
Program Offered:
E-degree in Dental Assisting

This part-time dental assisting program helps the students in becoming the dentist's "extra hands". As a dental assistant, you may work closely with patients to provide the best and latest in dental care.

The medical assistant program aims to give a practical experience to students in a combination of clinical and administrative duties. The medical administrative program aims to prepare students to take on a wide variety of tasks through a mixture of general, medical and administrative or management courses.

Flexibility:
  • The dental assistant program is part-time
  • The medical administrative assistant is a hybrid program and can be completed in as little as two years
  • Online classes are offered every semester -- fall, spring and summer
  • An exit point is intended for those students who do not pursue the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. These students will receive a certified dental assistant diploma
Quality Factors:
  • Lake Area Technical Institute is a SARA-approved institution
  • It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
Credit Hours:
  • A minimum of 69.5 credits
  • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions
Differentiators:
  • Students typically receive written notification indicating whether or not this program or course meets requirements for licensure in the state in which the student resides
  • The website provides a brief survey for prospective students to weigh pros and cons of online learning. The survey covers topics related to online learning such as study habits, learning preferences, self-directness, technology skills, and computer equipment capabilities
  • Access to online library catalog and guides
  • Access to online tutoring at any time through online tutoring service
  • Career services on offer are job interview preparation and assistance with resume development
Type of Institute:

Public

Scholarships Offered:
  • Eligible students may apply for scholarships such as the Foundation Scholarships and Build Dakota Scholarships. Please visit the college website for more information.
4
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, FL-
Admission Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
59%
No. of Online Programs
58
Tuition Fees
$18,224
Program Offered:
Associate of Science in Medical Assisting. The program aims to prepare students to carry out various duties of a medical assistant, including taking patient histories, measuring vital signs, assisting physicians with examinations, giving injections as directed by the physician, venipuncture, performing CLIA waived laboratory tests, and performing electrocardiograms (ECG).

Flexibility:
  • Fully online
Quality Factors:
  • Keiser University is a SARA-approved institution
  • It is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • The associate program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
Credit Hours:
  • 60 credit hours
  • Transfer credits may be accepted from regionally accredited institutions in courses where the student has acquired a grade of C or better
Differentiators:
  • The course may include an externship component that can be conducted at a medical clinic in the student's hometown
  • Access to library resources and seek research guidance from librarians
  • One-on-one success coaching and career development resources are also available
Type of Institute:

Private; not-for-profit

Scholarships Offered:

Keiser University offers a variety of scholarships ranging from academic to financial for students who meet the criteria set by the university. Please visit the university website to view detailed information.

5
Independence University, Salt Lake City, UT-
Admission Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
26%
No. of Online Programs
18
Tuition Fees
$18,021
Program Offered:
Associate of Occupational Studies in Medical Assisting. The program helps you prepare for a professional career in healthcare. With this degree, you can put your skills to work at a variety of medical facilities, including doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals.

Flexibility:
  • Fully online program
  • Online courses are offered in fall, spring, and summer terms
Quality Factors:
  • Independence University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
Credit Hours:
  • A total of 90 credit hours
  • The duration of the online program is 20 months
  • Transfer credits may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions
Differentiators:
  • Students may be required to complete a supervised externship to apply the theory and skills learned in the classroom
  • Credit may be awarded to a student through testing and examination and for military experience
  • Access to scholarly resources and research assistance from the library
  • Online students may also avail of online tutoring, career services such as job search assistance and counselling
Type of Institute:

Private; not-for-profit

Scholarships Offered:

Eligible students may apply for grants and scholarships such as:

  • Family Grant
  • Clinical/Externship Site Grant

Visit the college website for more details.

6
Mountain State College, Parkersburg, WV+
Admission Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
No. of Online Programs
8
Tuition Fees
$8,400
Program Offered:
Occupational Associate Degree in Medical Assisting. The program aims to prepare students with knowledge of administrative and clinical functions and office procedures required for a successful career in healthcare industry.

Flexibility:
  • Fully online program
  • Full-time students may be able to complete the online program in 24 months
Quality Factors:
  • Mountain State College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
Credit Hours:
  • Transfer credit may be accepted from previously attended accredited institutions in courses where the student has acquired a grade of C or better
Differentiators:
  • The online program includes an externship
  • Students may earn transfer credit from previously attended accredited institutions. Credit may also be awarded through military training and experience, and prior learning experience
  • Online tutoring and academic support services are available
  • Access to online interviewing tips and other career preparation services
Type of Institute:

Private, for-profit

Scholarships Offered:
  • Certain grants and scholarships may be available to eligible students. Please visit the school website for more details.

Although you may be able to gain employment as a medical or dental assistant right after high school, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employers may prefer to hire individuals who have earned some post-secondary qualifications. You may be able to earn the necessary qualifications through medical assisting certificate programs or online associate degrees in medical assisting. If you're having trouble choosing which of these programs is right for you, here are a few things to consider:

  • Time taken: Certificate programs typically take full-time students a year while associate degree programs in medical assisting usually take two years to complete.
  • The work you want to do: Certificate programs can be more oriented toward individuals who aspire to become administrative medical assistants with minimal clinical duties like collecting specimens and recording vital signs. An associate medical assistant degree can qualify you to authorize prescription refills, administer medications under supervision, take X-rays and draw blood samples among other duties.
  • Your career goals: An associate degree in medical or dental assisting can allow you to pursue more advanced degrees at a later date as associate degree programs online also include liberal arts courses necessary for bachelor's degrees.
  • Better job prospects: You may be able to command better wages and higher positions than individuals with only a certificate in medical assisting. In fact, according to the Nurse Journal, some medical assisting jobs are not even open to individuals without an associate degree in medical assisting.

You may be eligible for federal financial aid while enrolled in online medical assisting degree. There are also a number of scholarships available for eligible students. It can be a good idea to contact your college's financial aid office to see if you qualify for any. Some scholarship programs to help you get started are:

Fastest-Growing Occupations
Annual Median Wage
Job Growth (2016-26)
Physical Therapist Assistants$57,75031%
Medical Assistants$34,54029%
Occupational Therapy Assistants$60,41029%
Dental Hygienists$75,50020%
Dental Laboratory Technicians$43,18015%
Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Although many states don't require formal educations for medical and dental assistants, most employers may look for job candidates who have completed a medical or dental assisting degree to carry out their duties. Dental or medical assistants who do not have formal education in this field may learn their duties through on-the-job training.

Step 1: Needed prerequisites:

According to the BLS, high school students interested in careers as medical and dental assistants should take courses in biology, chemistry and anatomy. Computer and business courses can work as an added bonus. Having good interpersonal and communication skills is also important.

Step 2: Education / work experience required:

There are no formal requirements for individuals wanting to make their careers as medical and/or dental assistants. They may be able to learn on the job immediately after completing their high school diploma or equivalent. However, according to the BLS, many employers prefer hiring students who have at least completed a medical or dental assistant certificate program.

Certifications

Medical and/or dental assistants are not required to be certified in most states according to the BLS. However, obtaining professional certification as a medical assistant can be beneficial as many employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits five certifications for medical assistants of which the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) are the most popular.

In order to gain your certification, you typically need to sit for an examination which is computerized. The number of questions can vary depending on the certification you wish to obtain. Many online medical assisting programs specify which certification they can help you prepare for. After your basic certification, you may be able to earn certifications in specific areas of the field such as phlebotomy and medical coding.

You may need to take continuing education courses and take recertifying examinations every 60 months in order to keep the certification valid.

Licensure

Medical assistants are not required to be licensed. However, certifications are highly beneficial and even mandatory in some states. You may find the certifications being referred to as licenses in such states. Your state board of medicine will be able to provide you with information for your state.

You may be able to transfer the credits from your online medical assisting degree toward a more advanced degree in a similar field. An online bachelor's degree in healthcare administration can be a natural progression if you are interested in the administrative side of medical assisting. If the clinical aspect of medical assisting is more your line, you may want to consider a bachelor's degree in nursing or work toward becoming a physician's assistant.

Additionally, you may also be able to climb the career ladder and assume leadership roles as you gain experience.

Sources
Methodology:

To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in business administration by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:

  1. Offer a bachelor's degree in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  3. Have awarded at least one bachelor's degree in that subject in 2016-17
  4. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for bachelor's and 11 ranking variables for master's (listed below)

We then ranked 115 colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

  1. Bachelor's Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Retention rate
  5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  7. Student-to-faculty ratio
  8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  10. The availability of any tuition plans: Payment
  11. The availability of any tuition plans: Guaranteed
  12. The availability of any tuition plans: Prepaid
  13. The availability of any tuition plans: Other
  14. Services: Academic/Career
  15. Placement for Completers
  16. Credit offerings: Dual
  17. Credit offerings: Life
  18. Credit offerings: AP
  19. Credit offerings: Military
Sources: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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Sources

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31-9092 Medical Assistants, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2017, https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes319092.htm
A More Uniform Way of Recognizing Online Degree Programs across State Lines, with SARA as a Focus, American Council on Education, https://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/Quick-Hits-State-Authorization-Reciprocity-Agreement.pdf, accessed March 2019
Acing the CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) Exam, Nurse Journal, https://nursejournal.org/medical-assistant/acing-the-cma-certified-medical-assistant-exam/, accessed April 2019
Health Care Jobs Projected To Continue To Grow Far Faster Than Jobs In The General Economy, Health Affairs, 2018, https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20180502.984593/full/
Healthcare Trends Affecting Medical Assistants, Coyne College, https://www.coynecollege.edu/healthcare-trends-affecting-medical-assistants/, accessed April 2019
How To Become A Certified Medical Assistant, Nurse Journal, https://nursejournal.org/medical-assistant/how-to-become-a-certified-medical-assistant/, accessed April 2019
Major: Medical Assisting, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/health-professions-related-clinical-sciences-allied-health-medical-assisting-services-medical-assisting, accessed March 2019
Medical Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm, accessed March 2019
Recertification Policies, American Association of Medical Assistants, http://www.aama-ntl.org/continuing-education/recertification-policies#.XKYJSpj7S00, accessed April 2019
Top Ways Technology Is Changing the Role of Medical Assistants, Hunter Business School, December 2017, https://www.hunterbusinessschool.edu/top-ways-technology-is-changing-the-role-of-medical-assistants/
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