7 Best Online Medical Assistant Programs (Complete Guide)

Medical assisting is one of the fastest expanding entry-level healthcare positions in the U.S. Medical assistants work closely with nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals to offer critical support to patients and staff.

The latest financial figures show that medical assistants earn an average annual salary of $33,600 with a robust future job outlook due to the growing population.

Some choose to work as a medical assistant for their entire career, while others use the role as a stepping stone for more advanced positions within the healthcare industry.

To become a medical assistant, you must earn an associate degree, diploma, or certificate that proves you have the knowledge and skills required for the job.

Several colleges across the U.S. offer online medical assisting programs.

Keep reading to learn more!

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Best Online Medical Assistant Training Programs

Since brick-and-mortar classrooms are not required for online programs, you can complete a medical assisting program from the comfort of your home, work, library, or even a coffee shop!

These are some of the best online medical assistant training programs you should consider:

Ashworth CollegeAshworth College

In Norcross, Georgia, Ashworth College offers a medical administrative assistant certificate program that fulfills medical assisting requirements.

As a recognized leader in distance learning with over 300,000 graduates globally,

Ashworth College allows you to enroll anytime and begin the medical assistant program the day after you are accepted.

This differs significantly from traditional institutions, where you must follow specific dates and semesters.

Ashworth’s medical administrative assistant certificate is self-paced, so you can go through each lesson at a speed that fits your lifestyle.

The curriculum focuses on office management, including processing insurance claims, medical documentation, and administrative procedures.

You can access the Internet student portal to complete lesson modules, research libraries, and online labs.

For those looking for a mobile experience, Ashworth also has a smartphone app that provides all the same benefits as a desktop.

Furthermore, students have access to the online community, which allows classmates to partake in discussion forums, webinars, live chat, and email conversations.

Herzing UniversityHerzing University

With over 50 online degree and diploma options, Herzing University is considered one of the top online institutions in the U.S. Classroom content is regularly updated to ensure students gain the skills and knowledge to remain competitive in the medical assisting field.

Admission occurs on a rolling basis, so students can begin classes whichever time suits them.

Aspiring medical assistants can pursue a 10-month medical assisting diploma, a 12-month medical assisting services diploma, and a 16-month medical assisting services associate degree.

All three paths prepare students to conduct hands-on patient care while maintaining administrative and clerical duties.

All coursework and lectures are conducted online, but you are required to complete an externship before graduating.

Each curriculum prepares students for the CCMA exam after graduation, and the 10-month diploma costs $11,900.

Penn FosterPenn Foster Interior Decorator Course

Along with Ashworth College, Penn Foster makes almost every ranking list for online vocational degree programs.

Accredited through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), Penn Foster offers three paths to acquire the registered medical assistant designation, including a diploma (one year), associate degree (two years), or bachelor’s degree (four years).

All paths are self-paced and developed to help students prepare for national certification exams.

The school offers three tuition payment plans for each path, and the program cost is inexpensive compared to most other schools on this list.

The least expensive option is around $4,800 if you pay in full.

Tuition includes a voucher to sit in the CCMA exam after graduation, unlimited student support, and all learning materials.

Students can also transfer post-secondary credits to save additional money, and veterans can qualify for a discount.

Students learn through the mobile-friendly Penn Foster online learning software with materials available around the clock.

Other resources include online learning tools, virtual simulations, and live webinars.

Purdue University GlobalPurdue University Global

As a subsidiary of Purdue University, Global offers various online degrees and diplomas and holds an excellent reputation in the healthcare community.

The medical assisting certificate program prepares students for the NCMA exam after graduation.

The medical assisting program is entirely online and self-paced but less flexible than others on this list.

The school follows semesters that are ten weeks long, so you must complete each course within those ten weeks.

The entire program is 58 credits, which requires a year and a half commitment.

Each course is instructor-led and includes a 160-hour externship, message board communication, and online seminars.

The school also offers personalized tutoring for those needing extra assistance learning specific concepts and materials before taking the national exam.

The program is one of the costliest on this list at $21,000, but there are plenty of savings options, including transfer credits, financial aid, grants, and scholarships.

Also, Purdue Global has up to a 55% discount for veterans and active military and deep discounts for Purdue partner organization employees.

San Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco State University

For those seeking one of the fastest routes to becoming a medical assistant, SFSU offers an excellent self-paced online option and in-person experience.

Students can complete the online path in only four to six months while preparing students for the national clinical medical assistant exam.

Students learn all the required skills and knowledge to assist other medical professionals in a clinic.

A 160-hour externship is required for graduation, which allows you to apply the knowledge learned during the coursework.

The SFSU program provides around-the-clock access to career resources, a student portal, labs, learning exercises, mentoring, and interactive virtual learning modules.

Tuition costs $2,600, including all materials, workbooks, e-books, a clinical externship, and six months of digital access.

However, this program does not provide a CCMA examination voucher, which costs around $160.

SFSU is part of the Eligible Training Provider List and an approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provider, so funds are available for those who need financial assistance.

Texas State UniversityTexas State University

Students interested in focusing on electronic record keeping and the front-end side of medical assisting should consider the bundled program offered by Texas State University.

This program prepares students to sit for the Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS) and CCMA exams.

Like others on this list, the entire program is online and self-paced, with 12 months of access.

The program costs $4,000, including vouchers for the CCMA and CEHRS exams, online platform access, 674 course hours, and all reading materials.

Since this is a non-credit course, some students may qualify for financial aid, but federal loans are not applicable. Additional funds are available for veterans and military spouses.

The introductory course teaches students about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules and ethics.

This dramatically impacts how basic medical procedures are conducted in the field, how to work with patients, and how to use scheduling systems.

The next course highlights using the electronic health record database.

The TSU program bundle is an excellent option for distinguishing among candidates while preparing to work as a medical assistant.

U.S. Career InstituteU.S. Career Institute

Nestled in Fort Collins, Colorado, the U.S. Career Institute was founded in 1981 and continues to focus on providing distance learning education as technology continues to improve.

The Institute offers various career-oriented and vocational training options, all of which are self-paced.

The online lessons don’t include excessively abstract lectures and focus more on straightforward learning of practical materials.

The medical assisting curriculum comprises four units, including virtual labs.

Lessons target essential clinical skills like acquiring laboratory specimens and gathering vital signs, administrative duties like medical insurance forms, and understanding medical terminology.

Most students complete the program in four months but can work independently.

Although not required, the Institute recommends an externship to gain firsthand experience in the field and further support the skills learned during lectures.

The Institute also has a 16-month associate degree program in medical specialties, emphasizing administrative functions within any medical office.

Tuition for the certificate program is $1,539 plus books and fees or $1,300 when paid in full. DEAC accredits the U.S. Career Institute.

What Courses Are in an Online Medical Assistant Program?

While the number and type of courses vary based on the certificate, diploma, or degree offered by each school, the foundational classwork covers the following:

  • Basic Microbiology
  • Becoming a medical assistant
  • Communication
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Ethics and law
  • Eyes and ears
  • Insurance forms and claims
  • Major body systems
  • Managing medical records
  • Medical billing
  • Medical terminology
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Nutrition
  • Pathophysiology
  • Patient scheduling
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical examinations
  • Recording vital signs
  • Special sense
  • Working with medical documents

Can You Earn an Online Medical Assistant Certification Completely Online?

Yes, an online medical assistant certification can be completed online.

However, schools require or recommend an externship at a local medical facility.

Those who need this step before graduation typically have a time commitment of 160 hours assisting medical professionals.

For those who don’t require it, 160 hours is a reasonable target.

The externship is to apply your classroom skills to real-world situations.

Also, externships are highly attractive to potential employers since they equate to less on-the-job training and more medical knowledge than those without this experience.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Medical Assistant Certification Online?

The time commitment for an online medical assistant certification varies considerably based on the education level you wish to achieve.

The fastest available programs are around four months of virtual classroom lectures plus additional time for an externship, depending on school requirements.

These certificate programs are usually self-paced, so those who wish to move faster can do so in four months.

A diploma program usually takes one year, with some being self-paced.

An associate degree program usually has more structured time requirements, so it typically takes two years to graduate.

Similarly, a bachelor’s degree has defined time requirements and takes four years to earn.

The only way to lower the time and financial commitment of an associate and bachelor’s degree is through transfer credits, which can eliminate many required core classes.

How Much Does an Online Medical Assistant Certification Cost?

Online medical assistant certification costs vary based on the program duration.

A certificate starts at around $2,600, while a diploma can run into thousands of dollars.

Associate and bachelor’s degrees cost tens of thousands due to the required multi-year commitment, fees, and materials.

Budget is a significant consideration when searching for a program, but it shouldn’t be the only factor.

The best and worst schools may not necessarily be the most and least expensive, so you must consider the following as well:


Accreditation is one of the most vital factors when comparing educational options.

Earning a degree from an unaccredited school means no student qualifies for federal financial aid and can even prevent licensure in some professions.

Curriculum Design

Brick-and-mortar schools converted many in-person classes to the online format.

Unfortunately, they didn’t design the program for online, so it lacked the same personalization and engagement found in the classroom.

Simply live-streaming classes isn’t enough to keep students interested.

Therefore, looking for a program designed for an online platform is essential.

Faculty Quality

Some online schools rely solely on course materials to teach students instead of investing in their faculty.

Search for schools with experienced and resourceful online faculty who can provide valuable medical assistance knowledge.

Learning Environment

Each person has a different learning style, so finding a school that aligns with your needs is crucial.

Ensure you research the various schools to determine how they foster students’ learning requirements for success.

Consider your learning approach and which method works best, including your preferred learning surroundings.

Online Learning Reputation

One of the primary benefits of an online medical assisting program is access to excellent schools that are inaccessible due to location.

Therefore, you may be overwhelmed by the number of options.

One way to narrow the field is to understand better the school’s reputation from an online learning perspective.


To become a medical assistant, you must attend a training program.

With the significant improvement in technology, why not take it online?

With an online program, you gain flexibility and can learn at your own pace while having access to learning materials around the clock.

Herzing University, the U.S. Career Institute, Penn Foster, SFSU, Texas State, Purdue, and Ashworth College offer some of the best online medical assisting programs in the U.S.

By considering cost, accreditation, curriculum design, faculty quality, learning environment, and reputation, you can find a great online school from the comfort of your home!

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