Associate Degree in Medical Assisting: Online Options and Cost

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A medical assistant associate’s degree gives you an edge over professionals having a certificate in the same field and opens doors for many advanced job opportunities. Some colleges award this degree as Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Health Science with a specialization in medical assisting or AAS in medical assisting. After completing the program, students can either take up the job or enroll for a bachelor’s degree to further their education.

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An associate’s degree is the best choice for those aspirants who want to explore the medical assistant field meticulously and build a solid foundation for their career.

What is a Medical Assistant Associate’s Degree?

A medical assistant associate’s degree is an undergraduate credential offered by junior, technical, and community colleges. The credits earned in this program can be transferred to the medical assistant bachelor’s degree or other related higher education programs.

How Long Does it Take to Complete a Medical Assistant Associate’s Degree?

It takes about two years to complete a full-time 4-semester associate’s degree program in medical assisting. Online medical assistant programs, on the other hand, can be completed in 18-24 months.

How Much Does an Associate’s Degree Program Cost?

The cost depends on the institute you choose to pursue the degree course. However, you will have to pay between $6,000 and $15,000 per year as tuition fees. In addition, you will also have to pay for:

  • Books and supplies
  • Room and board
  • Transportation
  • Externship
  • Certification exam

Qualifying students can also avail financial aids such as scholarships, federal low-interest student loans, and federal grants.

The online programs cost between $6,000 and $20,000 per annum (tuition fees).

Education Requirements

Wondering what are the educational requirements to become a medical assistant? Below are the requisites that students are supposed to fulfill:

  • You must be a graduate of a post-secondary education program.
  • Some states do not require students to have formal education. However, you can take any of the education pathways – certificate, diploma, or degree in medical assisting. The program must be accredited.
  • Some American states require you to pass the Certified Medical Assistants (CMA) examination administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants.
  • After every five years, renew your certification.

What Will you Learn in a Medical Assistant Associate’s Degree Program?

The degree program provides you a broader perspective on various important topics such as anatomy, pharmacology, radiology, physical therapy, patient care, medical coding, medical insurance, medical office procedures, etc. In addition, the curriculum includes coursework in general liberal arts that covers speech, communication, psychology, sociology, English, and mathematics.

During job-site externships, students are exposed to real work settings and get the opportunity to get training under the supervision of experienced medical professionals. 

Can You do a Medical Assistant Associate’s Degree Online?

Yes, absolutely! Many universities and technical colleges such as Georgia Northwestern Technical College, State Fair Community College, Keiser University, etc. offer online medical assistant associate’s degree. These institutions provide a hybrid education method in which the classroom lectures or theoretical sessions are conducted online. For the externship or clinical session, students have to enroll in any healthcare or medical facility.

Difference Between a Medical Assistant Certificate and Associate’s Degree Program

Both the certificate and associate’s degree program land you to your dream job of a medical assistant. Before enrolling in either of them, it’s crucial to understand the difference between the two, to make an informed decision. So, to help you out, we have compared both the educational paths. Take a look!

Parameters Certificate Associate’s Degree
Duration Completes in 6-9 months Completes in 2 years
Course Human anatomy and physiology, administrative procedures, medical terminology, pharmacology, etc. Emphasizes primary clinical and administrative skills. Medical law and ethics, laboratory procedures, phlebotomy, liberal arts, etc. All the topics are covered in detail.
Cost Since the certificate program is shorter in duration, it is less expensive. It may cost you between $2,500 and $10,000 per year (tuition fees). It is relatively costlier, and you will have to pay $6,000 and $15,000 per year as tuition fees.
Credit Transfer Credits are not transferred to continue the education. Credits can be transferred to pursue higher education.
Employability Students can get entry-level jobs. Students can get excellent job opportunities with lucrative salary packages.

How to Pick the Right Associate’s Degree Program?

It takes a lot of time and effort to find the medical assistant associate’s degree program that best fits your criteria. Besides the cost of the program and the location of the college/university, several other factors are needed to be considered before making the final decision.

Here, we have provided you a checklist that will help you pick the right program.

  • The program must be accredited by the ABHES, CAAHEP, or other authorized entity.
  • Inquire about the class size and ratio of students and instructors.
  • Check if the institute you are considering follows the established educational standards and requisite hours/credits of training.
  • Find out the percentage of students who successfully complete the graduation and the percentage of graduate students who qualify for certification examinations.
  • Check the student-to-instructor ratio and class size of the program.
  • Find out if the institute offers job placement assistance and financial aid.

Written by : Casey Gardner

Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator.  She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant,  and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.


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