Associate degrees in medical assisting are a popular educational route for those interested in entry-level healthcare careers. If you aspire to play a crucial role in patient care, pursuing a medical assistant associate’s degree can be an excellent choice. Deciding what educational route to take can be challenging – that's why we've broken down the information including curriculum, prerequisites, career opportunities, and the multitude of benefits associated with obtaining a medical assistant associate’s degree. Join us as we uncover the path to becoming a skilled and compassionate medical assistant.

What Is an Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting?

An associate’s degree in medical assisting is a two-year undergraduate program that provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work as medical assistants in various healthcare settings. They are typically more robust than medical assistant diploma and certificate programs, which train medical assistants in a shorter timeframe. Associate degree medical assisting programs are typically offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and some universities, both in traditional on-campus formats and online. MA associate’s degrees can cost a few thousand dollars per year for in-state tuition, and up to $25,000 or more total for out-of-state tuition.

Here are some typical admissions requirements for associate’s degree programs in medical assisting, including online programs:

  • High school diploma or equivalent: Applicants must have completed their high school education or obtained a GED.
  • Prerequisite coursework: Some programs may require specific courses such as biology, anatomy, or medical terminology as prerequisites.
  • Minimum GPA: Most programs have a minimum GPA requirement for admission, typically ranging from 2.0 to 3.0.
  • Letters of recommendation: Applicants may be asked to submit letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, or healthcare professionals.
  • Personal statement or essay: Some programs may request a personal statement or essay explaining the applicant’s interest in medical assisting and career goals.
  • Interviews: In some cases, applicants may be required to participate in an interview with program faculty or staff.
  • Background check and immunization records: Due to the nature of the healthcare field, applicants may need to undergo a background check and provide proof of immunizations.

For online medical assistant associate's degree programs, additional requirements may include:

  • Reliable internet access: Since coursework is delivered online, students need a stable internet connection.
  • Technical requirements: Students may be required to have access to a computer or laptop with specific software or hardware specifications.
  • Online learning readiness: Some institutions may assess the applicant’s readiness for online learning through questionnaires or assessments.

It’s important to note that specific requirements can vary among institutions, so it’s advisable to research individual programs, both on-campus and online, to ensure you meet their admission criteria. Looking for an associate’s degree medical assistant near you? Check out our state-by-state MA program listings.

Do I Need an Accredited Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting?

It is always recommended to choose an accredited medical assistant associate's degree program to ensure that your education is held to high standards. Choosing an unaccredited program can affect job opportunities and continued education down the line, so it's a risk that is not worth taking.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the primary accrediting agency for associate’s degree programs in medical assisting in the United States. CAAHEP ensures that programs meet rigorous standards of quality and provide students with a comprehensive education that prepares them for their professional roles as medical assistants. Accreditation from CAAHEP signifies that the program has undergone a thorough evaluation and has been found to meet or exceed the established standards for curriculum, faculty qualifications, facilities, and student support services. It is important to choose a medical assisting program that is accredited by CAAHEP or another recognized accrediting agency to ensure the quality and recognition of your degree.

Medical Assistant Specialties

There are ample opportunities for medical assistants to work in specialty fields. Explore the different roles an MA can hold, and learn more about how to become a medical assistant.

How to Become an MA

Online Medical Assistant Associate's Degree Curriculum

A typical associate’s degree in medical assisting requires around 60 to 70 credits, which can be completed over a period of two years. The curriculum generally combines classroom instruction with hands-on clinical practice to provide students with a well-rounded education. Students can generally choose to become a clinical medical assistant or an administrative medical assistant upon completion of the general medical assisting degree program. Clinical practice is an essential component of the program, allowing students to gain practical experience in healthcare settings under the supervision of qualified professionals. However, the specific requirements may vary between programs.

Here are some typical course titles you may encounter in an online or campus-based associate’s degree program in medical assisting:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Office Procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • Clinical Procedures
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Patient Care and Communication
  • Phlebotomy Techniques
  • EKG Interpretation
  • Medical Laboratory Procedures
  • Electronic Health Records Management
  • Healthcare Ethics and Cultural Competence
  • Professional Development for Medical Assistants

In terms of program delivery, online associate’s degree programs in medical assisting offer flexibility and convenience for students who may have other commitments or prefer remote learning. While the core curriculum may be similar to campus-based programs, online programs utilize various digital tools and platforms for course delivery. Online students can access lectures, assignments, and course materials through virtual learning environments. Clinical practice components may be organized in collaboration with local healthcare facilities, where students can gain hands-on experience in their own communities. Communication with instructors and peers typically occurs through online forums, video conferencing, and email. Online programs often require students to demonstrate self-discipline, time management skills, and strong motivation to succeed in a remote learning environment.

Medical Assistant Associate's Degrees At a Glance

Degree TypeAssociate’s Degree
DurationTypically 2 years (full-time)
Credit RequirementAround 60-70 credits
AccreditationAccredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or other recognized accrediting agencies
InstitutionsCommunity colleges, vocational schools, some universities
CurriculumCombination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical practice
Clinical PracticeRequired component, providing practical experience in healthcare settings
Typical CoursesMedical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Office Procedures, Pharmacology, Clinical Procedures, Medical Billing and Coding, Patient Care and Communication, Phlebotomy Techniques, EKG Interpretation, Medical Laboratory Procedures, Electronic Health Records Management, Healthcare Ethics and Cultural Competence, Professional Development for Medical Assistants
Online DeliveryOnline programs available, offering flexibility and remote learning
Hands-On ExperienceClinical practice organized in collaboration with local healthcare facilities
Skills AcquiredMedical terminology, patient care, clinical procedures, administrative tasks
Career OpportunitiesClinical, administrative, or specialty medical assistant in healthcare facilities, clinics, physician offices, hospitals, etc.
Average Tuition Cost Range$5,000 to $25,000 per year

Please note that the tuition cost range provided is an estimate and can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, institution type, residency status, and financial aid options. It’s advisable to research individual programs and institutions to obtain accurate and up-to-date information on tuition costs.

Why Get An Online Medical Assistant Associate's Degree?

Pursuing a medical assistant associate’s degree can open doors to a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. This comprehensive program equips students with the necessary knowledge and practical skills to excel in the role of a medical assistant. Whether you are passionate about patient care, interested in a dynamic healthcare profession, or seeking a stepping stone to further education, obtaining an online medical assistant associate’s degree offers numerous benefits and opportunities.

Reasons to Get a Medical Assistant Associate’s Degree:

  • In-Demand Career: The healthcare industry is rapidly growing, and medical assistants are in high demand. Obtaining an associate’s degree in medical assisting enhances your employability and increases your chances of securing rewarding job opportunities.
  • Versatile Skill Set: Medical assistant programs provide a well-rounded education, covering a broad range of skills. From administrative tasks like medical billing and coding to clinical procedures and patient care, you will gain a diverse skill set that can be applied in various healthcare settings.
  • Hands-On Clinical Experience: Associate’s degree programs typically include hands-on clinical practice, allowing you to work directly with patients and healthcare professionals. This practical experience is invaluable, as it prepares you for real-world scenarios and enhances your confidence in delivering quality care.
  • Career Advancement Opportunities: While a medical assistant associate’s degree prepares you for entry-level positions, it can also serve as a stepping stone to further education and career advancement. You may choose to specialize in a specific area of healthcare or pursue advanced degrees in fields like nursing or healthcare management.
  • Shorter Timeframe: Compared to bachelor’s degree programs, associate’s degree programs are shorter in duration, typically taking around two years to complete. This allows you to enter the workforce sooner and start building your career in a relatively short span of time.
  • Competitive Salary and Benefits: Medical assistants enjoy competitive salaries and often receive additional benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. The combination of job security, potential for growth, and attractive compensation makes this field appealing to many.
  • Fulfilling Patient Interaction: As a medical assistant, you will have direct interaction with patients, providing care, support, and comfort. If you find satisfaction in helping others and making a positive impact on their well-being, a medical assistant associate’s degree can lead you to a fulfilling career in patient care.

By pursuing a medical assistant associate’s degree, you are investing in your future by acquiring valuable skills, increasing your job prospects, and contributing to the vital healthcare industry. Whether you are just starting your career or seeking a new path, this degree can be a significant stepping stone toward a successful and fulfilling professional journey.

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