Allied Health
May 24, 2024

How much do medical assistant programs cost?

We analyzed 22 different medical assistant programs and found tuition rates range from $6,633 to $36,559. Read on to learn why costs vary so much from program to program.

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How much do medical assistant programs cost?

Understanding education costs is crucial to considering a certified medical assistant career. However, it can be challenging to determine the price and worth of medical assistant training programs.

To provide you with a comprehensive understanding of medical assistant training costs, we've meticulously researched 22 programs at 15 different institutions. Our findings revealed tuition rates range from $6,633 to $36,559 for the medical assistant programs we investigated, giving you a reliable estimate of the potential costs.

Medical assistant program tuition rates vary due to several factors. Among these, a program's award type (i.e., associate degree versus a certificate or diploma) and the type of institution are the two we found to have significant impacts.

Award Type: Certificate or Diploma versus Associate's Degree

When selecting a program, the most consequential choice is enrolling in a medical assistant associate's degree program (typically two years) or a medical assistant certificate or diploma program (usually less than a year). From the medical assistant programs we investigated, we found that the average tuition for a medical assistant associate's degree program is nearly $20,000 more than the average tuition for certificate programs and almost $14,000 more than for diploma programs.

Award TypeMedianCheapestMost Expensive

Graduates of associate degree programs will acquire a more extensive knowledge base and cover a broader range of course material. However, opting for an associate's degree program may entail higher costs and delay entering the workforce. Ultimately, the decision should be guided by your unique career aspirations. 

But will getting an associate's degree in medical assisting help me become a certified medical assistant more quickly?

The short answer is probably not. If you want to become a certified medical assistant, an accredited certificate or diploma program should be enough to prepare you for the certification exam. Here are the education requirements for the most popular medical assistant certifications. 

CertificationEducation Requirements
RMAApplicants must have graduated within the past four years or be scheduled to graduate from an accredited MA program or a program within an accredited institution
CCMAApplicants must have completed a medical assistant training or education program within the last 5 years
CMAApplicants must have graduated from or be about to complete a medical assisting program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

Note: all exams allow applicants to sit for exams even if they haven't completed a medical assistant course, provided they have prior work experience.

As you can see, none of the exams require applicants to have completed an associate's degree course. 

Reasons for choosing a medical assistant associate degree

You may want to choose an associate's degree over a certificate or diploma for a few reasons.

The first is that you plan on advancing your career. Medical assisting is just a pit stop. You plan on advancing in health care as a nurse or something else. In this case, getting an associate's degree might be a good idea; the credits you earn in your medical assistant program may be transferable to another degree, such as nursing. 

The second reason for choosing an associate degree program is to learn skills and specialize. An associate's degree might make sense if you want to gain skills to get a more specialized position—and possibly higher pay. For example, ECPI's associate's degree program also prepares students for certifications like Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) and Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS), taking only three months longer.

Example: ECPI's diploma versus associate program

Comparing ECPI's medical assisting diploma and associate programs
Diploma$23,54411 months
Associate of Applied Science$31,39215 months

Source: ECPI University

Institution: Community College versus Vocational School

The cost of becoming a medical assistant can vary significantly depending on the type of institution you choose, such as a community college or a vocational school.

Community colleges, often state-funded and non-profit, typically offer lower tuition fees. In some cases, in-state tuition can be considerably less expensive, making it an economical choice. These institutions also provide the opportunity to transfer existing college credits, potentially reducing the program's cost and duration.

However, there are drawbacks to consider. Community colleges usually have more rigid schedules, which can extend the time required to complete your degree. This can be a significant disadvantage if your goal is to enter the workforce quickly. Additionally, you might find yourself required to take classes outside of your career goals, which can add to the time and expense of your education.

In contrast, vocational schools specialize in training students for immediate employment, which might suit those looking to start their careers quickly. Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of community colleges.


  • Lower Costs: Due to public funding, community colleges often have cheaper tuition, sometimes even nearing free if you're an in-state or local student.
  • Credit Transfer: The ability to transfer existing college credits can make your education more affordable and faster.


  • Rigid Scheduling: The inflexible schedules at community colleges can prolong the duration of your degree.
  • Unnecessary Courses: You may be required to take additional classes—such as general education courses—that are not directly relevant to becoming a medical assistant.

Other medical assistant program costs

While tuition is typically the most significant cost for medical assisting programs, the total cost will include other fees and expenses. And if you're already working, you should consider your lost wages when considering medical assisting programs. Here are some costs to consider:

Fees: This includes charges aside from tuition that students are required to pay to enroll and attend classes. This typically includes technology fees, registration fees, lab fees, and any other administrative costs associated with the medical assistant training course.

Books and Supplies: This includes all necessary textbooks, lab manuals, and other course materials to complete the program successfully.

Living Expenses: This refers to the cost of maintaining a standard of living while attending school. It typically includes housing costs, food, utilities, and other daily expenses. This can vary significantly based on whether the student lives with parents or independently off campus.

Most programs have a "cost to attend" calculator that can help you calculate the cost of attending their program. Some schools will even estimate the total program cost (see Ross College's AAS degree cost breakdown for their medical assisting program).

Expense CategoryCost
Tech Fee$198
Books, Supplies, Course Materials and Equipment$475
Living Expenses (With Parent)$4,750
Living Expenses (Off-Campus)$8,500
Personal Expenses (With Parent)$5,770
Personal Expenses (Off-Campus)$5,770
Transportation Expenses$0
With Parent$19,803

(source: Ross College)

Certification and licensing costs

After completing a medical assistant training program, one cost to consider is the actual certification exam. Below are the costs from the most popular medical assisting national certification exams.

CCMA $160

Sources: American Medical Technologists, NHANow, AAMA

How to pay for medical assistant school

When estimating the true cost of a medical training program, you must consider the fees and tuition and the support you may receive through scholarships or grants. After considering grants and financial aid options, the sticker price of a medical assistant school might not be as shocking.

Workforce Development Programs:  Many states and local governments have programs that will pay for part of—if not all of—the cost of a medical assistant training program. These "workforce development programs" aim to encourage people to enter professions with a shortage of workers. One example is the Next Level Indiana, a program that pays tuition and fees for those entering medical assisting and other high-growth fields.

Scholarships and Grants: Look for scholarships and grants for medical assistant students. Many schools, organizations, and companies offer these to help cover tuition costs. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can qualify you for federal grants like the Pell Grant.

Federal Student Loans: Federal student loans like the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans. The FAFSA application determines your eligibility.

Private Student Loans: Private student loans from banks or lenders can help cover any remaining costs after exhausting federal aid but tend to have higher interest rates.

Personal Savings: Using your savings can help avoid or reduce student loan debt.

Employer Sponsorship: Some employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs if you agree to work for them for a period after graduation.

Payment Plans: Many schools allow you to pay tuition monthly to spread the costs over time.

Bottom Line

A career as a certified medical assistant involves understanding the various costs associated with different educational paths. Here are key points to consider:

  • Tuition Range: Based on our research across 22 programs at 15 institutions, tuition costs range from $6,633 to $36,559.
  • Program Type Impact: Tuition costs vary significantly between obtaining an associate’s degree and opting for shorter certificate or diploma programs, with the latter generally being more cost-effective and quicker to complete.
  • Institution Type: Community colleges often offer lower tuition due to state funding and may allow credit transfers, which can reduce both cost and duration. However, they typically have rigid schedules and may require additional non-specialized courses.
  • Additional Costs: When planning your education, consider not just tuition but also fees, books, supplies, and living expenses.
  • Financial Aid: Explore financial support options such as scholarships, grants, and workforce development programs to help manage costs.

Choosing the right program and institution for becoming a medical assistant requires carefully considering educational goals and financial constraints to ensure the best fit for your career aspirations. See our accredited medical assistant program directory to find all schools accredited by the ABHES and CAAHEP.

Medical Assisting Program Tuition Data

SchoolAward TypeCost
ConcordeDiploma$16,434 to $17,701
ConcordeAssociate$30,355 to $30,766
FortisDiploma$17,301 to $17,619
PimaCertificate$17,280 to $18,741
Bryan UniversityDiploma$24,300
Bryan UniversityAssociate$34,020
Lincoln TechDiploma$22,820 to $23,381
Lincoln TechAssociate$36,523 to $36,559
Ivy TechAssociate$20,786 to $25,339
Ivy TechCertificate$6,633
American Career CollegeDiploma$21,410

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Program outcomes may vary depending on each institution's specific curriculum and employment opportunities are not guranteed.