Allied Health
March 21, 2024

10 Online Medical Assistant Programs | Tuition, Length and Accreditation

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10 Online Medical Assistant Programs | Tuition, Length and Accreditation

Medical assistants assist physicians and nurses working in clinics, hospitals, doctor's offices, and other health care facilities. It's a career that is growing faster than most other professions—the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of medical assistant jobs to grow by 14% by 2032.

More and more opportunities have emerged for online learning, even in areas that used to be strictly hands-on. If you're interested in training to be a medical assistant, choosing the right online program can help you get the affordable education you need to start your career. While all online medical assistant programs may look the same at first glance, there are some significant differences to conside.

Cost Insights from Sample

  • Certificate Tuition: Ranges from $1,539 to $21,518
  • Degree Tuition: Ranges from $5,996 to $45,77

These findings offer a snapshot, helping you gauge the financial investment involve in pursuing an online medical assistant program.

10 Online Medical Assistant Programs

U.S. Career Institute - Online Medical Assistant School$1,539Self Paced (4+ months)
Stepful - Online Medical Assistant Training Program$1,9994 months
Advanced eClinical - Online Medical Assisting Certification$3,1008 weeks
MedCerts - Medical Assistant$4,00028 weeks
Penn Foster- Online Medical Assistant Career Diploma$2,39911 months
Herzing University - Diploma in Medical Assisting$13,95010 months
The College of Health Care Professions - Medical Assisting Certificate Program$19,80040 weeks
Purdue Global - Medical Assistant Certificate$21,5181.5 years
Herzing University - Associate of Science in Medical Assisting Services$33,02020 months
South University - Online Associate in Medical Assisting$45,77580 weeks

U.S. Career Institute - Online Medical Assistant School

The U.S. Career Institute’s online medical assistant certification program can be completed in at least four months. These online medical assistant classes are designed to prepare students for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Tuition includes test fees, up to a $243 value. In 2022, the CCMA pass rate for U.S. Career Institute graduates was 91%, compared to the average pass rate of 77%.

Cost: $1,239 when paid in full; $1,539 when paid via auto payments

What you should know: USCI is not an approved program for residents of Washington state.

Learn more at USCI

Stepful - Online Medical Assistant Training Program

This four-month online medical assistant program at Stepful prepares students to take their National CCMA Certification. Classes are 100% online, followed by 80 in-person clinical hours at an externship. Stepful offers resume services and job interview preparation, and it promises that students will get a full tuition refund if they don’t get a job offer within six months of certification after completing the program. Stepful boasts an 85% medical assistant certification rate and an 80% placement rate.

Cost: $1,999

What you should know: Students can work in all states except South Carolina and Washington after obtaining a medical assistant certification through this program. 

Learn more are Stepful

Advanced eClinical - Online Medical Assisting Certification

This nationally accredited eight-week medical assistant certification program prepares students for the National HealthCareer Association (NHA) certification exam. All classes are online, but Advanced eClinical also offers an optional in-person externship program for those who prefer having hands-on experience. This program has a 97% national medical assistant certification exam pass rate and a 100% externship/employment placement rate. Many resources are included with the program, including digital study materials, BLS training, and patient simulations, and the cost includes the NHA exam.

Cost: $3,100

What you should know: Advanced eClinical includes lifetime access to a health care career development platform with job search assistance, career counseling, resume and cover letter editing, and access t an exclusive job board.

Learn more at Advanced eClinical

MedCerts - Medical Assistant

MerCerts’ medical assistant certificate program lasts 28 weeks and prepares students for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certifications. Students are matched with educational consultants to create a career plan and a career coach for support from start to finish. 

Cost: $4,000

What you should know: Students will not be eligible for licensure in Washington State after completing this program.

Learn more at MedCerts

Penn Foster - Online Medical Assistant Program

Penn Foster’s online Medical Assistant career diploma could be completed in as little as 11 months. Courses help learners prepare to sit for certification exams including the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant certificate (CCMA), National Certified Medical Assistant certificate (NCMA), and the Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC).

Cost: $2,399

What you should know: Penn Foster’s programs are affordable and self-paced. Enroll now.

Learn more at Penn Foster

Herzing University - Diploma in Medical Assisting

The Hersing University diploma program lasts ten months and prepares students for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification exam. Students complete most of the coursework online but must meet with a proctor to demonstrate mastery of medical assisting skills. Students complete a 180-hour externship during eight weeks of the final term.

Cost: $12,360

What you should know: Herzing University covers the cost of the first medical assistant certification exam attempt for all students.

Learn more at Herzing University

The College of Health Care Professions - Medical Assisting Certificate Program

The College of Health Care Professions offers a 40-week program that helps prepare students for the Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant Exam through the National Association of Health Professionals. Coursework is completed online, and students participate in a 180-hour externship in their last module. The college offers a career services department to assist in the job search after graduation, and they can get help with things like writing a resume and participating in a job interview.

Cost: $19,800

What you should know: The medical assistant certification exam cost is included in tuition.

Learn more at the College of Health Care Professionals

Purdue Global - Medical Assistant Certificate

The medical assistant certificate program at Purdue Global takes about a year and a half to complete. It prepares students for multiple medical assistant certifications, including the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA), Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), and Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC) exams. Students also complete a 160-hour externship to gain hands-on experience. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, and the Higher Learning Commission accredits Purdue Global.

Cost: $21,518

What you should know: In 2020, the exam pass rate for medical assisting graduates from this program was 87.22%.

Learn more at Purdue Global

Herzing University - Associate of Science in Medical Assisting Services

This program builds on Herzing University’s diploma program, training students in administrative and clinical tasks like routine lab procedures, exam room assistance, and handling financial records and insurance forms. Students also complete 180 hours in an externship during eight weeks of the final module. At the end of the 20-month program, students are prepared for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification exam, and Herzing covers the cost of the first exam attempt.

Cost: $33,020

What you should know:  The program is accredited accredite by the Higher Learning Commission.

Learn more at Herzing University

South University - Online Associate in Medical Assisting

For students interested in an associate’s degree, South University offers an online program emphasizing mastering clinical and administrative skills. Students complete a 160-hour supervised externship at a local medical practice during their last quarter of study. The university offers extensive online libraries and plenty of support from start to finish, including a librarian for research support, academic advising, tutoring, and career services.

Cost: $45,775

What you should know: Not all online programs at South University are available to residents of all states. Contact an admissions representative to learn more.

Learn more at South University

How to Choose an Online Medical Assistant Program

There are many things to consider when choosing the best online medical assistant program. Consider the following factors to ensure you choose the right path.

State regulation: Not all online medical assistant programs will prepare you for certification. Every state has its own rules and regulations for the programs, schools, and curriculums they will expect. Before choosing a program, ensure it satisfies the criteria for the state you want to practice in. 

Cost: As you can see, the cost of online medical assistant programs varies significantly. Programs that offer a medical assistant certification or diploma are usually more affordable than those that offer an associate’s degree. Some schools offer scholarships and discounts and may accept transfer credits from previous schooling. Many offer payment plans so that you can pay over time. 

Length: The programs listed here range from eight weeks to eighty weeks, with a lot of variety in between. Having this many options is very helpful as there are opportunities for people who want to start working as soon as possible and those who want to invest more time in their education.

Externship: Most medical assistant programs require an externship, which is generally hands-on experience under the supervision of a practicing medical assistant. Externships typically last for between 160 and 180 hours.

Accreditation: You should always choose a program that has been accredited. Accreditation means that the program has met established academic standards and received approval from a group of experts. The point of accreditation is to ensure that the education institutions provide meets established quality levels.

Degree vs. Certificate: A certificate shows that you have completed a certain amount of education to prepare you to enter the workforce as a medical assistant. A degree shows that you have received additional education and usually involves a more extended time commitment. You can work as a medical assistant with either a certificate or a degree, but a degree may be a better option if you pursue your education further.

Program outcomes: Most online medical assistant programs prepare you to take a certification exam, and many have high passing results for their graduates. If you want more support in your journey, choose a program that offers job placement assistance and other amenities, like resume help and interview coaching.


What is the shortest medical assistant program?

The shortest medical assistant program on our list is the eight-week option from Advanced eClinical.

What do you learn in an online medical assistant class?

Coursework will depend on whether you’re attending a certificate or degree program, and each course may differ slightly from one facility to another. Generally, though, courses in online medical assistant programs will cover anatomy, medical terminology, pharmacology, clinical procedures, preparing and administering medications, taking vital signs, preparing students for exams, first aid, patient scheduling, medical records and insurance basics, medical law, front medical office procedures and administrative duties, bookkeeping, and communication.

Will an online medical assistant program prepare me to be a medical assistant?

Yes, an online medical assistant program can prepare you to be a medical assistant. Most focus on preparing you for the certification exam, and many have in-person externships in doctor's offices or other health care settings where you can get hands-on experience that can prepare you for your career.

Final Thoughts

Because they perform both clinical and clerical duties, medical assistants play an important role in the health care industry, supporting providers and patients. Whether you're looking for a short online program that will allow you to start your career as soon as possible or an associate's degree program to prepare you for more schooling, these programs may be right for you. Just remember that many of them require an in-person externship where you can master hands-on skills. Finding a quality program that is entirely online with no in-person element may be a challenge.

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