Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are clerical and clinical professionals with a distinctive skill set uniquely designed for healthcare settings. They combine administrative and medical-secretarial skills with basic clinical functions to facilitate the efficient, team-based delivery of healthcare. It is not only about pushing paperwork, but also helping patients and optimizing workflow at ground zero of the healthcare industry.

This fast-growing profession originated in and remains more common among smaller provider workplaces like physicians' offices, but it is expected to expand throughout the U.S. healthcare system in the years to come. Note that a medical assistant is not the same as a physician's assistant. Although both work under a doctor's supervision, physician assistants are charged with greater clinical responsibilities, like the power to prescribe medicine. In contrast, medical assistants are clerical and administrative workers trained for the medical sector.

Medical assistants conduct basic clinical procedures, handle the complexities of medical insurance and coding, interface between offices and labs, communicate with patients, and maintain an orderly administrative workflow in healthcare settings. Common 'front office' tasks include appointment scheduling, mail sorting, and billing. Other tasks are more clinical in nature, including assisting doctors, preparing treatment rooms, taking vital signs, carrying out lab work, and performing limited procedures like electrocardiograms and even x-rays.

Medical assistants can learn these skills in a dedicated vocational or associate's program. Students interested in pursuing voluntary national certification to maximize their earnings potential should ensure their program is accredited by either the Accrediting Bureau of Health Schools (ABHES) or Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP).

Degrees in Medical Assisting

Vocational Certificates

Although most states don't require postsecondary education of medical assistants, formal training is an opportunity to master the fundamentals of medical assisting before seeking real-world employment and thereby gain a competitive advantage. While some employers offer on-the-job training, the skill set acquired may or may not be transferable between workplaces. Earning a certificate can be an effective solution to this problem.

Students that intend to seek voluntary professional certification should choose an accredited program that will prepare them to pass one of the major certifying exams—either the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) test administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) test given by the American Medical Technologists. Vocational programs typically last from 6 to 12 months.

Vocational programs in Medical Assisting include courses like:

  • First Aid & Universal Precautions
  • Medical Terminology
  • Recordkeeping & Accounting
  • Laboratory Techniques

Associate Degrees

Associate programs teach students the full entry-level skill set necessary to immediately begin work as a medical assistant. These programs are normally 2 years, or 4 semesters, in length. Although most medical assistants have only a high school diploma, many employers take an associate's degree as the gold standard for entry-level MAs. Further, an associate's degree from one of the ABHES- or CAAHEP-accredited medical assistant schools is a precondition for professional

certification as a CMA.

Although the knowledge and skills acquired in an associate's program are typically transferable across employers, keep in mind that different programs vary in their ratio of clerical to clinical training. Moreover, not all medical assistant programs require students to complete a practicum, or supervised clinical experience, although it's required for professional certification and recommended for getting vital clinical experience before heading off to the job market.

Although some students move on to associate programs after pursuing vocational training, a diploma or certificate is not required to enter most associate programs. Some of the most convenient and affordable programs at the associate level can be found at community colleges that offer Medical Assisting as a major.

Courses for an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting might include:

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology
  • Medical Law & Ethics
  • Medical & Insurance Coding

Bachelor Degrees

Few bachelor programs are offered in medical assisting per se, but they do exist. Bachelor degrees take at least 4 years to finish. Associate-level credits and vocational certificates can often be used towards a bachelor's degree given a qualifying record of academic performance.

In a profession where advanced career opportunities are conspicuous for their absence, earning a bachelor's degree is a way to access better-paying managerial clinical-administrative positions in healthcare via medical assisting. For some competitive jobs, it could be a way to enhance employability or substitute for work experience requirements. It is also a way to ultimately become a medical assisting instructor, although this career pathway will typically additionally require a graduate degree in a major allied health profession like healthcare administration or nursing.

Undergraduate medical assistant programs might include:

  • Organization & Administration of Healthcare Services
  • Healthy Lifestyles
  • Principles of Epidemiology

Featured Schools

Programs offered:

  • Medical Assisting
  • BS in Health and Wellness
  • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate

Programs offered:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Dental Assistant
  • Practical Nursing
Locations:  Norfolk

Programs offered:

  • Veterinary Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Medical Coding and Billing

Programs offered:

  • Clinical Medical Assisting
  • Dental Assisting
  • Medical Billing & Coding
Locations:  Lorton

Programs offered:

We found 832 schools offering medical assistant degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 832 Medical Assistant Colleges in the U.S.

Medical Assistant Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

1
Duke University
Durham, NC  |  Total Enrollment: 12192

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
2
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA  |  Total Enrollment: 28311

Degrees Offered: Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
2
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT  |  Total Enrollment: 24948

Degrees Offered: Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
4
Emory University
Atlanta, GA  |  Total Enrollment: 11398

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
4
George Washington University
Washington, DC  |  Total Enrollment: 20527

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
6
Oregon Health & Science University
Portland, OR  |  Total Enrollment: 1905

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
6
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 1192

Degrees Offered: Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
8
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Newark, NJ  |  Total Enrollment: 4666

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
8
The University of Texas Southwest Med Ctr - Dallas
Dallas, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 1505

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
8
University of Washington - Seattle Campus
Seattle, WA  |  Total Enrollment: 36139

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate

Browse All 832 Colleges With Medical Assistant Programs


Title City State Enrollment
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Tifton GA 2630
Academy of Careers and Technology Beckley WV 320
Academy of Medical and Business Careers Las Vegas NV 749
Academy of Medical Arts and Business Harrisburg PA 213
Academy of Professional Careers San Diego CA 187
Act College Arlington VA 321
Aiken Technical College Graniteville SC 2268
Akron Institute - A Division of Herzing Ohio Inc Akron OH 172
Alamance Community College Graham NC 3414
Albany Technical College Albany GA 2444
Allan Hancock College Santa Maria CA 12110
Allen School - Brooklyn Brooklyn NY 754
Allen School - Jamaica Jamaica NY 774
Allied College - Maryland Heights Maryland Heights MO 406
Allied Health Careers Austin TX 200
Alpena Community College Alpena MI 1853
Altoona Area Vocational Technical School Altoona PA 154
American Career College Los Angeles CA 1383
American Center for Technical Arts and Sciences Philadelphia PA 217
American College of Medical Technology Gardena CA 53
American Institute of Medical - Dental Technology Provo UT 360
American Institute of Medical - Dental Technology Saint George UT 100
American School of Technology Columbus OH 290
Andover College Portland ME 566
Anoka Technical College Anoka MN 2046
Antelope Valley College Lancaster CA 10315
Antonelli College Hattiesburg MS 215
Antonelli College Jackson MS 215
Antonelli Medical and Professional Institute Pottstown PA 110
Appalachian Technical College Jasper GA 950
Arizona College of Allied Health Glendale AZ 141
Arkansas State University - Mountain Home Mountain Home AR 916
Arkansas Tech University Russellville AR 4970
Arlington Medical Institute Arlington TX 132
Asa Institute of Business and Computer Technology Brooklyn NY 1432
Ascension College Gonzales LA 158
Ashland County - West Holmes Career Center Ashland OH 77
Athens Technical College Athens GA 2747
Ati College of Health Miami FL 269
Atlanta Metropolitan College Atlanta GA 1907
Atlanta Technical College Atlanta GA 2884
Atlantic County Vocational Technical School Mays Landing NJ 175
Augusta Technical College Augusta GA 3265
Autry Technology Center Enid OK 208
Ayers Career College Shreveport LA 267
Baker College of Cadillac Cadillac MI 864
Baker College of Clinton Township Clinton Township MI 2559
Baker College of Flint Flint MI 3896
Baker College of Jackson Jackson MI 1027
Baker College of Muskegon Muskegon MI 2727
Baker College of Owosso Owosso MI 1905
Baker College of Port Huron Port Huron MI 1230
Baldwin Park Adult & Community Education Baldwin Park CA 3295
Barstow Community College Barstow CA 2785
Bay De Noc Community College Escanaba MI 2073
Bay State College Boston MA 608
Beal College Bangor ME 338
Belmont Technical College Saint Clairsville OH 1524
Ben Franklin Career Center Dunbar WV 362
Berdan Institute Wayne NJ 133
Bergen Community College Paramus NJ 11993
Berks Technical Institute Wyomissing PA 693
Beta Tech Richmond VA 225
Black Hawk College Moline IL 6118
Blackhawk Technical College Janesville WI 2472
Bluefield State College Bluefield WV 2648
Bohecker College Ravenna OH 52
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City LA 4332
Bradford School Columbus OH 191
Bradford School Pittsburgh PA 479
Bradford School of Business Houston TX 178
Branford Hall Career Institute - Bohemia Campus Bohemia NY 118
Branford Hall Career Institute - Branford Campus Branford CT 557
Branford Hall Career Institute - Southington Campus Southington CT 502
Branford Hall Career Institute - Windsor Campus Windsor CT 360
Brevard Community College Cocoa FL 13265
Briarwood College Southington CT 518
Bridgerland Applied Technology College Logan UT 304
Bristol Community College Fall River MA 6054
Brooklyn Institute of Business Technology Brooklyn NY 301
Broome Community College Binghamton NY 5663
Broward Community College Fort Lauderdale FL 27389
Brown Mackie College Fort Wayne IN 119
Brown Mackie College Michigan City IN 200
Brown Mackie College - Akron Akron OH 373
Brown Mackie College - Cincinnati Cincinnati OH 766
Brown Mackie College - Findlay Findlay OH 160
Brown Mackie College - Hopkinsville Hopkinsville KY 275
Brown Mackie College - Merrillville Merrillville IN 87
Brown Mackie College - Moline Moline IL 108
Brown Mackie College - North Canton North Canton OH 330
Brown Mackie College - Northern Kentucky Fort Mitchell KY 338
Brown Mackie College - South Bend South Bend IN 125
Bryant and Stratton College - Albany Albany NY 723
Bryant and Stratton College - Buffalo Buffalo NY 884
Bryant and Stratton College - Henrietta Rochester NY 508
Bryant and Stratton College - Main Syracuse Syracuse NY 710
Bryant and Stratton College - Milwaukee Milwaukee WI 1073
Bryant and Stratton College - Parma Parma OH 729
Bryant and Stratton College - Richmond Richmond VA 942
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