Medical Assisting



Become a certified medical assistant (MA) in just one year! This career is in such high-demand the Mercy College of Health Sciences medical assistant program can lead to many opportunities to earn a competitive wage while completing your certification and/or employer tuition reimbursement options. Earn your certificate through 100% online instruction; two, six-hour skills labs; and 160 hours of clinical practicum experience with one of our local healthcare partners.

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Program Length



In-Person Skills Labs 


Approximate Tuition Cost


Start Dates Per Year: Fall & Spring


Employment Rate Among Graduates1



Medical assistants provide critical physician support services to ensure healthcare facilities run smoothly. Using excellent communication and interpersonal skills, MAs help keep patients at ease throughout their visit. They are often responsible for administrative as well as clinical tasks, such as maintaining patient records, preparing patients and rooms for examination, assisting physicians with exams, and performing other critical tasks. As a MA you will act as an important patient liaison in a variety of healthcare settings — such as clinic offices for physicians, podiatrists, and other health practitioners.

The purpose of Mercy College of Health Sciences' medical assisting program is to prepare medical assistants who are competent in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains to enter the profession. 


You can earn an associate of science in medical assisting by completing the additional Core requirements prior to starting the MA certificate. Those courses would include: Math Elective (3 Credits), Natural Science Elective (4 Credits), Humanities Elective (3 credits), Natural/Social Science Elective (3 Credits), Core Elective (3 Credits), Comp I (3 Credits), Comp II (3 Credits), and Servant Leadership (3 Credits) for an additional 25 credit hours. Servant Leadership can be completed while earning your MA Certificate.

We offer a number of cohorts around the country. Find one closest to you and join us online (and in-person!). 

Looking for a turnkey solution for your entire healthcare system? Become a partner.

*Tuition for the Medical Assisting program is charged on a semester basis over the course of the three-semester program. Learn more about Mercy College's tuition and fees here.  



The Medical Assisting certificate and associate degree is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP). At the conclusion of your MA coursework, you will be eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) Exam.

Our MA faculty team includes a full-time program chair as well as many medical professionals in the clinical setting. Our full-time liberal arts and science faculty members are PhD-prepared and adept at integrating their subject matters into a comprehensive health science curriculum. As a student, you will receive an exceptional level of personalized instruction from experienced educators dedicated to your success.

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The Medical Assisting tuition is calculated on a program basis and only applies to MA-### courses. Students taking additional coursework may incur additional charges.

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Earning my degree online allowed me the flexibility to be home with my children and not have to rely on expensive daycares, which would have increased the cost of earning my degree. Even though I wasn’t on campus, I was able to contact my instructors, tutors, advisors, and librarians virtually and through email.

Beth D., BSN Candidate, 2020

Mercy College student studying online


The Medical Assisting program is a direct admit program. When you are admitted to Mercy College, you are admitted into the Medical Assisting program! To get started, complete the Mercy College application. If you are transferring credits, please visit our transfer page to learn more.



The following courses and sequencing is a sample of required courses to graduate from the Medical Assisting program. The following courses are designed to allow students to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) Exam.

SEMESTER 1: 8-Week Term 

MA 101 - MA Administrative Procedures (4 cr)

7-Week Term

MA 106 - Anatomy & Physiology (4 cr)

SEMESTER 2: 8-Week Term

MA 102 - MA Clinical Procedures I (4 cr)

7-Week Term

MA 122 - MA Clinical Procedures II (4 cr)

SEMESTER 3: 8-Week Term

MA 108 - Diseases of the Human Body (3 cr)

MA 203- MA Practicum I (2 cr)

7-Week Term

MA 201 - MA Professional Components (2 cr)

MA 204- MA Practicum II (2 cr)

Total Credits: 25

The Medical Assisting program has two convenient start dates in the fall and spring to match your needs. View our full academic calendar. 

FALL: September
SPRING: January

Medical Assistant Program Outcomes1

Exam Passage Job Placement  
100% 100%  


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much do medical assistants make?
According to, the average salary for a medical assistant is $16.11 per hour in the United States, however, compensation varies according to many factors, including location, work setting and experience.

How do you become a certified medical assistant?
After completing our one-year medical assistant program, students are eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) exam to earn their certification.

Do I need SAT or ACT scores to enroll?
No, the only requirement for this program is a high school diploma or GED.

How will I complete the required 160 hours of clinical practicum?
Mercy College will work with you to secure 160 hours of clinical practicum with one of our healthcare partners near you. This practicum is very important as it allows students to experience hands-on learning in actual medical offices.

Do medical assistants draw blood? Can medical assistants give shots?
Medical assistants in our program do learn to draw blood and administer shots as needed, however, it depends entirely on their place of employment if they will perform these duties. 

Is medical assisting a good career?
Absolutely. Becoming a medical assistant takes only one-year to complete, pays well, is a high-demand healthcare career option and provides fulfilling, meaningful work. You will never be bored with this job — every day is different. Many have found that medical assisting is a great launching pad into other advanced healthcare career fields as they gain more experience.

How hard is the medical assistant certification test?
Mercy College’s medical assistant program touts an impressive 100% pass rate among graduates for the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) exam. The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions administered in four 40-minute segments. The question categories are general, administrative and clinical.

How is a medical assistant different from a physician assistant?
Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks with physician supervision. Physician assistants examine, diagnose and treat patients while working under a physician, who may or may not be on-site.

How much does it cost to complete the medical assisting program?
The Mercy College medical assistant program costs around $10,000. This equates to approximately $3,572 per semester of the program. If financing your education is a major hurdle, there are lots of tuition reimbursement and scholarship opportunities for you to explore! 

Is the program all online or in person?
The medical assistant program is 100% online instruction through our online platforms, however there are two in-person skills labs that must be completed in order to graduate.

Where are the medical assistant skills labs located and when do they take place?
The two, six-hour skills labs take place at any one of our cohort locations unless you have enrolled through an external cohort partnership. Mercy College is continuously expanding cohort locations as demand continues to rise across the United States. Skills labs begin in the second semester of the program.

How long does it take to complete the MA program?
Mercy College’s medical assistant program takes one year to complete. The program is offered over the course of three semesters, which are broken into two smaller, accelerated 7-8 terms. Our goal at Mercy College is aimed to be as flexible as possible to remove any barriers to higher education, so you can work with your enrollment coach to determine your program trajectory to fit your schedule.

What is online learning like?
You can learn more about online learning here.

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1. Job placement and Exam Passage are based on graduates from 2020. Retention is based on the total percentage from the 2020 admission cohort/s.
2. Projected growth: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants.


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1Public Health Practitioner Salary in the United States, 2021.
2Completion time varies depending on each student's unique situation.

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Next step before transforming into a life-saving hero: complete the form below. Our admissions team will get you all the info you need to know.

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About Us

Mercy College of Health Sciences has been transforming students into healthcare professionals since 1899. Located in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, we offer master's degreesbachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, certificate programs, and continuing education courses.

Mercy College is the only private Catholic college in central Iowa and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), in addition to numerous programmatic accreditors.

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Mercy College is a Catholic, accredited, nonprofit institution of higher learning.