Are There 4-Week Medical Assistant Programs?

6 Min Read Published September 27, 2023
Are There 4-Week Medical Assistant Programs?

Healthcare occupations are some of the fastest-growing careers, with many different options to fit a variety of interests, life stages, and skills. And if you’re interested in entering the healthcare field as quickly as possible, becoming a medical assistant is a great option.

With some medical assistant programs as short as 4 weeks and no formal degree required, becoming a medical assistant is one of the fastest ways to enter the healthcare field and can earn you an average annual wage of over $38,270, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are 4-Week Medical Assistant Programs Available?

Four-week medical assistant programs are not typical. The shortest pathway to becoming a medical assistant is usually through a certification program, which you can attend at a technical school or community college – but those are often two to three-semester programs.

If you want to enter a healthcare career in 4 weeks, you may consider pursuing a certified nursing assistant (CNA) license. Select CNA programs last just one month, allowing you to start working quickly. Though similar, CNAs have different duties than MAs. You can weigh the pros and cons of both careers in our medical assistant vs CNA guide.

Becoming a Medical Assistant Through the CMA Exam

It is possible to obtain your medical assistant certification by simply taking the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam through the AAMA. You’ll just need to have the right qualifications. 

The AAMA has an alternative pathway program that lets people with certain qualifications take the CMA exam. In order to take the exam, candidates need: 

  1. A transcript and signed Attestation Form 

  2. To have graduated from an accredited postsecondary medical assisting ​or postsecondary medical assisting apprenticeship program with qualifying criteria, including at least two semesters, 560 academic contact hours, 160-hour practicum or 1,000 hours of practice post-program, and the following courses:

    1. Basic anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, infection control and applied mathematics

    2. Theory and techniques of intramuscular, intradermal, and subcutaneous injection administration

    3. Theory and techniques of phlebotomy

Choosing a Medical Assistant Program

Accreditation is extremely important when choosing a medical assistant program. You’ll want to choose a program that is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). 

Accreditation allows students to take the Certified Medical Assistant exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants, a credential that many employers prefer during the hiring process.

You can also search for an accredited medical assistant program through the CAAHEP site. As just one example, one medical assistant certificate program requires three semesters and at least 160 hours of clinical work to obtain certification. 

The Top Shortest Medical Assistant Programs

As mentioned earlier, the fastest ways to become a CMA will usually be through a technical program that grants you a certificate or by taking the certifying exam as a qualifying student. 

Some online programs also appear to offer quick paths to becoming a medical assistant, such as the 5-Day Medical Assistant Workshop and the Pharmacy Tech Fast Track Self Study course but actually require students to already be certified as medical assistants. It’s important to fully understand what a program requires and includes because, in addition to online coursework, accredited medical assistant programs also mandate that students complete a clinical practicum

While we have included some options for medical assistant programs below, you can also search for schools and programs local to you. Your local community college is a great place to start. 

1. University of Houston Downtown

The University of Houston Downtown Clinical Medical Assistant program consists of a 140-hour classroom program and a 160-hour clinical externship. Classes in this program are available both on campus and online, allowing students to select the format that aligns best with their lifestyle and learning preferences.

  • Tuition: $2,599.00 for the in-person course and $2,499.00 for the online course
  • Program Length: Approximately 4 months. Includes 140 hours of classroom or online content and 160-hour clinical externship.
  • Accreditation: National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
  • Application Deadline: None stated
  • Contact Information: 713-221-8032
  • Online Options Available? Yes

2. Century College Medical Assistant Program

Century College offers flexible start dates and scheduling options, providing convenience for busy students. Additionally, the Minnesota State System has awarded this program for Excellence in Curriculum Planning, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for their post-graduation careers.

  • Tuition: The cost for the 51-credit-hour program is $206.41 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 4 semesters, including a 300-hour clinical practicum
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
  • Application Deadline: October 2, 2023 for the Spring semester
  • Contact Info: Program director Michelle Blesi, phone 651-748-2610, e-mail
  • Online Options Available? Yes

3. Phlebotomy Career Training

This is one of the shortest available medical assistant programs. The online program is self-paced and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with support staff available during business hours. Students have the option to complete the program in as little as six weeks but are also allowed up to six months to finish the course, if necessary.

  • Tuition: $691.20
  • Program Length: Self-paced, can be completed in as little as 6 weeks. Students must complete a 204-hour clinical internship.
  • Accreditation: National Center for Competency Testing
  • Application Deadline: None stated; immediate access is available after registration
  • Contact Info: 734-762-3220 or 1-888-410-6416
  • Online Options Available? Yes

4. U.S. Career Institute

This program has online coursework with clinicals completed at a site of your own choosing. CCMA or CMAA exam fees are also included in your tuition. Note: Residents of WA will not be able to gain licensure as a result of this program.

  • Tuition: $1,239 plus a $29 registration fee when paid in full
  • Program Length: Self-paced, can be completed in 6-10 weeks. Students must also complete practicum hours based on the state they want to practice in. 
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • Application Deadline: None stated; immediate access is available after registration
  • Contact Info: 1-866-250-6851 
  • Online Options Available? Yes

5. Purdue Global Medical Assistant Certificate Program

Purdue’s program offers monthly start dates and guides students to complete their 160-hour coursework in a local setting. 

  • Tuition: $371/credit 
  • Program Length: Average 1.5 years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Contact Info: ‪(844) 787-3834‬
  • Online Options Available? Yes

What to Expect in a Medical Assistant Program 

A medical assistant program prepares someone to take on a professional role with clinical skills as a medical assistant. 

Typically, medical assistant programs require students to possess a high school diploma or GED. Medical assistant programs are available through community colleges, vocational or technical schools, or online platforms. In cases where the program is offered at a community college, graduates will earn an associate degree, whereas other medical assistant programs may grant a certificate or diploma. 

The American Medical Assistant Association (AMAA) explains that medical assistants collaborate with physicians and nurses, primarily in outpatient settings like medical offices, to provide patient care. The responsibilities of a medical assistant include tasks such as:

  • Checking vital signs
  • Collecting lab specimens, including phlebotomy
  • Preparing patients for physical examinations
  • Charting
  • Other clinical and administrative duties

The demand for medical assistants is substantial, with the BLS estimating that employment of medical assistants will grow by 14% over the next 10 years, a rate faster than the average for other professions.

FAQs About Medical Assistant Programs 

  • How long is a medical assistant program?

    • The duration of medical assistant programs can vary widely, spanning from as short as several weeks to as long as two years for programs offering an associate degree.
  • What is the shortest medical assistant program?

    • The shortest medical assistant program we located can be completed in 6 weeks, excluding clinical practicum experience. If you have the right qualifications, you can also just take the CMA exam to become certified. 
  • Can I complete a medical assistant program in 4 weeks?

    • You are unlikely to find a medical assistant program that can be completed in 4 weeks unless it builds upon another healthcare certification, such as already being a certified nursing assistant.
  • What is the difference between a medical assistant and a physician assistant?

    • A medical assistant works under the direct supervision of a physician and performs basic clinical and administrative tasks, such as taking a patient's history or performing an electrocardiogram (EKG). Physician assistants are healthcare practitioners who have a collaborative relationship with a physician and may see patients independently of the physician. They are responsible for examining, diagnosing, and treating patients.
Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie Contributor

Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery. Her work has appeared everywhere from Glamor to The New York Times to The Washington Post. Chaunie lives with her husband and five kids in the middle of a hay field in Michigan and you can find more of her work here

Read More From Chaunie
Go to the top of page