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Best Online Certificate Programs in Healthcare

Online schools offer a broad selection of healthcare certificate programs in the fields of nursing, healthcare management, and clinical support services. Delve into more details about how to choose a suitable program, career outlooks for healthcare workers, and available resources for professional development.

Best Schools with Online Healthcare Certificate Programs

The top online institutions for earning certificates in healthcare offer programs in a variety of fields including nursing, healthcare administration, and allied health professions.

1. University of Kansas

Location % Financial Aid Awarded In-State Tuition & Fees
Lawrence, KS 86% $11,148

The online platform of the University of Kansas provides graduate certificate programs in the fields of medicine and nursing. From the School of Medicine, prospective students can earn certificates in applied statistics and data science while the school of nursing offers certificates in health educator, health informatics, psychiatric nurse practitioner, and organizational leadership. Tuition and fees for online and hybrid courses are generally the same as on-campus courses; online students can have access to financial assistance depending on their programs. Online support services include tutoring, writing guides, library assistance, and an IT support hotline.

2. University of Iowa

Location % Financial Aid Awarded In-State Tuition & Fees
Iowa City, IA 92% $9,267

The University of Iowa offers graduate certificates in health systems/administration and public health. Most online courses are conducted through the school's own learning management platform called ICON (Iowa Courses ONline); synchronous and asynchronous formats are available. The university also offers proctoring services through its test centers and through an on-demand online proctoring tool. Other student support services include online technical support, tutoring, and online library access. Tuition here runs $560 per credit regardless of residency status.

3. Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health

Location % Financial Aid Awarded In-State Tuition & Fees
Omaha, NE 100% $16,308

Nebraska Methodist College, a small private institution catering to a little more than 1,000 students, offers certificate programs in nursing, allied health, and healthcare management. Among the post-master's nursing certificate programs are nurse educator, nurse executive, and nursing informatics. In the allied health and healthcare management fields, the college features online certificates for sterile processing technician, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, mammography, and healthcare analytics. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and also holds several programmatic accreditations from various agencies.

4. Washburn University

Location % Financial Aid Awarded In-State Tuition & Fees
Topeka, KS 92% $8,312

Washburn University features online certificate programs in diagnostic medical sonography, magnetic resonance imaging, and health information coding. All didactic courses can be completed online while the clinical requirements can typically be done at affiliated facilities within the student's local area. The university holds an accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and the medical sonography program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The student-faculty ratio is 22:1, and about 71 percent of full-time faculty have doctorate degrees. Tuition is charged per credit; students from Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas have access to in-state tuition.

5. University of Arizona

Location % Financial Aid Awarded In-State Tuition & Fees
Tucson, AZ 92% $12,467

The University of Arizona offers 10 online graduate certificate programs in healthcare including public health, applied nutrition, health information, regulatory science, and various nurse practitioner specializations. Courses run for 7.5 weeks, with options of six starting dates per year. Online students have access to academic advisors, tutoring, librarian support, alumni mentorship, and other services. The school doesn't charge out-of-state tuition and also provides a payment plan that allows students to pay tuition in three installments.

Rank School Name Location % Financial Aid Awarded In-State Tuition & Fees
6 University of Mississippi Oxford, MS 87% $8,660
7 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 90% $8,695
8 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati, OH 83% $11,000
9 MCPHS University Boston, MA 99% $33,620
10 University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD 95% $9,061
11 Great Basin College Elko, NV 75% $3,128
12 East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN 97% $8,935
13 Weber State University Ogden, UT 89% $5,859
14 University of Colorado Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, CO 84% $8,523
15 Southern Adventist University Collegedale, TN 99% $21,950
16 National University La Jolla, CA 0% $13,320
17 Madison Area Technical College Madison, WI 61% $4,407
18 Winona State University Winona, MN 89% $9,425
19 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA 91% $15,887
20 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 100% $53,244
21 University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 74% $15,730
22 Tennessee Technological University Cookeville, TN 98% $8,731
23 Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI 89% $12,483
24 Misericordia University Dallas, PA 100% $33,240
25 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 78% $9,625
26 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 97% $11,788
27 University of Missouri-St Louis Saint Louis, MO 95% $9,792
28 Ball State University Muncie, IN 90% $9,896
29 Midland College Midland, TX 62% $4,290
30 Madonna University Livonia, MI 99% $21,900
31 Delta State University Cleveland, MS 97% $7,246
32 Temple University Philadelphia, PA 90% $16,970
33 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA 100% $38,178
34 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME 100% $35,650
35 DeSales University Center Valley, PA 100% $37,400
36 Regis University Denver, CO 99% $36,810
37 Creighton University Omaha, NE 100% $39,916
38 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA 90% $6,356
39 Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster, PA 89% $28,412
40 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK 84% $6,657
41 Bethel University Saint Paul, MN 0% $37,300
42 Jacksonville University Jacksonville, FL 98% $36,670
43 Monmouth University West Long Branch, NJ 99% $38,138
44 Walsh University North Canton, OH 100% $29,980
45 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME 94% $7,988
46 New Mexico State University-Main Campus Las Cruces, NM 99% $6,686
47 Jackson College Jackson, MI 87% $8,742
48 Vincennes University Vincennes, IN 89% $5,902
49 University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK 82% $8,580
50 Prescott College Prescott, AZ 100% $31,485

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose an Online Healthcare Certificate Program

Prospective students should keep these considerations in mind when deciding on which online certificate programs to pursue.

Cost

Tuition for online certificate programs is often calculated per credit hour, although students should expect additional costs for technology fees and other course-specific fees. Some schools offer the same tuition rate for both residents and non-residents. Options for financial aid are more limited for certificate programs; in most cases, only degree programs are qualified for financial assistance. Only certificate programs approved by the U.S. Department of Education are eligible for financial aid and these can be rare. Some institutions, however, offer grants, scholarships, and loans for eligible certificate programs.

Credit Transfer Policy

Depending on a school's transfer policy, credits earned in post-graduate certificate programs in healthcare may be transferable to health professional programs such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, and physical therapy. Undergraduate certificate credits may also be eligible for transfer to an associate's or bachelor's degree program. Students should look into an institution's credit transfer guidelines as well as any articulation agreements it may have with other colleges and universities. Articulation agreements provide an easier process for credit transfer and are particularly helpful for online students.

School Size

A large college or university can offer a more varied selection of programs and courses as well as research opportunities, while a smaller school is often more focused on specific academic disciplines. Small schools may also have a lower student-to-faculty ratio, allowing for easier access to professors and more active participation in synchronous online classes.

Program Length

A post-master's certificate program in nursing may take at least 12 months to complete, with nurse practitioner programs taking as long as 20-32 months depending on the concentration. Pharmacy technician programs and other undergraduate certificate programs for allied health professions can run for 4-9 months. Some schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to earn certificates at a faster pace but will require more hours of coursework per week.

Practical Requirements

While a lot of healthcare certificate courses can be taken online, there are programs that require on-campus laboratory training or internships at relevant healthcare facilities. Certificate programs for nurse practitioner, pharmacy technician, sterile processing technician, and other clinical and technical jobs often include experiential training. Online students should check a program's policy on where internships and clinicals can be completed.

Overview of Online Healthcare Certificate Programs and Courses

Prospective students can choose from a broad range of certificate programs in healthcare, from clinical and technical fields to academic and administrative functions. Here are common certificate programs that are often available online.

Nurse Educator

A nurse educator program, usually offered as a post-baccalaureate or post-master's certificate, equips registered nurses with skills for a teaching career in an academic or clinical setting. The curriculum can be completed in about one year and often includes a practicum. Students can expect to take the following courses:

  • Adult learning theories - tackles teaching-learning concepts and holistic education principles as well as personal motivation and personality traits.
  • Teaching methods - explores appropriate teaching strategies for classroom, online, and clinical instruction settings.
  • Curriculum development - focuses on curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation for nursing programs.

Nurse Executive

Registered nurses who are looking to advance to leadership and management positions may consider taking a post-master's nurse executive certificate. The program may take about one year to complete although some schools could require more credit hours. A practicum in a healthcare organization is often a curriculum requirement. Common courses include the following:

  • Organizational structure - looks into behavioral science theories on individual and group behavior within a workplace setting and specific to healthcare organizations.
  • Financial management - examines accounting and budgeting principles, cost-benefit analysis, marketing and business plans, staffing and productivity, and patient care delivery from a financial standpoint.
  • Organizational leadership - explores the different aspects of management as well as leadership traits including emotional intelligence, risk-taking, planning, decision-making, and professional accountability.

Healthcare Analytics

A healthcare analytics certificate program provides training on how clinical, operational, and financial information can be used to improve healthcare management and services. Students can finish the program in 5-8 months, depending on the curriculum. Required courses may include the following:

  • Statistics - provides an overview of statistical concepts, methods, and tools as applied to healthcare.
  • Systems engineering - focuses on enhancing productivity and efficiency in a healthcare organization as well as evaluating operational procedures for potential improvement.

Pharmacy Technician

In a pharmacy technician program, students will be trained to assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions, organizing drug supplies, answering insurance questions, and other related functions. The program, which can take 5-9 months to complete, includes practical training at local pharmacies as well as in-person lab instruction for some schools. Students are usually required to take the following courses:

  • Pharmacology - examines body functions, diseases, disorders, and treatments including drug administration and delivery methods.
  • Drug compounding - provides training on compounding methods and equipment, quality assurance, and patient considerations.
  • Pharmacy management - explores pharmacy operations including drug information resources, business software and applications, and drug safety measures.
  • Pharmacy law and regulations - teaches students about laws and policies that affect medical professionals and pharmacy workers, the basics of the litigation process, and regulations governing healthcare information.

Medical Assistant

A medical assisting certificate program prepares students for entry-level clinical and administrative duties in healthcare facilities. Some programs are designed for credit transfer to an associate's degree in medical assisting or a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration. The coursework can be completed in 8-12 months, and students are typically required to undergo experiential training on-campus or at approved facilities. The curriculum usually includes the following courses:

  • Medical terminology - gives an overview of medical terms used in physiology, pharmacology, and diagnostic procedures.
  • Human anatomy and physiology - provides an introduction to the structure and functions of the human body as well as mechanisms of biological development and diseases.
  • Clinical systems and procedures - looks into various clinical functions such as patient examination and treatment, documentation of procedures, and providing assistance to physicians.

Accreditation of Online Healthcare Certificate Programs

Accreditation is a voluntary evaluation process that colleges and universities undergo to ensure that the education they provide meets established standards. National and regional accreditations are granted to schools while programmatic accreditation is provided to specific academic departments or programs.

Why Accreditation Matters

Aside from maintaining academic standards, there are other benefits to accreditation. Students will only be eligible for federal financial aid if they are enrolled in an accredited institution. Course credits from a non-accredited school are usually not acceptable for transfer to an accredited college. Employers may give more value to degrees and certificates earned from an accredited school or program. Accreditation is also important in licensure eligibility; only graduates of accredited programs are qualified to take certification or licensure exams in certain professions, particularly in healthcare.

Accrediting Agencies for Healthcare Certificate Programs

The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation are tasked with overseeing the functions of accrediting agencies. The following are some of the accreditors for online certificate programs in healthcare.

  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing - ACEN evaluates nursing schools that offer certificate, diploma, undergraduate, and graduate programs.
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education - CCNE's accreditation scope is similar to ACEN.
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs - CAAHEP recognizes certificate and degree programs in various health science professions such as medical assistant, surgical assistant, and medical illustrator.
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools - ABHES evaluates private colleges and universities that offer certificate and degree programs in allied health services including medical assisting, surgical technology, and medical lab technology.
  • Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education - ACME grants accreditation to basic certificate, direct-entry midwifery, and nurse-midwifery programs.
  • Midwifery Education Accreditation Council - MEAC oversees accreditation for direct-entry midwifery programs.
  • Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology - JRCERT recognizes certificate, associate, and undergraduate programs in magnetic resonance, radiation therapy, and similar fields.
  • Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission - PTAC was formed by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) for the accreditation of pharmacy technician programs.

Healthcare Certificate Programs: Jobs, Salary, and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations are expected to increase by 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, amounting to around 1.9 million new jobs. As of May 2018, healthcare support workers earned a median annual salary of $29,740 while healthcare practitioners had a median annual wage of $66,440.

Common Job Options

Students who completed online certificate programs in healthcare can consider the following jobs.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are tasked with documenting patient history and medical information, recording vital signs, preparing samples for laboratory tests, and administering medications as supervised by physicians. In larger facilities, they may focus on either clinical or administrative duties.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians are in charge of preparing prescriptions, organizing drug supplies, and collecting patient information. Those who work in hospitals may also be responsible for giving medications to patients.

Health Information Technician

The main duties of health information technicians include recording and organizing data for clinical registries, maintaining accuracy and completeness of patients' records, and ensuring the confidentiality of patients' information. They can also specialize as coding specialists or cancer registrars.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are responsible for conducting physical exams and diagnostic tests, evaluating test results, administering medications and treatments, and managing treatment plans. They may specialize in gerontology, pediatrics, or mental health.

Healthcare Manager

Healthcare managers are in charge of setting organizational goals and objectives, maintaining quality and enhancing efficiency of healthcare services, managing finances, and supervising personnel. They could work as clinical managers, health information managers, and nursing home administrators.

Occupation Job Description Median SalaryJob Outlook
Medical Assistant Performs clinical and administrative duties in hospitals, doctor's offices, and other healthcare facilities $33,61023%
Pharmacy Technician Assists pharmacists in filling prescriptions and managing inventory $32,7007%
Health Information Technician Keeps track of patients' medical information and manages clinical databases $40,35011%
Nurse Practitioner Provides primary and specialty care including diagnosis and prescription of medications $113,93026%
Healthcare Manager Manages operations of a healthcare facility $99,73018%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Professional Organizations for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare professionals can take advantage of the benefits and opportunities provided by these organizations.

American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management

The AAHAM, which has over 30 chapters across the U.S., offers certification programs, conferences and seminars, a scholarship and an awards program, a job board, and other professional benefits to its members. The organization is open to healthcare providers and vendors as well as full-time and part-time students.

American Association of Medical Assistants

AAMA members can avail themselves of discounts in the certification exam, legal counsel services, continuing education courses, access to conferences and events, and other networking opportunities. Medical assistants, medical assisting educators, and students can join the organization.

American Health Information Management Association

AHIMA boasts 52 affiliated associations and over 103,000 health information professionals in its network. Members can gain access to industry news and updates, mentorship programs, webinars, discounts on credential program fees, and other career-enhancing tools.

National Pharmacy Technician Association

The NPTA is the world's largest organization of pharmacy technicians. Membership benefits include certification and continuing education programs, industry updates, networking events, and participation in advocacy campaigns. Aside from pharmacy technicians, the organization is also open to educators and students.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners

The AANP has a membership of more than 106,000 nurse practitioners across the U.S. Members get access to free educational resources, scholarships and grants, job search support, discounts on certifications and conferences, and other professional development tools. The AANP also advocates for nurse practitioner interests to legislators and policymakers.