Medical Billing & Coding Schools

One healthcare career that demands accuracy and highly specialized knowledge is the medical billing and coding field. This is an especially attractive profession for those who want to work in healthcare but do not want extensive patient-facing responsibilities. Medical billers and coders occupy one subfield of health information technology. They ensure that health services, diagnoses, and clinical procedures are recorded properly in patients’ health records.

It is important to note that health information technicians (HITs) are closely related and typically take on medical billing and coding as part of their jobs, among other responsibilities. Medical billers’ and coders’ important work requires a thorough and working knowledge of the unique codes used for patient care, insurance, and billing documentation. A mistake could have damaging medical and financial consequences for patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies. Therefore, comprehensive education in medical billing and coding is a must.

Medical billers and coders work in many medical environments, yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022), a sizable majority report to hospitals and physicians’ offices. Because this is a computer-based profession, many medical billers and coders can work remotely. The same is true of their training: online medical billing and coding programs are abundant throughout the country. These professionals must exercise discretion to protect patient privacy regardless of their work environment. Other important qualities employers look for in medical billers and coders include:

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Computer skills

  • Analytical thinking

  • Strong attention to detail

As important as these attributes are in today’s job market, education still impacts one’s career potential. This article details the various medical billing and coding programs, including a discussion of online schools, accreditation, and professional certification in this growing career field.

Medical Billing and Coding Specialists (Medical Records Specialists) fast facts
Projected Jobs Created12,300
Projected Job Growth7%
Average Salary$48,310
Low Salary$29,430
High Salary$74,200
Entry-Level EDU Postsecondary Certificate
Sourced from BLS, 2022

Medical Coding & Billing Program Accreditation

Most medical billing and coding jobs require a postsecondary certificate or associate degree and professional certification. According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), a degree typically draws better employment and credentialing opportunities. Nonetheless, postsecondary certificates offer faster workforce entry and may meet coding certification requirements. Additionally, the flexibility of online medical billing and coding programs makes either option more accessible, especially for working professionals.

Potential applicants should note that some medical billing and coding programs are clearly titled as such, while others offer degrees in health information technology. Prospective students should research the applications of specific degrees, so they do not limit their options unnecessarily. Health information and health informatics are related but distinct majors.

Prospective students weighing medical billing and coding programs should be aware of factors impacting program value and accessibility, including school accreditation status and state authorization for online colleges.


Future coding specialists looking for reliable, respected learning options should not overlook the importance of accreditation. Accredited online medical billing and coding degree programs have been reviewed by a third-party organization to confirm they comply with quality standards in areas like instruction and finances. Many admissions boards, credentialing organizations, and employers only consider candidates with accredited degrees.

Medical coding and billing schools are subject to national, regional, and programmatic accreditation. National and regional accreditation applies to an institution as a whole, while programmatic accreditation applies only to the medical billing and coding program. Schools publish accreditation information online, but verifying accreditation status with the school never hurts. Following are some of the accrediting agencies one should look for when assessing programs:

National Accreditation

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

Regional Accreditation

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Programmatic Accreditation

State Authorization

Anyone considering an online medical billing or coding program should first research its state authorization status. All states regulate which schools can enroll their residents. Therefore, a student living in a particular state might be able to attend an online school based in some states but not others. States may make exceptions for public universities, regionally accredited programs, or other circumstances. Online colleges usually list relevant state authorization information on their official websites. Students who cannot find such a page should contact the school directly before beginning the admissions process to verify that they will be able to enroll.

SELECT * FROM `mts_online_offline_data` WHERE `page_url` = '/medical-coder' AND ( `table_type` = 'Offline' OR `table_type` = 'BOTH (Online + Offline)' ) ORDER BY `grads` DESC

Medical Billing and Coding Programs – On-Campus

Medical coding training schools vary widely. Some institutions offer exclusively brick-and-mortar experiences rather than distance-based coursework. The following programs are some of those designed for face-to-face instruction. Each program listed below has been accredited by the CAHIIM, which may be critical for future employment, advanced program admissions, and professional certification.

Oakton Community College: Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology

Oakton Community College’s AAS in health information technology is just one of the many training options at public community and technical colleges. Oakton describes its HIT program as an intersection of the medical, computer technology, and information management disciplines.

Courses emphasize many aspects of healthcare data, electronic health records, and health information management. Students can attend full-time during the day or part-time in the evenings. According to OCC, HIT graduates are familiar with ICD-10 and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding systems and are ready to pursue Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification (more on this later). While the AAS in health information technology is primarily campus-based, students can complete some coursework online.

This AAS degree comprises 61 to 67 credits, including courses such as Medical Terminology; Pharmacology for Health Record Documentation; Fundamentals of Health Information Management; CPT coding; healthcare statistics and registries; electronic health record and applications; healthcare management and law for health information management; and quality improvement and assessment in healthcare.

OCC also offers a 16-unit medical coding and billing certificate.

  • Locations: Des Plaines, IL; Skokie, IL
  • Cost: Residents of the district ($136.25 per credit); Illinois residents, out-of-district ($367 per credit); out-of-state ($439 per credit)
  • CAHIIM accredited: Yes

Santa Fe College: Medical Coder/Biller Certificate

Santa Fe College’s medical coder/biller certificate is a postsecondary credential ideal for rising and entry-level professionals alike. According to SFC, MC/B students enrolled in this 37-credit program will feel just as comfortable with medical reference books as with a computer.

Coursework includes topics such as anatomy and physiology; introduction to healthcare and information management; medical terminology; basic procedure coding; pharmacotherapy; health law and compliance; and revenue cycle management, among others, plus practical instruction in two different disease classification systems. Students can choose between SFC’s one-year (full-time) or two-year (part-time) programs. All credits transfer to the institution’s AS in health information technology; an audit of the remaining 33 units of coursework is available online.

The health information technology associate in science degree is CAHIIM-accredited and comprises 70 credits. Courses include electronic health record and technology; data analytics and project management; RHIT certification exam preparation; healthcare statistics and data analysis; and continuous quality improvement and risk management.

  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Cost: Florida residents ($106.77 per credit); non-Florida residents ($382.90 per credit)
  • CAHIIM accredited: Yes

Coppin State University: Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management

Coppin State University’s HIM program allows students to earn a bachelor of science (BS) degree while learning the fundamentals of medical billing and coding. Students pursuing a BS in HIM degree will master entry-level skills in the discipline at a higher level than an associate degree program would allow. For example, CSU says its students are specialists in managing patient data, verifying medical information is complete and confidential, and assigning health codes for insurance and research purposes.

Coursework also prepares learners to enhance the quality of health information, support administrative decision-making, and devise procedures that improve information security, giving graduates more critical skills that can come in handy when seeking post-graduation employment. When CSU conducted a survey of program graduates, 98 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the University’s HIM program.

This 120-credit BS degree includes courses such as orientation to health sciences; medical terminology; human anatomy and physiology; pathophysiology; pharmacology; financial accounting; introduction to computer and information security; fundamentals of HIM; health information systems, among others.

Coppin State University also offers a 47-credit master of science program in health information management designed to prepare professionals and students for senior-level career advancement.

  • Location: Hagerstown, MD (near Baltimore)
  • Cost: Undergraduate (Maryland resident: $205 per credit; non-Maryland resident: $640 per credit); graduate (Maryland resident: $358 per credit; non-Maryland resident: $659 per credit)
  • CAHIIM accredited: Yes

Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs

The computer-centric nature of medical billing and coding makes it a solid fit for online learning and, in turn, a flexible alternative for working professionals. Like campus-based schools, online colleges can vary considerably in areas like coursework, cost, content delivery, and more. Online medical billing and coding schools offer post-secondary certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and some master’s degrees. Many programs are accredited by the CAHIIM and designed with professional credentials in mind.

Albany State University: Online Associate of Science in Health Information Technology

According to Albany State University, graduates of its distance-based AS in health information technology include medical and clinical coding specialists but graduates have also gone on to work as health data analysts, patient information coordinators, and physician practice managers. To phrase it differently, ASU’s HIT degree can accommodate many career goals. The flexible, 100 percent online program prepares students for RHIT certification (addressed at length below).

With both part-time and full-time options available, the program includes courses such as human anatomy and physiology; medical terminology; survey of computer applications; health record content and structure; pathophysiology and pharmacology; fundamentals of health information management; coding; advanced coding and reimbursement; and healthcare statistics.

Albany State University also offers an online medical coding certificate which is made up of 29 credits. Graduates of this certificate will be prepared for entry-level positions as medical coders and will be eligible to take the national credentialing exam for CCA (certified coding associate).

  • Campus location: Albany, GA
  • Cost: In-state ($95 per credit); out-of-state ($359.67 per credit)
  • Required campus visits: None, though area students can choose to take labs at an ASU location
  • CAHIIM accredited: Yes

Dakota State University: Online Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics & Information Management (HIIM)

Dakota State University’s online BS in health informatics & information management offers broad but thorough education in medical coding, analysis, and computer information systems. Much like Coppin State University’s campus-based BS in HIT, DSU’s bachelor’s program prepares students for careers in medical coding, including administrative positions, and for RHIT certification.

Instruction is delivered via webcasting and other online learning technologies, while courses integrate common health information software. Though SDU’s HIIM program is based online, the university works to provide networking and practical training opportunities.

The curriculum includes courses in human anatomy and physiology; visual basic programming; digital health information systems; ICD healthcare coding systems; healthcare procedure coding systems; health statistics; and digital health informatics and information management research.

Notably, Dakota State University also offers a 34 to 39-credit online healthcare coding certificate program preparing students with entry-level knowledge and skills needed for coding, classifying, and indexing procedures and diagnoses for the purpose of standardization, reimbursement, retrieval, and statistical analysis. All courses within this certificate program will apply to the BS in HIIM degree program.

  • Campus location: Madison, SD
  • Cost: $354.75 per credit
  • Required campus visits: None; students can complete the program’s supervised professional practice close to home
  • CAHIIM accredited: Yes

Drexel University: Online Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding

Drexel University offers an online medical billing and coding certificate preparing students for national certifications that help them stand out to employers. Delivered entirely online, this 30-credit, ten-course program provides students with a strong foundational understanding of anatomy, medical billing, terminology, software, and physician and hospital-based medical coding. Upon completion, graduates will be eligible for national certification exams such as the CCA, CCS, and CCS-P exams offered by AHIMA; the CRMS exam offered by the American Medical Billing Association; and the CPC, COC, CIC, and CPMA exam offered by AAPC.

The curriculum includes courses such as medical terminology; regional anatomy; pathophysiology for medical billers & coders; pharmacology for medical billers & coders; diagnostic coding; procedural coding; understanding insurance, administration, and the law for medical billers & coders; and virtual lab for medical billers & coders. All credits earned in this certificate can be applied toward the university’s online BS in health services administration program.

  • Campus location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Cost: $928 per credit
  • Required campus visits: None
  • CAHIIM accredited: No

Shoreline Community College: Online Medical Coding and Reimbursement Specialist Certificate of Proficiency

Shoreline Community College’s online medical coding and reimbursement specialist certificate of proficiency prepares students for entry-level careers as inpatient and outpatient coders, billers, patient account representatives, and other support positions in various healthcare settings. Graduates will be eligible to sit for certification examinations offered by the AHIMA and the AAPC.

Composed of 62 to 65 credits, the curriculum includes courses such as healthcare delivery in the US; hospital and clinic patient records; medical terminology; revenue cycle management; legal aspects of healthcare; basic ICD-10 coding; outpatient coding; intermediate medical coding; and health informatics essentials.

Students are taught how to complete Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance claim forms; use software such as automated accounting systems and electronic health record systems; use computerized (and manual) grouping systems and encoders for determining prospective payment systems, and read and interpret patient medical records.

Graduates will be ready to take up roles such as medical coders, medical reimbursement specialists, billers, coding analysts, clinical documentation improvement specialists, and patient account representatives. Additionally, they can pursue a fully online 96-credit associate’s degree in health information technology.

  • Campus location: Shoreline, WA
  • Cost: $170.14 per credit
  • Required campus visits: None
  • CAHIIM accredited: Yes

Moraine Park Technical College: Online Technical Diploma in Medical Coding

Providing students with entry-level coding opportunities, Moraine Park Technical College’s online technical diploma in medical coding can be completed in less than a year. All credits earned in this diploma can be transferred to Moraine Park Technical College’s AAS degree in health information technology.

Preparing students for national certification examinations, this 30 to 31-credit diploma includes courses such as medical terminology; ICD diagnosis coding; human diseases for the health professions; digital literacy for healthcare; basic anatomy; intermediate coding; current procedural terminology (CPT) coding; and ICD procedure coding.

Graduates of this program will be ready to work as chargemaster auditors, hospital outpatient coders, acute care coders, ambulatory coders, insurance claims clerks, physician specialty coders, and several other positions that are focused on data analysis or coding.

  • Campus location: Fond du Lac, WI
  • Cost: Resident ($143.45 per credit); out-of-state resident ($215.18 per credit)
  • Required campus visits: None
  • CAHIIM accredited: Yes

Medical Billing and Coding Courses

Organizations like the AHIMA devise medical billing and curricular coding objectives that align with workforce needs and future training or credentialing opportunities. Most schools try to create programs that meet those recommendations, creating standardization across their curricula. This is true for post-secondary certificates and degrees, online or on-campus.

The following courses are a sampling of common medical billing and coding courses picked from real programs across the US:

  • Anatomy for the medical office specialist: This foundational anatomy and physiology course is geared toward medical coders specifically. Many advanced HIT programs and certifications require formal anatomy training.
  • Foundations of medical coding: Foundations of medical coding speak to the core of medical billing and coding. In this course, students learn the ICD-10 and other common coding systems they will rely upon in the field.
  • Medical billing software: Medical billing technology training is essential in the ongoing march toward fully electronic medical records. This course explores some of the most popular programs used to record charges, post payments, and design and generate reports.
  • Physician- or Hospital-based coding: Setting-specific classes cultivate specialized, job-centered skills and prepare students for career advancement and certification. Coursework focuses primarily on non-ICD coding systems graduates might encounter in the field.
  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam prep: Certified Coding Associate is an entry-level professional certification that verifies important skills and knowledge. Some CCA exam prep classes are a standard part of associate medical coding degree programs; others are optional or offered independently. The CCA and other common coding credentials are discussed in depth below.

Career Outlook

Job prospects are bright for medical billing and coding specialists: the BLS projects that demand for these professionals will grow 7 percent between 2021 and 2031—faster than the national average for all careers, which stands at 5 percent (BLS 2022). There are several reasons for this growing demand, some of which include:

  • Medical advancements: Improved medical care continues to lengthen lifespans and, in turn, the number of patients who are seeking medical care.
  • An aging population: The sizable Baby Boomer generation only adds to the already-growing patient population.
  • Industry changes: Medical coding and billing specialists around the world use the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) coding system. The ninth version of the ICD (ICD-9) was recently replaced by ICD-10, sparking demand for coders fluent in the system.
  • Healthcare reform: Recent US healthcare reforms expanded the number of patients with health insurance. More access means more services, tests, and procedures.

Resume-Builders for Medical Billing and Coding Specialists

Medical billing and coding specialists are in demand, yet some candidates enjoy better employment prospects than others. The BLS and AHIMA cite several variables that impact one’s employability and advancement potential. Among them:

  • Professional certification: Employers are more likely to hire candidates with health information certifications like the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential.
  • Education: Not surprisingly, more advanced degrees usually win more career opportunities and bigger paychecks. Professionally certified candidates with associate or bachelor’s degrees fare best in this field.
  • Technical skills: The shift from paper to electronic health records demands greater computer expertise and fluency with ICD-10 and other coding systems.
  • Continuing education: Medical billers and coders who invest in ongoing training show employers that they are serious about their work and will keep up with changes in the field.

Medical Billing & Coding Credentialing

Most employers only consider professionally certified medical billers and coders. Note that professional certification and postsecondary certificates are two different credentials: the former recognizes specialized knowledge in the field rather than education alone. In addition to its benefits to the healthcare system as a whole, health information certification is associated with better employment rates, higher earnings, and quicker advancement. Following are some of the most common medical billing and coding certifications available to qualified candidates.

Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)

The Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification is an advanced AHIMA credential accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Eligibility requirements are steeper than most certificates, which makes the RHIT more desirable than many other credentials.

The RHIT recognizes HIT professionals who demonstrate professional and technical expertise in their respective fields; comprehensive knowledge of HIT medical, administrative, ethical, and legal standards; strong management skills; and effective collaboration with colleagues from all levels of an organization. The passing score for the RHIT exam is 300.

Eligibility Requirements

  • At least an associate degree from a medical billing and coding or health information technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), or
  • Graduate from an HIM program approved by a foreign association with which AHIMA has a reciprocity agreement

Certified Coding Associate (CCA)

The Certified Coding Associate is an entry-level AHIMA-NCCA credential explicitly for medical coding specialists. CCA-certified coders are competent in all industry standards, in all healthcare settings, and demonstrate leadership potential. The passing score for the CCA exam is 300.

Eligibility Requirements

  • A high school diploma or equivalent

NOTE: The AHIMA encourages CCA candidates to seek at least six months of direct coding experience or an accredited coding program before applying.

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

The AHIMA’s Certified Coding Specialist certification is a mastery-level credential for experienced coders skilled in classifying accurate medical information. Certified professionals are fluent not only in the ICD-10 but also in medical technology, disease prevention, and pharmacology. CCS candidates must pass the official CCS exam with a score of 300 or better (out of 400).

Eligibility Requirements

While not required, it is recommended that candidates must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Current RHIT or CCS-P certification (see below)
  • CCA certification plus one year of direct coding experience
  • At least two years of related coding experience directly applying codes
  • College coursework in anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, reimbursement methodology, and others; plus one-year coding experience directly applying codes

Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-Based (CCS-P)

The CCS-P is a mastery-level AHIMA certification like the CCS, but it is specifically designed for coders who work in physician-based settings like doctors’ offices, group practices, or specialty clinics. Certified professionals demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding system and working knowledge of ICD-10 and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) – Level II systems. All CCS-P candidates must pass the formal CCS-P exam with a score of at least 300 (of 400).

Eligibility Requirements

While not required, it is recommended that candidates must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Current RHIT or CCS certification
  • CCA certification + one year of direct coding experience
  • At least two years of professional coding experience
  • College coursework in anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, and reimbursement methodology, among others; plus one-year coding experience directly applying codes
Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani Writer

Farheen Gani is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).