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Career Tips & Advice

MOA: Diploma vs. Degree

Concorde Staff

Concorde Staff

Updated October 16, 2017. The information contained in this blog is current and accurate as of this date.
medical office professional

It's an old and familiar question in the world of medical office administration. Is a diploma sufficient education to become an effective and valuable medical office administrator? Or, is an associate's degree necessary and preferred by employers?

We want our Concorde Medical Office Administration students and prospective students to be as well-informed as possible. So we sought the opinions and knowledge of a couple of our resident MOA program directors. Whether you should obtain a diploma or degree depends on what role you want in a medical office.

Medical Office Administration: Diploma vs. Degree

"The first focus to answer this question is, what role does the MOA student want to play in a medical office?" asked Michael Meyer, DO, MA/MOA Program Director at Concorde's campus in Orlando, Fla. "As a scheduler, receptionist or file clerk, a diploma program is quite adequate. If, however, they seek to use MOA as a step toward coding certification and eventual revenue cycle management, then a longer program may be necessary."

Meyer said an associate's degree program usually requires one year of hands-on coding with cases. They can successfully pass the national certifications in coding that way. Two common certifications for outpatient coding both are obtainable in a two-year associate's degree program. The American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) requires two years of coding experience to remove the apprentice status from a coder. A longer course is preferred.

"There are, however, many positions in the demographic entry and patient billing realm that do not require this level of certification," Meyer said. "The AAPC offers a certification in billing as well which requires only about one year of real-world billing experience, easily done after a diploma course introduces you to the materials."

"The real focus of the MOA program is office administration more than management. The business of a medical office is revenue cycle-based. All aspects of this cycle are discussed in our diploma program."

More thoughts on Medical Office Administration: Diploma vs. Degree

Elysia Cochran, Medical Office Administration Program Director at Concorde's campus in Jacksonville, Fla., offered the following thoughts on the topic.

  • Students coming in with a degree already are likely going to make more money straight out of the MOA program. It also will be easier for these students to obtain employment at a higher end position out of school. It is not absolutely necessary for a student to have a degree to be successful, however.
  • Students coming into MOA with no prior education will likely not get paid as much fresh out of school. They will likely have to start at a lower end position and work their way up. Once they demonstrate they are management material, the can work their way up to supervisory roles.

"In our experience with some of the office managers we work with, it is often the students who came in and completed just the diploma program that end up making the best supervisors," Cochran said. "When you have a student who had to start at the bottom of a company and work their way up, they generally are more compassionate to their employees that they are supervising. They are more willing to jump in and assist with getting the job done because they remember times when they wished they had a supervisor help when they were overwhelmed."

These are all important things to consider when deciding on medical office assistant programs.

Next Steps?

Interested in learning more about our Medical Office Administration program? We have a Concorde representative ready to talk about what matters most to you. Get answers about start dates, curriculum, financial aid, scholarships and more!

  1. Program length may be subject to change dependent on transfer credits and course load. Please refer to current course catalog for more information. Concorde does not guarantee admittance, graduation, subsequent employment or salary amount.

  2. Professional certification is not a requirement for graduation, may not be a requirement for employment nor does it guarantee employment.

  3. Financial aid is available to those who qualify but may not be available for all programs. Concorde does not guarantee financial aid or scholarship awards or amounts.

  4. Clinical hour requirements and delivery may vary by campus location and may be subject to change. Concorde does not guarantee clinical site assignments based upon student preference or geographic convenience; nor do clinical experiences guarantee graduation, post-clinical employment or salary outcomes.

  5. Registration and certification requirements for taking and passing these examinations are not controlled by Concorde, but by outside agencies, and are subject to change by the agency without notice. Therefore, Concorde cannot guarantee that graduates will be eligible to take these exams, at all or at any specific time, regardless of their eligibility status upon enrollment.