Medical Assistant

Applications for Fall 2017 will be accepted until the program's capacity has been reached or until the first week of fall classes.

Medical Assistant

Students must apply and be formally accepted into the Medical Assistant program prior to enrolling in any Medical Assistant program courses.

Requirements to apply:

Career Overview

Job Description

The Southwestern Illinois College Medical Assistant (MA) program prepares graduates to provide both administrative and clinical services in a medical office.

Medical Assistants provide administrative services such as:

  • Managing the flow of patients in and out of the office
  • Updating and filing medical records
  • Filling out insurance information
  • Arranging for hospital admission or laboratory services

Under supervision, they also provide clinical services such as:

  • Direct (hands-on) patient care procedures
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Explaining treatment procedures
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Sterilizing instruments
  • Performing routine laboratory procedures
  • Performing electrocardiograms

Career Resources:

The SWIC Career Activities and Employment Center offers a Career Mentor program, including job shadowing.

The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) website provides valuable career and certification information.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook provides additional information regarding the MA field. 

Medical Assistant vs. Physician's Assistant

Medical Assistant should not be confused with Physician's Assistant. SWIC does not offer a PA program.

For more information about Physician's Assistants, see the American Academy of Physician Assistants website.

Job Opportunities

Medical Assistants work in a wide range of medical facilities including:

  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Urgent care facilities
  • Physician's offices
  • Hospitals
  • Inpatient/outpatient facilities


The cross-training of the Medical Assistant in administrative and clinical duties frequently makes the MA more marketable than individuals specializing in office management only.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor 2014-24 Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 23 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations.


Average Starting Salary

The average starting salary is $25,320 depending on the facility and the training and skills of the medical assistant.


Certified medical assistants earn approximately 5 to 10 percent more than non-certified medical assistants.


Application Requirements

Materials Needed to Apply

Students must apply and be formally accepted into the Medical Assistant program before beginning program courses.

Applicants must submit the following to the Enrollment Services Office:

1. Medical Assistant application

  • Applications are available between March 1 and June 1 each year for fall start.
  • Applications are available between Aug. 1 and Nov. 1 each year for spring start.

Students must select semester and campus preference when applying. Supporting documentation (transcripts, test scores, etc.) must be on file by identified deadlines.

Proof of completion of prerequisite courses:

A computer literacy requirement must be completed to be considered for admission.

  • Grades earned in college courses must be at least a C, although higher grades earn more application points.
  • The most recent grade in courses meeting these requirements will be used.

2. Official transcripts

  • Official high school transcripts or proof of GED
  • Official transcripts from all colleges, universities or accredited schools of Medical Assistant attended
  • SWIC transcript evaluation form, a requirement for the transfer of credits from another institution

3. Test Scores

  • Complete the SWIC placement test: The placement test identifies skill levels in math, reading and writing. Students must score high enough to be eligible to enroll in ENG 101 and MATH 94. If placement test results are too low, students must complete required developmental courses prior to enrolling in ENG 101, BIOL 105, PSYC 151, SPCH 151 and MGMT 214.


For an individual review of your application, contact the Health Sciences coordinators' assistant.

Prepare to Apply

Complete Prerequisite Requirements

A computer literacy requirement must be completed to apply for the Medical Assistant program.

Fill out the Planning Guide

Entrance into the MA program is highly competitive. The MA Planning Guide explains application requirements and offers suggestions on how to maximize points in each section to increase chances of being accepted to the program.

Understand the Application Point System

Applications are rated by a point system, with points based on:

Meet with an Advisor

Meet with an academic advisor for more information on entrance requirements for the MA program.


For an individual review of your planning guide, contact the Health Sciences coordinators' assistant.

Applicant Selection

Application Point System

Applications for the MA program will be rated on a point system, with points based on:

Notification of Acceptance:

Applicants will be notified of their status regarding admission as quickly as possible given the number of applications received.

Fewer Candidates than Seats Available:

In the event that there are fewer qualified candidates than there are spaces available, applications will continue to be accepted until the program's maximum capacity has been reached at each of the campuses or until the first week of classes during the fall or spring semesters.

The college reserves the right to fill the program in those years when there are fewer applicants than spaces available by whatever means it deems necessary to assure both academic integrity and fairness in the selection process.

More Candidates than Seats Available:

In the event that there are more qualified applicants than spaces available at a campus of preference, students will be offered a seat at the alternate campus for the same semester or the opportunity to have a seat in the subsequent semester at the campus of their preference.

Applicants residing outside the SWIC district or in a district that does not have a joint agreement with SWIC for this program will not be eligible for consideration or admission if there are more applicants than positions to be filled. Search the college catalog for Interdistrict Cooperative Agreements. Residency status is determined by address on file with the Enrollment Services Office by June 15 for fall admission and Sept. 1 for spring admission.

The admission procedures for the MA program are in accordance with Illinois law. The law requires that programs with insufficient space and resources to accommodate all applicants will accept the best qualified applicants using rank, ability and achievement scores as guides, with preference given to students residing in the district. Out-of-district students will be considered as in-district status for this application process if their community college has an Inter-district Cooperative/Career agreement with SWIC. Search the college catalog for Interdistrict Cooperative/Career Agreements to see if your college is listed.  To qualify for the application process, the student must submit paperwork from their home district to SWIC Enrollment Services by the application deadline. Contact the secretary of the Board of Trustees at your home district school to get the required paperwork.     


Other Requirements

The following criteria are required of accepted applicants, and all information will be explained in detail at program orientation meetings.

Orientation & Performance:

Applicants accepted to the Medical Assistant program must attend all required orientation sessions and be able to perform essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. Applicants and enrolled students are encouraged to meet with the Disability & Access Center to discuss potential issues associated with meeting these requirements.

Health Insurance:

Health insurance is required during clinical education courses. Students are personally responsible for any costs incurred for injuries occurring during their clinical experience.

Medical Requirements:

These requirements do not have to be fulfilled until they are explained at the orientation meeting. MA students will be required to show proof of current CPR certification at the Healthcare Provider level, immunizations, TB test and physical examination before beginning any clinical experience.

Background Checks and Drug Testing:

Background checks and drug testing are required.

  • A list of disqualifying convictions is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health website. Students with convictions must possess a waiver from the IDPH to participate in the program.
  • Drug testing will identify illegal and prescription drugs. If results are positive, the student must provide proof of prescription in his or her own name in order to pass the drug test. Medical marijuana, which is not FDA approved, is also considered a positive drug testing result.

Graduation Requirements:

Applicants admitted to the program must follow the requirements for graduation at the time they are admitted and must meet all course, program, degree and sequencing requirements specified. Students are responsible for program policies as listed in each year's MA Student Handbook. Students who fail to meet program specific requirements will be dropped from the program and may be required to re-apply and compete for admission in the succeeding semester.

Program Overview

Course Sequence

Choose a Program

Southwestern Illinois College offers both a 10-month Medical Assistant Certificate program and a two-year Associate in Applied Science Medical Assistant degree. Acceptance to these programs is required before an applicant will be permitted to register for MA courses.

Medical Assistant Certificate

Medical Assistant Certificate (021A) Course Sequence

This is a 38.5-credit-hour, accredited certificate program that can be completed in 10 months.

The curriculum includes Medical Assistant technical courses and assigned clinical experiences.

Medical Assistant Degree

Medical Assistant Associate in Applied Science Degree (0021) Course Sequence

This is a 68.5-credit-hour degree program that can be completed in two years and one summer and includes:

A 38.5-credit-hour medical assistant certificate program (first 10 months)
30 credit hours of general education courses

The curriculum includes financing, management, communication and interpersonal relations, as well as MA technical courses and assigned clinical experiences.

Course Information

General Education Courses

General education courses can be completed prior to admission. These courses can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City or Red Bud campuses. If general education courses are not completed prior to admission, they must be completed during the semesters indicated.

Medical Assistant Courses

The Medical Assistant program courses begin each fall and spring for those applicants accepted into the program. MA courses are offered at the Belleville campus during the day.

Clinical Education Experiences

Clinical experience courses are completed off campus in various MA employment settings. Student may be required to travel outside the college district for clinical experience courses and must have background checks and drug testing prior. Clinical practice courses begin in the third semester after the completion of all MA coursework. Specific clinical placement cannot be guaranteed.

MAERB and CAAHEP have a strict non-remuneration policy for practicum sites and students. Practicum sites cannot pay students for their time nor can students be provided with a travel allowance or a meal allowance or any other perk that involves the exchange of funds.


Program Capacity

In the fall semester, the Medical Assistant program generally accepts 28 students at the Belleville Campus. In the spring, 15 students are accepted at the Belleville Campus.

Program Location

The Medical Assistant certificate program consists of courses beginning with the prefix MA only, while the degree program includes general education courses as well as MA courses. Both programs include clinical education experiences. Specific locations depend on the course type.

General Education Courses

The required general education courses can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City or Red Bud campuses.

Medical Assistant Courses

The MA program courses are offered only at the Belleville campus during the day.

Clinical Education Experiences

Clinical experiences are completed off campus in various MA employment settings during the day. Students may be required to travel outside of the college district for clinical experience courses. Background checks and drug testing are required prior to clinical experiences. Specific clinical placement cannot be guaranteed.

Program Cost

Medical Assistant Certificate program

For details, see the MA Certificate cost sheet.

Medical Assistant Degree program

For details, see the MA Degree cost sheet.

Financial assistance is available!

SWIC Financial Aid Office

Financial aid is available subject to financial need and satisfactory academic progress requirements set by the college.

The student work program does not require financial aid eligibility.

SWIC Foundation

The SWIC Foundation offers over 200 scholarships based on residency, enrollment and GPA criteria.

Time Commitment

Medical Assistant courses and clinical experience are only offered during the day.

Full-Time Students

Students who enroll as full-time students will attend school four to five days per week throughout the 10-month program.

Part-Time Students

Students planning to attend part time must meet with the program coordinator to develop a schedule for program completion. Although students may take up to six years to complete the program, it is STRONGLY discouraged as many students have difficulty retaining knowledge of material taught in earlier semesters.

More Details

Program Accreditation

The SWIC Medical Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( upon the recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
25400 US Highway 19 N., Suite 158 
Clearwater, FL 33763

The program's curriculum is guided by the standards developed by the commission. Our accreditation status means SWIC has met the standards required of the profession and helps to assure the public that our curriculum will graduate competent clinicians. It also qualifies the college's Medical Assistant graduates to sit for the certification examination.

Verification of accreditation can be viewed at the CAAHEP website.

Certification Requirements

Upon successful completion of the 10-month MA curriculum and 200 hours of clinical experience, graduates are awarded a Medical Assistant certificate and are required to take the National Certification examination. Successful completion of this exam will earn graduates the title of Certified Medical Assistant.

Certified medical assistants earn approximately 5 to 10 percent more than non-certified medical assistants.

Certification Pass Rate and Program Satisfaction Rate

The SWIC Medical Assistant graduate certification pass rate averaged over three years is 86 percent. 

Graduates of the Medical Assisting program at Southwestern Illinois College are satisfied with the education that they receive at Southwestern Illinois College, as there is an average 100% graduate satisfaction rate over the past five years according to surveys that were returned by these graduates for the Medical Assistant Education Review Board.



For more information about this program, please contact:

Coordinators' Assistant Candice Rodgers

618-235-2700, ext. 5355

Academic Advising/Counseling Center

618-235-2700, ext. 5206