Medical Coding Specialist Certificate

Program Information

This certificate program was created to provide education for an entry-level position into an acute care hospital, ambulatory care facility, physician's office, long-term care facility, or other health care setting. The Medical Coding Specialist Program at Santa Barbara City College is approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), Professional Certificate Approval Program (PCAP).

Students who earn the Medical Coding Specialist Certificate are eligible to sit for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) examination given by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The certificate program may also help you prepare for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Coding Specialist - Physician-Based (CCS-P), or Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) examinations.

For more information on the CCA credential, please visit AHIMA's certification webpage.

As a Medical Coding Specialist, you are a valuable member of the health information team. Medical Coding Specialists ensure that valid codes are applied to medical diagnoses and procedures in order to facilitate reimbursement, analysis of patient outcomes, and research. Successful completion of the program provides you with a working knowledge of:

  • Patient clinical record content, both inpatient and outpatient
  • Physiological changes and altered functions in the human body resulting from disease processes.
  • ICD, CPT/HCPCS diagnostic and procedural coding systems, and common coding errors.
  • Components of fee setting, which optimize reimbursement based on insurance specifications such as: Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs), Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS), Ambulatory Payment Classifications (APCs)
  • Basic pharmacological terminology and concepts, drug categories and their uses, mechanisms of drug action, dosage forms and routes of administration.
  • Data quality impact and characteristics, including validity, reliability, completeness, legibility, currency, timeliness and accessibility.
  • Encoders and groupers, their benefits and limitations.
  • Legal aspects of heath care, confidentiality requirements.
  • Microcomputer applications and topics related to computers in health care.

Courses in the Medical Coding Specialist Certificate Program are offered totally online; all course content and exams are delivered online. Students interested in pursuing an online education must be highly motivated, independent learners and possess excellent organizational and time management skills. Students must have email and high-speed internet access. No on-campus attendance is required. As such, students must be familiar with use of the internet, email, uploading and downloading files, and various common word processing programs. Please review the technical requirements for the HIT/CIM department.

PCAP Approved

The Medical Coding Specialist Program at Santa Barbara City College is approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). For more information on AHIMA or the approval process, please visit or contact AHIMA at:

233 N. Michigan Avenue, 21st Floor, Chicago, IL 60601-5809, ph. 312-233-1100

Apply to SBCC here. There is no separate application for the Medical Coding Program. These 8 steps to Apply and Enroll will guide you through the entire process and give you more department-specific information.

Here are department requirements for the Medical Coding Specialist Certificate in their recommended course sequence.  Also see this breakdown of course prerequisites.

Students enroll in classes prior to each semester and fees are paid prior to each semester.
Fees are different for students who are California residents and non-residents.
California resident enrollment fee = $46 per unit
Non-resident tuition and fees = $331 per unit

Cost of Medical Coding Department Requirements:
California residents = $46 x 38 units = $1,748
Non-residents = $331 x 38 units = $12,578
(Transfer credit will reduce the cost.)

Additional fees will apply. A full list of fees is available from the Cashier's Office.

For procedures to verify completion of HIT prerequisites and for course advisories, see the Course Prerequisites page. See the Transcript Evaluation page for instructions on how to complete a transcript evaluation.

Information is available from SBCC's Financial Aid Office. You can chat or email them from the Financial Aid homepage, or call them at: (805) 730-5157. They can also give you information about Board of Governors Fee Waivers, scholarships, etc.

Please note that advance planning is required to complete the necessary paperwork in short time frames!

Once you have registered and paid for your courses, please review our Orientation for Enrolled Students. During the first week of class, you will complete online orientation exercises designed to familiarize you with the course and the online classroom. If you have any problems or difficulties with one or more of these steps, contact us immediately.

Once you have registered for your class(es) and the online bookstore has opened for the semester, you may purchase or rent textbooks online at

Students must complete all department requirements with a grade of 'C' or better. Pass grading is not permitted in a student’s major area of study.

Candidates must complete at least 20% of the HIT/CIM program requirements through SBCC.

Students who are newcomers to online learning, or who have a low comfort level with computers, may want to limit their first semester to 3 units. Students who work full-time and have family and personal commitments are advised to limit enrollment to 6 units per semester. Students who work 20 hours per week, and have family and personal commitments, are advised to limit enrollment to 9 units per semester. It is recommended that students limit their enrollment in SBCC's short 6 week summer session to one HIT/CIM class.

For more information, see our Course Load Guidelines.

For Additional Information,

please contact:

Dr. Gwyer
HIT/CIM Academic Counselor