As a medical sonographer, you’ll be an integral part of the healthcare team responsible for detecting diseases and saving lives.
Selecting one of our top 10 Accredited Online Colleges for Diagnostic Medical Sonography will allow students to acquire the educational and career advancements they have always dreamed about. These programs can help individuals who are new to sonography learn what they need to start their career while allowing those who are already practicing diagnostic medical sonographers to further develop their skills.
What Will You Learn With a Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography?
The focus of the degree you end up earning will depend on whether you are pursuing one of our programs that offers an Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography or a Bachelor of Science in Medical Sonography. Individuals seeking a program that will help land them their first sonography job will likely be applying to an AAS degree option. This degree teaches students the basics of sonography, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and other topics necessary for operating a medical diagnostic ultrasound.
In an AAS program, you’ll also be expected to complete internships in hospitals and medical clinics, which will give you the experience of performing sonography on real patients.
Many of the Bachelor of Science in Medical Sonography programs out there require that students have already completed a radiology or medical sonography program and hold a credential in medical sonography. With BS programs, you’ll be focusing your studies on completing general educational coursework, such as English, psychology, and math courses, as well as gaining more in-depth knowledge of medical sonography. Some of the programs on this list will allow you to take a test to obtain additional certification in sonography upon the completion of your studies.
Examples of additional diagnostic medical sonography courses you may take at the bachelor’s level include fetal echocardiography, musculoskeletal sonography, and a survey of vascular technology, among others.
What Are the Best Accredited Online Colleges for Diagnostic Medical Sonography Degrees?
Accredited Online Colleges uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online Colleges considers affordability, the student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on campus and online. For more information, see our methodology page.
Ferris State University
Coming in at our No. 1 spot for diagnostic medical sonography programs is the Vascular Ultrasound Certificate from Ferris State University. The school’s combination of affordable tuition and specialized education helps separate this degree from the rest of the pack. The certificate program is designed to teach students how to visualize vascular elements of the human body using sonography.
This vascular ultrasound certificate program is priced at $13,351 and offers a great return on investment for current medical sonographers looking to add new credentials and skillsets. Students wishing to gain admission into the program are expected to have an active American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) credential and must work as a sonographer a minimum of four days per month.
Students wishing to learn about a wide array of diagnostic imaging practices and applications, including diagnostic medical sonography, will want to check out the Bachelor of Science in Medical Diagnostic Imaging from Fort Hays State University. This program is specifically designed for those who are currently enrolled in or who have completed an accredited radiologic technology program. Students enrolled in this BS program can choose to specialize their studies in areas like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), Mammography (M), Cardiovascular Interventional Technology (CVIT), or Bone Densitometry (BD).
The program is 124 credit hours in duration, and students’ major elective courses, which they can choose from a large list of relevant imaging classes, comprise 30 of these credit hours. Those who have completed a radiologic technology program from a non-degree-granting institution may find FHSU’s program particularly advantageous to their educational pursuits, as the university grants up to 46 credits toward the degree for prior related coursework.
If you’re looking to get into medical sonography and don’t have any previous experience in the field, then you’ll want to check out Washburn University’s diagnostic medical sonography certificate programs. These certificate programs will take around one year of full-time study to complete, including clinical rotations, so you’ll be ready to land your first job in the field and jump right into being an ultrasound tech.
There are three different certificate programs relating to sonography that students can select from, including a general track, a cardiac track, and a vascular track. The general track consists of 43 credit hours, while the cardiac and vascular tracks are each comprised of 37 credit hours. All of the certificate programs require that students complete 1,104 clinical hours of training before graduation. After completing one of Washburn’s sonography certificate programs, graduates are eligible to sit for the credentialing examination with ARDMS or CCI.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
The University of Arkansas’ Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is ideal for those looking to get involved in the ultrasonography field while receiving one of the best educations available. Application to the full-time program is competitive, as applicants are required to have completed 47 credits of prerequisite coursework to be eligible for enrollment, and the school accepts only 13 new students in the fall of each year.
The requirements for UAMS’ BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography are typical, with students needing to complete 120 credit hours before graduation. Students accepted into this program will complete the 73 degree-specific credits over five semesters—two fall semesters, two spring semesters, and a summer session. Students wanting to become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) must pass either the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation and Abdomen exams OR the Obstetrics & Gynecology exam, all of which are provided by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
University of Nebraska Medical Center
The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Department of Medical Imaging and Therapeutic Sciences has redefined how working imaging and radiation science professionals are able to achieve their educational goals with its Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging and Therapeutic Sciences. Students accepted into this program work with academic advisors who assess their educational and professional backgrounds to determine a program tailored specifically to their goals.
This program is completed on a part-time basis, and students are allowed to take up to five years to finish their coursework. Some students can even earn their degree in as few as three semesters. Applicants to this program are required to have already completed an accredited radiography, radiation therapy, sonography, or nuclear medicine technology program with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students are also required to have completed 40 credit hours of prerequisite college coursework with a 2.5 or higher GPA.
The University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College
At the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, students pursuing the Bachelor of Radiation Science Technology degree have the option to focus their studies and perform an internship in either education or management. This program is designed for individuals who have earned an associate’s degree in medical imaging or radiation therapy and who currently have a national professional certification. Students going into the last semester of their radiation or medical imaging studies can apply to the bachelor’s program and be conditionally accepted.
This program has three start dates each year, allowing students to begin their studies in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Once admitted, students are expected to maintain a minimum of a 2.5 cumulative GPA to remain in good academic standing.
Oregon Institute of Technology
The Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography from the Oregon Institute of Technology is a program created specifically for Registered Diagnostic Sonographers looking for career advancement in their current job or wanting to continue their educational journey with a master’s degree. With this degree, students will gain more in-depth knowledge of medical sonography and medical sciences, all while completing a general education core curriculum.
This school has an excellent transfer policy, under which students who hold ARDMS registry credentials in both OB/GYN and Abdomen concentrations are awarded 80 credits. The general education curriculum consists of 67 credit hours of coursework. Students who have the two ARDMS credentials will take 45 credit hours of professional credit in which they will expand their knowledge of sonography with classes like Neonatal & Pediatric Sonography and Surveys of Vascular Pathology.
Jackson College has a program suited ideally for students looking to start a career as a medical sonographer. Students who are accepted into this program and complete the Associate of Applied Science in General Sonography will be eligible to sit for the ARDMS exams in Physics and Instrumentation, Abdomen, and Obstetrics/Gynecology.
While learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body, students will also be immersed in how sonography and imaging machines work. Coursework also emphasizes the way team dynamics function in medical settings and the importance of having a strong team that works well together. Throughout the program, students will perform a minimum of 1,350 supervised clinical hours, so they’ll be prepared and feel comfortable performing medical sonography following graduation.
Misericordia University offers three programs in diagnostic medical sonography: a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Certificate, a full-time BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and a part-time Post Certification BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARCH Accelerated). The certificate program prepares students for their first job in ultrasonography in just 18 months, and the curriculum includes 1,400 hours of clinical experience. Students in this program start seeing real patients seven months into the program and continue to get hands-on learning until graduation.
The full-time Diagnostic Medical Sonography option is ideal for students without previous college experience who know they want to become diagnostic medical sonographers and want to complete their bachelor’s degrees before jumping into the field. Alternatively, the part-time Post Certification BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARCH Accelerated) can be completed in two years and is perfect for practicing sonographers wanting or needing to get that coveted BS degree.
Concordia University recognizes that going back to school can be financially challenging, which is why it provides thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to its students enrolling in the Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography completion program. Here, students are required to transfer at least 63 credit hours into the program, but the school accepts up to 84 transfer credits. This generous transfer policy can mean big savings for students working toward completing the 126 credit hours required for the degree.
Classes are held in six-to-eight-week modules, and the entire program can be completed in around 18 months. Concordia does have a common core curriculum that every student must take, consisting of classes in Christianity, Western culture and worldview, and science and humanity. The major consists of 23 credit hours of sonography-specific coursework.
What Requirements Will You Need to Meet to Apply to a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Degree Program?
Every program has its own set of admission requirements that each prospective applicant needs to meet, but there are some common prerequisites. For instance, admission teams may have different expectations for those applying to a bachelor’s program than they will for those applying to an associate’s program.
Individuals who apply to an associate’s program likely do not have a lot of previous college experience, but if you are someone who has attended college classes in the past, then the admission team will want to see the transcripts from those educational institutions. In addition, those who have just graduated high school will need to obtain proof of completion or its equivalent, such as a GED. Some of the schools offering associate’s degrees require that students submit either their SAT or ACT scores, but you should double-check with the admissions office at your intended college or university.
Bachelor’s degree applicants will likely have some amount of previous college experience, as many of the programs on this list require at least 40 credit hours of previous college coursework. While the majority of the bachelor’s programs listed here expect their applicants either to be in their last semester of a sonography program or to be already working in the field of diagnostic medical sonography, there are BS programs that teach students the foundations of sonography while they earn their degree.
The majority of BS programs in this major require that prospective students be Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, which is a credential awarded by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Baccalaureate-level programs often require this credential as it signals that the holder is competent to practice sonography and has a similar knowledge base to that of other applicants.
Along with requiring the RDMS credential, many BS programs also want applicants who are currently employed as diagnostic medical sonographers. This requirement is in place to ensure that you are currently using sonography knowledge and are able to implement new knowledge learned in the program without having to set up an internship.
Are Internships in Sonography Required for Degree Completion?
If you’re working toward certification with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, one of the general requirements for examination is one year of full-time clinical ultrasound or vascular experience. Because of that, all of the associate’s programs on this list that lead to certification have the required amount of clinical internship experience necessary to apply for certification. The amount of clinical internship experience required generally ranges from 1,000 to 1,400 hours, depending on the program.
Students who are already practicing diagnostic medical sonographers and are working toward a bachelor’s degree may or may not be required to complete additional internship hours. Clinical internship hours may be required even of students who are already practicing sonographers if those students are seeking certification in another area of sonography, such as pediatric sonography or neurosonography.
How Much Will I Make as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer?
Completing your coursework and clinical fieldwork in a diagnostic medical sonography program will prepare you for a job title such as ultrasound technician. (Check out our list of the top 10 Accredited Online Colleges for Ultrasound Technicians.)
The salary you can expect to earn as an ultrasound technician or diagnostic medical sonographer will depend on a few factors, such as where in the United States you live and the specialty within sonography that you choose to pursue. In 2020, there were an estimated 75,900 people in the U.S. who were employed as medical sonographers, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of this number, just under 50% reported having earned an associate’s degree, and only 17% reported having earned a bachelor’s degree, according to O*NET. Since so few sonographers currently hold a bachelor’s degree, continuing your education with a bachelor’s degree may provide you with opportunities for career advancement above and beyond what is available to those with only an associate’s degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2030, there are expected to be over 90,300 people employed in the U.S. as diagnostic medical sonographers, with the profession expected to grow by a much faster than average rate of 19%. As of 2020, diagnostic medical sonographers took home a median annual salary of $75,920. If you break the numbers down further, you can expect around $36 per hour. Remember, the reported annual salary is the median, or midpoint, number, which means that some individuals will earn significantly more or less money annually depending on the state and organization with which they are employed.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out the Top 15 Accredited Schools Offering Online Associate Degrees and 30 Accredited Online Colleges For Dental Hygiene!