2020 Best Online Bachelor's in Sonography Programs

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated January 12, 2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Bachelor's, Certificate
Average Tuition: $29,275
Average Salary: $80,201

With a projected 17% increase in demand for licensed technicians over the next decade, sonography is a high-growth occupation in the healthcare industry. Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound equipment to detect and help diagnose illness or injury in organs and tissue. They often work with doctors and other healthcare providers before, during, and after medical procedures. The following is a list of the best online schools for sonography. Sonography program accreditation falls under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Professionals (CAAHEP). Programs accredited by this organization meet rigorous standards, and students enrolled in a CAAHEP accredited program can be assured that they are being taught a relevant and valuable curriculum. Additional details on accredited sonography schools, career options, and frequently asked questions about sonography are also provided below.

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2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Sonography Degrees

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Sonography Badge

The 8 colleges and universities below offer the best value online bachelor's degrees in sonography. Graduates of the #1 school, the Oregon Institute of Technology, report earning a median salary of $98,369. Clarion University, ranked #2 on the list overall, offers an annual tuition of only $8,334.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

Rank School Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $12,336 $98,369
# 2 #2 $8,334 $76,422
# 3 #3 $13,800 $78,413
# 4 #4 $15,810 $78,425
# 5 #5 $13,760 $76,237
# 6 #6 $14,508 $73,600
# 7 #7 $11,700 $71,259
# 8 #8 $23,452 $72,746
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Sonography Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Oregon Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $12,336
  • Median Salary: $98,369
  • Locations: Klamath Falls (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Oregon Institute of Technology is a degree completion program that is offered fully online. Working medical professionals can advance their education as they balance their professional and personal responsibilities. Applicants may earn credit based on their existing credentials. There are three requirements for admission: 1) Individuals must be registered diagnostic sonographers through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) in the abdomen and OB/GYN; 2) applicants must be working in the field with access to a laboratory where they can complete their clinical coursework; and 3) applicants must fulfill all criteria for the main Oregon Tech admissions (though special arrangements can be made depending on the individual situation).

#2 Clarion University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,334
  • Median Salary: $76,422
  • Locations: Clarion (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The online Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Sciences at Clarion University is a degree completion program intended for individuals who are already working in the medical imaging field as radiologic technologists, diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technicians, radiation therapists, or medical dosimetrists. Students in the program can choose between concentrations in Radiologic Technology or Ultrasound (sonography). Up to 60 credits of clinical credits can be transferred into the program, depending on the accreditation of the programs and schools.

#3 Marian University - Wisconsin

  • Annual Tuition: $13,800
  • Median Salary: $78,413
  • Locations: Fond du Lac (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The bachelor’s completion in diagnostic medical sonography program at Marian University is offered fully online to give working professionals the flexibility they need to advance their education. The classes in this online sonography program are seven weeks long. Students are permitted to take just one course per term to ensure work-life balance. The curriculum offers coursework in the liberal arts, and students are encouraged to choose minor disciplines to further customize the program toward their professional and personal interests. Individuals who have already earned their certification through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) will automatically have 60 credits transferred into the undergraduate program at Marian.

#4 AdventHealth University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,810
  • Median Salary: $78,425
  • Locations: Orlando (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at Adventist Health University is an online degree completion program for busy health care professionals looking for a flexible way to continue their education. The 54-credit program is divided evenly between imaging and sonography courses and general education classes. The program can be completed in nine 14-week sessions. Students need to earn a total of 123 credits in order to graduate. Transfer credits are accepted from regionally accredited colleges or universities.

#5 Misericordia University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,760
  • Median Salary: $76,237
  • Locations: Dallas (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The part-time accelerated Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography Ultrasound at Misericordia University is offered remotely for convenient study. The online sonography program is intended for sonography professionals who already have experience in the field and wish to gain the skills necessary to advance in their profession. The advanced coursework enables students to be eligible for certification exams in fetal echocardiography, neurosonography, and breast ultrasounds. The program is taught by faculty who have years of experience in diagnostic medical sonography.

#6 Kettering College

  • Annual Tuition: $14,508
  • Median Salary: $73,600
  • Locations: Kettering (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Kettering College offers an online Bachelor of Science in Health Science completion degree with an emphasis in Sonography. In this program students learn about the sonographer’s role in the healthcare system and gain practical skills. The flexibility of the online format can be useful for working adults who have family and professional obligations. Students in this cohort program take fewer classes at a time in an accelerated format; classes can be completed in seven or eight weeks. These shortened sessions are offered year-round. Two seven-week summer sessions are included in the curriculum. Full-time students can complete the program in four semesters, and part-time students can earn their degree in eight semesters. The degree is available completely online, and clinical hours are not required. Credits may be transferred from previous college coursework. Applicants must have an associate degree or equivalent, be enrolled in the second year of a health sciences major, or be registered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or an equivalent group. Online students at KC have access to academic support, peer tutoring, and career and counseling services.

#7 Washburn University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Median Salary: $71,259
  • Locations: Topeka (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of Health Science at Washburn University is a four-year program offered with three majors, one of which is Medical Imaging. Students who take this major can choose from three concentrations: Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or Radiation Therapy. When opting for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography concentration, certification courses are offered in three areas: general, cardiac, or vascular. All can be completed in 12 months; the cardiac and vascular tracks are 37 credits, while the general track is 43 credits. Each track requires the completion of 1,104 clinical hours and participation in at least 400 scans. All coursework is completed online, and clinical work can usually be done near the student’s home. Programs begin in August each year. The cohort program is comprised of 30-35 students. Applicants must have an associate degree or higher and hands-on experience with patients working in radiologic technology, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or a related field. They also must complete all prerequisite coursework with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Online students have access to an online orientation program as well as technical and academic support.

#8 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

  • Annual Tuition: $23,452
  • Median Salary: $72,746
  • Locations: Little Rock (AR)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is offered as a full-time, four-year program on campus or as an online completion degree. The online track is designed for (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography) ARDMS-certified sonographers who wish to complete their bachelor’s degree. Students can continue working while studying, and no clinical hours are required.  A total of 33 credits are required to complete the degree. The curriculum covers areas such as legal and ethical issues, health care systems in America, cardiovascular pathophysiology, Doppler sonography, advanced hemodynamics, cardiac sonography, and vascular sonography. Coursework is delivered via the Blackboard online learning management system. Learning is generally asynchronous, but instructors may schedule synchronous events during the program. Applicants to the program must provide official transcripts from all prior college-level work and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. They must also submit proof of ARDMA certification, an essay, and TOEFL scores (if applicable). Distance learners have access to Student Support Services, which includes tutoring, academic advising, career coaching, and mentoring as needed.

Online Sonography Degree Overview & Career Information

On this page, we provide information about online bachelor's degrees and certificates in sonography. Online bachelor's degree completion programs are available to registered sonographers who already hold an associate degree in sonography and wish to advance their career. There are also bachelor's programs that are geared toward those with no medical background who would like to find entry-level positions as a sonographer after graduation. Certificates are available as well, and admission to these programs often requires some formal training in health sciences or a related area. After completing a sonography certificate a student will be prepared to enter the workforce in entry-level positions.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Sonography

Bachelor's degree programs in sonography come in two forms. One type of bachelor's degree is a degree completion program for those who already have an associate degree in sonography and are already working as registered sonographers. Individuals who pursue this type of degree are looking to advance their career. There are also bachelor's degree programs available to those who have no prior experience working in the sonography field, though these programs are less commonly found online. Students can expect to take two to four years completing their bachelor's degree, depending on how many credits and what kind of professional experience they have when they begin the program. A complete bachelor's degree typically consists of around 120 credit hours. Students in these programs will take classes in the different types of sonography, such as pelvic, abdominal, obstetric, and others. They will also take classes in healthcare ethics and leadership, and complete practical, hands-on lab work and tests. Depending on what kind of bachelor's program an individual is enrolling in admission requirements range from a high school diploma or equivalent for those with no prior experience, to an associate degree in sonography and work experience for those looking into the degree-completion option. A bachelor's degree program in sonography can be found at various colleges and technical schools.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Sonography Degree

When a school is accredited, an independent organization has vetted it to ensure the curriculum meets certain standards of quality. Accrediting agencies evaluate how rigorous the curriculum is, how well the program prepares students for their future careers, how skilled the faculty is, and other critical factors. It is important for a student to choose an accredited school for several reasons. For one, it is an assurance that they are receiving a quality education. Additionally, students can only receive federal aid if they attend an accredited institution, and credits can only transfer from one accredited school to another. Finally, employers often prefer hiring candidates who have received a degree from an accredited school.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Professionals (CAAHEP) is the main accrediting body that oversees sonography programs. CAAHEP accredited programs have to meet certain standards in regards to the length of the program and the material covered. Students who are considering a degree in sonography should check to see if their intended program is accredited by CAAHEP. This offers assurance that they will be receiving a quality education that will prepare them for their future careers.

What Are the Specialties in Sonography?

Students pursuing a degree in sonography may be able to choose a specialization in one of the following areas:

  • Obstetric and Gynecologic Sonography: Students in this specialization learn how to take ultrasound images of the female reproductive system to help diagnose diseases or identify abnormalities. They also perform ultrasounds on women who are pregnant.
  • Abdominal Sonography: Students in this track learn how to perform abdominal ultrasounds on patients. The scanned images can help doctors diagnose issues in the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen.
  • Breast Sonography: Breast sonographers perform imaging techniques on a patient’s breasts to produce ultrasound images for a doctor to analyze. Breast ultrasounds are often completed after an abnormal mammogram or exam.
  • Echocardiography (Cardiac Sonography): Echocardiographers or cardiac sonographers are trained to use imaging technology on the heart and vascular system. The test is called an echocardiogram, which helps physicians diagnose heart conditions.
  • Vascular Sonography: Vascular sonographers use ultrasound technology to create images of veins and arteries. The scans show the patient’s circulatory system in order to help identify any blockages or abnormalities.
  • Musculoskeletal Sonography: Musculoskeletal sonographers use ultrasound technology to take images of a patent’s tendons, joints, nerves, and ligaments. The scans allow doctors to diagnose sprains, tears, or musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis.

What Certifications Are Available and Required for Sonographers?

To become a certified sonographer, students must first complete an accredited two- to four-year program. Only four states require sonographers to be certified: New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oregon. However, many hospitals and clinics strongly prefer to hire certified sonographers.

Graduates of a sonography program can sit for an American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) licensure test in their specialty. Sonographers seeking certification must also pass the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Examination (SPI) within five years of earning their license. Below is a list of the available ARDMS credentials and the prerequisites required to earn the certifications.

Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS): The RDMS exam is designed for graduates of a diagnostic medical sonographer program. The exam is offered in the following specialty areas: abdomen, breast, fetal echocardiography, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatric sonography. To be eligible to sit for the RDMS exam, candidates must have completed either a 2-year degree in allied health AND one year of ultrasound/vascular experience OR graduated from an accredited program for diagnostic medical sonography, diagnostic cardiac sonography, or vascular technology.

Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS): Sonographers pursuing a cardiac specialty can take the RDCS exam. Specialties are offered in several areas, including adult echocardiography, fetal echocardiography, and pediatric echocardiography. To be eligible to sit for the RDCS exam, candidates must have completed either a 2-year degree in allied health AND have one year of ultrasound/vascular experience OR have graduated from an accredited program for diagnostic medical sonography, diagnostic cardiac sonography, or vascular technology.

Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT): Sonographers can be certified in the vascular ultrasound specialty by passing the RVT exam. To be eligible to sit for the RVT exam, candidates must have completed either a 2-year degree in allied health AND have one year of ultrasound/vascular experience OR have graduated from an accredited program for diagnostic medical sonography, diagnostic cardiac sonography, or vascular technology.

Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer (RMSKS): The RMSKS credential is intended for sonographers who want to specialize in musculoskeletal sonography. In order to take the exam, individuals must have an active medical credential or license and 150 hours of musculoskeletal sonography experience.

Midwife Sonography Certificate: The midwife sonography certificate is intended for individuals with an active Certified Midwife or Nurse-Certified Midwife certification. Candidates must complete a two-part examination that assesses their knowledge of the female reproductive system and the fetus in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Careers in Sonography

Those who choose to pursue an online degree in sonography will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to find work as a diagnostic medical sonographer. These professionals work in medical facilities operating specialized imaging equipment. Sonographers use imaging machines which utilize sound waves to create images of the inside of a person's body, which is known as a sonogram or ultrasound. In addition to taking the images, they must also perform other tasks such as taking patients' medical history, maintaining the imaging equipment, checking the quality of the images, and writing summaries of what they find for the doctors. Sonographers can specialize in a variety of areas, including obstetrical, pediatric, abdominal, musculoskeletal, and breast sonography. In addition to earning a degree, a diagnostic medical sonographer should also become certified through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sonography Degrees

Besides becoming a sonographer, what else can I do with a degree in sonography?

Graduates who have studied sonography are eligible for a number of in-demand careers in the health industry, including as diagnostic technicians, cardiovascular technicians, and health technicians. Some graduates may even be interested in working with animals as a veterinary technician.

How much do sonographers earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook as of May 2019, the annual salary range for a diagnostic medical sonographer was $52,770 to $102,060, with a median salary of $74,320. The median annual wage for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $57,720 in May 2019. These are growth occupations, as demand for trained professionals is expected to increase by 14% through 2028.

What professional organizations are available for sonography professionals?

Sonography students and professionals have access to various professional organizations that advocate for education, research, and collaboration in the field:

  • Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS): Founded in 1970, the SDMS is the largest association of sonographers and sonography students worldwide. The organization’s mission is to promote the science of diagnostic medical sonography through education and advocacy.
  • American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM): AIUM has over 9,000 members, including students and professionals in the healthcare field. AIUM promotes the safe and effective use of ultrasounds through education, research, and guideline development.
  • American Society of Echocardiography (ASE): The ASE offers membership tiers for students, professional sonographers, and other medical professions. The organization emphasizes education, research, and innovation in the field of cardiovascular sonography.

References

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