If you are interested in leveraging technology skills to help save lives, consider a career in diagnostic medical sonography. Sonographers help with invasive surgeries, obstetric services, and women's health.
The following guide can help you determine the best way to enter this exciting and growing field. Below, we outline common coursework, admission requirements, and possible career paths for graduates who earn an online bachelor's degree in sonography. This guide concludes by answering some frequently asked questions.
What Are the Best Sonography Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Four:
|1||Siena Heights University||Adrian, MI|
|2||AdventHealth University||Orlando, FL|
|3||Nebraska Methodist College||Omaha, NE|
|4||Misericordia University||Dallas, PA|
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians (including vascular technologists) is projected to grow by 14% from 2018-2028.
The demand continues to grow for skilled workers who can screen for health issues, such as by using ultrasonic imaging to detect breast cancer. Earning an online bachelor's degree in sonography prepares you for entry-level careers in the field, as well as for advancement to a managerial level.
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2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Sonography Programs
Siena Heights University
|Adrian, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
SHU's bachelor of applied science program offers a diagnostic medical sonography major. This program targets students who already hold an associate degree or at least 35 college credits. Learners work with an academic advisor to create a custom curriculum. Students can earn the degree entirely online or through a hybrid format.
Students can access an extensive alumni network through SaintsConnect. Additional services include career assessments, an internship board, and links to multiple job websites. Learners can also explore the latest job postings on Handshake.
SHU awards transfer credit for prior undergraduate coursework and professional experience. Online learners, unlike on-campus students, pay a per-credit tuition rate. Phi Theta Kappa members may qualify for institutional merit-based scholarships.
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
AHU's online bachelor's program in imaging science offers a medical sonography speciality track. This degree completion program features full-time and part-time options, and degree-seekers analyze topics that include diagnostic imaging, advanced sonographic specialties, and medical imaging in the digital environment. As a Christian university, this program also includes coursework related to the Bible.
More than 80% of AHU's alumni experience a positive career outcome within one year of earning a degree. AHU graduates enjoy an average starting salary of about $55,000. The university supports distance learners through tutoring, counseling, and a writing center.
Prospective students must have an associate degree and a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also currently work as a registered sonographer. AHU's undergraduates may qualify for institutional or private scholarships and federal financial aid.
Nebraska Methodist College
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
NMC's bachelor's in sonography program emphasizes multispecialty sonography and offers tracks for recent high school graduates and practicing sonographers. This program is delivered through a hybrid format, with classes delivered on campus and online. Major coursework includes sonographic physics, abdominal ultrasound, and applied sectional anatomy. Additional requirements include three clinical experiences.
NMC provides its students with psychological and spiritual counseling. Specialized resources for veterans include in-depth guides that cover federal benefits and campus services.
The program uses a minimum GPA and ACT score cutoff. Additional requirements include a resume, and sonographers applying to the bridge program must submit proof of a valid certificate. The university offers financial aid to first-year and transfer students.
|Dallas, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
First-time college students and certified sonographers can pursue their online bachelor's degree in sonography at Misericordia. The program's four-year track uses a hybrid curriculum, while students who already have a qualifying sonography credential can complete coursework entirely online. Major courses include pathophysiology for healthcare, sonography patient care, and ultrasound physics.
Misericordia's Insalaco Center for Career Development provides degree-seekers with internship opportunities, job-hunting software platforms, and links to top job boards. The center also employs counselors who can help students apply to graduate school.
Prospective first-year students must have a minimum 3.0 high school GPA. Misericordia also uses standardized test score cutoffs. Credentialed sonographers received 43 transfer credits automatically.
Online Bachelor's in Sonography Program Overview
Most sonography bachelor's programs cover the same core topics, including ultrasound physics, anatomy, and clinical work. Students learn how to operate ultrasound equipment and look at human anatomy. They also investigate topics such as medical terminology and proper patient care.
A sonography bachelor's program typically culminates with an internship or externship at an approved setting. In this clinical setting, students explore specialized areas of sonography — such as obstetric sonography and vascular technology — to gauge their long-term interests.
While you do not need more than a certificate in diagnostic medical sonography to qualify for a position as a sonographer, earning an online bachelor's degree in sonography has its advantages. Many employers prefer applicants who have earned a postsecondary degree. Additionally, a bachelor's can also help you land a managerial position, such as working as a supervisory ultrasound technician.
Common Bachelor's in Sonography Degree Courses
- Introduction to Sonography
Students receive an overview of the diagnostic medical sonography field. Coursework covers foundational topics like the history of ultrasound equipment as a diagnostic medical tool, aspects of clinical assessment, and medical terminology commonly used in sonography. This course also addresses professional and ethical aspects of a sonographer's work.
- Sonography Patient Care
This course explores different practices and concepts of patient care involved in a medical imaging worker's day-to-day responsibilities. Students learn the skills needed to effectively communicate with patients and take their history, along with other skills relating to infection control and isolation, medical law, and standard precautions.
- Breast Sonography
Students investigate techniques for scanning the breast, along with how to use sonographic imaging to identify benign and malign pathologies of breast tissue. This course can double as an introduction to the subject or as review to prepare students for professional certification tests, such as the American Society of Breast Surgeons breast sonographer examination.
- Clinical Externship
Many online bachelor's programs in sonography conclude with a clinical externship. This is often an opportunity for students to expand their knowledge to a particular specialization, such as perinatology, pediatrics, or echocardiography. Students typically hold responsibility for finding a nearby clinical setting that meets their specialization needs.
- Current Trends and Practices in Sonography
Students earning an online bachelor's degree in sonography typically take this more abstract course, which explores the different contemporary issues that impact sonography practice and standards in a dynamic healthcare setting. Course topics may investigate the influence of technological advances, moral and ethical issues, and legal regulations at the state and federal levels.
SAT or ACT Scores
Many online sonography programs require you to submit your SAT or ACT scores. Some schools may establish minimum score requirements, while others may disregard standardized test scores altogether.
Minimum GPA Requirement
Many bachelor's programs require applicants to hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. In some instances, schools that feature this requirement may admit you on a probationary basis if your application shows other outstanding qualities. Most programs require students to keep their GPA above 2.0 in order to remain in good standing.
Letters of Recommendation
Some schools require 1-2 letters of recommendation, which are usually written by an applicant's former mentors or teachers. For the sake of courtesy, only ask people with whom you had a positive professional relationship and give them at least a month's notice before deadlines.
Patient Care Certification
Many online bachelor's programs in sonography may require you to have received some form of patient care certification, such as the certified nurse assistant credential. This certification indicates that a student has the experience needed to complete coursework relating to clinical patient care in sonography.
Previous Health-Related Degree
Some online sonography programs show preference for applicants who have already attained an associate-level healthcare degree. These programs usually target established healthcare professionals looking to move into a new field.
Online Bachelor's in Sonography Career Paths
Individuals who earn an online bachelor's degree in sonography qualify for many healthcare careers, including vascular technician, obstetric technician, and echocardiologist. This degree also gives you an advantage when trying to secure a managerial position, which can lead to opportunities for higher salary and greater professional satisfaction.
An online bachelor's degree in sonography also prepares you to take the Sonography, Principles and Instrumentation exam from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Many states do not require diagnostic medical sonographers to hold any particular form of licensure, although most employers do prefer job candidates with ARDMS certification.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is a sonography degree difficult?
While earning a sonography degree, you learn about ultrasound physics, cross-sectional human anatomy, and effective patient care. You will likely want to specialize in one area of expertise in the field. The curriculum of your online bachelor's degree in sonography will challenge you to become a focused and knowledgeable healthcare provider in a highly specialized role.
- How long does it take to get a sonography degree?
It typically takes around four years to earn an online bachelor's degree in sonography. However, this timeline depends on several factors, such as whether you take courses part time, full time, or at an accelerated pace. Accelerated programs may allow you to earn your degree in significantly less time.
- What kind of jobs do sonography majors get?
Sonography majors typically work as diagnostic medical sonographers. This broadly defined position encompasses many specialized roles, such as obstetrics ultrasound technicians, who use ultrasound imaging to monitor the development of gestating fetuses. Earning a bachelor's in diagnostic medical sonography can also help you advance into a supervisory position in a clinical setting.
- How much does a sonographer with a bachelor's degree make?
According to the BLS, diagnostic medical sonographers make a median annual salary of around $74,000. Professionals who work in outpatient care centers typically take home the highest wages, earning almost $90,000 a year.
- Is sonography a good career choice?
Sonography may be a good career choice for those with a strong interest in technology and patient care. Additionally, the projected demand in this field is high, and there are a variety of specializations to choose from.
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