Those who are already working in sonography know how much their skills are in demand now. What's more, the profession is expected to grow, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasting a 26% increase in jobs from now until 2024.
As a reminder, those just getting started in sonography need to first obtain an associate's degree from a community college program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs. An accredited degree, including both classroom study and extensive practical experience, is needed to sit for the licensing exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
For those ARDMS registered medical sonographers who are ready to take the next step into management or teaching, a handful of schools offer online programs that lead to a bachelor's degree in medical sonography, medical imaging, or general health sciences. With this degree, you'll be qualified to move into a supervisory role in the hospital or undertake further graduate study in your field that leads to a teaching position.
Before applying to a particular school, you'll want to find out their requirements for practical laboratory experience, as well as verify that your state allows online study in this field. Many programs are only open to currently employed sonographers with access to a hospital ultrasound lab, and regulations can vary from state to state for online study in the allied health professions.
The Most Affordable Online Bachelors in Medical Sonography Degrees have been ranked on the basis of cost per credit hour, as listed on their individual websites. Since programs vary on the basis of how many transfer credits count towards the degree, that will factor into your total cost as well. Since individual circumstances will differ, be sure to contact each program directly to find out how their requirements mesh with your previous experience and training in the field.
Oregon Institute of Technology
Cost per credit hour: $227
Located in Klamath Falls, OR, Oregon Tech offers an online bachelor of science degree in diagnostic medical sonography. Applicants must be ARDMS certified in both abdominal and OB/GYN ultrasound. In addition, you’ll need to have current access to a hospital ultrasound lab to fulfill the clinical didactic requirements for the degree. Three semesters of laboratory work are required, in addition to a two semester externship in your chosen area of specialization. Along with further coursework in ultrasound technology and diagnostic pathology, other professional development courses include electives in the following areas:
- Health care systems and policy
- Total quality in health care
- Health care management
This comprehensive program includes courses in basic medical science and diagnostic imaging along with a general education core. Oregon Tech offers transfer credit based on prior coursework as well as your professional certification, possibly reducing the number of credits needed to complete the degree. With this program, you’ll become a leader in your chosen field while also developing your skills in written and spoken communication. Oregon Tech is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Cost per credit hour: $292
Certified graduates of accredited sonography programs are eligible to apply for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s online bachelor’s program in radiation science. This program is highly individualized, and students work with an advisor to develop the course of study that best suits their professional goals. Required courses include extensive work in health care management and ethics, to best prepare students to lead in a changing healthcare environment.
Online students have access to the faculty and resources of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a major teaching hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. You’ll be part of a learning community of 3800 students across the health professions. While the program can be completed in as little as three semesters, students have up to five years to finish their degree.
Southern New Hampshire University
Cost per credit hour: $320
SNHU’s bachelor’s program in health sciences is open to students with an associate’s degree in a broad range of allied health professions, including medical sonography. With your degree and other prior coursework, you may be able to transfer up to 90 credit hours towards the 120 credit hour degree. Required classes focus on healthcare management, finance, policy, and ethics, so this is an ideal program for those intending to enter supervisory positions with their current employer.
If your goal is to obtain a broad education in healthcare management, this may be the program for you. If you’re looking for specialized classes in advanced diagnostic imaging, however, SNHU may not be a good fit. Southern New Hampshire University is a private, non-profit institution accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
Cost per credit hour: $337
The online bachelor of science in diagnostic imaging from UW-Milwaukee’s College of Health Sciences is one of the most flexible programs we evaluated. While its requirements are equivalent to a 120-hour bachelor’s degree, this degree is offered as part of the University of Wisconsin’s Flexible Option program. This is a competency-based learning approach that, according the the UW website, “turns the traditional model on its head.” As they explain, “instead of awarding credits based on how much time students spend learning, this model awards credits based on whether students can prove they have mastered competencies—the skills, abilities, and knowledge required in an area of study.”
Students with significant prior experience and a lot of motivation can finish their degree at UW-Milwaukee in a shorter time than under traditional learning models. In addition, studying for a bachelor’s degree under the Flex Option can cost considerably less – but again, this depends on your motivation. If you’re a self-starter, this highly individualized program may be ideal for you. However, if you need a lot of structure to accomplish your learning goals, it might be more of a struggle. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Cost per credit hour: $352
Located in Topeka, KS, Washburn University offers an online bachelor’s degree in health sciences with a concentration in medical imaging. Diagnostic medical sonography is one of three areas of specialization for the degree, along with magnetic resonance imaging and radiation therapy. You can choose to focus on general medical sonography, cardiac, or vascular imaging as you study for this degree. Along with technical classes in the field, this degree also teaches students about the legal, financial, and policy aspects of health care as well as supervisory practices. If you’re looking to move up in the ranks in a hospital or other health care institution, this program may be well-suited for you. Washburn University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northern Arizona University
Cost per credit hour: $387
There are more than 7,600 students at Northern Arizona University’s Extended Campuses, 40% of whom are studying online. As part of this extensive portfolio of online education, NAU offers a bachelor’s program in health sciences with a specialization in medical imaging and therapy. This degree is open to ARDMS certified technicians who hold an associate’s degree in medical sonography, as well as other imaging professionals such as x-ray and CT technicians.
Although it’s a 120 credit hour program, up to 90 credit hours can be transferred from other institutions. Degree requirements include classes in general studies, basic medical sciences, and health care management, and the program culminates in a capstone leadership course. With a number of options for elective courses, this program is best suited for aspiring clinical managers looking for a broad and flexible undergraduate education. Northern Arizona University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Cost per credit hour: $428
A former community college and part of the state college system in Florida, Valencia College offers several bachelor’s degree programs, including a bachelor’s degree in radiologic and imaging sciences for ARDMS-registered sonographers already holding an associate’s degree. A specialization in cardiac ultrasound is available in this program.
Regardless of your area of specialization, a number of core classes are required for all candidates, including the following:
- Health law and compliance
- Ethics and health care in a pluralistic society
- Leadership in health care
- Radiology information systems
- Research methods
Whether your interests are in hospital management or teaching, the program at Valencia College will help you take the next steps in realizing your career goals. The Radiologic and Imaging Sciences degree at Valencia College is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
Adventist University of Health Sciences
Cost per credit hour: $430
For some students, working in health care is more than a job. It’s part of their commitment to Christian ministry. If you’re looking for a medical sonography program that includes faith-based commitments, the online bachelor’s program in medical sonography at Adventist University of Health Sciences may be right for you.
As the program description states, students who complete this degree will be able to:
- Execute proper procedures and document results for analysis by a physician
- Educate patients in the procedures and usage of medical ultrasound
- Acquire, evaluate, and incorporate relevant patient records and clinical information to provide the most accurate diagnostic outcomes
- Provide high-level professional services in the practice of sonographic procedures
- Reinforce healthy principles and lifestyles for patients
Altogether, this program consists of 61 trimester credit hours, including 34 credits of imaging and sonography science courses and 27 credits of general education courses. Students can complete the online BSDMS degree in as few as 2 years. A minimum of 120 credit hours, including transfer credits, are required for graduation. AUHS is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Thomas Edison State University
Cost per credit hour: $445
Thomas Edison State University offers an online bachelor of science degree in medical imaging sciences through a cooperative agreement with Rutgers University’s School of Health Related Professions. The program is designed for nationally-certified students with an associate’s degree who are already working in the medical imaging field.
The TESU joint program with Rutgers offers the option to specialize in a number of fields, including the following areas of professional practice:
- Cardiac sonography
- General diagnostic medical sonography
- Nuclear medicine technology
- Radiologic imaging modalities
- Vascular sonography
The TESU bachelor’s in medical imaging program is structured to broaden the skills of medical sonographers and prepare them for leadership positions within their discipline. To apply to this program, students should contact Rutgers for more information on specific admissions requirements and curriculum options. Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Cost per credit hour: $561
Part of the University of Arkansas system, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is the only institution in the state focused on graduate and professional education in medicine and related fields of study. The UAMS College of Health Professions offers a number of programs for undergraduates and graduate students, including an online bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography.
Like the other programs in this list, UAMS expects students to have already passed their licensing exams and achieved ARDMS certification. They invite applications from sonographers who have been certified in these areas:
- Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS): Sonography Principles and Instrumentation and Abdomen or Obstetrics & Gynecology.
- Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT): Sonography Principles and Instrumentation and Vascular Technology.
- Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS): Sonography Principles and Instrumentation and Adult Echocardiography.
A total of 120 credits are required for the degree, many of which can be achieved through transfer or, in some cases, by examination. While the program is delivered 100% online, students are required to travel to campus at least once during their first year. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.