Most people become familiar with the work of ultrasound technicians (or, more formally, medical sonographers) when they or their loved ones are expecting a baby. It’s an exciting and joyous part of a family’s life. But you may not know about the many other ways medical sonographers play a vital role in the health care team. Sonograms are used to diagnose a host of medical problems from kidney stones to heart conditions. And sonographers are a vital part of care in specialized fields that range from obstetrics to neurology to oncology.
Medical sonography isn’t just an important part of health care. It’s also a growing career field. With a current unemployment rate of only 1.9%, sonographers are in demand now. They’re well paid, with a median salary of $67,530. 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.
If you’re just getting started in sonography, the first step is to obtain an associate’s degree from a community college program 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.
Your medical sonography certification can also lead to a bachelor’s degree in radiation science technology and related medical imaging fields. 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.
What are the best programs for an associate’s degree in medical sonography?
We’ve ranked the 20 best programs in medical sonography based on a number of practical metrics. Because associate’s degree programs are most often offered by community colleges and specialized medical training programs, the national reputation of the school may matter less than how well they prepare their students for a career in the field. In putting together this list, we paid particular attention to attrition levels, the percentage of students who pass their board exams, and placement in work after graduation. We also focused on programs that offer a variety of specializations, including cardiac, vascular, and general medical sonography. All of our ranked programs are accredited by CAAHEP, ensuring they meet the highest standards of academic quality and up-to-date clinical training.
College Choice Score: 100
Tuition per credit hour: $201
Our top-ranked program is offered by Washington’s Bellevue College. Bellevue’s associate’s degree program provides educational and clinical experience that prepares students to successfully gain employment and national certification as a diagnostic medical sonographer. The Associate of Arts degree in Diagnostic Ultrasound provides training in ultrasound patient services and related diagnostic techniques, with options in the following specialty tracks: General (Abdomen & OB/GYN), Vascular Technology, and Echocardiography. Of the programs we evaluated, Bellevue stands out due to its high graduation rate as well as a 100% certification and job placement rate.
Regardless of which specialty you choose, at the end of the two year program consisting of 112 quarter credits, you will have gained the following skills and abilities:
- Function as an entry-level sonographer, acquiring diagnostic ultrasound images of the patient’s anatomy to aid the physician in the diagnosis of various pathological conditions
- Act in the best interests of the patient and the institution through the prudent use of safety measures, techniques and equipment to prevent harm to patient, facility or oneself
- Act within the Ultrasonography Scope of Practice as outlined by the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
- Exercise independent judgment and discretion in the technical performance of medical imaging procedures
- Assimilate pertinent clinical information, ultrasound findings and knowledge of normal and abnormal conditions into a cohesive and complete ultrasound examination for interpreting physicians
- Communicate effectively with patients, family members, hospital staff, and the general public, and demonstrate professionalism in all actions and communications
The sonography program operates with a selective admissions program that includes procedures and requirements that differ from other Bellevue degrees. Check the program website carefully for full details on what you’ll need to apply.
In addition to the associate’s degree programs, Bellevue also offers an optional Breast Ultrasound certificate, for students wishing to expand their job skills to include breast ultrasound scanning. Satisfactory completion of the program courses partially fulfills the eligibility requirements for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification examination in breast ultrasound. Bellevue’s programs in sonography have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs since 1987. Bellevue College is also regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Baptist College of Health Sciences
College Choice Score: 99
Tuition per credit hour: $423
Diagnostic medical sonography education has been offered by the Baptist Memorial Health Care system in Memphis since 1986. Now, the Baptist College of Health Sciences offers associate’s and bachelor of health science degrees with a major in diagnostic medical sonography. The degree plan requires students to successfully complete courses that include a general education curriculum, sonography courses, and clinical practicum courses.
Within the degree program, you can choose to major in either general or vascular sonography. Topics included in your sonography courses and clinical practicum experiences will include:
- Abdominal sonography
- General sonography
- Obstetrical and gynecological sonography
- Vascular sonography
- Adult echocardiography
- Physical principles of ultrasound and instrumentation
Over the course of the program, you’ll receive in-class instruction, online instruction, laboratory experience, and clinical practicum experience. The sonography and clinical practicum courses encompass six consecutive trimesters and require the student to participate in courses up to 40 hours per week. Clinical practicum experience is obtained in a variety of health care facilities, including many Baptist Memorial Health Care locations.
Upon successful completion of the sonography program, graduates are eligible to sit for examinations given by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). After passing the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) examination and other specialty examinations, graduates can earn one of the following credentials: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT), and Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS). The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), in both the general and vascular concentrations. Baptist College of Health Sciences is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Lamar Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 97.6
Tuition per credit hour: $120
Located in Beaumont, Texas, Lamar Institute of Technology is part of the state university system of Texas whose programs are focused on technical and career training. As part of its extensive degree options in the healthcare field, LIT offers an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography that prepares health professionals to work in a medical office, clinic or hospital as medical sonographers. An associate’s degree in diagnostic cardiac sonography is also available for students who hope to begin a career as an echocardiography specialist.
While some of the coursework for each program is different, the overall degree structures are similar. The associate’s degree in general medical sonography requires a total of 65 credit hours, with 50 lecture hours and 90 lab hours. In this program, you’ll learn to provide patient services using medical ultrasound under the supervision of a physician responsible for the use and interpretation of ultrasound procedures. The cardiac sonography degree also requires 65 credit hours, including 49 lecture hours and 90 lab hours. You’ll learn how to perform cardiovascular examinations to produce a picture of the heart and blood vessels, including 2D and 3D Echo, M-mode and color flow Doppler, as well as Transesophageal and Stress Studies. The echocardiographer may work in hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices.
Due to clinical placement requirements, a maximum of 12 students in the medical and 10 in the cardiac programs are accepted each year. Upon completion of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program and the Advanced Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, students will be eligible to take examinations for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) certification in the specialty area of Abdomen and Obstetrics/Gynecology (OB/GYN). Students in the cardiac program may take the examination to become certified as echocardiographers. Lamar Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the sonography programs are accredited by CAAHEP.
Grady Health System
College Choice Score: 97.3
Tuition per credit hour: $218
Based at one of the busiest and largest hospitals in the Southeast, the School of Diagnostic Medical Sonography at Grady Health System in Atlanta is a full-time, daytime program lasting 18 months and preparing its graduates for a rewarding career in diagnostic medical sonography in the areas of Abdomen and OB/GYN. The school awards a certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, but the program has articulation agreements with both Georgia State University’s Perimeter College and Atlanta Metropolitan State College, which means graduates will be awarded an Associate of Science degree in Radiologic Technology by the respective college upon successful completion of college prerequisites and the radiologic technology component at Grady Health System.
The program introduces students to perinatal, abdominal and pediatric imaging through coursework as well as clinical experiences at several Atlanta, GA, healthcare facilities. Clinical training prepares students to work with a team under the instruction of a perinatologist or radiologist, and also helps develop communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Graduates of the program can seek certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Classes are limited in size, and admission to this program is competitive and selective. The number of students accepted depends on the number of available clinical sites and job outlook in the area. Currently, a maximum of 12 students are accepted annually, and the graduation rate for the past 5 years is 95 percent. The sonography program is accredited by CAAHEP, and associate’s degrees at Georgia State University and Atlanta Metropolitan are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
College of DuPage
College Choice Score: 97
Tuition per credit hour: $327
Located in the suburbs of Chicago, the College of DuPage is a public two-year college and the second-largest undergraduate institution in the state of Illinois. As part of their educational programs in the health sciences, DuPage offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in sonography in addition to an undergraduate certificate. This 24-month program includes all of the coursework and clinical hours currently offered in both the general and vascular certificate programs, preparing students for either specialty.
Graduates of the program will be prepared to meet certification requirements, deliver compassionate patient care, and work as integral members of the health care team with competence and confidence. Over the course of 62.5 credit hours of academic work as well as clinical experience, you’ll learn how to obtain medical histories, perform diagnostic procedures and produce diagnostic images, analyze technical information, summarize ultrasound findings to physicians for medical diagnosis, and collaborate with physicians and other members of the health care team to ensure the best possible patient care. Graduates of the program may be employed in hospitals, outpatient clinics and in private doctor’s offices. There are also opportunities for technologists to become commercial application specialists for medical equipment companies, educators and hospital administrators.
The sonography program is located in the new Health and Science Center, which opened in May 2009. This three-story, 188,000-square-foot building contains a combination of laboratory, classroom, office and instructional space for most of the health sciences programs as well as a number of science programs. The sonography lab includes eight private scanning stations with view boxes to review films. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 96.9
Tuition per credit hour: $241
Maryland’s Montgomery College is a public community college serving the northern suburbs of Washington, DC, from three campuses. The associate of applied science program in diagnostic medical sonography at Montgomery offers students the opportunity to specialize in three fields: general sonography, vascular sonography, and cardiac echocardiography. The total number of credit hours required for the degree ranges from 63 to 70 depending on which track you choose, but in each case the degree takes two years of full-time study and clinical work to complete. You’ll learn how to perform ultrasound examinations, provide patient care, and record anatomical, pathological, and physiological data for interpretation by a physician.
Through your coursework and supervised practical experience, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to work as a sonographer in hospitals, offices, and other health care settings. As the program website explains, students are prepared to achieve the following learning goals:
- Obtain, review, and integrate pertinent patient history and supporting clinical data to facilitate optimum diagnostic results
- Perform appropriate procedures and record anatomical, pathological, and/or physiological data for interpretation by a physician
- Record, analyze, and process diagnostic data and other pertinent observations made during the procedure for presentation to the interpreting physician
- Exercise discretion and judgment in the performance of sonographic and other diagnostic services
- Demonstrate appropriate communication skills with patients and colleagues
- Act in a professional and ethical manner
- Provide patient education related to medical ultrasound and other diagnostic vascular techniques, and promote principles of good health
The program is designed as a set sequence, and each of the diagnostic medical sonography courses builds on materials offered in previous courses. So it’s meant for students who are able to study full-time and complete the course sequence in its intended order.
While Montgomery College is an open-admission institution as a whole, the sonography program operates with special selective admission requirements. Students who are already enrolled at the college and plan to major in diagnostic medical sonography may take preparatory courses and courses that fulfill General Education requirements during the waiting period before admission to the program. Upon completion of the program, graduates will receive an AAS and be eligible to apply to take the national registry exam, administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, in one or more of the following specialties: abdominal sonography, breast sonography, obstetrics/gynecology sonography, adult echocardiography, pediatric echocardiography, or vascular sonography. The sonography program is accredited by CAAHEP, and Montgomery College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 95.9
Tuition per credit hour: $187
Located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the diagnostic medical sonography program of Foothill College is designed to integrate classroom, laboratory, and clinical learning, with emphasis on the clinical aspects of the field. As a principal community resource, Foothill College strives to serve the needs of the community by providing this program as well as continuing education to meet the needs of healthcare providers in the area as well as the career goals of its students. The DMS program is an 18 month sequence that begins in September and lasts a total of six quarters. Because all courses are completed in sequence and the preceptorship (clinical) courses require thirty-two hours per week, this program requires full-time study. Classroom and laboratory instruction is required in addition to the preceptorship assignment.
In this program, you’ll learn how to perform patient assessments and evaluations using effective communication and analytical skills. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to acquire and analyze data obtained using ultrasound, provide preliminary reports of findings to the physician, and use independent judgment and systematic problem solving methods to produce high quality diagnostic information and optimize patient care and safety. As the program website explains, the learning goals for the degree include:
- To develop the student’s communication and critical thinking skills in order to function as a competent and diligent member of the health care team
- To develop technical skills to provide for comprehensive quality care to individuals from a diverse socioeconomic, educational, and or cultural background
- To graduate health care professionals who are respectful of others as well as practice the principles of ethics including autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, veracity, justice, fidelity, and recognize his/her responsibilities under the law
- To develop the student’s awareness and commitment toward understanding and implementing the Code of Conduct & Code of Ethics as described by the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- To convey the importance of striving for continued improvement through education and active participation in this profession
In this program, students can either opt for a certificate in diagnostic medical ultrasound or an associate of science degree with a few extra classes or transfer credits in general education courses.
This program is open to students who are seeking a new career in the field, to practicing diagnostic medical sonographers who need formalized education to pass the ARDMS examinations, and to those in recognized American Medical Association Allied Health occupations who wish to specialize in diagnostic medical sonography. If you work in a recognized health profession, this program provides the opportunity to apply your clinical experience to the program requirements and offers a new and challenging career. The program is accredited by CAAHEP, and will prepare you for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) exams. Foothill College is a two-year school that is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and has been recognized as one of California’s best community colleges.
Mercy College of Health Sciences
College Choice Score: 95.6
Tuition per credit hour: $610
Since its founding by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy in 1899, Mercy College of Health Sciences has been in the business of preparing leaders for the healthcare community. While much has changed in healthcare since then, its focus and core values have remained constant: knowledge, reverence, integrity, compassion, and excellence. Mercy College’s Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ASDMS) major includes two concentrations, leading to either general licensure or cardiovascular licensure. In both tracks, you’ll experience classroom instruction, practice in skills lab and significant clinical experience in a variety of health care settings. You’ll gain the knowledge and skills to be a technically-skilled and caring professions, while fostering your critical thinking and problem solving abilities to see each patient as an individual with unique health care needs.
The five-semester associate degree program includes a total of 76 credit hours of classroom instruction (including required prerequisites), practice in skills lab, and clinical experience in a variety of health care settings. Each year, the program accepts between 12-16 DMS students beginning each fall semester in the general and cardiovascular tracks. In both concentrations, students must be prepared to meet the common standards of a sonographer, including:
- Interact compassionately and effectively with patients of varying health conditions
- Communicate effectively with the patient and the health care team;
- Analyze technical information and make critical adjustments to obtain the most useful images necessary for diagnosis and treatment
The college has a working relationship with a number of healthcare institutions including Mercy Medical Center (MMC) Des Moines, Mercy Health Network (MHN), and Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI). These partnerships help Mercy College to stay at the forefront of the changing landscape in healthcare, ultimately helping students to be better prepared on their first day of professional practice.
The application process has two stages. Following general admission to the College, you will be instructed on how to begin the separate sonography admissions process. All applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 and achieve a “C” or higher in the following college-level courses:
- Human Anatomy (with lab)
- English Composition I
- College Algebra
- Medical Terminology
- College Physics (with lab)
These required prerequisites may be in progress while completing the program admissions process. Once you successfully complete your concentration, or while working on your associate’s degree, you may also choose to dual enroll in either the Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration or Bachelor of Science in Health Science degree programs. The sonography programs at Mercy College are accredited by CAAHEP, and the College is also regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Albany State University
College Choice Score: 94.5
Tuition per credit hour: $216
At the direction of the state government of Georgia, Albany State University was recently consolidated with Darton State College, another public institution in the area. As a result, the extensive career programs in the health sciences that were based at Darton State for the past 50 years have transitioned into the Darton College of Health Sciences at Albany State. This new, combined institution is poised to become one of the leading providers of health professions education in the southeast. The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Albany State’s Darton College of Health Sciences is designed to graduate competent, capable and adaptable entry-level general sonographers who have the skill, professionalism, and compassion to deliver the highest quality of patient care.
This associate of applied science program is very selective, with 14 students admitted each year. A total of 73 credit hours are required for the degree, of which 14 are prerequisites, 17 are general education requirements that can be completed prior to or during the program, and 43 are courses and clinical placements in the sonography program itself. You’ll learn how to use computer technology along with a transducer to produce quality images for the assessment and diagnosis of various medical conditions. After graduating and passing their licensing exams, students have found jobs in a number of settings, including hospitals, physician offices, mobile companies, temporary traveling agencies, veterinary offices, educational facilities and as application specialists for companies that manufacture ultrasound equipment.
Applicants for admission are required to participate in a minimum of 30 observational hours in a diagnostic medical sonography setting and submit a recommendation from the sonographer they observed. DMS students are eligible to sit for the Sonographic Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) Exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) after successfully completing the first-semester Ultrasound Physics course. Students may sit for specialty examinations (Abdomen & Ob/Gyn) after passing the SPI Exam and within 60 days of graduation. Once you have passed both the physics portion and one specialty exam, you will become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). Albany State College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the sonography program is accredited by CAAHEP.
College Choice Score: 93.5
Tuition per credit hour: $230
With over 23,000 students in more than 100 programs, Baker College is the largest independent, non-profit college in Michigan. Focused on preparing students for meaningful employment, Baker boasts one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country. As a student in Baker’s associate of applied science program in diagnostic medical sonography associate degree program, you will prepare for your own future career, as you learn how to use ultrasound equipment to provide the images doctors need to diagnose medical conditions. Through classroom work, hands-on lab training, and real-world clinical experience, you gain the medical knowledge, technical skills, and critical thinking skills you need to become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS).
In total, the program consists of 111 quarter credits – equivalent to 74 semester credit hours. Through academic coursework and clinical training, students gain the knowledge and skills they need to:
- Apply knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as pathophysiology, to accurately demonstrate anatomical structures on a sonogram or digital medium
- Apply principles of sonographic physics to assess anatomical structures
- Recognize sonography’s role in the healthcare environment
- Provide patient care and comfort
You’ll also develop the strong communication, critical thinking, and technical skills needed to get your first entry-level job and become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.
Like other sonography programs, enrollment is limited and selective due to the number of clinical placement sites available. A number of prerequisite courses are required for admission, and applicants should contact the sonography program for more details on the availability of transfer credit. While prerequisite coursework can be competed on a part-time basis, the professional sonography portion of the degree requires full-time availability for clinical placements. Graduates will be eligible to take the registry certification following acceptance of their application by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Baker College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the sonography program is accredited by CAAHEP
Oklahoma State University at Oklahoma City
College Choice Score: 93.4
Tuition per credit hour: $122
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography Department at OSU’s Oklahoma City campus offers a program of study that leads to an Associate in Applied Science degree in Cardiovascular Sonography. The theoretical and clinical courses required for this degree will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to care for your patients, and will assure that you meet the requirements of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for earning a college degree.
The Cardiovascular Sonography program of study is a 65-credit hour program, which includes classroom and laboratory instruction on campus as well as supervised clinical experience at affiliated health agencies. The program is designed to take five (5) semesters to complete starting from the time you are actually admitted into the program and take your first sonography course. Because each semester’s learning builds on the last, you must be able to study full-time and will not be allowed to double up courses to finish more quickly.
Admission to the program is based on a points system, with one class admitted to the program every academic year. A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 on completed college coursework is necessary in order to be considered for the program. The ATI TEAS is the pre-admission exam for all applicants of the OSU-OKC nurse science and cardiovascular sonography degree programs. An appointment to take the exam is required.
The following college-level prerequisites must be met prior to the beginning of the first semester of the Cardiovascular Sonography program:
- College Algebra, Statistics, or higher math course
- General college level physics
- English Comp I
- English Comp II, Speech, or Advanced Composition
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Biological and Medical Terminology
OSU-Oklahoma City Cardiovascular Sonography clinical rotation sites are predominately based in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. However, there are some out-of-town clinical sites that will require travel to other cities in Oklahoma. Travel requirements should be taken into account when applying to the program. OSU-Oklahoma City is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the sonography program is accredited by CAAHEP.
Central Ohio Technical College
College Choice Score: 93.3
Tuition per credit hour: $179
Central Ohio Technical College offers the Associate of Applied Science degree to graduates of its Diagnostic Medical Sonography Technology program. Two majors are available, each requiring a total of 65 credit hours to complete: General (Abdominal, Obstetrical and Gynecological Sonography) and Cardiovascular (Adult Echocardiography and Vascular Sonography). You’ll learn how to provide quality patient care, use high-tech instrumentation to create and interpret diagnostic imagery used by physicians, and work as a critical member of a healthcare team. COTC maintains a dedicated lab with sonographic equipment, so that students are able to practice real-time scanning skills with expert guidance.
Each autumn, entering students begin coursework specific to their major, either General or Cardiovascular. These program courses are sequential and must be completed in the semester they are offered. As the program website explains, you’ll learn how to:
- Communicate effectively orally and in writing
- Provide basic patient care and comfort
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of human gross anatomy and sectional anatomy
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physiology, pathology, and pathophysiology
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of acoustic physics, Doppler ultrasound principles, and ultrasound instrumentation
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the interaction between ultrasound and tissue and the probability of biological effects in clinical examinations
- Employ professional judgment and discretion
- Understand the fundamental elements for implementing a quality assurance and improvement program, and the policies, protocols, and procedures for the general function of the ultrasound
Three clinical courses give you ample hands-on training at hospital sites. Plus, after shadowing a registered sonographer, you’ll perform the same procedures under the sonographer’s guidance. This sequence gives you the skills you need to graduate with confidence grounded in experience.
Students must apply and be selected for COTC’s highly competitive Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. Selection occurs once a year in May. Prior to being selected into the program, students can enroll in courses that will count toward degree completion. These include general education as well as some introductory medical courses. Before being selected, students may enroll part or full time in courses that are offered online, evenings or on weekends. The Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program at Central Ohio Technical College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Central Ohio Technical College is also accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Delaware Technical Community College
College Choice Score: 93
Tuition per credit hour: $145
From its two campuses in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware Technical Community College offers associate’s degrees in both general and cardiovascular sonography. The general program is available at both campuses, while the cardiovascular program is only offered in Wilmington. In each course of study, you will learn how to use the latest equipment to direct high frequency sound waves into areas of a patient’s anatomy, and use these ultrasound images to assist qualified physicians to make a medical diagnosis.
The general learning concentration focuses on the areas of abdomen, obstetrics and gynecology, superficial structures, and vascular ultrasound. Meanwhile, the cardiovascular learning concentration focuses on procedures that help to diagnose abnormalities related to heart and vascular diseases. Regardless of which concentration you choose, you’ll learn to meet the following standards:
- Competently perform a full range of diagnostic medical sonographic procedures relevant to your major concentration
- Use professional verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills in patient care, procedure intervention, and professional relationships
- Act in a professional and ethical manner and comply with professional scope of practice
- Integrate critical thinking and problem solving skills as expected of a healthcare professional
In total, the program requires 6 semesters or 80 credit hours to complete, including 4 semesters of clinical internship experience.
Enrollment in this program is limited and competitive, and there are a number of prerequisite courses that applicants must have completed:
- Anatomy and Physiology (within 5 years)
- General Chemistry
- College Math and Statistics or College Algebra
- Basic Physics
- Critical Thinking and Academic Writing
Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for the national credentialing exams through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Delaware Technical Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the sonography programs are accredited by CAAHEP.
College Choice Score: 92.5
Tuition per credit hour: $104
A former community college and part of the state college system in Florida, Valencia College offers a number of programs in the Health Sciences division, including an associate of science degree in diagnostic medical sonography. This 77 credit hour program combines clinical and laboratory experience with knowledge of technology and the inner workings of the human body. Graduates will be prepared for licensing exams, and will have the ability to play a dynamic role in the treatment and care of patients as an important part of the healthcare team.
In addition to your laboratory and clinical experiences, you’ll take a number of core courses including:
- Acoustical Physics and Instrumentation
- Sectional Anatomy
- Patient Care
- Medical Terminology
You’ll be trained in the theory and practice of performing ultrasound examinations in obstetrics and gynecology, abdominal sonography, and neurosonography. You’ll also learn how to analyze and present diagnostic data for interpretation and diagnosis by the physician.
For admission to the program, students must have credit for the following prerequisites, either taken at Valencia or transferred from another institution:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- Physics with Medical Applications
- College Algebra
- English Composition
- General Psychology
Upon earning the A.S. degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, eligible applicants can continue at Valencia to complete the bachelor’s degree in Radiologic and Imaging Sciences or a bachelor’s-level Advanced Technical Certificate (ATC) in Echocardiography, Leadership in Healthcare or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The sonography program at Valencia College is accredited by CAAHEP, and the College as a whole is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Nebraska Methodist College
College Choice Score: 92.1
Tuition per credit hour: $580
Located in Omaha, Nebraska Methodist College offers an associate of science degree in sonography in two concentrations: general multispecialty and cardiovascular ultrasound. Both programs take 21 months to complete, with 69 credit hours required for graduation. In addition to classroom instruction and laboratory learning experiences, students gain hands-on experience through supervised clinical training at hospitals and clinics throughout the greater Omaha area.
The multispecialty curriculum at NMC focuses on different parts of the body for maximum career flexibility. The obstetrics and gynecologic portion of the degree focuses on imaging of the female reproductive system and includes one of the more well-known uses of sonography – examining the fetus of a pregnant woman to follow the baby’s growth and development. The abdominal portion involves learning the anatomy of the abdominal cavity to help diagnose and treat conditions involving the aorta, gallbladder, bile ducts, kidneys, liver, pancreas and spleen. Over the course of the program, you’ll also focus on the breast, thyroid and male reproductive system. Meanwhile, the cardiovascular sonography major trains students to collect and evaluate images of the heart, the heart valves and related blood vessels.
Graduates of the cardiovascular program are able to sit for adult echocardiography and vascular technology examinations administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), and those in the general multispecialty track can take the abdomen and obstetrics/gynecology examinations. Required prerequisites for admission to the program include:
- College Algebra
- Physics with Lab
- English Composition
- Introduction to Psychology or Lifespan Psychology
- Medical Terminology
- Human Anatomy and Physiology I with Lab
- Human Anatomy and Physiology II with Lab
It’s also recommended that applicants to both programs observe a minimum of
College Choice Score: 91.8
Tuition per credit hour: $699
Keiser University is a private, nonprofit university based in Florida that focuses on education for business and healthcare professions. It has multiple campuses throughout the state, with locations in Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Melbourne, and New Port Richey. The associate of science program in diagnostic medical sonography at Keiser integrates classroom learning, laboratory work, and clinical experiences to prepare students for entry-level positions as diagnostic medical sonographers. A degree in general sonography, called Track 1, is available at each campus. Track 2, a unique program that includes both general and vascular sonography is offered in Fort Lauderdale.
To receive the associate of science degree in diagnostic medical sonography, students earn a total of 81 credit hours in Track 1 or 91 credit hours in Track 2. 26 of those credits are general education requirements, including all the prerequisites needed to begin major coursework and clinical internships. Upon graduation, you’ll achieve the following learning goals:
- Provide high-quality patient care as part of the healthcare team
- Display professional and ethical behaviors when communicating in the healthcare setting
- Demonstrate clinical competency by performing appropriate physiologic, two dimensional, Doppler and other sonographic and noninvasive procedures.
- Demonstrate the necessary knowledge in general sonography and/or vascular technology
With a focus on life-long learning, you’ll be prepared to adapt to a rapidly changing profession where new technologies are constantly being developed.
The required prerequisites for the major include two semesters of anatomy and physiology and one semester each of general physics, english composition, and intermediate algebra. To begin clinical work, you’ll also need to pass a background check and drug screening, and complete your general education requirements with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Keiser University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the sonography programs are accredited by CAAHEP.
Northern Virginia Community College
College Choice Score: 90.8
Tuition per credit hour: $138
The diagnostic medical sonography programs at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) are offered at the Medical Education Campus in Springfield, VA. This is a technologically sophisticated, specialized campus dedicated to the education of nurses and other allied health professionals, serving more than 3500 students each year. NOVA’s program emphasizes didactic and “hands-on” practice of sonographic techniques in a well-equipped scanning laboratory at the Medical Education Campus in Springfield, Virginia. Clinical placements are available at numerous hospitals and private medical affiliates in this growing suburban area. As a student at NOVA, you can choose to pursue an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography in one of three tracks: general, cardiac, or vascular.
Each concentration has a different focus and a slightly different total number of credits required to graduate: 70 for the general track, 67 for cardiac, and 65 for vascular. Students in the general diagnostic medical sonography program learn to perform ultrasound of the abdomen as well as obstetric and gynecologic sonography. You’ll learn to work as a central member of the healthcare team, assisting the radiologist and other physicians in gathering diagnostic data for interpretation. The cardiac ultrasound or echocardiography curriculum focuses on diagnostic images of the heart structures and motion to in order diagnose cardiovascular changes. Students in the new (as of Fall 2017) vascular program learn to image the circulatory system to diagnose problems in blood flow. As a certified sonographer, you’ll be qualified to work in a number of settings including hospitals, doctors’ offices, public health projects, industrial medical clinics, veterans’ and military hospitals.
After completing the degree requirements, you will be eligible to apply to take the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography examinations leading to credentials as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), or Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT), depending on your major. Admission is selective, and several prerequisites are required to apply. Each course must be completed with a grade of B or higher:
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- College Composition I
- Mathematics for the Liberal Arts I or higher level math
- Topics in Acoustical Physics
- Orientation to Healthcare
The sonography degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) for the general and cardiac tracks, and accreditation for the vascular program is expected soon. Until then, applicants to the vascular track are required to have a bachelor’s degree prior to enrollment, making graduates of the program eligible to take the vascular national registry examination and obtain certification. Check with the program for the latest information on the vascular major. Northern Virginia Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 90.1
Tuition per credit hour: $558
Located in Scranton, PA, Lackawanna College offers students the opportunity to gain an associate’s degree in either general diagnostic medical sonography, vascular, or cardiac ultrasound. Each of Lackawanna College’s three sonography programs is designed to be completed over a two-year period (including summers) with day, evening, and Saturday courses as well as on- and off-campus clinical hours. Acceptance into all Lackawanna College sonography programs is based on a selective admissions process, with a maximum of 25 students selected annually for the cardiac and vascular programs and 20 for diagnostic medical sonography.
Each program consists consists of 70 credits of didactic and clinical training. The general medical ultrasound program includes the specializations of abdominal sonography (liver, kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas and spleen), obstetric and gynecologic sonography, neurosonography, small parts scanning and an introduction to vascular sonography. The vascular program teaches students to diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases that affect the circulatory system. Meanwhile, cardiac sonographers use ultrasound technology to examine the heart’s chambers, valves, and vessels. Images that are produced by using ultrasound are then reviewed by a physician for interpretation and diagnosis of heart abnormalities. In addition, cardiac sonographers may also choose to specialize in vascular technology.
Applicants to this program who do not have valid SAT/ACT scores and have not previously earned college credits will be required to take the ACCUPLACER exam for admission. You must achieve ‘College Ready’ scores on this test in Reading, Writing, and Math to be considered qualified for one of the sonography programs. You must also have completed at least one biological science course, no more than three years ago if the course was in high school or at any time if it was taken for college credit. Lackawanna College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and the sonography programs are accredited by CAAHEP.
Ferris State University
College Choice Score: 88.4
Tuition per credit hour: $406
Founded in 1884 as Big Rapids Industrial School, Ferris State University is a public university with campuses in Big Rapids and Grand Rapids, Michigan. With a focus on providing professional education for in-demand fields, Ferris State offers a wide range of degrees and certificates in the health sciences, ranging from cancer information management to respiratory care. Among those programs is an associate of applied science degree in diagnostic medical sonography. Over the course of six semesters and 84 credits, including summers, you’ll learn how to work independently to operate highly technical ultrasound equipment to acquire sonographic images – and how to work as part of a professional team. This program is a general medical sonography curriculum that prepares students for work in either abdominal ultrasound or obstetrics and gynecology.
After completing any needed prerequisites, students enter the professional sequence of the program in the fall and spend the first three semesters on the Big Rapids campus. Studies during this period include general education and technical courses. Laboratory periods provide an opportunity to apply the theory and principles learned in the lecture sessions. You’ll learn how to:
- Use your knowledge and clinical skills to provide comprehensive diagnostic medical sonography services
- Communicate effectively to acquire, develop and convey ideas
- Practice your profession adhering to the ethical, legal and professional conduct expected of a diagnostic medical sonographer
- Evaluate and interpret ultrasound films using critical thinking skills
During the final three semesters, students work with patients in an off-campus clinical center. These sites are located throughout the state in hospitals affiliated with the University, each of which provides clinical experience and continued academic instruction.
If you don’t already have credit for prerequisite courses, you will first be admitted to the university as a Pre-DMS student. To enter the professional sequence of the program, you need to earn at least a B- in the following courses or their equivalents:
- Basic Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Concepts in Physics
- Intermediate Algebra
- English I
- Orientation to Medical Vocabulary
Graduates of the program are eligible to take the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Examination as well as the Abdomen, and Obstetrics and Gynecology specialty exams. A certificate in vascular ultrasound is also available for currently licensed sonographers wishing to expand their practice base. The diagnostic medical sonography program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), and Ferris State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
College of Southern Nevada
College Choice Score: 87.7
Tuition per credit hour: $210
The College of Southern Nevada’s diagnostic medical sonography program houses two associate of applied science degrees: general/vascular ultrasound and cardiac/vascular ultrasound. The general/vascular track prepares students to work in the areas of abdominal, obstetrical/gynecological and vascular ultrasound. Graduates of the cardiac/vascular track may enter the sonography field in the areas of adult and pediatric echocardiography as well as vascular ultrasound. In each major, the curriculum and clinical internships are designed to prepare you for entry-level employment as a sonographer.
Students enter the program each June, and the coursework and internships are designed to be completed in six semesters, including summers. In total, the general/vascular major requires 93 credits for graduation, while the cardiac/vascular curriculum takes 92. Regardless of which track you choose, you’ll learn how to:
- Obtain, review, and integrate patient history and clinical data to produce optimum diagnostic results
- Perform appropriate procedures and record anatomical, pathological, and physiological data for interpretation by a physician
- Record and process sonographic data and other observations made during the procedure for presentation to the interpreting physician
- Exercise discretion and judgment in the performance of sonographic services
- Provide patient education related to medical ultrasound and promote principles of good health
After graduation, you’ll be prepared to work in a variety of settings from hospital and clinics to diagnostic imaging centers and outpatient health facilities.
Because it is a limited admissions program with competitive admission, students must attend a health programs orientation in-person or online, and meet with a health programs advisor for additional counseling prior to application. In addition to completing a 40 hour clinical observation placement, you’ll need to have credit for several prerequisite courses for admission including:
- Anatomy and Physiology I & II
- Technical Physics I (or any college physics with lab)
- Medical Terminology I
- Composition I or Technical Communicatios I
- Technical Mathematics (or higher)
CSN’s program is the only one in Nevada accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Because of this status, students are eligible to sit for the exam for certification as Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS) or Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographers (RDCS) prior to graduation. The College of Southern Nevada is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.