When you think of ultrasounds, you likely think of a pregnant woman viewing an image of her fetus for the first time. While ultrasound technicians certainly perform this essential and intimate task, they also serve a variety of other important medical functions. In addition to performing obstetric sonograms, ultrasound technicians also view activity in the heart, abdominal organs, spine, and brain. They then analyze the resulting images, helping doctors form a diagnosis. The best ultrasound technician schools provide a background in health sciences, teach students how to operate sonogram equipment, and offer hands-on sonography experience.
Employment prospects look good for ultrasound technician school graduates. Between 2016 and 2026, the BLS projects that diagnostic medical sonographer jobs will increase 17% — far greater than average rate of growth for all occupations. As of 2017, medical sonographers also enjoyed a median annual salary of more than $65,000. To help choose the best school for your needs, goals, and budget, consider this list of the best ultrasound technician schools in the U.S.
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
CC Score: 100
The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center offers a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences with a Sonography Specialization. This program is perfect for high school students and non-major college students who wish to pursue a degree as an ultrasound tech.
This program is accredited by CAAHEP through the JRC-DMS. Once admitted into the program, students will complete a further 68 credit hours in sonography courses and capstone projects. Its graduates are eligible to sit for the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification exam. Sample courses include:
- Advanced Clinical Sonography
- Problems in Allied Health
- Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation
Students who wish to apply to the sonography program at UOHSC will be required to submit proof of 64 credit hours from this university or another regionally accredited school. These courses should satisfy the general education, math, and science pre-requisites as outlined by the department.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
CC Score: 99.55
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences houses its sonography programs at the College of Health Professions. The programs, which includes both an on-campus and online programs, are designed both for new students and working healthcare professionals. Once a student graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, they will be eligible to sit for both the national and international ARDMS certification programs.
Students will find that there are a few differences between the on-campus and online BS-DMS programs. The on-campus program is designed for students with no previous work or educational healthcare experience. The on-campus program also only admits students once they’ve completed general education requirements, allowing the students to focus primarily on their sonography studies. On-campus UAMS students are required to complete 120 credit hours and clinicals in order to graduate. Classes include:
- Sectional Anatomy
- Gynecologic Sonography
- Sonographic Applications: Obstetrics
The online degree program is called the Career Ladder B.S. Degree. It is designed for ARDMS-certified sonographers who wish to go back to school and finish their bachelor education. There are no clinical education requirements for this degree, as most students will already be working as sonographers.
Ohio State University
CC Score: 99.47
Ohio State University offers a variety of ultrasound tech schools programs that focuses on the general academic and clinical area of sonography. Students will graduate with Bachelor’s of Science in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences — Sonography Concentration. The school, which is accredited by CAAHEP through JRC-DMS, also prepares students to sit for the ARDMS certification exams.
Students are required to fulfill general education requirements before applying to the professional program. Courses can either be taken at OSU or another regionally accredited institution, but all sonography courses must be completed on campus. Courses include:
- Patient Care for the Imaging Professional
- Introduction to Sonography
- Small Parts of Human Anatomy
Once accepted into the sonography program, students will finish the required 120 credit hours, practicum, and clinical hours needed for graduation. The professional program runs six semesters concurrently, with a summer term required between a student’s junior and senior year.
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
CC Score: 99.27
The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee offers ultra sound tech students the ability to specialize in two clinical sonography tracks within their programs. The tracks, which are listed under the Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, are in-demand specializations that are continuously in demand by healthcare organizations and hospitals.
UW-Milwaukee has requirements for students applying to their sonography programs. Typically students must fulfill general education requirements and a variety of math and science courses in order to apply to the program. Additionally, students must also have training as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Students will take courses like:
- Human Pathophysiology and Ethical Issues in Health Care
- Allied Health Information Methods
- Sonographic Technology and Instrumentation
Students who are accepted into the program can choose from two tracks within the DMS program, General or Echocardiography. Both tracks also have a specialization in vascular sonography. Most students choose the latter track specialization, as it allows them to sit for specialty certification exams administered by ARDMS and gives them an advantage in the workforce.
CC Score: 99.25
Rutgers University offers a top-tier ultrasound school of programs for students who are ambitious and determined to become sonography specialists. The programs, which include three bachelor options and a certificate program, are all accredited by CAAHEP based on the recommendation of the JRC-DMS. Graduates of any of these programs will be eligible to sit for the ARDMS certification exams, and the school currently holds a 100 percent first-time pass rate for these exams.
Rutgers University might be the only school on this list that has a dedicated DMS Professional Curriculum. It is composed of 45 required courses, including clinical practices and can be comfortably completed within 18 months. Sample courses include:
- Introduction to Noninvasive Vascular Testing
- Critique and Clinical Correlation
- Patient Care for the Imaging Professional
While there are various options for students at Rutgers, it is important to remember that the professional curriculum requirements are the same no matter what option is chosen. The only differences come in the pre-requisites. Students who are interested in any option are encouraged to call a Rutgers advisor to see what program will fit their needs best.
University of Missouri
CC Score: 99.17
The University of Missouri offers the chance to earn undergraduate and graduate Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound degrees for all ultra sound tech students. These programs are designed for students and healthcare professionals who wish to become sonography specialists. This program is in accordance with the JRC-DMS program outcomes guidelines.
Students at UM often begin their sonography careers with the Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound. This program takes applicants who have finished general education requirements and can commit to the program’s stringent scheduling standards. Courses are taught by industry professionals and by the time students graduate, they will have accumulated over 1,000 hours of clinical experience. Sample courses include:
- Ultrasound Physics
- Abdominal Ultrasound
- Clinical Pathophysiology
- Superficial Organs Ultrasound
The graduate DMU program follows the same full-time, year-round schedule as the undergraduate program, but offers more specialized experiences as well as requiring research and projects from its students. This program is best attended by students who do not have a full-time job and can commit to both the scheduling and physical demands of the program.
University of Iowa Health Care
CC Score: 99.04
The University of Iowa Health Care and College of Medicine is proud to present an undergraduate degree for prospective ultrasound technicians. The Bachelor of Science in Radiation Science – Diagnostic Medical Sonography Track is one of the top ten sonography programs in the U.S. and is accredited by CAAHEP. Students who graduate with this degree are eligible to sit for the ARRT and ARDMS certification exams.
As with most other sonography programs, students are required to fulfill at least one year of university education prior to enrolling for this specialization. Students will need to have at least 30 credit hours from an accredited institution, including math and science courses, along with some healthcare-related volunteer or work experience. Courses include:
- Breast Sonography
- Sectional Anatomy for Imaging to Healthcare Administration
- Elementary Statistics and Inference
Upon acceptance into the program, students will be required to complete 78 credit hours in the major itself, including a clinical internship for every year and a multidisciplinary capstone project. The DMS tracks are so selective that less than 15 students each academic year are enrolled, so students are encouraged to speak to an advisor to find out how to improve their chances of being enrolled in the program.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
CC Score: 98.88
The University of Nebraska Medical Center knows that diagnostic medical sonography is in the top ten best health care job ranking by U.S. News and World Report. It has since renovated and improved its ultrasound technician programs, including its Bachelor of Science in Radiation Science Technology with a Concentration in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Graduates are eligible to sit for the ARDMS certification exams.
For the Bachelor’s degree, students must complete 120 credit hours along with a professional project requirement. The sonography portion of the program lasts one calendar year and focuses a student’s studies on ultrasound skills and education. Sample courses include:
- High-Resolution Sonography
- Pediatric Sonography
- Diagnostic Film Review
This program is one of the most selective on this list. It is so selective that the Department of Radiologic Sciences designated a list of preference factors for prospective applicants. Students are only eligible to apply once they have fulfilled a minimum of 21 credit hours of general education requirements at UNMC or at an accredited institution. Students may also apply if they have current ARRT certification and graduated from an accredited Radiology program for the certification program the school also confers.
Oregon Institute of Technology
CC Score: 98.76
The Oregon Institute of Technology is one of the top ultrasound tech schools that meets and exceeds the expectations of sonographers in the healthcare field today. Through the Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, students will learn all the needed skills to play a vital role in patient care. This program is accredited by CAAHEP and its graduates are eligible to sit for the ARMDS certification exams.
The BS-DMS degree at OIT is one of the only programs on this list that finds students fulfilling their general education requirements in their first year, with the last three years dedicated solely to the sonography major. Because of this, and the fact that the institute has a near-perfect first-time pass rate for the ARDMS exams, many students compete for placement within this program. Sample courses include:
- Technical Report Writing
- Cross-Section Anatomy
- Sonographic Principles and Instrumentation
This degree requires 196 credit hours total for completion of this program. The clinical externship, which encompasses a student’s final year, is responsible for 60 credit hours and ensures that students have a strong understanding of sonography prior to graduating.
Rochester Institute of Technology
CC Score: 98.26
The Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the few institutions on this list to offer a program that leads to a Bachelor of Science in Echocardiography. This will be interesting for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a specialized echocardiography ultrasound technician. This program is accredited by the CAAHEP and fulfills the pre-requisite to write for the ARDMS general credentialing exam.
The Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Echocardiography is a competitive program and requires the general core curriculum be completed prior to applying. Students will find that upon meeting the requirements and being accepted into the program, their course of study will become an intensive on sonography, administration, and diagnostic and technological skills. Sample courses include:
- Gynecological Sonography
- Sonographic Vascular Evaluation
- Administration and Research in Sonography
This degree requires a minimum of 122 credit hours for completion along with a clinical internship. Depending on a student’s former education, the clinical internship can be anywhere from one term to one calendar year. Courses are taken simultaneously with the internship, causing a student to study full-time, so it is advised that full-time work outside of school be avoided.
Thomas Jefferson University
CC Score: 97.82
Thomas Jefferson University has a formidable ultrasound school of programs, which is housed under its Department of Radiologic Sciences. Its programs, which are accredited by the CAAHEP by the recommendation of the JRC-DMS, grant students the ability to sit for the general and specialized credentialing exams administered by ARDMS.
The Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences offers three sonography concentrations for students, providing them with options to further specialize in their field of choice. These concentrations can be applied to BS-RS alone or combined with one other concentration. This provides students the ability to study one concentration for one year of their last two years at Thomas Jefferson University. Students often choose the dual-concentration track to help diversify their career prospects upon graduating. Your concentration choices include:
- General Sonography
- Cardiac Sonography
- Vascular Sonography
Like with most universities in this ranking, students must first satisfy the general education requirements before applying to the Radiologic Sciences department for their sonography major. Once a student has entered the program, they will spend the last two years of their degree focusing only the concentrations. Credit hour and clinical experience requirements are tailored to a student’s study plan, and so it is encouraged that a plan is made with an advisor prior to signing up for courses.
Boise State University
CC Score: 97.66
Boise State University has a strong diagnostic medical sonography program that is suitable for healthcare professionals who are interested in becoming an ultrasound specialist. The program is accredited by CAAHEP under the recommendation of the JRC-DMS and students are eligible to sit for the ARRT and ARDMS credentialing exams.
The Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Radiology with a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Emphasis is an intensive program that is designed to prepare students for an exciting new profession. Once students are accepted into the program, they will be required to fulfill the 126 credit hours for completion, including clinical experiences and the COBE Computer Placement Exam. Sample courses include:
- Critical Review of Health Care Research
- Special Sonographic Procedures
- Comparative Sectional Imaging
This program is a full-time, one calendar year-long program that focuses on integrated classroom and clinical experiences. The selection process is competitive, so the program is open only to those students who are credentialed or licensed health care professionals with a minimum of an associate’s degree in a healthcare field. Students are also required to show proof of work and education experience, as well as meeting the pre-requisite general course work requirements.
CC Score: 97.24
Seattle University has a strong, comprehensive ultrasound tech school that is nationally recognized as one of the country’s best degrees in this area. Students can earn a Bachelor of Diagnostic Ultrasound Degree in four years and are eligible to sit for the ARDMS certification exams. This program is accredited by the CAAHEP upon the recommendation of the JRC-DMS.
This program requires a student finish general education and sonography pre-requisite courses prior to applying for the program. This BS-DMS program has a General Vascular Track and requires a minimum of 180 credits for graduation, with 130 credits come from the major alone. All courses not included in the major are eligible to be transferred in from another regionally accredited institution. Sample major courses include:
- Evolution of Ecology
- Ultrasound Instrumentation
This program is taught in the cohort model and requires that students participate in the summer term to complete the necessary courses within two years. Only students with approval from the department can have an extension on the degree deadline. This degree is intensive and includes courses and seminars on the state of public and global health challenges as well as philosophy and theology courses on the human body. An internship and a thesis are also required for degree completion.
CC Score: 97.19
Rush University offers any prospective ultrasound technician the opportunity to gain an undergraduate degree in sonography that comes with a specialized major. The Bachelor of Science in Vascular Ultrasound is a popular program at this university and its graduates are eligible to sit for the ARDMS Registered Vascular Technologist certification exam. This program is accredited by the CAAHEP.
This highly specialized degree grants students the ability to become trained and certified vascular ultrasound technicians. These technicians work exclusively in the realm of blood vessel disorders and often work as part of a team. Therefore, expert training by experienced practitioners is necessary. Rush University is proud to have a faculty that meets this requirement. This degree requires 156 total credit hours for graduation, 96 of which come straight from the Vascular Ultrasound and Technology Curriculum. Sample courses include:
- Cumulative Clinical Skills in Vascular Ultrasound
- Venous Ultrasound Procedures
- Arterial Physiologic Procedures
Students will be required to finish the General Core prior to applying for this program, and these requirements must be met at Rush or another regionally accredited institution. Once students have entered the program, the VUT curriculum takes two years to complete with full-time, year-round study. Labs and clinical experiences, along with case study and research presentations are also a requirement.
Bryan College of Health Sciences
CC Score: 96.86
Bryan College of Health Sciences is a specialized ultrasound technician school, where the undergraduate DMS programs come with different tracks. It is a great school for students who are already aware of which sonography specialty they wish to have a career in. All graduates from the DMS programs at Bryan will qualify to sit for the ARDMS general and specialization certification exams.
There are two tracks sonography students can take at Bryan College. They include Adult Cardiac and Vascular Sonography, which is a dual major, or Vascular Sonography, which is considered a minor. Both tracks are in specializations that are currently highly in demand in the workforce and will give students a competitive advantage when looking for employment. Between the two tracks, you’ll take classes like:
- Sonography of Superficial Structures
- ACS Skills Enhancement
- CV Physiology
The Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography with a Vascular Minor requires a total of 120 credit hours and is completed over four years. The Bachelor of Science in Adult Cardiac Sonography/Vascular Sonography is 140 credit hour, four-year program that is taught in the cohort model.
Grand Valley State University
CC Score: 96.78
Grand Valley State University offers ultrasound techs the opportunity to gain a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. This degree was designed for students who are interested in becoming specialized sonographers.
This degree is a 21-month program that begins once students have fulfilled the General Education Curriculum for the degree. The selection process is competitive, and students are encouraged to contact an advisor prior to applying to ensure they meet the pre-requisites needed for the program. Courses cover topics like:
- Medical Ethics and Patient Care
- Sonographic Specialities
- Ultrasound Physics
Once students are accepted, they are entered into the cohort program. This is an interactive degree, meaning students spend as much time in lab and clinical experiences as they do in the classroom. This program is accredited by JRC-DMS and graduates are qualified to sit for the ARDMS registry exams prior to graduation.
CC Score: 96.35
Allen College provides a strong program for students interested in becoming ultrasound technicians. The Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs at this school can result in either a certificate or a Bachelor of Health Sciences Degree in Sonography. This program is accredited by CAAHEP and students are eligible to sit for the ARRT or ARDMS certification exams.
This is a 21 month, full-time sonography program with a comprehensive curriculum. Clinical experiences are required and so students are expected not to work full-time while earning their degrees. Courses and lab experiences are often taken at different sites, so it is a recommended program for those that already live in the area. The sonography courses are taken in sequential order. They include:
- Human Sectional Anatomy
- Ultrasound Imaging
- Advanced Physics
The goal of this program is to prepare students to become independent ultrasound specialists who can also work as part of a team. For the bachelor degree, students are required to complete 124 credit hours, 63 credit hours of which make up the DMS curriculum, as well as three clinical practicums. The certification option requires 80 credits and the same DMS curriculum as the undergraduate degree.
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
CC Score: 96.27
The Mayo Clinic College of Medicine has partnered with the University of Minnesota to provide an exceptional ultrasound technician school experience. The program, which is taught at the Mayo Clinic College and the university, gives students the opportunity to work with real patients while still earning their degree. This program is accredited by CAAHEP and its graduates are eligible to sit for the ARDMS certification exams in a variety of specialties.
Mayo Clinic College is also unique in that it offers its 21-month program as a stand-alone certificate for students who already have a bachelor’s degree. This opportunity is perfect for students who have a healthcare-related educational background and would like to specialize in sonography. Certificates are available in the following sonography areas:
- Pbstetrics and Gynecology
- Vascular Technology
The Bachelor of Science in Health Professions — Sonography track is also a great fit for students interested in sonography. The four-year program gives students the chance to learn how to perform patient assessments, provide written and oral summary of findings to physicians in a team environment, and learn how to analyze ultrasound results in an independent and responsible manner.
Armstrong State University
CC Score: 96.26
Armstrong State University offers a track to interested ultra sound tech students within its Department of Radiologic Sciences. This track is nestled within the Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences and allows students to learn about the general radiology field while specializing in sonography.
This degree is an interdisciplinary program, combining the high-tech aspects of the radiology professions with the skills needed to become a vital part of a healthcare team. For sonography students, this dual focus is highly sought and has resulted in this specialization becoming highly competitive, with only 20 students admitted every year. Courses cover a variety of subjects, including:
- Abdominal Sonography
- Sonography Technology and Innovation
- Introduction to DMS
At Armstrong, students are expected to complete at least 120 credit hours plus a practicum experience in order to graduate. These courses are taught in a variety of methods but focus primarily on lab simulations and lectures, which allows students to practice their skills soon after learning them in order to commit them to memory.
Baptist Memorial College of Health Science
CC Score: 96.22
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences is proud to be considered the home of one of the most popular sonography programs for students who wish to become an ultrasound tech. This program is accredited by the CAAHEP through the recommendation of the JRC-DMS. It is also one of the few programs on this list that ensures students will become candidates for the certification exams administered by the ARDMS, which can lead to further certification.
This school has been a leader in diagnostic medical sonography programs since 1986. Through the integration of online courses, on-campus lectures, lab simulations and clinical practicum experiences, students gain a professional-level mastery of sonography that will carry them through their careers and even into graduate education. Baptist College requires 126 credit hours, including clinical practicums, for graduation. Students can expect to take a variety of sonography courses during their last two years of the degree. Example topics include:
- CV Hemodynamics and Physiology
- Foundations of DMS
The sonography courses and experiences take up to six consecutive academic terms to complete and are as time-consuming as they are comprehensive, with the clinical experiences requiring at least 16 hours of week at an approved clinical environment. For this reason, students are encouraged not to seek full-time work while getting their degree.