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Radiology Majors and Undergraduate Degree Programs

There are two undergraduate degree options in the field of radiologic science, an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Radiologic Science.

Essential Information

The 2-year AAS in radiologic science prepares graduates to either find entry-level employment, or to continue on to complete a 4-year BS degree. AAS programs are offered at community colleges, as well as online.

The 4-year BS programs, which are less common, are offered through universities and online. Both programs prepare students to become licensed, which some states require. Admission to an AAS program requires a high school degree and an aptitude for math and science. Admission to a BS program most commonly requires an AAS degree.

  • Program Levels in Radiologic Science: Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma, background in algebra, chemistry and biology, completion of a CPR for Professional Healthcare Provider certification course for the associate's program; usually an associate's degree for the bachelor's program
  • Program Length: 2 years for the associate's program; 4 years for the bachelor's program
  • Online Availability: The associate's program is sometimes available online

Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Science

Students enrolled in 2-year radiologic programs take courses and complete clinical rotations that prepare them to become radiology technicians, who specialize in making images of the body's soft tissues and internal structures. These programs sometimes include required summer sessions and may require that students take courses in an exact sequence.

Some programs offer the option of specializing in a certain area of radiologic science, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or ultrasound. Graduates of radiologic science degree programs are eligible to take the required national certifying examination for radiology technicians.

Most associate degree programs in radiology take 2 years to complete. Coursework is intensive; students can expect to complete around 80 credit hours. Potential courses include:

  • Radiographic clinical procedures
  • Radiation protection
  • Image production and evaluation
  • Patient positioning
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Equipment operation and maintenance

Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science

Several universities offer bachelor's degree completion programs for students who already hold an associate degree in radiologic science. Some of these programs may be completed through distance education, allowing students to complete their bachelor's degree while working. Radiology technicians with bachelor's degrees may enhance their earning potential and qualify for managerial jobs.

The vast majority of bachelor's degree programs require candidates to already have completed an associate degree in radiologic science. These programs often include courses in clinical practice, radiobiology and pathophysiology. Other potential courses include:

  • Bioethics
  • Healthcare law and policy
  • Introduction to medical research
  • Advanced radiologic science
  • Mammography
  • Human resource management

Popular Career Options

Some career options may require more experience or additional coursework beyond the associate degree. These include:

  • Radiation therapist
  • Radiologic technician or technologist
  • Nuclear medicine technologist

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2014, the median salary for degree-holding radiology technologists was $55,870. Demand for radiology technologists was expected to increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of bachelor's degree programs may wish to go on to enter a master's degree program in radiologic science. While rare, these degree programs are designed for candidates interested in teaching radiologic science at the college level or working in executive management of radiologic imaging departments. Most programs are offered during nights and weekends to accommodate students' daytime work schedules. After completing a graduate program, students are eligible to take the examination for one of radiology's highest professional certifications, the Certified Radiology Administrator (CRA) designation, according to CRAinfo.org.

In addition, most states require radiologic technicians and therapists to be licensed; requirements for licensure vary by state, typically entailing an examination and holding a degree or other type of certification.

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