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How to Choose an Ultrasonography School or College

Dec 07, 2019

Ultrasonography programs place an emphasis on anatomy, sonographic physics and the various uses of sonography. Public and private colleges and universities across the nation offer associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in ultrasonography, which is also referred to as sonography or ultrasound.

Ultrasonography is the practice of using specialized medical equipment to direct sound waves into specific areas of the human body in order to create images that can be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes. A high school student considering a career as an ultrasonographer should consider taking courses in anatomy and physiology, physics and allied health.

Schools With Ultrasonography Programs

The following list includes a number of public colleges and universities that offer ultrasonography programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019 unless noted)*
Central New Mexico Community College Albuquerque, NM 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $1,626; Out-of-state $7,338
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NE 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's In-state $3,492; Out-of-state $10,371
El Paso Community College El Paso, TX 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $3,010; Out-of-state $4,858
Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg Harrisburg, PA 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $6,683; In-state $7,935; Out-of-state $9,435
Lone Star College System The Woodlands, TX 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $1,600; In-state $3,880; Out-of-state $5,200
Montgomery College Rockville, MD 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $5,178; In-state $9,966; Out-of-state $13,602
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, VA 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $5,610; Out-of-state $11,618
Palm Beach State College Lake Worth, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $101 per credit hour; Out-of-state $363 per credit hour (2019-2020)
Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ 4-year, Public Certificate, Bachelor's In-state $14,974; Out-of-state $31,282
San Jacinto Community College Pasadena, TX 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $1,548; In-state $2,628; Out-of-state $4,188

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); School websites

School Selection Criteria

There are several factors to consider when selecting an ultrasonography program.

  • One of the most important factors when choosing an ultrasonography program is to verify whether a particular school is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); this status ensures a school's ultrasonography program has met certain standards and is accountable for producing competent ultrasonographers.
  • Only graduates of CAAHEP-accredited programs are eligible to take the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) exams to become registered medical sonographers or cardiac sonographers.
  • Clinical experience is very important for those seeking a career in ultrasonography, and many schools require every student to complete a practicum, externship or other clinical experience as part of the ultrasonography curriculum.
  • Students who have a particular interest in a certain type of ultrasonography may want to find an academic program that allows for specialization.

Associate Degrees

Students can expect an associate degree program to take at least two years to complete. Clinical experience is a requirement in all accredited programs. Lab work, practicum experience and externships provide students with the hands-on practical training they need to be successful sonographers. Ultrasonography associate degree programs include coursework in the various types of sonography.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs in ultrasonography provide students with a broader range of courses, including general studies in social sciences and humanities. Some programs offer acceptance to students holding an associate degree in ultrasonography or a related health field. Earning a bachelor's degree can allow students to specialize in a certain area of sonography, such as cardiac or breast sonography. A bachelor's degree can also be a path to advancement in the healthcare field, either through specialization or promotion to supervisory positions. Many programs also offer students credit for attending conferences or special lectures by sonographic specialists, who highlight specific organs or diseases or discuss new developments within the field.

An associate's or bachelor's degree in diagnostic medical sonography is the most common path to prepare for a career as an ultrasonographer. Certificate options are available for those who have completed postsecondary programs in a related field.

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