MRI Technician Schools: How to Choose

Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) technicians use magnetic forces and radio waves in order to create images used to diagnose and observe a variety of medical conditions. Associate and bachelor's degree programs exist to provide entry into an MRI technician career. Diploma and certificate programs may provide extended education to degree-holders and those registered in radiological sciences. State educational and licensure regulations vary, and graduates may seek professional certification.

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Programs for aspiring MRI technicians can be found at community colleges, technical schools and 4-year colleges and universities; many schools offer degree programs in radiologic science with MRI specializations, which prepare graduates for professional certification. Certificate and diploma options are typically for certified radiologic technicians who are already working in the field.

MRI Technician Schools

MRI technician degree and certificate programs are offered at a number of institutions, including those listed here.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 4-year, public Bachelor's, Post-baccalaureate Certificate In-state $8,897; Out-of-state $26,477
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 4-year, public Bachelor's In-state $8,104; Out-of-state $27,890
Xavier University Cincinnati, OH 4-year, private not-for-profit Associate's, Advanced Certificate $35,080
Washburn University Topeka, KS 4-year, public Bachelor's, Advanced Certificate In-state $6,350; Out-of-state $14,222
Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's $39,226
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Boston, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Advanced Certificate $30,530
Lake Michigan College Benton Harbor, MI 4-year, primarily associate's, public Certificate, Associate's In-district $4,140; In-state $5,685; Out-of-state $5,685
St. Luke's College Sioux City, IA 4-year, primarily associate's, private Advanced Certificate $19,360

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are several things to consider when selecting an MRI technician program:

  • Students should select accredited programs that will allow them to meet the education and experience requirements necessary to earn state licensure and/or professional certification from organizations like the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
  • Prerequisites could also play a role in school choice. Some programs only admit students who are already licensed or certified as radiologic technologists.
  • Students who need scheduling flexibility might consider programs offering distance education options for one or more courses within the MRI technology program.

Diploma or Certificate Programs

Diploma and certificate programs in MRI technology range from a single semester to one year. Some schools offer limited acceptance into the program, and applicants often must have a degree and certification in a related field. Part-time clinical practicums are typically required.

Associate's Degrees

Associate's degree programs for MRI technicians often take two years, combining general education, core professional studies and clinical rotations. MRI procedures and techniques are covered extensively, and some programs may offer specialization in body, spine or cranial radiology. Students must often participate in supervised practicums within a campus clinic or affiliated medical center.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs in radiologic science and technology often include training in MRI applications and procedures. A few even offer concentrations in MRI technology. Clinical experience is generally a standard in a bachelor's program. Graduates of an accredited program generally meet eligibility requirements for state licensure and certification.

Several colleges and universities offer accredited MRI degree and certificate programs that can prepare graduates to enter the workforce as MRI technicians. It is important to select a recognized program with clinical training that meets state licensing requirements.

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