Associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography include foundational courses such as medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. Students learn to use sonography equipment and gain practical experience through supervised practicums in a healthcare facility. Many programs require applicants to have completed requisite courses such as English composition, basic algebra, or coursework covering medical terminology, and may require a criminal background check and drug screening.
Master's degree students in medical diagnostics need a bachelor's degree, preferably in a life science. Students choose an area of concentration and work with an adviser to design a specialized curriculum. Studies focus on the use of science and technology to diagnose and treat disease. These programs generally require a thesis or research project. It usually takes two years to earn a master's degree.
Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
These programs are designed to train individuals for careers as entry-level sonographers. Most programs require two years of study and include general education courses. To apply to this program, individuals submit high school transcripts or their equivalent along with letters of recommendation and an admission essay. The curriculum combines traditional classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory with clinical experience. Classroom instruction covers topics such as anatomy, physiology and medical ethics. The lab and clinical component includes instruction in sonographic instrumentation, patient care, and diagnostic techniques.
The curriculum of these programs is generally focused on the sonographic concentration and features few or no other elective requirements. Some sample core course titles include:
- Ultrasound instrumentation
- Vascular imaging
- Patient care
- Cross-sectional anatomy
- Abdominal imaging
Master of Science in Medical Diagnostics
These programs are designed to foster a better understanding of how the clinical sciences are applicable to the diagnosing of disease. Students choose a concentration within the broader field of medical diagnostics, such as clinical research or medical product development. Applicants submit all undergraduate transcripts along with standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and an admission essay. Some programs also require a resume and a statement of purpose, detailing the academic objectives of the applicant. Some sample core courses students take in conjunction with their research commitments include:
- Biomedical lab operations
- Medical information systems
- Molecular pathology
Popular Career Options
The type of employment opportunities available to graduates will depend largely on the specific focus of the degree program. Below are listed some sample career titles.
- Medical research assistant
- Clinical laboratory consultant
- State or local health department officer
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for diagnostic medical sonographers were expected to increase by about 19% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that the median annual salary for this position was $72,510 as of May 2018. California and Florida are the two states with the highest employment of sonographers.
An associate's degree in medical sonography trains graduates to operate diagnostic medical equipment, and prepares them for immediate employment. A master's degree is available for students seeking advanced studies and research in the broader field of medical diagnostics.