Online master's-level programs in ultrasound are not typically available. However if a master's in a related field is desired, online master's degree programs in Radiologic Sciences are available. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) also has accredited some online bachelor's degree programs in ultrasound technology. These blended format programs provide students with an understanding of both diagnostic imaging theories and imaging techniques. They typically lead to a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Students typically are required to have undergraduate science and math credits, as well as complete field work in sonography Professional certification may be required for some programs. Clinical work at a health care facility is also typically required for completion of the program.
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Information and Requirements
Four-year universities and colleges that offer distance learning bachelor's programs in this field may be available to high school graduates with no background in the field. However, many are designed for working registered sonographers who are interested in advancing their qualifications by earning a bachelor's degree. In these cases, prospective students must have an associate's degree or a certain number of college credits and professional certification.
Students enrolled in a distance learning ultrasound technology program complete online courses via virtual classroom lectures, e-mailed assignments and group discussions. They may also be required to complete clinical experiences either at a university's health science center or at a local health care facility closer to home. Those heath care facilities that are not a part of the university system must often be approved by the university before students can complete clinical work there. Bachelor's programs that do not require clinical courses are designed for those who already work as a professional sonographer and thus have completed initial hands-on training in the field.
Schools offering online courses in ultrasound technology often require incoming students to complete prerequisite courses in areas such as anatomy and physiology, computer science, algebra, medical terminology and physics before they can apply to the diagnostic medical sonography bachelor's degree program.
The core diagnostic medical sonography courses cover specialized sonography techniques, equipment operation and ultrasound physics. Some specific courses may include the following:
- Diagnostic medical sonography principles
- Ultrasound physics
- Medical ethics
- Abdominal sonography
- OB/GYN sonography
- Normal sonography
- Cross-sectional anatomy
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography may go on to become obstetric and gynecologic sonographers, neurosonographers, abdominal sonographers or breast sonographers. While earning certification is not a definite requirement in the field, it is highly recommended by employers in the health care field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projected that employment for sonographers would grow 26% in 2014-2024.
The BLS also reported that diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median annual salary of about $68,970 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). More than 60,000 individuals worked in the profession in general, including those working in surgical hospitals, physicians' offices, diagnostic medical laboratories and outpatient facilities. Some of the highest paying states in the field include California, Oregon and Washington, D.C., the BLS reports.
Continuing Education Information
These programs prepare students to sit for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) examinations and gain certification in the field.
Online medical sonography bachelor's degree programs are available to students who have a high school diploma, although sometime's an associate's degree is required. Students who complete these programs can complete a certification exam to become certified medical sonographers.