Accredited Online Diagnostic Medical Sonography Schools

For aspiring diagnostic medical sonographers, it may come as a surprise that there’s a growing number of distance-based schools available in the field. In fact, an online degree in diagnostic medical sonography may be ideal for those who live in rural regions, have parenting responsibilities, want to keep their jobs, or have other conditions which prevent them from attending a traditional, on-campus program.

It’s important to note that all aspiring medical sonographers will have some in-person component to their training due to the essentially hands-on nature of the discipline; that said, online medical sonography schools offer a variety of approved preceptor sites to accommodate students’ unique geographic, professional, and familial considerations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gives an elegant summary of the responsibilities in this healthcare profession: in short, diagnostic medical sonographers “operate special imaging equipment to create images or conduct tests,” which “help physicians assess and diagnose medical conditions.” This equipment uses high-frequency sound waves (i.e., ultrasound) to produce images of internal organs, blood flow, and other physiological phenomena.

The BLS adds this is a fast-growing and lucrative profession. As proof of point, the BLS (2022) reported that openings for diagnostic medical sonographers would swell 15 percent between 2021 and 2031 resulting in 12,100 new jobs nationally—much more robust than the average growth anticipated across all occupations during that same decade (5 percent).

Furthermore, the BLS (May 2022) reported that the 81,080 working sonographers in the US made an average annual salary of $84,410, substantially more than other occupations at a similar education level and credentialing. These skilled workers typically have at least an associate’s degree and professional certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or another organization before beginning work.

This guide explores what to expect from an online diagnostic sonography program, including the expected coursework, featured distance-based schools, and accreditation information.

What to Expect from an Online Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program

There are various factors to consider before applying to an online medical sonography program. First, online programs need to have the traditional structure found within a classroom. As such, online students must be self-motivated as they need to have continual oversight from professors and other staff and may have little direct interaction with fellow students, apart from in virtual places.

For some, this may prove a difficult environment in which to work; for others, however—especially those who are self-starting and effective autodidacts—an online program may be the best choice.

Furthermore, an online program may be the only option for certain people. For example, those with full-time employment or childcare responsibilities or those who don’t live close enough to a campus offering classroom-based diagnostic medical sonography courses may find a flexible distance-based program better suited to their needs.

Admissions Requirements – Online Diagnostic Medical Sonography Programs

Online diagnostic medical sonography programs have similar admissions procedures to on-campus programs and ask applicants to submit the following:

  • Official transcripts from high school (or associate degree program) with proof of specific coursework
  • A competitive GPA (e.g. >3.0)
  • Test scores (e.g., TOEFL, SAT, ACT)
  • Personal statement (500-600 words)
  • Application fee

Please note that some programs may request a resume, letters of recommendation, proof of health insurance, a personal interview, or other application materials. Finally, while rare, some schools such as Washburn University require students to already possess an associate degree before being granted admission. Because admissions requirements are different across all schools, it is important to perform basic research and reach out to program administrators with any questions before making a final decision.

Here, it is also important to note that some schools may require students to work on the same schedule as the rest of the on-campus students, while others may allow students to complete their coursework entirely on their own schedule. In addition, some programs have one or two start dates throughout the year, while others have rolling admissions allowing students to begin working when they choose.

Curriculum & Specializations in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

While not all online diagnostic medical sonography programs will offer an identical curriculum, students in these programs should expect to take similar courses, regardless of their institution. To be sure, students pursuing an online degree in diagnostic medical sonography will likely take classes on the following subjects, among others:

  • Ultrasound physics & instrumentation
  • Human Anatomy
  • Sectional anatomy
  • Pathophysiology
  • Essentials of sonography & ethics
  • Ultrasound scanning & abdominal ultrasound
  • Obstetrics & gynecology

Furthermore, these programs require students to complete several clinical hours, which allows participants to obtain valuable hands-on experience. The number of clinical hours generally depends upon the type of program; for example, those completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, which generally takes two to four years to complete, will most certainly be required to complete 1,000+ clinical hours. However, those who choose to enroll in a program that grants a certificate may not be required to work in a clinic as much if they’ve already received adequate hands-on training.

Finally, aspiring students should note that in some cases, additional specializations in the field of diagnostic medical sonography may be available in areas such as echocardiography, cardiac sonography, obstetrics & gynecology, vascular sonography (i.e., vascular technology), or other related subfields.

Featured Online Diagnostic Medical Sonography Programs

For those considering an online degree or certificate in diagnostic medical sonography, it’s important to consider not only the availability of approved externship sites for clinical training, but also the accreditation status of the program.

There are various accrediting organizations in this field and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the gold standard. While graduating from a CAAHEP-approved program isn’t necessarily required to seek employment, it can be recommended since it’s a marker of program quality and a preferred qualification for credentialing.

Jackson College

Jackson College is based in Jackson, MI, and offers an online associate of applied science (AAS) degree in general sonography. All didactic coursework is completed online as students receive clinical training through locally approved sites. The program prepares students for employment in two specialties: abdomen or superficial structures and obstetrics or gynecology within the general sonography field.

Made up of 80 credits, the program includes classes in human biology; introduction to health occupations; sonographic techniques; sonographic instrumentation; abdomen & small parts sonography; and medical terminology, among others. This online CAAHEP-accredited program also includes a minimum of 1,350 supervised clinical hours.

Upon completion, graduates can apply for the ARDMS (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography) exams in physics and instrumentation, abdomen, and obstetrics/gynecology.

  • Location: Jackson, MI
  • Accreditation: Commission for Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Jackson County resident ($176 per credit); out-of-county ($199 per credit); out-of-state ($264 per credit)

Washburn University

Washburn University of Topeka, KS offers one- or two-year online programs in general diagnostic medical sonography and provides the opportunity to specialize in cardiac or vascular sonography. The general sonography certificate comprises 40 credits, while the Cardiac and Vascular programs comprise 34 credits each.

Notably, Washburn has delivered this program in an online program for over 20 years and all clinical education can be arranged close to the student’s home for convenience. For example, all programs require students to complete a minimum of 1,104 total clinical hours.

These CAAHEP-accredited certificate programs are open to those with associate degrees and include coursework in an introduction to diagnostic medical sonography; sonography principles & instrumentation; abdomen sonography procedures; cardiac sonography procedures; and vascular sonography procedures.

Graduates from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) may be eligible for credentialing.

  • Location: Topeka, KS
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $434 per credit

Oregon Tech

Oregon Institute of Technology based in Klamath Falls allows currently registered sonographers to participate in the online program to advance their career. This program leads to a bachelor of science (BS) degree in diagnostic medical sonography. This degree completion program integrates ultrasound with basic medical science courses along with a general education core.

This program features courses such as applications of abdominal sonography; pelvic sonography; obstetrical pathology; sonographic pathology; neonatal & pediatric sonography; fetal echocardiography; and various externship courses for a hands-on application of fresh skills.

  • Location: Klamath Falls, OR
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $294 per credit

Marian University

Marian University offers a fully online bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography degree completion program ideal for working medical sonographers who already have an associate degree and are credentialed through either ARDMS or CCI.

Requiring a total of 120 credits, the curriculum explores topics such as medical terminology; bioethics; pathophysiology; anatomy and physiology; physics; and introduction to Christian Theology among others.

To be accepted for this program, applicants must possess an ARDMS or CCI credential along with education from an accredited school or hospital program, have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, complete the application process, and submit official transcripts.

Students will be provided with a foundation in the liberal arts and can build on their existing experiences to develop strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. They will also have the option of choosing a minor from the following options: history, business administration, healthcare administration, psychology, and management.

  • Location: Fond du Lac, WI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $494 per credit

Concordia University

Concordia University offers an online bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography degree completion program ideal for licensed sonographers who wish to transfer their previous credits and knowledge into this completion program. Students can transfer a maximum of 84 and a minimum of 63 credits.

Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as foundations of ultrasound; superficial sonography; sonographic principles and instrumentation; vascular sonography; abdominal sonography; and Ob & Gyn sonography.

Graduates of the program will learn to communicate effectively, work collaboratively, and demonstrate the ability to think critically and rationally for analyzing and researching a problem and proposing potential solutions.

  • Location: Mequon, WI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 months or less
  • Estimated Tuition: $559 per credit

Kettering College

Kettering College offers an online bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography degree completion program for students with an AS degree in sonography.

Consisting of 129 to 132 credits, the curriculum includes coursework in anatomy and physiology; clinical sonography; sonography physics & instrumentation; abdominal sonography; vascular sonography; morality and medicine; pathophysiology; echocardiography; and obstetrical sonography.

Graduates will be able to demonstrate critical thinking and reasoning ability skills, professional and compassionate care for patients and others, and technical competence as diagnostic medical sonographers.

  • Location: Kettering, OH
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Fall and winter semester ($9,795 each); summer semester ($5,224)

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers an online bachelor of science degree completion program in medical diagnostic imaging, enabling students to pursue cross-training in several areas of imaging, including course sequences in cardiovascular interventional technology (CVIT), bone densitometry (BD), mammography (M), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT).

This 124-credit program includes courses such as sectional pathology and variant anatomy; computed tomography physics and instrumentation; magnetic resonance imaging physics and instrumentation; leadership & management of radiology; bone densitometry techniques; digital radiography; and principles of diagnostic medical sonography.

  • Location: Hays, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $226.88 per credit

Labette Community College

Labette Community College has a CAAHEP-accredited online diagnostic medical sonography certificate program that requires students to complete clinical rotations at a site near them. All applicants applying for this DMS program will be required to have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree with a medical component before being accepted into the program.

Students in this program will have two concentration options: a general sonography concentration or the vascular sonography concentration. Both concentrations require students to complete a minimum of 1,024 clinical hours.

The general concentration is a 44-credit program focusing strictly on abdominal extended and OB/GYN anatomy and pathology. It includes courses such as sonography sectional anatomy & abdominal physiology; OB/GYN for sonography; and sonography pathology of the abdomen and small parts.

The vascular concentration comprises 38 credits and focuses strictly on vascular anatomy and pathology. Both programs will prepare students to take the ARDMS Registry exams.

  • Location: Parsons, KS
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 14 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Kansas residents ($116 per credit); Arkansas, Missouri, & Oklahoma residents ($137 per credit); other out-of-state residents ($141 per credit); International ($200 per credit)

Misericordia University

Misericordia University offers a part-time accelerated bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography program. This post-certification bachelor’s degree is designed for practicing sonographers who wish to continue their education and advance their careers. There are two track options for this BS in diagnostic medical sonography program:

  • A BS in DMS with no specialization, which is recommended for sonographers who possess both the abdominal and OB/GYN specialties, and
  • A BS in DMS with a specialization in the social sciences, which is recommended for sonographers who possess either the abdominal or OB/GYN specialty or currently possess a bachelor’s degree in another major.

Both tracks require students to complete 125 credits to earn their baccalaureate degree. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as focused sonography; abdominal sonography; ultrasound physics and instrumentation; obstetrical sonography; advanced vascular sonography; breast sonography; advanced fetal and pediatric sonography; child and adolescent psychology; chemical addictions and dependency; and prevention and chronic disease.

  • Location: Dallas, PA
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $445 per credit

Boise State University

Boise State University offers an online certificate in diagnostic medical sonography, preparing students for the RDMS credentialing exam. This program is ideal for healthcare professionals who already possess a degree but wish to transition into the diagnostic medical sonography field. Applicants to the program must be credentialed healthcare providers matriculated from a regionally accredited university or college (AS/AAS degree minimum).

Comprising 37 credits, the program includes courses such as pathophysiology; sonographic physics and instrumentation; abdominal sonography; obstetrics/gynecology sonography; doppler procedures; sectional anatomy in imaging sciences; and pharmacology and contrast media.

Graduates will be ready to take up positions such as ultrasound technologists, field clinical specialists, medical imaging managers, and lead technologists.

  • Location: Boise, ID
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $395 per credit

These are only a few options, including many CAAHEP-accredited online sonography schools. Please visit the main diagnostic sonography schools page to learn more about this career and campus-based programs.

Online Program Accreditation & State Authorization

As noted above, aspiring diagnostic medical sonographers are encouraged to verify their school and program accreditation status before enrolling. In addition to institutional accreditation—i.e., campuses with regional accreditation from entities approved by the Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)—there’s also the aforementioned Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which has accredited several of the online programs above.

Overall, accredited programs have taken steps necessary to achieve recognition of their legitimacy, meeting several baseline standards of quality in terms of student outcomes, faculty, facilities, and other measures. It’s worth noting that graduating from an accredited program is required to qualify for credentialing exams through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

Also, prospective online students should verify their programs’ “state authorization” status before applying. Due to differing legislation surrounding distance-based education, students residing in one state may be unable to pursue an online degree from an institution based in another. If this information isn’t readily available on program sites, please contact program administrators to ensure eligibility.

Diagnostic Sonography Certification

Lastly, three main national organizations provide credentialing to people in this career field:

As of May 2023, ARDMS—the most popular of the three—provides six specialized exams related to its main Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credential: Abdomen (AB), Breast (BR), Fetal Echocardiography (FE), Pediatric Sonography (PS), Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN), and Pediatric Sonography (PS). Other specialized registrations available include, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT), and Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer (RMSKS), among others. Please check out the qualifications and testing information on ARDMS’s site. These credentials are typically valid for one year.

Please note that all credentials require continuing education (CE) to maintain and online CE opportunities are available through the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS), among other entities.

Finally, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) reported that there are four states which have additional credentialing requirements for sonographers: New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Oregon.

As local legislation is continually evolving, people are encouraged to check with their local professional boards to ensure they have all the necessary certifications before seeking work.

Jocelyn Blore
Jocelyn Blore Managing Editor

Jocelyn Blore has interviewed dozens of medical technology and healthcare professionals, and edited hundreds of articles related to this field since 2015. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jocelyn traveled the world for five years as freelance writer and English teacher. After stints in Japan, Brazil, Nepal, and Argentina, she took an 11-month road trip across the US, finally settling into lovely Eugene, OR. When Jocelyn isn’t writing about college programs or interviewing professors, she satirizes global politics and other absurdities at Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). Thank you for being so interested.