Bachelor of Sonography

  • A bachelor’s degree in sonography from a college or university can provide various benefits over certificates and licenses, including employment opportunities. 
  • A four-year degree in sonography may be beneficial when a hiring company, such as a hospital, reviews an individual’s medical training and experience.    
  • A bachelor’s degree in sonography generally includes a blend of courses in sonography, including math and science subjects, and liberal arts
  • Earning a four-year degree in sonography is more time-consuming and costlier than a certificate. 

 What to Expect From a Bachelor’s Degree in Sonography

Sonography is a non-invasive procedure using high-frequency sound waves to create visual images of an individual’s organs, tissues, or blood flow(1)

Notably, a sonographer and ultrasound technician have similar responsibilities. An ultrasound is an imaging test using sound waves to create a sonogram (image).  

A sonographer may require additional training and certifications compared to an ultrasound technician(2)

Examples of sonographer certifications include:

  • American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)  
  • Joint Review Committee on Education on Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) 

Individuals may earn a four-year bachelor’s degree to become a sonographer.

Universities, colleges, and medical centers often offer diagnostic medical sonography programs through medicine, healthcare, or applied science divisions(3)

Individuals can also become sonographers through other types of training. They include two-year associate’s degrees and one-year certificate programs for individuals trained in another healthcare field(4)


Certain higher-education students often meet most of the prerequisites for a bachelor’s in sonography. They include those completing an associate’s degree in radiology and registered with the ARRT(5).   

Such students can earn four-year degrees such as diagnostic medical sonography.  

How a Sonography Degree Differs From a Certificate

Individuals may be uncertain if they can benefit from acquiring a bachelor’s in sonography. In the highly-competitive field of sonography, a bachelor’s degree rather than an associate’s degree or certificate may provide significant advantages(6)

  • Studying at a university or college provides students with time to practice their field’s skills before taking certificate exams. 
  • Students have the opportunity to explore multiple specialities.
  • Students can qualify for other certifications and widen employment opportunities. An example is a credentialing process when doctors’ offices review candidates’ eligibility for a sonography job.   

Potential Drawbacks of Sonography Degrees 

Here are some of the main possible drawbacks of obtaining a sonography degree: 

  • More time-consuming process
  • More time is required to start working 
  • Costlier to complete degree programs  

Key Features of the Best Online and Accredited Programs 

When one searches for the best online or accredited sonography program at sources like clinical sites, these features are critical:   

Program Accreditation

When searching for a bachelor of science (BS) in sonography, consider an academic institution’s accreditation. Accreditation is a formal and independent verification that an institution maintains established quality standards. 

An example is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). 

One should also contemplate the accreditation of a university or college. Individuals should consider whether the school’s labs are accredited, including(7)

  • Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL)  
  • Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL)

Another critical factor is how long officials have accredited schools.  

Admission Requirements

Individuals should be aware of common admissions requirements for online bachelor’s in sonography programs.  

Online programs may offer a bachelor’s in sonography. For instance, if  ultrasound technicians have a certificate or associate’s degree, they can advance their careers by earning a BS degree through online programs. 

Here are some common requirements for bachelor’s programs:  


Some schools allow individuals to submit a single application for multiple colleges. Such platforms include common applications. Students, such as high school students, can use online forms that often require a fee. 

Test Scores 

Several entrance exams evaluate math, analytical, and verbal skills to determine a prospective student’s qualifications. 

Schools may also require standardized tests like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT). However, it is less common in degree-completion programs

Letters of Recommendation

A school may require two or more letters from individuals, such as:

  • Medical supervisors
  • Program coordinators
  • Program directors
  • Physicians 


Admissions departments can learn about applicants’ personal ambitions and motivations through college essays. They may also require a cover letter including an individual’s technical specializations and clinical experience in various modalities (physical agent applied for producing therapeutic changes).  

Official Transcripts

Online bachelor’s in sonography programs may require transcripts showing a candidate took prerequisite courses at an accredited higher-education institution. Examples include:

  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Anatomy (such as sectional anatomy)
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Pathophysiology (study of changes in the body’s functionality due to disease)

Several programs also accept transfer credits showing completed coursework. The transcripts usually show the student’s grade point average (GPA).

Application Schedule and Deadlines

When applying to a university or college, learn these important dates for the next semester:

  • Application open date
  • Priority deadline
  • Final deadline

Degree or Program Length

Individuals can earn a bachelor’s degree by majoring in sonography. Students attend school for a total of four years to earn a degree. 

The options include:

  • Earning a two-year associate’s degree then completing two additional years
  • Completing a bachelor’s degree program in four years


Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in sonography through on-campus and online programs. They must take a coursework blend of math and science, liberal arts, and discipline (sonography). 

A college or university has general degree credit requirements. Meanwhile, a sonography program requires courses, laboratory, and clinical training to earn the science degree.  

A student earning a bachelor’s  degree in diagnostic medical sonography is frequently required to complete:

  • American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) exams
  • Courses for cardiac or vascular concentration 
  • General sonography

General Courses

  • Math and science liberal arts, and other general courses like:
    • Calculus
    • College algebra
    • Science
    • History
    • English
    • Speech
    • Communication
    • Social science
    • Fine arts
    • Music 
  • Human anatomy courses
  • Patient management
  • Abdominal sonography and pathology
  • Obstetrics (pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum period) or gynecological (female reproductive health) sonography and pathology
  • Breast and female reproductive system imaging
  • Ultrasound physics
  • Sonography technology (medical imaging equipment used for functions like outpatient diagnostic imaging)
  • Pediatric sonography
  • Pathophysiology 
  • Genitourinary (urinary and genital organs) sonography 
  • Safety in healthcare settings
  • Clinical training or practicum (course of study’s practical section)
  • Scanning techniques
  • Medical ethics and principles

Cardiac Specialization

  • Cardiac sonography
  • Medical cardiac sonography (technology and scanning)
  • Clinical foundations of ultrasound
  • Ultrasound physics (related to cardiac sonography)
  • Medical sonography

Vascular Specialization

  • Abdomen sonography
  • Vascular technology 
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology sonography
  • Ultrasound physics
  • Neurosonography
  • Vascular physics
  • Technology scanning for vascular
  • Medical technology for vascular
  • Clinical training (vascular sonography)
  • Quality assurance

Tuition Fees and Costs

The College Board reported that the average in-state tuition and fees (2013-2014) for attending a public four-year program was nearly $8,900 annually(8). However, the state-to-state rates vary significantly. 

For example, the average tuition costs were about $4,400 in Wyoming and over $14,600 in New Hampshire(9).  

Scholarships can help make higher education affordable. A school’s financial aid office can discuss funding opportunities. 

Educational Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

While in a bachelor’s degree program in sonography, schools may require students to demonstrate clinical competence via program outcomes by(10):

  • Conducting ultrasound imaging and exams of diagnostic medical sonography (DMS) quality 
  • Applying patient care and practices for procedures 
  • Communicating effectively
  • Explaining ultrasound procedures clearly (to patients and family members)
  • Communicating and collaborating with the healthcare team 
  • Developing critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills 
  • Critiquing images to determine diagnostic acceptability 
  • Demonstrating professional development and professional behavior 
  • Examining the school’s core values 
  • Applying knowledge in various interdisciplinary situations 

Sonographer Certification Programs and Degrees: Pros and Cons

These programs and degrees provide various advantages and disadvantages(11).

The certification programs are shorter. Hence, individuals may begin working sooner than earning a sonography degree. However, they must still pass certification exams.

Technical and vocational schools also offer day and evening programs. This feature is convenient for working individuals and parents. 

However, employers hire sonographers based on technical skills, certification, and knowledge. Hence, a sonography degree may not provide a significant advantage over a certificate beholder. 

Job Functions of Sonographers

A sonographer’s job requires particular physical, mental and emotional attributes, including(12)

  • Carrying, lifting, bending, walking, long standing, and patient assistance for activities like instrumentation operation.  
  • Interacting with different-aged patients with various health conditions 
  • Critical decision-making
  • Interacting appropriately 
  • Working under pressure 
  • Repeating information previously learned
  • Sustaining patient confidentiality  
  • Reading and communicating effectively 

Throughout the process, students must maintain essential job functions. The interview process may also provide a complete list of such functions. 

Licensing vs. Certification 

Here are the primary differences between a sonographic license and certification(13)

License: A license is legal permission that a governmental authority grants to conduct an activity. Licensure regulations define factors like the professional scope of practice, minimum requirements to practice, and disciplinary enforcement. 

Certification; This broad term refers to providing certificates to individuals in particular situations. They can legally show that those individuals with a certificate can perform specific tasks. 

Salary, Benefits, and Outlook 

Salaries, benefits, and employment levels for sonographers differ in various states and scenarios. For example, the rates are lower for entry-level positions than senior-level positions.  

In 2016, a United States Department of Labor (DOL) survey showed that California had the highest average annual salary of over $93,300(14).  

The benefits of earning a bachelor’s in sonography may include fully online coursework and full-time or part-time schedules. 

In addition, the projected growth rate for sonographers from 2012 to 2022 was higher than the average growth rate(15).  

Sonography-Related Careers

One can also select among health sciences careers similar to sonography careers when creating career paths, including:

  • Healthcare careers 
  • Health services careers 
  • Radiology careers 


1. What can I achieve with a sonography degree besides becoming a sonographer?

Graduates who studied sonography are eligible for several in-demand careers in the healthcare industry. They include health professions like health technicians and cardiovascular technicians. They may also qualify to work with animals as a veterinary technician. 

2. How much money do sonographers typically earn?

The 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) delineated that the median salary for a medical sonographer was approximately $75,400(16).  Such occupations include diagnostic medical sonographers.

3. Are professional organizations available for sonography professionals?

Sonography students and healthcare professionals can access professional organizations that are advocates for research, education, and collaboration, including: 

Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS): SDMS is the largest association of sonographers worldwide.  

American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM): Members include professionals and students in the healthcare field. 

American Society of Echocardiography (ASE): The ASE offers membership tiers for medical professionals like professional sonographers. It focuses on cardiovascular sonography. 


Sonography is a non-invasive procedure utilizing high-frequency sound waves to produce visual images of an individual’s body(17)

A sonographer and ultrasound technicians or technologists are similar occupations. However, a sonographer may require additional training(18).   

A bachelor of science (BS) in sonography generally requires coursework including general education (math and science and liberal arts), general sonography, and specializations.

Completing a bachelor’s degree in sonography is significantly costlier and more time-consuming than earning sonography certification.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) delineated that the median salary for a medical sonographer in 2021 was nearly  $75,400(19).       

  1. How to become a sonographer
  2. ibid.  
  3. Best 44 Bachelors Degree in Sonography in 2018
  4. How to become a sonographer
  5. Best 44 Bachelors Degree in Sonography in 2018
  6. Which Is Better: A Medical Sonography Degree or Certificate?
  7. Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound), BS
  8. Best 44 Bachelors Degree in Sonography in 2018
  9. ibid. 
  10. Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound), BS
  11. Which Is Better: A Medical Sonography Degree or Certificate?
  12. Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound), BS
  13. Sonography Licensure FAQs
  14. Best 44 Bachelors Degree in Sonography in 2018
  15. Occupational outlook handbook
  16. Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
  17. How to become a sonographer
  18. ibid.  
  19. Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
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