Radiologic Sciences Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a radiologic sciences degree program? Get the truth about program requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your associate's or bachelor's degree.
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Studying Radiologic Sciences: Degrees at a Glance

Radiologic sciences degree programs are designed to prepare you for a career as a radiologic technician or technologist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects this field to experience faster-than-average growth between 2010 and 2020, so job prospects should be good. Most radiologic technologists are employed by hospitals, but job opportunities exist in the offices of physicians and diagnostic imaging centers.

Although an associate's degree is the typical minimum requirement for radiologic technologists, completing a bachelor's degree program can lead to career advancement. However, you may need several years of experience and an advanced degree in order to work as a supervisor in this field.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for?Students interested in becoming radiologic technicians or technologists Radiologic technologists who hold an associate's degree and want to move into a management role
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Radiologic technologists and technicians ($55,000)* - Same as associate's degree
- Radiology or imaging center director ($30,000 to $97,000 in 10th - 90th percentile range - requires several years of experience in addition to degree)**
Time to Completion 20-24 months full-time 1-2 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Approximately 75 credits of coursework 130 credits of coursework
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalent
- Coursework in anatomy and physiology, introductory English and mathematics; additional courses vary by program
- Associate's degree
- Registered Technologist with The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
Online Availability None found at this time Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **PayScale.com (June 2012 figures).

Associate's Degree in Radiologic Sciences

An associate's degree program in radiologic sciences prepares you for a career as a radiologic technologist. Most schools require students to maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in order to remain in the program. After completing the required coursework and clinical education, graduates are eligible to take the ARRT credentialing exam in radiography.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Job growth for radiologic technologists from 2010 to 2020 was predicted to be 28%, which is faster than average.*
  • After completing an associate's degree program, graduates can expect to earn an above average salary (about $55,000 median annual salary for radiology techs vs. $40,000 median for those with an associate's degree in any field).*
  • You can earn certification in a few different specialties (mammography, MRI, CT).

Cons

  • The greatest need for radiologic technicians is in hospitals; you may face tougher competition if you want to work in a doctor's office or outpatient imaging center.
  • Many associate's degree programs are full-time and require students to attend classes on campus. This can be difficult for parents, returning students and those seeking a career change.
  • The amount of space in the program for students may not be concurrent with the amount of applicants. You may be placed on a waitlist until space becomes available.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

You need to complete prerequisite courses before gaining admission to an associate's degree program. Prerequisite courses may include English composition, college algebra and anatomy and physiology; some programs require additional coursework. Other enrollment requirements may include immunizations, a completed physical examination and current CPR certification.

Your coursework examines how to safely and accurately obtain radiologic images. Associate's degree programs in radiologic sciences integrate classroom work with clinical experiences. Typical courses concentrate on proper techniques, basic anatomy and reducing exposure to radiation. Topics you may see in an associate's program include:

  • Basic radiographic procedures
  • Radiographic pathology
  • Patient care in radiologic sciences
  • Radiographic exposure
  • Medical ethics

Online Degree Options

Fully online associate's degree programs in radiologic sciences are rare. However, you may be able to complete some prerequisite or core courses online. You should always ensure that any courses you find online are accepted by the degree-granting school of your choice.

Stand Out with This Degree

Students can increase their chances of employment by volunteering in local hospitals or imaging centers outside of class time. Specializing in an area of radiologic imaging, such as MRI or X-ray, can help you prepare for a specific job. Students should always keep their state licenses up to date by completing continuing education classes.

Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences

Bachelor's degree programs in radiologic sciences often require that students have a minimum 2.0 GPA and hold certification from the ARRT. These programs may allow you to choose a degree concentration; some programs can prepare you for supervisory roles. Most bachelor's degree programs have a limited amount of space available, and applicants are encouraged to apply early. In some cases, you can earn your bachelor's degree in 1-2 years.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Graduates who hold a bachelor's degree and have some experience can earn significantly more than those who hold only an associate's degree ($55,000* vs. $66,000-$126,000**).
  • More career choices may be available for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree.
  • You may be competing for jobs with graduates of associate's programs.

Cons

  • Admission to bachelor's degree programs can be competitive. Most classes accept only a limited number of students each quarter.
  • Online schools may require you to have access to a radiology laboratory where you can complete your clinical externship.
  • Most schools require you to have certain immunizations. Students who are not up to date on their shots may need to be vaccinated before participating in clinical experiences.

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011 figures), **PayScale.com (2012 figures).

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's-level coursework allows students to develop skills in advanced radiation procedures and healthcare management. Similar to associate's programs, you need to complete clinical experiences in a radiology laboratory setting. Many bachelor's programs include courses in MRI or computed tomography (CT) that may prepare you for advanced ARRT certifications.

Common classes offered in a bachelor's degree program include:

  • Advanced medical imaging
  • Radiation therapy
  • Quality improvement in diagnostic imaging
  • Radiographic pathology

Online Degree Options

Online courses and degree options exist for students seeking a bachelor's degree. Completely online programs are available at some schools, eliminating the need for students to attend campus-based sessions. Clinical experiences are still required, but you may pursue opportunities in your area. Certain schools offer programs in a hybrid format - some courses are offered online while others must be taken on campus.

Stand Out with This Degree

Look for programs that offer hands-on classes in MRI and CT; gaining skills in those modalities may qualify you for ARRT's specialty exams. If you need to renew your radiography certification while enrolled in a bachelor's program, take continuing education courses in a specific area of interest.

You can also stand out by joining your school's radiologic technology student organization. As a member of one of these groups, you may network with other students and faculty members; you could also help set up guest lectures and fundraising events.

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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

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Saint Leo University

  • BS: Health Care Management

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Keiser University

  • RN to BSN

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American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • BS in Health Care Administration

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City University of Seattle

  • B.S. Healthcare Administration

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Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

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