2024 Best Online Radiology Degrees (2024)

Online Radiology Degrees: An Overview

Radiology is a crucial healthcare field for diagnosis and imaging. Online radiology degrees provide specialized education for individuals seeking a career in medical imaging and diagnostic procedures. These programs equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in this important healthcare sector. Radiology online degrees cover a wide range of topics, including medical imaging principles, radiation safety protocols, and the operation of cutting-edge diagnostic equipment.

Note that the job title radiologist refers to the medical doctors who interpret diagnostic imagery and communicate results to patients. Becoming a radiologist requires a medical degree, while becoming a technician or technologist does not. However, there is a distinct difference between a technician, who operates machinery and may run tests but does not make assessments, and a radiologic technologist, who may take part in running tests as well as assessing the results with a medical team.

It's important to mention that accreditation should be a priority when choosing an online radiology degree program as it indicates adherence to industry standards, ensuring a high quality education and professional recognition. OnlineU only features accredited schools on its website.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Radiology Degree Online?

Most online bachelor's degrees in radiology are degree-completion programs for students who have an entry-level associate degree and are already registered radiologic technologists. These degrees can take 16-24 months of full-time study or 24-36 months of part-time study to complete all 120 credits. In addition to regular coursework, the bachelor's degree includes a field experience with a set number of required clinical hours in a healthcare practice setting. This experience can last from a few months to a year but may occur simultaneously with online classes.

Radiology Degree Specializations

Starting in their degree program, radiologic technologists can specialize in one or several imaging modalities, which include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, and bone densitometry. There are a number of online bachelor's degree concentrations that can help prepare graduates for different career paths, such as MRI technologists or nuclear medicine technologists.

If you're specifically looking to become a diagnostic medical sonographer, specifically, you may want to research online sonography degrees.

Common Courses in Radiology Degree Programs

Enrollment in a radiology degree — even a program with fully online courses — requires an in-person field experience, where students will have supervised practice on the complex machinery they'll use in their jobs. Students currently working as technologists may be able to complete this at their place of employment, or they may need to arrange for another location.

Course offerings can differ across radiology programs, but most of them have a few courses in common. This is because faculty want to train diagnostic imaging specialists who are not just proficient at one set of tests but also adept at cross-training on new technology according to the needs of their employers.

Below, we've listed a few classes that radiology students are likely to encounter:

Fundamentals of Computed Tomography

Students learn the uses and limitations of CT scans in diagnosing illnesses and injuries. Professors teach the scan process, including safety protocols and administration of contrast agents. Although a doctor is responsible for diagnoses, professors may cover a basic interpretation of results.

Introduction to Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Lessons in this course cover the use of sound waves to retrieve images. Students learn the practical applications of sonography, including echocardiograms for cardiovascular imaging and ultrasound for obstetrics and gynecology. Faculty generally cover patient care, professional behavior, and ethics.

Introduction to MRI

This course introduces the principles of MRI, including the operation of machinery and the interpretation of results. Students learn about the physical processes behind using magnets and contrast agents to reveal organs and tissues. Faculty emphasize safety around magnets and common patient reactions to immersion in an MRI tube.

Physics in Diagnostic Imaging

Faculty teach the scientific principles that allow machines to render diagnostic images. Coursework may cover image formation and processing, magnetism, and basic electronics. Students are introduced to concepts explored in more depth in later courses, such as contrast (including the use of nuclear medicine) and the effects of the body's structures on imaging.

Sectional Anatomy

Radiology students learn the human body's systems and how they interconnect. Professors often discuss which imagining machinery best reveals each system in this class. The focus is generally on the physical plane viewable in different types of images, along with the limits of each.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Radiology Degree?

All radiologic technologists train in human anatomy in order to take precise and accurate images. Their responsibilities usually also include maintaining complex radiology equipment, managing patient records, and occasionally helping doctors interpret image results. Depending on their state regulations, an aspiring technologist generally needs to obtain certification after earning a degree.

Graduates of an online radiology degree program can pursue various careers in medical imaging, diagnostics, and patient care:

Radiologic Technologists

Median Annual Wage:$67,180

Job Growth:6%

Radiologic technologists administer diagnostic imaging exams on patients.

MRI Technologists

Median Annual Wage:$80,090

Job Growth:5-8%

MRI technologists run MRI scanners, overseeing patient safety and comfort. They analyze the scanned images of the scanned areas to ensure image quality.

Cardiovascular Technologists

Median Annual Wage:$63,020

Job Growth:2-4%

Cardiovascular technologists carry out tests to analyze the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems of patients to help determine the diagnosis and the best path for treatment.

Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Median Annual Wage:$85,300

Job Growth:0%

Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and deliver radioactive drugs for imaging or treatment purposes.

How Much Money Can I Make With a Radiology Degree?

A radiology degree offers multiple career options, with salaries varying based on the specific role. To give some examples, radiologic technologists specializing in diagnostic imaging earn a median annual salary of $67,180, while nuclear medicine technologists can earn a median annual salary of $85,300. Overall, a radiology degree is likely a great investment toward a promising career path.

Applying For a Radiology Degree Online

The typical requirements for radiology degrees generally include the following:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent

  • Standardized test scores, like the SAT or ACT

  • Letters of recommendation

  • A personal statement

Some programs may have additional requirements, like prerequisite courses or work experience, so it’s helpful to check for those before applying online.

FAQs About Degrees in Radiology

Can You Get Radiology Degrees Online?

Yes, you can pursue radiology degrees online through accredited institutions. Online programs offer flexibility that allows students to balance education with other commitments. It's essential to choose reputable online programs to ensure quality education and recognition within the field.

What Bachelor’s Degree Is Best for Radiology?

While a specific bachelor's degree isn’t always required for entry into the field, degrees in fields such as radiologic technology, medical imaging, or healthcare administration can provide a strong foundation. These degrees cover essential concepts in anatomy, biology, and medical imaging technology, preparing students for success in radiology-related careers.

Is Radiology Harder Than Becoming an RN?

The difficulty of pursuing a career in radiology versus in nursing depends on individual preferences and strengths. Radiology relies on medical imaging technology and diagnostics, demanding proficiency with technology and attention to detail. Becoming a nurse involves getting a nursing degree to gain an understanding of patient care and medical procedures. Prospective healthcare professionals should choose a career path that aligns with their interests and talents.

How Difficult Are Online Programs in Radiology?

There's no absolute answer to this question because individuals have different strengths, experiences, and learning styles. One way to gauge the difficulty of individual online programs is by reviewing graduation rates. These can be hard to find for individual programs, but the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology provides a helpful data search tool. Prospective students can review JRCERT-accredited programs for their student completion rate and credential exam pass rate to get a sense of how well a college supports its students and how prepared graduates are for their necessary certifications.

Depending on your aptitude for science and technology, you may find one of these aspects more difficult to learn than the other. Many radiology programs feature courses covering a variety of imaging machines, so current radiology techs may find new equipment difficult to learn if it differs from the equipment they already use in their work. It's also possible that students will excel in their health science and imaging science courses but struggle in some required general education or liberal arts classes.

Is a Bachelor's in Radiology Worth It?

A bachelor's degree in radiology can unlock a range of fulfilling career options in medical imaging and diagnostics. That said, it’s possible to enter a field with an associate degree. The main advantage of a bachelor's degree is a wider range of job opportunities, including more specialized roles and potentially higher pay. However, it's important to consider the stress that comes with a radiology career, which can involve intense, high-stakes decisions and patient care.

Here are some pros and cons to weigh:

Pros

  • Diverse career opportunities

  • Solid earning potential

  • Advanced knowledge of radiology

  • Professional advancement in the field

Cons

  • Financial and time investment to earn a degree

  • High stress levels

  • Rapid technological changes in the field

  • Licensing requirements for some advanced positions

2024 Best Online Radiology Degrees (2024)
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