California Ultrasound Colleges with Degree Program Overviews

Research ultrasound programs in California, which currently has 10 schools offering programs. Read an overview of programs, tuition info and program options for the 10 schools, and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

Several 2- and 4-year postsecondary schools in California provide ultrasound and similar diagnostic medical sonography programs, which most commonly are offered at the certificate and associate's degree levels. Some certificate programs offer specialized training in vascular or cardiac sonography. Most colleges require applicants to have current immunizations and CPR certification and pass drug screenings and background checks. In addition, acceptance into some programs requires completion of an associate's or bachelor's degree program in a healthcare field.

Career Requirements

While a few states require diagnostic medical sonographers to hold licensure, California does not. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the majority of employers prefer to hire those with professional certification. There are several certifying agencies, such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), and most require individuals to complete an approved education program and pass an exam. Below are details about some California colleges offering ultrasound training programs, several of which are designed to prepare students for ARDMS certifying exams.


Casa Loma College - Van Nuys

This college in Van Nuys has a 23-month associate's program in diagnostic medical sonography. Students begin with foundational classes like anatomy and physiology, math and physics. The program's core coursework includes abdomen and small parts, obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) and the vascular system. Practical experience is acquired by completing 2 semesters of clinical externships.

Graduates may be eligible for certification exams from ARDMS in the specialty areas of OB/GYN, abdominal and small parts and sonography principles and instrumentation physics. Before qualifying for the exam, students without a healthcare degree need to acquire a year of professional experience.

  • Program Offered: Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $37,411*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, private not-for-profit; large city

Cosumnes River College

Located in Sacramento, this school offers diagnostic medical sonography associate's degree and certificate programs. Both programs already require applicants to have a 2-year allied health degree and a year of patient care work experience. Certificate and associate's degree students study ultrasound physics and instrumentation, sonography interpretation and vascular scanning. The college did not indicate whether or not the programs would prepare students for certification exams.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
    Associate of Arts in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,104 in-state; $7,200 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Cypress College

To be considered for the accredited certificate or associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography at this Cypress-based college, students must complete prerequisite classes like anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and human disease.

Courses in the associate's degree and certificate programs are similar and cover abdomen sonography, OB/GYN sonography, healthcare ethics and pathology. Students also gain hands-on experience by completing education courses and an externship. Graduates of both programs will be prepared for ARDMS exams.

  • Programs Offered: Diagnostic Medical Sonography Certificate,
    Associate in Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,136 in-state; $5,984 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Foothill College

This college at Los Altos Hills has a certificate and associate's program in diagnostic medical sonography. Acceptance into either program requires an associate's or bachelor's degree in a relevant healthcare field. Applicants also need to take anatomy and physiology, physics and medical terminology. Both programs require 98 credits of core classes, and the associate's program requires an additional 30 credits of general education coursework.

The core coursework covers OB/GYN, pathology and sectional anatomy. Students also receive clinical training through a preceptorship. Graduates may be prepared for certification exams given by the ARDMS.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
    Associate in Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,536 in-state; $6,351 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Lincoln University

This Oakland university provides associate's and bachelor's degree programs in diagnostic imaging. A certificate program for ultrasound technicians is also available. All programs have concentrations in vascular ultrasound or echocardiography. Certificate students complete externships and study ultrasound coursework. Associate's degree students take courses like OB/GYN ultrasound, echo imaging and ultrasound principles. The bachelor's degree program covers ultrasound physics, abdomen and small parts. The university mentioned that only the bachelor's degree program will prepare for ARDMS exams.

  • Programs Offered: Ultrasound Technician Certificate,
    Associate of Science in Diagnostic Imaging,
    Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Imaging
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $10,105*
  • School Type & Setting: University, private not-for-profit; large city

Loma Linda University

Two options for earning a certificate in diagnostic medical sonography are offered at this university in Loma Linda. One option focuses on medical sonography and vascular technology and takes 2 years to complete. The second option takes a year to complete and focuses on cardiac sonography. Admission into both programs requires applicants to have completed either a relevant associate's or bachelor's degree program and prerequisite coursework like anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and health care fundamentals. Students can expect to spend 1 day a week in the classroom and 32-35 hours a week completing clinicals. Graduates of these certificate programs may be qualified to take ARDMS certification exams.

  • Program Offered: Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Tracks in Medical Sonography and Vascular Technology or Cardiac Sonography)
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $30,408*
  • School Type & Setting: University, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Merced College

Located in Merced, this school provides certificates in general diagnostic medical sonography and cardiac diagnostic medical sonography. Both programs are accredited and prepare students for ARMDS certification exams. Applicants to either program must also have a 2-year degree in allied health. Students for the cardiac track will also need to be an electrocardiograph technician.

The general sonography program focuses on abdominal, OB/GYN and vascular sonography. Cardiac track students focus more on advanced echocardiography skills. Both programs require courses in ultrasound physics and provide clinical training.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
    Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Cardiac Option)
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,138 in-state; $5,890 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; rural fringe

Mt. San Jacinto Community College District

This San Jacinto-based college has certificate and associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography, and both will help students prepare for ARDMS exams. However, graduates planning on taking certification exams will need a year of clinical work experience.

Both programs include 20 credits of prerequisite courses, including anatomy and physiology, physics and algebra. The difference between the programs is that students in the associate's program must complete general education classes, in addition to the 60 credits of core coursework. Students learn about sonography terminology, pathophysiology, patient care, healthcare ethics, vascular scanning and ultrasound physics. Clinical training and ultrasound seminars are also required.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
    Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,386 in-state; $6,936 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsized suburb

Orange Coast College

Students in Costa Mesa can attend this college to learn how to use diagnostic imaging equipment that aids medical professionals in diagnosing human diseases and conditions. Before being accepted into the accredited associate's degree program, applicants need to complete prerequisites like health occupations and medical terminology. The core curricular requirements include 4 clinical experiences and classes like sonography physics and instrumentation, pathophysiology and vascular ultrasound. The college did not mention that the program will prepare students for certification exams.

  • Program Offered: Associate in Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,184 in-state; $6,320 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsized city

Santa Barbara City College

Every 2 years, this college in Santa Barbara offers an 18-month diagnostic medical sonography certificate program. The program is open to individuals who have previously earned approved 2-year allied health degrees and completed specific coursework. The program's required core classes include OB/GYN scanning, pathophysiology and vascular ultrasound. Four clinical experiences are completed before graduation. While the college did not mention certification exam preparation, the sonography program is accredited.

  • Program Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,374 in-state; $7,254 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Ultrasound Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Casa Loma College - Van Nuys 2-year, private not-for-profit; large city Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography $37,411*
Cosumnes River College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
Associate of Arts in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
$1,104 in-state; $7,200 out-of-state*
Cypress College 2-year, public; large suburb Diagnostic Medical Sonography Certificate,
Associate in Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
$1,136 in-state; $5,984 out-of-state*
Foothill College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
Associate in Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
$1,536 in-state; $6,351 out-of-state*
Lincoln University University, private not-for-profit; large city Ultrasound Technician Certificate,
Associate of Science in Diagnostic Imaging,
Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Imaging
$10,105*
Loma Linda University University, private not-for-profit; large suburb Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Tracks in Medical Sonography and Vascular Technology or Cardiac Sonography) $30,408*
Merced College 2-year, public; rural fringe Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Cardiac Option)
$1,138 in-state; $5,890 out-of-state*
Mt. San Jacinto Community College District 2-year, public; midsized suburb Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography,
Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
$1,386 in-state; $6,936 out-of-state*
Orange Coast College 2-year, public; midsized city Associate in Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography $1,184 in-state; $6,320 out-of-state*
Santa Barbara City College 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Achievement in Diagnostic Medical Sonography $1,374 in-state; $7,254 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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