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Radiology Majors and Undergraduate Degree Programs

Learn about the curricula and requirements of an undergraduate program in radiology. Get career, salary and employment information, and read about licensing requirements for professionals in this field.

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Essential Information

There are two undergraduate degree options in this field, an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Radiologic Science. The 2-year AAS prepares graduates to either find entry-level employment, or to continue on to complete a 4-year BS degree. AAS programs are offered at community colleges, as well as online.

The 4-year BS programs, which are less common, are offered through universities and online. Both programs prepare students to become licensed, which some states require. Admission to an AAS program requires a high school degree and an aptitude for math and science. Admission to a BS program most commonly requires an AAS degree.

Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Science

Students enrolled in 2-year radiologic programs take courses and complete clinical rotations that prepare them to become radiology technicians, who specialize in making images of the body's soft tissues and internal structures. These programs sometimes include required summer sessions and may require that students take courses in an exact sequence.

Some programs offer the option of specializing in a certain area of radiologic science, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or ultrasound. Graduates of radiologic science degree programs are eligible to take the required national certifying examination for radiology technicians.

Education Prerequisites

Prospective students must have completed high school, with a transcript showing adequate marks in algebra, chemistry and biology. Many programs require a personal interview and a written personal statement. Applicants must complete a CPR for Professional Healthcare Provider certification course.

Program Coursework

Most associate degree programs in radiology take 2 years to complete. Coursework is intensive; students can expect to complete around 80 credit hours. Potential courses include:

  • Radiographic clinical procedures
  • Radiation protection
  • Image production and evaluation
  • Patient positioning
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Equipment operation and maintenance

Popular Career Options

Some career options may require more experience or additional coursework beyond the associate degree. These include:

  • Radiation therapist
  • Radiologic technician or technologist
  • Nuclear medicine technologist

Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science

Several universities offer bachelor's degree completion programs for students who already hold an associate degree in radiologic science. Some of these programs may be completed through distance education, allowing students to complete their bachelor's degree while working. Radiology technicians with bachelor's degrees may enhance their earning potential and qualify for managerial jobs.

Education Prerequisites and Program Coursework

The vast majority of bachelor's degree programs require candidates to already have completed an associate degree in radiologic science. These programs often include courses in clinical practice, radiobiology and pathophysiology. Other potential courses include:

  • Bioethics
  • Healthcare law and policy
  • Introduction to medical research
  • Advanced radiologic science
  • Mammography
  • Human resource management

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2008, the median salary for degree-holding radiology technicians and technologists was $52,210 (www.bls.gov). However, this figure ranged between $35,000 and $74,000 depending on the candidate's geographic location and qualifications. Demand for radiology technologists and technicians was expected to increase by 17% between 2008 and 2018.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of bachelor's degree programs may wish to go on to enter a master's degree program in radiologic science. While rare, these degree programs are designed for candidates interested in teaching radiologic science at the college level or working in executive management of radiologic imaging departments. Most programs are offered during nights and weekends to accommodate students' daytime work schedules. After completing a graduate program, students are eligible to take the examination for one of radiology's highest professional certifications, the Certified Radiology Administrator (CRA) designation, according to CRAinfo.org.

In addition, most states require radiologic technicians and therapists to be licensed; requirements for licensure, however, vary by state, typically entailing an examination and holding a degree or other type of certification.

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