Bachelor’s Degree in Radiologic Technology
The bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology (RT) or Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology (BSRT), prepares students for a career in the diverse and growing field of diagnostic imaging. Students in RT programs learn how to use advanced medical technology to produce images of the body for diagnosis and treatment as well as how to provide competent patient care. Radiologic technologists work in clinical settings, such as hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and medical centers, as part of healthcare teams and directly interact with patients. Completing a radiology bachelor’s degree takes at least four years of full-time study including coursework and clinical placements. Both on-campus and online study options are available, although face-to-face clinical placements may still be required as part of online programs. While associate’s degrees in radiologic technology provide foundational skills for entry-level imaging, radiologic technology bachelor’s programs are designed to prepare students for practice in a wider range of modalities, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and sonography. These programs also prepare students to further their education at the graduate level in healthcare management, radiology assistant programs, or specific modalities if they so choose. While O*NET Online reports that 63% of radiologic technologists have an associate’s degree, there is a growing trend for RTs to pursue a bachelor’s degree.1
According to O*NET Online, the median salary for general radiologic technologists in 2016 was $57,450; however, focusing on a specialization within radiologic technology may prove to be more lucrative.1 For example, in 2016, MRI technologists earned a median salary of $68,420, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median salary of $69,650, and nuclear medicine technologists earned a median salary of $74,350.2,3,4 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for radiologic technologists is expected to increase by 9% through 2024 (faster than average), in part due to the growing health needs of an aging population.5
The admissions requirements and procedures for bachelor’s in radiologic technology programs vary depending on the program structure. The two most common program structures are traditional, four-year degree plans and transfer or upgrading programs. To enter a traditional, four-year degree program, students must complete prerequisite courses in science and math before applying to the RT degree program at the university of their choice. These programs are often competitive and require above-average grade point averages (GPAs) and may require higher-than-average scores on pre-admissions tests like the SAT or ACT.
Applicants who have already completed an accredited associate degree program in radiologic technology may be able to apply to a bachelor’s degree transfer program, which accepts transfer credits from a two-year school and applies them towards the bachelor’s degree requirements. These programs commonly require state or national RT certification as well as verification of the associate’s degree earned, and may also require a minimum GPA score and work experience.
Core Concepts and Coursework
Before taking core courses in radiologic technology, bachelor’s degree students will typically take foundational courses in science, such as biology and anatomy & physiology, as well as courses in math, liberal arts, and social sciences. Once formally admitted to the radiology program, students take courses focused on radiologic technology. Some common courses include:
- Human Anatomy
- Medical Terminology
- Principles of Imaging
- Radiation Protection
- Digital Image Acquisition
- Clinical Decision-Making
- Medical Ethics
- Clinical Research Methods
- Advanced Image Analysis
- Management in Diagnostic Healthcare
Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology Learning Goals
1. Competently perform advanced radiographic imaging procedures.
An important goal of a radiologic technology program is to prepare graduates for competent professional practice by developing both core and advanced imaging skills. Bachelor’s degree graduates should understand how to take radiologic images using different types of equipment that can be used by physicians and other healthcare professionals to analyze and diagnose health conditions. Some programs also offer the opportunity to specialize in a particular modality.
2. Ensure patient safety and comfort.
Radiologic technology is a hands-on profession that requires frequent interaction with and handling of patients, including positioning patients for the images being taken. During the program, students learn how to professionally and safely move patients and position specific parts of the body to ensure that images are accurate. Students also learn how to provide proper protection from the potentially harmful effects of radiation for themselves, patients, and the healthcare team.
3. Develop a professional identity and leadership skills.
By completing a bachelor’s degree program in radiologic technology, students will develop a strong understanding of healthcare professionalism and ethics, with a focus on the role of radiologic technicians within healthcare teams. Coursework in the final years of study at a typical bachelor’s degree program concentrates on advanced techniques and leadership skills that will prepare bachelor’s degree graduates to pursue a master’s degree in radiology or supervisory roles in the profession.
Traditional Radiologic Technology Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Traditional degree programs offer students the chance to learn about the radiologic technology profession in a hands-on, face-to-face manner. Traditional bachelor’s programs are best for students who prefer in-person learning in a classroom setting. We provide profiles on several programs from different regions of the country that are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), a well-known accreditor that is widely recognized in the radiologic technology field.
Austin Peay State University (Clarksville, TN)
The Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology degree offered at Austin Peay State University is designed to provide students with a broad range of skills including theory, critical thinking, laboratory, and hands-on clinical experience. After applying and being accepted to Austin Peay State University, students complete core general education and science courses, which typically takes two years of full-time study, before focusing on radiologic technology coursework. Applicants must have at least a 2.5 high school GPA to apply; however, successful applicants typically have a higher GPA. The radiologic technology program begins in the summer term with applications due February 28th of the preceding term. Once admitted to the RT program, students should be able to complete all the remaining degree requirements in two years. Courses include Image Production and Evaluation, Quality Control in Radiologic Technology, and Radiographic Pathology.
California State University – Northridge (Northridge, CA)
The Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences (BSRS) program at California State University – Northridge (CSUN) takes two-and-a-half years to complete once the prerequisite coursework is met. The program includes 12 months of foundational education in radiographic technology and an additional 18 months of study on advanced imaging techniques. Students are exposed to a variety of different radiologic technologies in theory and practice, including MRI, Computed Tomography (CT), Interventional Radiology (IR), Cardiac Catheterization, and Mammography. During the program, students complete over 2,500 hours of clinical practicum. To apply to the RT program, students must have completed prerequisite courses, either at CSUN or another institution with transferable credits. Then, prospective applicants must meet with a BSRS advisor, complete at least 40 hours of job shadowing, attend a tour of a clinical placement department, and submit an application by late January to begin in the fall term. Certificate programs in specific advanced imaging techniques are also available.
University of Mississippi (Jackson, MS)
The University of Mississippi Medical Center offers a Bachelor of Radiologic Sciences with two possible program options. The first option is a traditional transfer program that enables applicants who have already completed 60 credits of general arts and sciences to complete their degree in radiologic sciences. This full-time program takes 22 months to complete and provides clinical experience to prepare students for a career as a radiologic technologist. The second option is an online, part-time advanced standing program for individuals who already have a recognized credential in radiologic technology at the associate degree level and would like more advanced education. The advanced standing program is offered on a part-time basis and can be completed in less than two years. Courses include Pharmacology, Digital Image Acquisition and Display, and Radiographic Image Analysis. The University of Mississippi also offers Master of Science (MS) degrees in MRI and Nuclear Medicine.
Online Radiologic Technology Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Online undergraduate degree programs in radiologic technology allow students to develop greater expertise and knowledge in a flexible learning environment. Depending on the specialization, online programs may be either fully online or require additional face-to-face clinical work. The following profiles highlight different types of online bachelor’s degrees available in radiologic technology.
University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (Fort Smith, AR)
At the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, students who have already completed a JRCERT-accredited radiography program can apply for the Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences (BSIS) degree-completion program focused on leadership and management. This program is designed to prepare students for healthcare management opportunities in the radiologic technology field. Transfer credit is assessed for both JRCERT radiography courses and general education courses. Clinical requirements are completed in the student’s local geographical area and include a Leadership Practicum. The university also offers related on-campus degrees, including an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Radiography and a BSIS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until May 15th for fall term entry. Courses are taken online and include Research in the Health Sciences, Patient Information Management, and Risk Management.
University of Louisiana at Monroe (Monroe, LA)
For applicants looking for greater flexibility or busy working professionals, the University of Louisiana at Monroe offers a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology delivered fully online that can be completed at the student’s own pace either full-time or part-time. As this is a degree completion program, applicants must already have prior education and experience as a radiographic technologist to be eligible. Students follow the university’s Registered Technologist Education Plan, which allows 38 transfer credits from previous radiologic technology study. In addition, students complete 54 credits of general education, including biology, math, and medical terminology, and 27 credits in professional coursework including a capstone project. Most courses have an eight-week, intensive block structure that enables students to focus their attention on two or three topics during each term. Courses are offered during five terms throughout with year with winter and summer holiday breaks. Topics include Methods of Patient Care, Imaging Equipment and Radiation Production, and Advanced Radiographic Procedures.
The licensure and accreditation process for radiologic technologists can be confusing as requirements vary by state. Some states require licensure in order to work in the field of radiologic technology and only accept applications from graduates of accredited radiologic technology programs who have also successfully earned a professional credential from an organization such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), while other states may only require one of these or neither. Details on current requirements can be obtained by visiting the department of health in the state where you plan to work.
The ARRT requires candidates for RT credentials to have completed an acceptable education program. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is the only national accreditor for radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and medical dosimetry programs that is recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT) is a similar accreditor specifically for nuclear medicine technology programs. A program that holds JRCERT accreditation typically satisfies the ARRT requirements for radiologic technology education, while a degree from an institution that holds accreditation from the JRCNMT is a stepping-stone to credentials from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB). JRCERT maintains a database of accredited programs as well as program effectiveness data. A list of accredited nuclear medicine technology programs is available through the JRCNMT website.
Widely-recognized radiologic technologist credentials are available primarily through two organizations in the US, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB). Both organizations will certify and register graduates who pass the required exam for their desired modality and meet the clinical, educational, and ethical requirements. An ARRT or NMTCB credential is not always required at the state level but may be necessary to pursue a transfer program at the bachelor’s degree level. A database of ARRT-approved programs is provided on the organization’s website. The NMTCB does not approve programs individually, but does require credential candidates to complete a program that is accredited by the JRCNMT or another approved agency, such as the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT).
Jobs with a Radiologic Technology Bachelor’s Degree
Graduates of radiologic technology programs can find work in a variety of healthcare organizations and departments. Examples of common jobs can be put into two main groups. These include:
- CT Technologist
- MRI Technologist
- Nuclear Medicine Technologist
- Radiology Technologist
- Radiologic Technologist
- Ultrasound Technologist
- X-Ray Technologist
- Limited Scope X-Ray Machine Operator
- Rad Tech
- Radiologic Technician
- Radiology Technician
- X-Ray Technician
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I study for a bachelor’s degree in radiology part-time?
If you are applying for a traditional, four-year program, it is usually possible to complete the general arts and science prerequisite courses on a part-time basis. Once you have been successfully admitted to the radiologic technology program, part-time study is less common due to the structured nature of clinical placements. Many programs are offered in a cohort model in which students progress through the program together on a full-time basis.
What job opportunities are available with a radiologic technology bachelor’s degree?
Graduates of a radiologic technology bachelor’s degree program may find work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, private clinics, medical laboratories, and research facilities.6 The bachelor’s in radiology curriculum provides the opportunity to develop advanced imaging skills in specific modalities, such as MRI, CT, and sonography, which can be found in a wide range of healthcare or research departments.
What are the salary expectations for radiologic technologists?
In 2016, the median salary for radiologic technologists was $57,450; however, average salaries do vary by state.1 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest mean salaries in 2016 were found in the District of Columbia ($76,270), California ($76,060), and Massachusetts ($71,100).6
What is the job outlook for radiologic technologists?
The field of radiologic technology is projected to grow by 9% through 2024 providing over 20,000 new job openings.5 This is a higher rate of growth than the average of all occupations (6%) during the same time period.5 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologic technologists who have completed accredited programs and trained in multiple modalities will be in the greatest demand.5
1. O*Net Online, Radiologic Technologists: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2034.00
2. O*Net Online, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2035.00
3. O*Net Online, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2032.00
4. O*Net Online, Nuclear Medicine Technologists: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2033.00
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Radiologic and MRI Technologists: https://www.bls.gov/OOH/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016: Radiologic Technologists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292034.htm