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Why Earn a Master’s in Radiology?

Radiology is one of the few healthcare professions one can enter with only an associates degree or certificate course, so you may be wondering if it's worth your while to continue your education to the master's degree level. Continuing your education is a very personal decision. While some may be content with a well-paying position and job security, others may wish to advance in their field. Even if you have earned your bachelor's degree and national certification in more than one area, you may still see advantages to earning your master's degree because certain careers are only open to those who hold a graduate level degree. This in-depth look at a master's degree in radiology will help you decide what your long-term career goals are and what degree is right for your plans within the field of radiology and related healthcare professions. And, because of the expansion of online learning, you may have the option to earn your degree online, either full-time or part-time, so that you can gain the education you need on your schedule, and online from anywhere in the country.


  • A master's degree means you will most likely earn more than a coworker who doesn't have a graduate degree, even if you both have the same amount of experience in the field.
  • If a potential employer has to choose between two job applicants with the same experience, a master's degree may be the deciding factor. Even if you are taking online courses to earn your master's, it may improve your chances of gaining a promotion or new job.
  • Some positions within the field are only open to candidates who hold a graduate degree.
  • Once you earn your master's, you’ll have a wide range of career options both within and outside of the field of radiology.
  • With a master's degree, you will be eligible to earn some of the more exclusive national certifications within the field of radiology. These may be found online or in-person.
  • A master's will allow you to specialize in one or more specific areas of radiology such as nuclear radiology or radiologist assistant.
  • Your master's degree will define you as an expert in your field of choice and showcase your knowledge.


  • A master's degree takes time, and it may be hard to complete if you're already working full-time within the field, even if you attend online.
  • Most radiology master's degree programs require you to hold a bachelor’s degree in radiology and have experience within the field of radiology.
  • Most master’s degree programs require clinical experience as part of the program, and this may be hard to schedule with your current employer and can make completing an online program trickier.
  • A graduate degree is expensive, even online, and it may take some time to see a return on your educational investment.
  • You will still need to take and pass national certification exams once you graduate from your master’s degree program.
  • A master's degree does not guarantee you'll get the position you want within your field of choice.
  • The field of radiology is constantly advancing, and you'll still be required to complete continuing education courses after you earn your online degree and certifications.

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Overview of a Master's in Radiology

What Radiology Master’s Degrees are Available?

Because radiology is a field of science, your degree will reflect that fact; there are no Master of Arts degrees in radiology. That being said, there are quite a few Master of Science programs to choose from, online and on-campus, depending on your area of interest. In addition, your degree program might reflect the area of expertise in which you've chosen to specialize.

Here are some typical degree titles within the field:

  • Master of Science in Radiologic & Imaging Sciences
  • Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Imaging
  • Master of Science in Radiologist Assistant

If your interest lies in the administrative side of radiology, you may choose to pursue a business degree such as a Master's Degree in Healthcare Management or a Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration. These have a high availability of online and traditional degrees.

If you're not sure what program best fits your interests and goals it's a good idea to make a spreadsheet of your top five or ten school choices and list the degrees offered, as well as the requirements for each.

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Admission Requirements

Although each school is allowed to make their own admission requirements for Master of Radiology candidates, some requirements are standard.

Here are the typical requirements you'll need to meet to be accepted into a master's program, whether the majority of classes happen online or in a more traditional setting:

  • A completed application fee
  • A nominal processing fee
  • A competitive grade point average (GPA) which is typically 3.0
  • Your official transcripts from a qualifying online or traditional undergraduate program
  • Proof that you have completed the prerequisites as outlined in the degree program
  • A personal statement
  • References or personal recommendations

In addition, you may be required to:

  • Score a minimum on a standardized exam such as the GRE
  • Hold specific certifications within the field
  • Pass a background check

How long does it take to earn a Radiology Master’s?

Most Master in Radiology programs will take a year to complete if you attend full-time, but some may require two years. Because this is a graduate degree, many choose to attend part-time in order to balance life, work, and school. This may not be necessary with online courses, but it may still be preferrable to take your time with online education because it can be easy to fall behind when you aren't attending a physical course.

If you opt to attend part-time, the length of time it takes to earn your degree will depend on how many courses you can take. For example, if you take a half load of courses in a two-year program, it will take approximately twice as long to complete your degree.

Most master’s radiology programs require clinical work, so you may find this portion of your degree will take more or less time depending on how many clinical hours you can fit in. If your current job qualifies for your clinical, you may find it much easier to complete your degree in a timely manner.

Radiology Degree Options

Potential Careers in Radiology with a Master’s Degree

  • Healthcare Administrator:
    Depending on the type and size of the hospital or facility, the healthcare administrator may be in charge of a specific department or the entire organization. Duties may include leading a large staff of employees, training staff, hiring new employees, conducting performance reviews, and approving tasks for subordinates such as scheduling and employee disciplinary actions.
    The average annual salary of a healthcare administrator is $65,100.
  • Radiology Manager:
    The radiology manager is in charge of a radiologic department within larger health facilities such as hospitals, medical offices, and healthcare centers. They typically oversee all staff within the department, verify all equipment is functioning properly and inspected on schedule, verify supply orders, and determine all department quality standards are met at all times. Radiology managers may also implement new policies and procedures, make sure all legal requirements are met, and provide training, guidance, and disciplinary actions to all staff members they oversee.
    The average annual salary of a radiology manager is $83,000.
  • Radiology Director:
    The radiology director is responsible for all aspects of the diagnostic imaging department within a large hospital or similar institution. They are tasked with the coordination of all areas within the department such as budget maintenance, operational standards, and equipment purchases. They oversee the day-to-day operations within the department, monitor the accuracy and quality of all employees, and may train staff on new procedures and techniques. They are also tasked with overseeing the operation of equipment within the department, such as MRI and CT scanners, to verify the equipment is working and being used properly.
    The average annual salary of a radiology director is $97,300.
  • Radiology Assistant:
    A radiology assistant works directly under the radiologist and may help with patients, write final reports, and assist in diagnosing each patient. They are trained and certified radiologic technicians who have advanced their education and career and are typically working on their radiologist certification.
    The average annual salary, according to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, is $103,000.
  • Radiologist:
    Radiologists typically work for hospitals but may also be employed by private practices or larger medical clinics. They interpret the radiology images of each patient to determine a proper diagnosis and then share their diagnosis with the primary care physician. The American Board of Radiology must certify radiologists and, in most states, they must also be licensed. Radiologists will also troubleshoot equipment issues, order repairs, and stay updated on the latest technology and medical breakthroughs in their field. Radiologists are required to continue their training throughout their careers in order to stay relevant in their field.
    The average annual salary of a radiologist is $265,200.
  • Associate Professor:
    Your master's degree will also allow you to enter the field of postsecondary education as an associate professor. The primary job goal is to instruct others and conduct research in the field of radiology. With enough experience, an associate professor can gain tenure and become a full professor in their field of choice. Associate professors create curriculum, develop lesson plans, and instruct students of radiology.
    The average annual salary of an associate professor is $76,100.

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Salary by Occupation

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late Career
HR Specialist $44,900 $54,500 $61,000
HR Manager $51,300 $68,500 $75,100
Compensation or Benefit Analyst $56,200 $72,600 $65,000
HR Information Systems Analyst $54,000 $72,300 $82,500
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist - - -

Options to Advance

Once you earn your online or on-campus master's degree in radiology, your options to advance lie in two areas: gaining experience and earning certifications. Because most states require continuing education (CE) as part of your license renewal, it's a good idea to become certified in a different area as part of your CE training. Much of the available continuing education can be found online.

Here are the certifications offered by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists:

  • Bone Densitometry
  • Breast Sonography
  • Cardiac Interventional Radiography
  • Cardiovascular Interventional Radiography
  • Computed Tomography
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mammography
  • Nuclear Medicine Technology
  • Quality Management
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Radiography
  • Registered Radiologist Assistant
  • Sonography
  • Vascular Interventional Radiography
  • Vascular Sonography

In addition, the American College of Radiology offers the following subspecialties:

  • Breast Imaging (mammograms)
  • Cardiovascular Radiology (heart and circulatory system)
  • Chest Radiology (heart and lungs)
  • Emergency Radiology
  • Gastrointestinal Radiology (stomach, intestines-in-depth, and abdomen)
  • Genitourinary Radiology (reproductive and urinary systems)
  • Head and Neck Radiology
  • Musculoskeletal Radiology (muscles and skeleton)
  • Neuroradiology (brain and nervous system; head, neck, and spine)
  • Pediatric Radiology (imaging of children)

Best Master of Science in Radiology Programs

  • Thomas Jefferson University
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    At Thomas Jefferson, you can choose from five concentrations: management, education, CT, PET/CT, and cardiac/vascular technology. This is a 12 month full-time (24 months part-time) program with a full clinical practice requirement.

    Degree Offered:

    • Master of Science in Radiologic & Imaging Sciences
  • Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
    Carbondale, Illinois

    Southern Illinois University, School of Allied Health, offers two concentrations: administration and education. This program can be completed in 24 months of full-time courses, and part-time attendance is accepted. A minimum GPA must be maintained throughout the program.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences
  • University of North Carolina
    Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    UNC offers a two-year program that includes almost 1800 hours of clinical practice as well as seminar attendance. Graduates are ready to sit for the ASRT and ARRT exams for national certification.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Radiologist Assistant Master’s in Radiologic Science
  • Northwestern State University
    Shreveport, Louisiana

    At Northwestern State, you can choose from two concentrations (education and administration) to become a leader in the field of radiology. This program allows professionals to make the next step into management or academia with a solid core of career advancement skills.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences
  • MD Anderson Center
    Houston, Texas

    MD Anderson Center offers both administrative and education tracks for your Master's degree. As part of the University of Texas system, MD Anderson is affiliated with many major clinics and hospitals for an advanced clinical portion of the radiological program.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences

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Traditional Schools Offering an MS in Radiology

  • University of California
    San Francisco, California

    This program is designed for those with bachelor’s degrees or advanced pre0doctoral students who wish to master this sector of radiology. This program can be completed in one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science in Biomedical Imaging
  • Midwestern State University
    Wichita Falls, Texas

    MSU offers graduate students three radiology majors: education, administration, and radiologist assistant for those who wish to take their career to the next level in their area of expertise.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science in Radiologic Science
  • Loma Linda University
    Loma Linda, California

    Loma Linda offers a 21-month program, which is made up of online coursework combined with clinical practice in your home community. Applicants must have two years of experience and live in an approved state (to facilitate clinical training) to qualify for this program.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science in Radiologist Assistant
  • Weber State University
    Ogden, Utah

    At Weber, you can choose from two programs and further define your goals with a major or concentration in education, research, management, advanced practice, radiology nursing, or MSK diagnostic ultrasound. Weber's is the only radiology program available in the state of Utah.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences
    • Master of Science Radiologist Assistant
  • Rutgers
    New Brunswick, New Jersey

    At Rutgers, the program requires applicants to be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technology; the program follows recommended national curriculum guidelines to prepare the student as an advanced care practitioner.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Science Radiologist Assistant

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I need to know math to earn my radiology degree?

While you may not need to pass calculus or take advanced statistics, you will be taking several semesters worth of radiology science, which requires mathematical knowledge. It will be focused on the subject you are studying rather than generalized mathematical practice, but if you are particularly bad at mathematics, you might want to consider setting aside more time for your homework in these classes.

Will my master’s in radiology give me access to more career options?

Yes. With this degree, you can work in a much greater variety of roles and work at a higher level than you could with only a bachelor’s degree. While you still won’t be able to work as a practicing radiologist until you earn a doctoral degree, the master’s will put you well on your way to the top of your field.

What are the radiology specialties?

There are three specialties in radiology. These are diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, and therapeutic radiology. Diagnostic radiology is focused on using non-invasive scans to get an idea of what is happening to a patient. You can use these scans to diagnose anything from a broken bone to lung cancer. These have become an incredibly important part of modern medicine and we continue to need specialists in this area both to perform the imaging and to interpret the results. Nuclear medicine is focused on using radioactive materials to diagnose and treat illness. You might introduce a radioactive substance into the body and track it in order to understand how the body is performing. This can help doctors diagnose many illnesses. In treatment, radioactive materials are used to target diseased tissue so that it can be removed from the body. Therapeutic radiology is the use of radiation technology to treat diseases, such as cancer, killing the cells and preventing them from returning.

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