Guide to Online MRI Tech Programs and Schools

Learn about flexible online MRI programs that combine remote coursework and hands-on training to prepare you to become a certified MRI tech.

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Last Updated: 09/22/2021
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From uncovering a tumor that leads to an early cancer diagnosis to determining if a pitcher will require season-ending Tommy John surgery, MRIs help inform millions of diagnoses every day through detailed images that reveal what CT scans and X-rays often can’t. If you want to join this in-demand healthcare field that lets you work directly with patients and advanced medical equipment, online MRI programs are an increasingly popular option to get the training you need.

This guide will help you find an online MRI program that’s right for you and learn more about what you can expect, whether you’re a rad tech looking to take the next step in your career or you’re just starting your healthcare career journey. Keep reading to learn about top online MRI tech programs, accreditation, cost and financial aid, and everything else you need to know before choosing a school.

MRI Tech Online School Spotlights

The online MRI tech programs highlighted below are three of the best in terms of affordability, curriculum comprehensiveness, and study convenience and flexibility. These accredited programs, while not the only quality online programs available, provide a good idea of what you should expect from the program you eventually choose.

Lansing Community College

Lansing Community College offers two MRI tech online programs that lead to eligibility for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT) MRI Technologist certification and registration. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology AAS is for students who do not possess ARRT Radiologic Technologist (or other ARRT primary) certification/registration. The program’s 64-credit hour curriculum begins with two semesters of science, math, and general education coursework followed by four semesters of MRIT-specific didactic courses and in-person clinical training hours. Admission into the AAS MRIT program requires a high school diploma or GED.

LCC’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology Certificate of Achievement is for students who enter the program with both ARRT Radiologic Technologist certification/registration and a previously-earned associate (or higher) degree. The 37-credit curriculum is four semesters long and identical to the last four semesters of the AAS program.

Both MRIT programs at LCC feature didactic coursework completed either entirely online, entirely on-campus, or through a hybrid format. Both programs also include about 24 hours per week during the four MRIT semesters of clinical training attended at program-affiliated practice sites typically in the student’s local area. The current in-district tuition price for both programs is $195 per credit hour, but higher rates apply to out-of-district and out-of-state students.

AdventHealth University

AdventHealth University offers its Advanced Imaging Certificate in Magnetic Resonance Imaging in an exceptionally flexible online format designed with working adults in mind. The program’s curriculum is a one-year, three-semester format and features didactic coursework completed entirely online. Students also participate in clinical internships consisting of at least 280 clinical hours attended in-person at a clinical MRI practice site as required for ARRT MRI Technologist certification/registration. Practice sites are assigned by the program but take students’ location into account, and students may be able to complete their internship at their current places of employment. Graduates are eligible to sit for the ARRT MRI Technologist certification/registration exam.

Admission into this certificate program is competitive and requires completion of a JCERT or JRCNMT accredited postsecondary education program with a minimum 2.5 GPA and current ARRT registration and licensure in radiology or Nuclear Medicine Technology Board (NMTCB) certification in nuclear medicine technology. The current per-credit tuition price for this 21-credit hour program is $540.

Rush University

Rush University’s Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences degree completion program with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) track is a great choice for students interested in obtaining certification/registration and licensure as an MRI technologist while getting a head start on future management and leadership positions in the field. The program is a hybrid format that combines online and campus-based coursework with 1,000 hours of hands-on training at an approved clinical facility. Both full-time and part-time study formats are available with the entire program completable in 21 to 24 months.

Admission requires previous completion of 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of general education and science coursework. In some cases, prerequisites may be taken concurrently with the degree program. Admission is competitive and based on factors that include prerequisite coursework, minimum GPA, consistency in academic performance, and interpersonal abilities. The current tuition rate for this 74-credit hour minimum program is $876 per credit.

Types of Online MRI Programs

MRI tech online program types include postsecondary certificates and associate and bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, programs may focus on students who are radiologic technologists or technicians in closely related fields (postprimary pathway). Others programs are for students with no previous academic or professional credential (primary pathway). All these program types provide graduates with the education and training needed for MRI technologist licensure eligibility, if they intend to practice in a state requiring licensure, and for success in their professional MRI tech careers.

Associate Degrees

Online MRI associate degree programs are available through both the primary and postprimary pathways. They typically require one to two years to complete depending mainly on the pathway type and whether students transfer in credits from previous college-level coursework. The online programs below all feature fully or partially online didactic courses combined with in-person clinical training typically at healthcare facilities in the student’s local area. All require that students have a high school diploma or GED. Postprimary pathway program applicants must additionally possess current ARRT certification and registration.

Examples of Accredited Schools with this Online MRI Program

Bachelor’s Degrees

Earning a bachelor’s degree from an online MRI program is a great way to launch your career as an MRI technologist, especially if you want an edge over the competition for the best jobs in the field. MRI tech online bachelor’s programs come in both four-year formats, where students complete all coursework for a bachelor’s degree, and as degree completion programs, typically two years, for students with previously-earned associate degrees or who have completed all general ed coursework as an admissions prerequisite. Like associate degrees, online MRI tech bachelor’s degree programs are available for both primary and postprimary pathway students. Online MRI tech bachelor’s programs also feature either fully-online or partially online didactic courses along with in-person clinical training.

Examples of Accredited Schools with this Online MRI Program

Certificate Programs

Online MRI tech certificate programs provide the shortest and most affordable path to becoming an MRI technologist, but you’ll have to be a current technologist to get in. Admission requirements typically include a certificate or associate or higher degree in radiologic technology or a closely related subject along with current ARRT certification and registration. Online MRI tech certificate programs usually last approximately one year. Didactic coursework is presented either fully or partially online. Students complete in-person clinical training as well, but they may be able to do this through their current employers.

Examples of Accredited Schools with this Online MRI Program

What You’ll Learn in an MRI Tech Online Program

MRI tech degree and certificate programs vary somewhat in their academic approaches and curriculum structures. The basic goal of all these programs, however, is the same: preparing graduates for jobs as professional MRI technologists able to competently operate magnetic resonance imaging equipment that creates images used by doctors to diagnose medical issues and effectively treat patients. Expect your MRI tech online program to provide you with the professional knowledge and skills described in this list of learning outcomes.

  • Competent inpatient care

Demonstrated ability to perform all relevant procedures (e.g., patient positioning, coil selection, safety and radiation protection, etc.) in an appropriate, effective, and compassionate manner consistent with entry-level requirements for an MRI tech.

  • Communication skills

Ability to demonstrate effective oral and written interpersonal and communication skills when interacting with patients and their families, superiors, peers, team members, and others in the healthcare profession.

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving

Demonstrated critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and problem-solving skills and the ability to apply them in the clinical setting. Specific applications include the analysis and critiquing of image quality, identification of the best methods of treatment in specific cases, and positioning adaptation for trauma patients.

  • Professional practice and ethics

Demonstrated commitment to performing all professional duties responsibly and ethically and adhering to organizational rules and regulations as well as established principles of the MRI technology and larger healthcare fields.

  • Professional development

An increasing understanding of the importance of professional growth and development throughout your academic and professional career. Commitment to participation in continuing education programs and professional activities that advance MRI technology practice.

Common Courses in Online MRI Tech Programs

MRI Applications and Procedures

This course surveys the various imaging procedures, protocols, and sequence parameters employed in magnetic resonance imaging clinical practice. Students learn scanning techniques concerning the central nervous and vascular systems, spine and musculoskeletal system, abdomen, pelvis, breast, neck, and thorax. Additional topics include three-dimensional anatomy, coil selection, positioning, and pathology.

MRI Pathology

MRI Pathology overviews the pathologies commonly indicated by magnetic resonance imaging. Students learn to distinguish the various pathologies seen through the use of MRI equipment with emphasis on the description, signs, symptoms, epidemiology, etiology, characteristics of imaging, treatment, and prognosis of pathologies. Class discussions center on the presentation of case studies.

MRI Physics and Instrumentation

This course provides students with a comprehensive review of the physical principles related to MRI imaging. Topics covered include electromagnetism, image weighting and contrast, encoding, image formation, imaging parameters, pulse-sequencing, and instrumentation and equipment. Upon completion of the course, students possess a working understanding of MRI components and systems enabling them to maximize image quality.

Sectional Anatomy

Sectional Anatomy studies human anatomy with an emphasis on sectional planes. Students completing the course can recognize and distinguish between normal anatomy and its appearance in multiple planes from abnormal conditions, allowing them to make the changes needed to produce images that properly show the patient’s anatomy and pathology.

Clinical Training

Regardless of program type (degree or certificate), all online MRI tech programs include some form of clinical training component. Titles for this requirement vary by program (e.g., internship, externship, practicum, etc.) but all provide students with hands-on, supervised experience treating patients and operating MRI equipment in real clinical settings. Clock hour requirements vary (sometimes substantially) among programs.

FAQs About Online MRI Tech Schools and Programs

How much do online MRI tech training programs cost?

Costs for MI tech online programs vary widely from program to program. Major factors influencing costs include the type and level of the program (associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or certificate), total program length, and whether the program is offered by a public or private institution. (Private schools tend to be more expensive.) Below are the current tuition prices for three online MRI programs to give you an idea of program costs. Keep in mind, however, that the total price tag will be higher due to additional fees and the cost of books, study materials, uniforms, etc.

Ball State University

AS in Radiography

Total Credits: 60

$320/credit (in-state);
$535/credit (out-of-state)

Mercy College of Ohio

BS in Medical Imaging

Total Credits: 120

$540/credit

Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech)

MRI Certificate

Total Credits: 18-21

$270/credit

Can I complete my MRI tech training 100% online?

All online MRI programs, degrees, and certificates feature didactic coursework accessed and completed either entirely or partially online. However, all MRI programs also include clinical practice components like internships or practicums that provide students with essential hands-on training that must be attended in person.

Is financial aid available for online MRI tech training programs?

Financial aid available to students enrolled in programs at online MRI tech schools includes scholarships and grants (both in-house and external) as well as work study programs. Employee reimbursement programs are a strong possibility for students currently employed by a hospital or similar healthcare facility. The most popular type of financial aid, the student loan, is also available to students in properly accredited programs like any of the ones mentioned in this guide. Find out more about funding opportunities for your online MRI tech program through EduMed’s student loans, scholarships, and financial aid guides.

Accreditation for Online MRI Tech Training Programs

Accreditation assures that degree and certificate programs and the schools offering them meet standards of academic quality. When it comes to online MRI programs, there are two basic types of accreditation to consider: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation concerns the soundness of postsecondary schools overall and is handled by several independent national and regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Institutional accreditation is an absolute must for any MRI tech schools, online or in-person.

Programmatic accreditation vets specific degree and certificate programs themselves. Programmatic accreditation of U.S. MRI programs is overseen by two accrediting organizations: the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) and the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT).

Accreditation information for online MRI programs can usually be found on a school’s website. You can also confirm institutional accreditation by visiting the websites of the various accrediting agencies. Current MRI tech programmatic accreditation status can also be found by checking ARMRIT’s approved program list and this JRCERT program search engine.

Employment and Salary Outlook for MRI Techs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for MRI techs in the U.S. in 2020 was $74,690, substantially higher than the $45,620 for health technologists and technicians generally and the $41,950 total for all occupations. Other MRI tech median annual salary estimates for the same period include $52,880 for the lowest 10% of earners and $104,210 for the highest 10% of earners. In terms of job outlook, the BLS estimates a solid 7% increase in demand for MRI techs between 2019 and 2029, substantially higher than the 4% for all occupations combined during the same period.

MRI Tech Licensing and Professional Certifications

Only a few states specifically license MRI techs. A majority, however, require radiologic technologist licensure, which may or may not be a prerequisite for MRI tech practice in those states. It’s important to gain a full understanding of all licensing requirements in the jurisdictions in which you intend to practice before you enroll in any MRI tech online program. To find out about specific state licensure requirements, start by visiting this ASRT Individual State Licensure Information webpage.

Another important factor to consider in MRI tech practice is professional certification. Professional certification refers to a process of recognizing that individuals have met certain qualifications and possess specific competencies related to practice in a given profession. Professional certification is typically awarded by private organizations dedicated to the assurance and advancement of quality practice in their professions. Both the ARRT and the ARMRIT recognize MRI techs with professional certification and registration. Some states, including these five states currently requiring ARMRIT certification for state license eligibility, require such certification to obtain state licensure.

Online Nuclear Medicine Technologist Programs

Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients to produce images that help doctors and other diagnostic professionals diagnose and treat illness and disease. Nuclear medicine technology associate and bachelor’s degree programs are available, as are postsecondary certificates. Most of these programs are offered in traditional on-campus formats. However, a few programs feature fully or partially online didactic coursework. All programs, online and campus-based, include clinical practice components attended in-person at hospitals or other clinical facilities.

Online Sonography & Ultrasound Tech Schools

Medical sonographers and ultrasound techs operate equipment that uses soundwaves to create images used by doctors to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions. Only a few states license sonographers and ultrasound techs, but most employers want workers with professional certification and degrees/certificates from a CAAHEP-accredited academic program. Sonography associate and bachelor’s degree programs are available as are one-year certificate programs. These programs often feature didactic coursework that can be completed fully or partially online, but students must participate in hands-on training typically at a healthcare facility in their local area.

Online Resources for MRI Technician Students and Professionals