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Bachelor's in respiratory therapy programs cover disease management, respiratory care, and healthcare research. Graduates in this field can become respiratory therapists and sleep disorder specialists.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of respiratory therapists will grow 19% from 2019-2029 — a rate much faster than the national average.
In the following sections, you can learn more about the best online bachelor's in respiratory therapy programs, including information about common college courses and potential career paths after graduation.
You can find out more about earning a bachelor's in respiratory therapy here.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||University of Mary||Bismarck, ND|
|2||The University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Charlotte, NC|
|3||Oregon Institute of Technology||Klamath Falls, OR|
|4||Midwestern State University||Wichita Falls, TX|
|5||University of Michigan-Flint||Flint, MI|
|6||Boise State University||Boise, ID|
|7||University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, OH|
|8||Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health||Omaha, NE|
|9||Siena Heights University||Adrian, MI|
|10||University of Missouri||Columbia, MO|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology here. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Programs
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University of Mary
|Bismarck, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Located in Bismarck, North Dakota, the University of Mary is a Benedictine school that offers on-campus classes as well as online, evening, and blended learning formats. Registered respiratory therapists looking to advance their skills can enroll in Mary's online bachelor's in respiratory therapy degree completion program.
Required courses cover healthcare law, advanced critical respiratory care, and cardiopulmonary physiology and pharmacology. Classes start every five weeks, and students with significant transfer credit can complete the program within a year.
Prospective students must hold an associate degree in respiratory therapy from a program that holds accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. Applicants should have a minimum 2.75 GPA and a current respiratory therapy license.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
|Charlotte, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is a major public research university serving nearly 30,000 students each year. Among its online programs is a bachelor's in respiratory therapy, which targets individuals who hold a registered respiratory care credential from the National Board for Respiratory Care.
Progressing through the program as a cohort, students take courses in leadership and professionalism; healthcare department management; and neonatal, pediatric, and adult critical care pathophysiology. A culminating capstone experience allows students to focus on a specific area related to their professional interests.
Admission requirements vary for first-year and transfer applicants. New college students must demonstrate satisfactory high school grades and submit SAT or ACT scores. Prospective transfer students must hold a relevant associate degree — recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care — and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Oregon Institute of Technology
|Klamath Falls, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
The Oregon Institute of Technology focuses on providing hands-on, practical education to give students a competitive edge. Approximately 97% of Oregon Tech graduates secure employment or enroll in graduate school within six months of graduation. More than 5,000 students enroll each year, studying online and at three campuses throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon Tech's online bachelor's degree in respiratory care integrates scientific and leadership principles with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. The professional core also enhances skills related to technical report writing, case management, and intercultural communication.
Admission into this online degree completion program is limited to individuals with a registered respiratory therapist credential from the National Board for Respiratory Care. Applicants must be employed by a properly equipped respiratory care facility and hold an associate degree with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.
Midwestern State University
|Wichita Falls, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Midwestern State University is a public institution located on a 225-acre campus in Wichita Falls, Texas. Nearly 6,000 students enroll each year. MSU offers 49 undergraduate and 27 graduate programs, including an online bachelor's degree in respiratory care.
This degree completion program features 30 credits of upper-level courses, including classes in population-specific respiratory care, advanced practice applications, and healthcare services management. Learners can fulfill MSU's writing proficiency requirement through examination or appropriate coursework.
Prospective students must complete two separate applications: an MSU Texas transfer application and an application to the respiratory care program. Admission requires an associate degree with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA; this degree should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.
University of Michigan-Flint
|Flint, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
The University of Michigan-Flint is an urban university offering over 100 academic opportunities in science, education, health, arts, and business. More than 20 programs are available to distance learners, and UM-Flint's online bachelor's in respiratory therapy is the only program of its kind in the area.
This degree completion program features 53 credits of coursework, which takes part-time students 27 months to complete. A 40-hour clinical practicum allows students to gain experience in a chosen interest area: management, clinical education, patient education, or professional society participation. This experience, which is integrated with classroom learning, aids in the development of a final capstone project.
UM-Flint accepts applications on a rolling basis. Prospective students must be registered or certified respiratory therapists and have current CPR certification. Applicants should also have an associate degree, earned from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.
Boise State University
|Boise, ID||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Boise State University serves about 26,000 students each year in the heart of Idaho's largest city. The university's catalog includes 200 programs, many of which offer online study. All students pursuing Boise State's online bachelor's degree in respiratory care pay in-state tuition, regardless of their residency status.
The program features 30 credits of major coursework, focusing on topics like written and oral communication, patient advocacy, leadership, and advanced respiratory care topics. Students take classes asynchronously for ample flexibility. To complete the final capstone requirement, students work in interdisciplinary teams to address current issues in respiratory therapy.
Admission requires a completed associate degree in respiratory care from a regionally accredited institution and a current registered respiratory therapist credential. Applicants must submit separate applications to Boise State and the respiratory care program.
University of Cincinnati
|Cincinnati, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
The University of Cincinnati is a public research university serving more than 46,000 students through over 400 programs. Learners can complete approximately 100 of these programs online. Asynchronous course delivery allows students to access materials and complete coursework largely at their convenience.
Respiratory therapists looking to advance their career can complete a bachelor's in respiratory therapy in 20 months. The major requires courses in caregiving, management, ethics, and research. Prior to graduation, all students complete an internship and a final capstone project or research paper.
The program accepts applications throughout the year. Admission requires an associate degree in respiratory care/therapy, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and a certified respiratory therapist credential from the National Board for Respiratory Care.
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
The Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health is a small, private health professions college affiliated with the Methodist Health System. More than 1,000 students enroll each year, partaking in a community-based educational experience that integrates service learning and leadership development. NMC offers several online programs.
The online bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy at NMC offers two advanced practice tracks: education and research or healthcare management and leadership. Core courses cover topics in health education, health information management, and wellness coaching. The program culminates in a final capstone project and presentation.
Admission requires a Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care-accredited associate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants should be credentialed as a registered respiratory therapist or a certified respiratory therapist.
Siena Heights University
|Adrian, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Siena Heights University is a Catholic institution with a diverse student body of approximately 2,300 learners. SHU operates a main campus in Adrian, Michigan, as well as eight degree completion centers throughout the state. SHU also offers some online programs, such as a bachelor of applied science track that helps students finish career-oriented degrees related to areas like allied health and public safety, including respiratory therapy.
Following an "inverted major" structure to build on prior academics and work experience, SHU's applied science program does not provide additional respiratory therapy training. Instead, students fulfill bachelor's degree requirements by completing coursework in other areas, like business, healthcare management, and/or the liberal arts.
Admission requires an associate degree in respiratory therapy or a combination of hospital-based training, licensure, and two years of relevant work experience.
University of Missouri
|Columbia, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
The University of Missouri is a major public research university and the largest institution of higher education in the state, enrolling about 30,000 students each year. Mizzou offers more than 125 online certificates and degrees, including a bachelor's in clinical and diagnostic sciences with an emphasis in respiratory therapy.
Respiratory therapy is one of five available emphasis areas within the 132-credit clinical and diagnostic sciences major. On-campus attendance is required for many courses, but the final semester of the program allows students to take online classes while completing a clinical externship.
Applicants must demonstrate completion of general course prerequisites, hold a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA, and have spent at least eight hours observing a credentialed respiratory therapist. The program also requires two letters of recommendation and a personal interview.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Program?
Students who choose this degree program need excellent communication and critical thinking skills.
Online bachelor's in respiratory therapy programs generally require 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete. Students who transfer into a program with prior credits or who enroll in an accelerated learning program may finish their degree faster.
Some bachelor's in respiratory therapy programs may offer concentrations, such as:
- Neonatal and pediatric care
- Adult critical care
- Home care
- Cardiovascular technology
- Pulmonary-function testing
Students who choose this degree program need excellent communication and critical thinking skills. Respiratory therapists often work closely with patients and must stay on their feet for most of the day. These professionals can work long hours, sometimes in stressful environments such as emergency rooms.
Students enrolled in this degree program can expect classes in areas like human anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, cardiopulmonary pathophysiology, and diagnostic procedures and tests. Most bachelor's in respiratory therapy programs require students to complete at least one practicum or internship with a licensed supervisor.
Some schools provide students with placements, while others — including many online programs — require students to find their own.
Graduates need a license to work as a respiratory therapist in almost every state. Students should look for programs that prepare them to take the appropriate licensure exam.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Program?
Online bachelor's in respiratory therapy programs offer classes such as pulmonary rehabilitation and asthma education.
At some schools, learners may choose between a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. A bachelor of arts program teaches more through the lens of the humanities, while a bachelor of science emphasizes math and science. However, the main difference lies in general education courses, and the major-related curriculum for both options is similar.
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation
This course teaches students the proper exercises and techniques needed to rebuild pulmonary health in patients experiencing shortness of breath or other symptoms related to the lungs. Students also learn how to communicate critical healthcare information to patients and build rehab programs to promote healthy living and increase lung strength.
- Asthma Education
Students learn about factors contributing to chronic and acute asthma. This course also teaches learners how to assess and diagnose patients with asthma. Students explore different asthma treatments, including behavioral, environmental, and pharmacological solutions to common asthma problems. Students also learn to convey these treatment methods effectively and clearly to patients.
- Neonatal Care
In this class, students delve into pulmonary issues common in fetal and newborn patients, especially those that can arise from cardiopulmonary disease or other abnormalities. Students learn about fetal development and how to diagnose signs of pulmonary distress. The course also demonstrates the uses of common oxygen delivery devices for newborn patients.
- Disease Management
Students explore the effects of cardiopulmonary diseases. This course teaches participants how to diagnose different cardiopulmonary issues and use common treatment methods. The majority of class material focuses on understanding and communicating disease management techniques, preparing graduates to better interact with patients and create viable treatment plans.
- Interdisciplinary Healthcare
This class covers different areas of medicine and demonstrates how they interact with each other. Students study fields such as nursing, psychology, and physical therapy to understand how each area works independently and as part of a greater whole. Coursework also provides a better understanding of the healthcare system and how patients move through it.
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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Degree?
Graduates with an online bachelor's in respiratory therapy can pursue many different careers in the healthcare field, such as respiratory therapist or polysomnographic technologist. Although some of these positions can be obtained with only an associate degree, bachelor's degree-holders may set themselves apart on the job market.
According to the BLS, respiratory therapists earned a median annual salary of $61,330 in 2019. The BLS projects rapid job growth for respiratory therapists in the coming years — 19% from 2019-2029.
Below, you can find more examples of careers for graduates with a respiratory therapy degree.
- Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory therapists work closely with patients to diagnose pulmonary issues and create treatment plans. These specialists run tests and examine the results to determine what — if any — pulmonary issues exist. Respiratory therapists also build rehabilitation plans that may utilize chest physiotherapy and aerosol medication.
- Sleep Technician
Sleep technicians monitor and record patient data during sleep studies. These professionals use specialized equipment to look at different variables, including brainwaves, breathing, blood oxygen levels, and muscle activity. Most sleep technicians work in sleep disorder centers at hospitals or as part of freestanding clinics.
- Polysomnographic Technologist
Polysomnographic technologistsoperate and maintain testing equipment in sleep disorder testing centers and hospitals. These professionals collect, organize, and store lab results for patients. Polysomnographic technologists also need excellent communication skills to efficiently work with both doctors and patients to help them understand the machinery and test results.
- Adult Critical Care Specialist
Adult critical care specialists often work in emergency rooms in hospitals or clinics. While they share the same basic respiratory therapy training as other respiratory specialists, critical care specialists often work closely with patients dealing with heart attacks, drowning, or shock. These specialists learn to diagnose potentially life-threatening issues quickly and efficiently.
- Neonatal Respiratory Specialist
Neonatal respiratory specialistsoften work in neonatal intensive care units to provide treatment to newborns with breathing problems. These specialists must demonstrate expertise in diagnosing and treating cardiopulmonary disorders in newborns. Neonatal respiratory specialists can also work in emergency rooms or freestanding clinics.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Programs
- Is respiratory therapy a good major?
Respiratory therapy teaches students the knowledge and skills required to enter a much-needed medical profession. With a bachelor's in respiratory therapy, graduates can find work in hospitals, freestanding clinics, research facilities, and sleep clinics. Careers in this industry provide stable incomes and job security.
- What can I do with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy?
Earning an online bachelor's in respiratory therapy opens the door to careers like respiratory therapist and sleep technician. Most graduates end up in the healthcare industry, working in jobs that require close contact with patients. Many graduates also work with doctors and healthcare professionals in other fields to coordinate treatment plans.
- How many respiratory therapy majors get jobs?
According to the BLS, graduates with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy should enter a fast-growing job market. The BLS projects 19% job growth for respiratory therapists from 2019-2020 — a rate much faster than the national average. This should provide many job opportunities for graduates as they enter the workforce.
- How much money can I make with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy?
Salary outcomes differ depending on a professional's career, level of experience, and location. The BLS found that respiratory therapists earned a median annual income of $61,330 in 2019.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy?
Neonatal specialists with training in respiratory therapy earn average salaries of $68,400, according to PayScale. Additionally, respiratory therapists who work in hospital settings tend to earn more than workers in physicians' offices or nursing care facilities.