With Baby Boomers aging and childhood asthma on the rise, the demand for respiratory therapists is steadily increasing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the years 2014 and 2024, this field is projected to grow by 12% and add approximately 14,900 jobs to the economy.

What are the best respiratory therapy programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
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

Respiratory therapists are needed to treat acute and chronic conditions, including pneumonia, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma. These professionals are critical for patients who suffer from breathing difficulties, and respiratory therapists provide meaningful care and comfort for both disease management and in emergency situations. The following data will assist you in pursuing a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy online.

What Are The Best Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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.

8

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.

9

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.

10

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 Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy?

A bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy requires students to complete a variety of math, science, and technical courses. Some educational institutions offer degree-completion programs with only these courses, while many four-year programs also include core courses that cover business and management skills. The following sample courses are typical requirements for this degree.

  • Anatomy and physiology: This course examines all of the structures and systems of the human body, how they work, and how they interact with each other. Students learn how organs and cells function within the body's many processes.
  • Respiratory care procedures: Students acquire patient assessment, treatment, and respiratory equipment management skills. This knowledge is critical for students who are pursuing certification as a respiratory therapist. This course may require distance learners to complete multiple classes, depending on the institution and program.
  • Respiratory pharmacology: Because licensed respiratory therapists prescribe, measure, and dispense medication, this course is necessary to obtain adequate training. This class reviews standards for respiratory medications that are used to manage cardiopulmonary diseases and provide critical care.
  • Legal and ethical issues: This course covers the current issues surrounding legal and ethical concerns in the respiratory field; it also discusses how health care professionals make decisions related to patient care. Controversial, newsworthy case studies may also be examined and discussed.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Degrees

Accreditation is similar to a seal of approval, attesting that a college or university adheres to high academic quality standards. Earning an online bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy from an accredited school is often required for future licensure. The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) is the accrediting body that oversees degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. If you are planning to become a licensed respiratory therapist after earning your degree, it is prudent to check for CoARC accreditation when researching programs.

In addition, you should find out if the online schools you are considering are regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation is generally considered to be more prestigious than national accreditation. There are six regional accreditation organizations that represent online educational institutions in various parts of the country. However, national accreditation is still valuable and is typically granted to online schools that serve certain vocations or trades.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is the federal agency that oversees and dispenses federal financial aid and advocates for certain educational policies, standards, and equal access. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is an association of 3,000 colleges and universities that manages 60 accrediting organizations, which accredit institutions and specific programs. CHEA serves the ED and the general public by delivering trustworthy information about schools. Be sure to visit the CHEA website to review accredited institutions as you search for a respiratory therapy bachelor's degree program.

Career Opportunities for Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Graduates

Most students who earn a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy go on to pursue licensure as a respiratory therapist and find job opportunities in hospitals, doctor's offices, and other health care settings. Alternatively, some graduates aspire to hold management positions within health care organizations related to respiratory therapy, while others become educators or use their medical knowledge to serve in different capacities.

Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists work mainly in hospitals and care for a wide range of patients, from infants to senior citizens, who experience difficulty breathing. These troubles can be caused by diseases like emphysema and asthma or emergencies like premature birth or heart attacks. Respiratory therapists assess patients, use intervention equipment, and dispense medication to ease breathing.

Overall Median Annual Salary: $51,774

Entry Level: $48,238
Mid-Level: $55,041
Late Career: $64,061

Medical and Health Services Managers

These administrators oversee health care departments or facilities. They manage all aspects of a practice, from hiring employees and budgeting to improving quality of services and ensuring that regulations are being met.

Overall Median Annual Salary: $62,509

Entry Level: $55,243
Late Career: $66,566

Health Educators

By sharing medical information with individuals and groups, health educators focus on finding ways to improve patient health conditions. They typically collect and analyze data and strategize new methods to increase positive health outcomes in communities.

Overall Median Annual Salary: $43,720

Entry Level: $40,880
Mid-Level: $48,660
Late Career: $55,077

Exercise Physiologists

Specializing in lung and cardiovascular diseases, exercise physiologists create fitness programs to assist their patients, helping them improve their mobility and manage their diseases. Exercise physiologists are often responsible for taking vital signs and conducting stress tests.

Overall Median Annual Salary: $44,022

Entry Level: $41,901
Mid-Level: $49,282
Late Career: $70,328

Athletic Trainers

These professionals work in sports organizations, gyms, or health care organizations to treat and prevent injuries. They create athletic plans and specialize in injuries affecting the muscles and bones.

Overall Median Annual Salary: $40,598

Entry Level: $38,946
Mid-Level: $43,030
Late Career: $51,940

BACHELOR'S IN RESPIRATORY THERAPY SALARY

An online respiratory therapy bachelor's degree can lead to various health care practitioner and management careers. The following table shows median salary information about these careers based on a worker's years of experience. Geography and the type of employer (e.g., a corporation, non-profit organization, etc.) typically have a large impact on these numbers. For instance, a respiratory therapist who works at an urban, private hospital earns more per year than one working in a rural, non-profit hospital.

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

A bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy is typically sufficient to secure a job as a respiratory therapist. However, some students may choose to continue their education and earn an advanced degree. This is especially helpful for professionals who are seeking advancement as team or department managers. The following master's degrees are a few examples of what positions you can pursue after obtaining a bachelor's in respiratory therapy online.

  • MS in respiratory therapy: This degree covers respiratory therapy skills and knowledge in depth, enabling graduates to create better patient care plans and pursue advanced positions in the field.
  • MS in respiratory care leadership: Designed for current respiratory therapists, this degree program advances the leadership skills, patient care strategies, and clinical knowledge of working professionals.
  • Master's of occupational therapy: Individuals interested in working as occupational therapists must earn this degree. Occupational therapists assist patients with physical, emotional, and social challenges, helping them to live independently. Depending on the specific challenges facing a patient, occupational therapists provide strategies related to eating, dressing, chores, work, and socializing.
  • MBA: A master's in business administration is useful for respiratory therapists who are seeking management positions in health care facilities or hospitals. This degree provides global management instruction and covers a variety of subjects, from accounting and finance to marketing and operations.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Program

As you plan how you're going to finance your bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy online program, it is very important to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. This identifies your potential eligibility for federal funding opportunities, including grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Federal loans are appealing because they tend to have very low interest rates. Private scholarships and loans are also options, and employers may offer tuition reimbursement and grant programs. Scholarships and grants are available through some hospitals and respiratory care medical organizations, including the Massachusetts Society for Respiratory Care.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.