Best Online Respiratory Therapy Programs

Our experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online respiratory therapy programs. Read on to compare schools by cost and convenience, and learn more about how you can earn your bachelor's degree online.

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Published on January 12, 2022

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the importance of respiratory therapy. This profession revolves around keeping people breathing, which is more important than ever given the respiratory challenges that COVID-19 poses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 23% job growth for respiratory therapists between 2020 and 2030, a rate that nearly triples the average projected growth rate for all occupations during that period (8%).

There are currently 89 bachelor's programs in respiratory therapy accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). According to the BLS, respiratory therapists earned a median annual wage of $62,810 as of May 2020, so these programs are often worth the investment. Tuition is highly variable, but there are several employers willing to reimburse tuition for staff members.

Respiratory therapists need state licensure in every state except for Alaska. Many programs require internships or lab work as part of the curriculum. As the demand for these professionals grows, more colleges are offering online degrees in this field.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Program?

Dedication, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of physiology are all essential ingredients for success in online bachelor's in respiratory therapy programs. Students should be as good at nurturing a patient through uncomfortable news as they are crunching numbers in the lab.

Most online bachelor's degrees in respiratory therapy consist of around 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete. Many students choose to complete an associate degree in the field at a community college before transferring into a four-year program.

Students can practice in specialized care fields within respiratory therapy, including the following:

Two certifications dominate this field: certified respiratory therapist (CRT) and registered respiratory therapist (RRT). RRT is the more prominent of the two. The RRT credential is the gold standard of excellence in the field, according to the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Program?

Disease Management

This course teaches students to diagnose and treat pulmonary issues. Learners also delve into pharmacology. Degree-seekers learn how to communicate critical health information to patients.

Ethics of Respiratory Therapy

A strict and complete code of ethics guides every respiratory therapist. This class covers ethical decision-making in the healthcare field and usually makes use of case studies.

Neonatal Care

This course helps practitioners learn the intricacies and complexities of treating respiratory issues in babies and young children.

Respiratory Therapy Research

This course teaches students to conduct research and collect data through peer groups, research, and institutional review boards.

Critical Care/Emergency Management

This course provides students with the skills needed to keep patients breathing even under intense surgical conditions or in the midst of a natural disaster where supply management and patient prioritization are key.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Program?

Students should enter respiratory therapy programs with as much knowledge of chemistry, biology, anatomy, and physiology as possible. Admission requirements are often the same for on-campus and online programs and include the following elements:

Application

Every school requires some form of application to fill out and an associated fee. Most forms are available online. Check application deadlines for each prospective program.

Test Scores

Some schools may require prospective students to submit scores from standardized tests like the ACT or SAT. However, this requirement is becoming less prevalent and varies by school.

Letters of Recommendation

Many bachelor's programs require 2-3 letters of recommendation from former teachers. Make sure to ask your recommenders several months in advance so that they have time to write.

Essays

Many online programs require 1-3 short essays so that admissions departments can get to know applicants on a more personal level. While essays are less frequently required for respiratory therapy programs, some schools still ask for them.

Official Transcripts

Most programs require official, sealed transcripts for admission. Students should contact their previous institution to request these documents. Transfer credits may apply.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Degree?

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, respiratory therapists earned a median annual salary of $62,810 as of May 2020. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 23% job growth for these professionals. The minimum education for these positions is an associate degree, but the AARC has pushed to get the industry to 80% bachelor's degree-holders.

Below are several careers that graduates with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy can pursue.

Career Paths

Neonatal Respiratory Therapist

These therapists work with babies and children dealing with respiratory issues or emergencies. They often work in hospitals.

Average Annual Salary: $66,190 (Payscale, as of December 2021)

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist

This job centers around helping people with pulmonary issues experience the highest quality of life possible through exercise, symptom improvement, and managing anxiety from breathing issues. Many positions require certification in advanced cardiac life support.

Average Annual Salary: $58,460 (Payscale, as of December 2021)

Sleep Technologist

Sleep technologists help measure breathing issues to make diagnoses that will help overall sleep improvement for each patient. Certification in a sleep disorder specialty may be required for this job.

Average Annual Salary: $52,420 (Payscale, as of December 2021)

Intensive Care Unit Respiratory Therapist

These respiratory therapists work with patients in hospital ICUs. Many respiratory therapist positions in ICUs require the adult critical care specialist certification.

Average Annual Salary: $60,070 (Payscale, as of December 2021)

Respiratory Therapy Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Many continuing education opportunities in respiratory therapy involve earning certification in specialized care fields like neonatal care, critical care, and pulmonary rehab. These certifications allow respiratory therapists to specialize and excel in certain positions within the field. Some professionals decide to pursue advanced degrees to progress in their careers.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Program?

Cost

Costs vary widely from program to program. However, students who attend in-state, public universities generally save compared to learners at out-of-state, private schools. Students can also save on their education by earning an associate degree at a community college before transferring into a four-year program.

Program Format

Many online respiratory therapy programs offer asynchronous learning, which provide additional flexibility by eliminating all live, scheduled course sessions. Some programs also offer a choice between full time and part time enrollment for students with significant professional or personal commitments.

Location

Most online respiratory therapy programs include certain in-person requirements, as students need to gain real-world experience in healthcare facilities. Sometimes, it's easier to arrange placements for practica and internships if you attend a school close to home. If a program has on-campus requirements, you can also save on travel costs.

Accreditation

Getting an education from an accredited institution is of paramount importance. CoARC awards programmatic accreditation in the field. You should also attend a regionally accredited school, as you cannot receive federal financial aid unless you do.

Student Support

The best programs support distance learners through mentors, college career support, and online student services. Some programs also provide networking and internship opportunities.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte true View School Profile Charlotte, NC

UNC Charlotte offers an online degree-completion program for those interested in pursuing a bachelor of science in respiratory therapy. For students holding an associate degree, the program furthers their skills in research, critical care, and administration. Graduates improve overall communications and understand how to evaluate clinical evidence-centered care.

The 100% online curriculum enrolls students in both fall and spring semesters. Applicants must hold a 2.0 GPA from previous coursework and a current unencumbered license as a registered respiratory therapist in North Carolina or the applicant's state of employment.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $188 per credit (in-state) / $347 or $748 per credit (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 46 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus true View School Profile Cincinnati, OH

UC's online degree completion program provides students with a bachelor of science in respiratory therapy. The program, designed for certified and registered respiratory therapists, covers leadership management, research, and education as well as an in-depth examination of the healthcare industry. Applicants must show proof of National Board for Respiratory Care credentials and submit transcripts of previous coursework.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $539 (in-state) / $554 (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 50 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (provisional)
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
East Tennessee State University true View School Profile Johnson City, TN

East Tennessee State University offers a bachelor of science in respiratory therapy. Administered through the Department of Allied Health Sciences, it includes a clinical internship. The online program provides students who hold a previous AS or AAS degree in respiratory therapy the ability to get a bachelor's degree by transferring their additional coursework. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and show proof of a respiratory certificate.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $4,837 per semester (in-state) / $5,242 per semester (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 2-4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Youngstown State University true View School Profile Youngstown, OH

Youngstown State University offers an online bachelor of science in respiratory care degree completion program. Applicants must already be credentialed respiratory care practitioners and graduates with a license to practice.

Coursework covers cardiopulmonary disease management, clinical applications, and clinical research and leadership. Classes include technology applications for health and human services, advanced management of the ventilator patient, and chemistry for the allied health sciences.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $9,953 annually (in-state) / $10,313 annually (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 138-140 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Cardinal Stritch University true View School Profile Milwaukee, WI

Stritch offers a bachelor of science in respiratory therapy completion degree. The program allows students to maintain a full-time work schedule while taking 100% online classes in an accelerated six-week format.

Applicants must hold a minimum 2.33 GPA in previous coursework and submit proof of the registered respiratory therapist credential and a current respiratory care license. Graduates come away with the ability to help protect patient safety and treat patients with respect and proper training.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $400 per credit
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 50 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health View School Profile Omaha, NE

NMC offers an online respiratory therapy bachelor's program. The 100% online program requires no clinical hours. Classes focus on health promotion, health education, healthcare policy, and case management. Students choose from two tracks: education and research or healthcare management and leadership.

Applicants must have registered respiratory therapist certification and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 for previous undergraduate work.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $580 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 129 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • Program Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Nova Southeastern University View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL

NSU offers two bachelor's of science in respiratory therapy degree programs: a post-professional program and a pre-professional program. Available online, the post-professional program caters to registered respiratory therapists, allowing students to delve into legal issues, evidence-based practice, and sleep medicine. The 100% online program also requires internships and scientific investigations for the practicum.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $464 per credit
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Instruction style: Synchronous and Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Concordia University-Saint Paul View School Profile Saint Paul, MN

CSP offers an online bachelor of science in pulmonary science. The curriculum covers general education courses as well as health care systems, respiratory therapy, and cardiopulmonary science. All graduates complete a capstone consisting of a research project with faculty.

Applicants must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA from previous coursework and already be registered respiratory therapists to enroll in the program.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $420 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • Program Accreditation: Not specified
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
University of Southern Indiana View School Profile Evansville, IN

USI's College of Nursing and Health Professions offers a 100% online bachelor of science in respiratory therapy. Applicants must hold a minimum of an associate degree and registered respiratory therapist license for this degree completion program. The curriculum explores topics such as pulmonary rehabilitation and geriatrics, interprofessional perspectives on global health, and biostatistics.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $345 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 4 semesters
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Carlow University View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA

Rooted in Catholic intellectual traditions, Carlow offers an online bachelor of science in respiratory therapy degree completion program. Designed for students who already hold the certified or registered respiratory therapist certifications, the asynchronous format requires no fieldwork, focusing on ethics and leadership opportunities. Applicants must submit an online application, show proof of their license, and have a minimum 2.0 GPA in previous college coursework.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $568 per credit
  • Program Length: 18-24 months
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 30-32 credit hours
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • Program Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Programs

Is a bachelor's in respiratory therapy worth it? true

Thanks to a projected growth rate much faster than the average job, an online bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy is definitely worth it. These professionals earn a solid starting salary and make a real difference in their patients' lives. As such, many people consider respiratory therapy a rewarding profession, both personally and financially.

What can I do with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy? true

Graduates can work as physical therapists in critical care, neonatal units, long-term care, and ambulatory care. A bachelor's degree gives graduates a leg up on associate degree-holders when applying for jobs in the field.

Are respiratory therapy majors in high demand? true

Yes. The BLS projects 23% job growth for respiratory therapists between 2020 and 2030. That growth rate translates to 31,100 new jobs during that period.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy? true

According to the BLS, respiratory therapists earned a median annual salary of $62,810 as of May 2020. Keep in mind that salary potential depends on several factors, including location, experience, employer, specialty, and professional certifications

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in respiratory therapy? true

The best-paid respiratory therapists work in state, local, and private hospitals, earning a median annual wage of $63,090 as of May 2020. The BLS reports that the top 10% of earners in this field earned more than $89,170 annually as of May 2020.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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