Best Online Respiratory Therapy Programs

Respiratory therapists are in high demand. Discover the best online respiratory therapy programs to advance your career.
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Updated on April 12, 2024
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Tyler Epps is an editor for BestColleges. He writes and edits content about higher education, specializing in degree planning and college rankings. He is passionate about helping students prepare for college and navigate their educational journey. He...
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Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Respiratory Therapy

There are currently 104 bachelor's programs in respiratory therapy accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), respiratory therapists earned a median annual wage of $77,960 as of May 2023, so these programs can be worth the investment.

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.

Related Programs You May Be Interested In

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

Best Online Respiratory Therapy Programs of 2024

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. 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. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such. 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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#1 Best Online Respiratory Therapy Programs

Newberry College

  • Newberry, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $395
Out-of-State | $395

Credits to Graduate: 48 (120 credits total)

A small liberal arts school in South Carolina, Newberry College enrolls about 1,500 students on its 90-acre campus. The college also offers online degrees, including a bachelor's in respiratory therapy. As South Carolina's only bachelor's-level option in respiratory therapy, the program helps licensed respiratory therapists advance their education.

During this degree-completion program, you'll complete 15 credits of liberal arts coursework and 33 credits of respiratory therapy classes. To qualify for admission, you must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and at least 72 transfer credits, including an accredited associate degree in respiratory therapy. You'll also need the RRT credential from the National Board of Respiratory Care, an active state license, and active membership in AARC. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
Average Graduate Tuition
Retention Rate
Acceptance Rate
Students Enrolled
Institution Type
Percent Online Enrollment
3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Spotlight: Newberry College

Newberry College is the only online respiratory therapy program that passes our rigorous standards, which factor in graduation and retention rates in addition to affordability.

The BSRT degree-completion program stands out for its emphasis on patient education, critical care monitoring, and emergency preparedness. Newberry also awards 15 credits for licensure and locks in your tuition rate to make your costs predictable. As an online learner, you'll receive access to student services and may qualify for a South Carolina tuition grant.

How We Rank Schools

To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

Ranking Methodology Summary

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To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

What to Expect From an Online Respiratory Therapy Program

Dedication, problem-solving skills, and physiology knowledge are essential for success in online respiratory therapy programs. You should be as good at nurturing a patient through uncomfortable news as you 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.

Courses You Can Expect to Take in a Respiratory Therapy Program
Course Description
Disease Management This course teaches you to diagnose and treat pulmonary issues. You also delve into pharmacology and learn how to communicate critical health information to patients.
Ethics of Respiratory Therapy Respiratory therapists must abide by a strict and complete code of ethics guide. This class covers ethical decision-making in the healthcare field using case studies.
Neonatal Care This course helps you learn the intricacies and complexities of treating respiratory issues in babies and young children.
Respiratory Therapy Research This course teaches you to conduct research and collect data through peer groups, research, and institutional review boards.
Critical Care/Emergency Management This course provides you with the skills needed to keep patients breathing under intense surgical conditions or in the midst of a disaster where patient prioritization is key.

How to Choose an Online Respiratory Therapy Program

Not sure where to start when it comes to researching online programs? Here are some factors that can help you find the right fit for your needs and budget.

Program Type

Are you already a respiratory therapist, or are you new to the field? The answer will help you determine the right program type. Registered respiratory therapists can enroll in a degree completion program to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Often known as an RRT-to-BS in Respiratory Care, these programs offer flexibility and career specialization options. You can also earn a bachelor's in respiratory therapy without prior training. These programs may include in-person requirements.

Program Format

Many online respiratory therapy programs offer asynchronous learning, which provides additional flexibility by eliminating all live, scheduled course sessions. Some programs also offer a choice between full-time and part-time enrollment if you have significant professional or personal commitments.


Researching the cost of online college can help you compare the cost of respiratory therapy programs. Tuition is highly variable, but in-state programs at public colleges are often the most affordable. Some online programs offer the same tuition rate for out-of-state learners.

If you're already a registered respiratory therapist, check with your employer — some offer tuition reimbursement programs. You can also apply for financial aid to cover costs.


Most online respiratory therapy programs include certain in-person requirements, as you 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.


Getting a degree from an accredited institution is incredibly important. CoARC awards programmatic accreditation in the field. You should also attend a regionally accredited school, as you can only receive federal financial aid if you do.

Student Support

As an online student, it's important to look for programs that offer robust student support services. This can include services like career support, academic advising, and tutoring.

Some programs also provide networking and internship opportunities and may even have direct relationships with local hospitals and facilities that hire program graduates.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Respiratory Therapy Degree?

As specialists in breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders, respiratory therapists help patients improve their breathing. With a bachelor’s degree, respiratory therapists can move into specialized roles and increase their job opportunities. Some employers only hire respiratory therapists who hold a bachelor’s degree.

Respiratory therapists specialize in several areas, including working with premature infants in neonatal facilities or treating patients in the ICU. They may also specialize in treating sleep apnea or helping patients recover lung functioning after quitting smoking.

Common respiratory therapist job titles include:

  • Neonatal respiratory therapist
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation specialist
  • Sleep technologist
  • Intensive care unit respiratory therapist

How Much Do Respiratory Therapists Make?

According to the BLS, respiratory therapists earned a median annual salary of $70,540 as of May 2022. Between 2022 and 2032, the BLS projects 13% job growth for these professionals.

Below are the different industries you can find work as a respiratory therapist.

Respiratory Therapist Work Settings
Work Setting Mean Annual Wage (May 2023)
Hospitals (State, Local, and Private) $80,030
Nursing Care Facilities $76,690
Offices of Physicians $75,650
Source: BLS

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree in Respiratory Therapy?

Respiratory therapists can enter the profession with an associate degree. So why should you consider earning a bachelor’s degree?

Advancing your degree can mean new opportunities and a higher earning potential, according to the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). In their most recent survey of respiratory therapists, AARC found that professionals who advanced their education saw a boost in their annual earnings of at least $3,000.

You’ll also qualify for more opportunities, including as a clinical specialist or manager, by advancing your education. For many respiratory therapists, investing in a bachelor’s degree can pay off.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Respiratory Therapy Programs

Do you need a bachelor's degree to become a respiratory therapist?

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No. The minimum education required to become a respiratory therapist is an associate degree, but the AARC has pushed to get 80% of professionals to hold a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree can lead to more advanced roles, as well as higher earnings.

Do you need a license to become a respiratory therapist?

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In addition to possessing an accredited degree, respiratory therapists are required to be licensed in all states. The only exception to this is Alaska, where certification is recommended. Some employers may require certification as well.

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

Is respiratory therapy a good career?

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Yes, respiratory therapy can be a great career option if you are passionate about healthcare. These allied health professionals earn a median pay of over $70,000 per year (BLS, May 2022), with much faster than average projected job growth from 2022-2032.

You can launch a career in respiratory therapy with a two-year associate degree. Earning your bachelor’s degree in respiratory care can open new career doors and translate into a higher earning potential.

Is respiratory therapy school hard?

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Respiratory therapy school can be challenging because you’ll study diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, therapeutic approaches, and pathophysiology. You’ll also complete labs and clinical requirements to gain hands-on experience.

Whether you find respiratory therapy school hard depends on your strengths as a student. Overall, becoming a respiratory therapist can be extremely rewarding, and it’s an in-demand allied health specialty. 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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