Whether you’re looking to finish your bachelor’s degree or pursue a master’s, you’ll be rewarded as a practicing respiratory therapist with enhanced leadership and management skills for the extra effort.
You don’t have to waste your time scouring the internet for the right respiratory therapy program because we did the work for you and reviewed the top 30 accredited online colleges for respiratory therapy.
As a respiratory therapist, you know the job satisfaction that comes from working beside doctors and nurses to care for your patient’s cardiopulmonary health, but you also likely know that you’re limited in your career advancement without a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
What Will You Learn With a Degree in Respiratory Therapy?
The degree programs that are reviewed in this list teach students many different skills that can be utilized either in their current profession as a respiratory therapist or in a new job altogether. While you’re taught the foundations of respiratory therapy in an associate’s program, a bachelor’s or master’s program builds upon the foundation, teaching you to think through situations and problems critically, all while equipping you with new skills. Those wanting to go back to school to finish their bachelor’s will find that there is a focus on teaching leadership skills, management skills, techniques to make you a better educator, and advanced respiratory therapy proficiency and concepts.
In a respiratory therapy program, some examples of classes you may take include:
- Leadership and Interprofessional Teamwork for Health Professionals
- Organization & Administration of Health Services
- Advanced Seminar in Respiratory Therapy
- Advanced Mechanical Ventilation
Some programs require that students complete clinical rotation experiences as well, but since many of the programs on this list are designed specifically for practicing respiratory therapists, the rotation requirement is met simply by being licensed to practice respiratory therapy.
What Are the Best Accredited Online Colleges for Respiratory Therapy Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. For more information, see our methodology page.
When thinking of the best online college for respiratory therapy, we’d be remiss not to mention the University of Cincinnati’s Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy program. This program is designed specifically for those who are already respiratory therapists but want to complete their bachelor’s degree and hone their leadership skills.
UC’s BS in Respiratory Therapy program is composed of 50 credit hours of coursework, which can be completed in under two years. The core curriculum consists of 28 credit hours, featuring classes such as Ethics in Respiratory Therapy, Community Health Problems and Practices, and Health Care Documentation and Communication, among others. The 22 credits of core curriculum must be completed before moving on to more advanced classes. To be eligible for admission into this program, the school requires that applicants have an NBRC credential and have completed a CoARC-accredited associate’s degree.
Siena Heights University gives students control over designing their degree programs around precisely what interests them. The degree is meant to enhance and develop skills in management, business, and liberal arts, ensuring students graduate from this program well-rounded. To earn this university’s Bachelor of Applied Science degree, students have to take at least 35 semester hours of coursework.
In this program, students can pursue a major in Massage Therapy, Health Care Professions, Public Safety Professions, Radiologic Technology, or Respiratory Therapy, to name just a few of the options available. If you choose Siena Heights University, you’ll also have the ability to select a minor, although this is not a requirement. Health Care Management and Management are two of the most popular minors chosen by those in the Respiratory Therapy major. The school even gives college credit for hospital-based training and two or more years of work experience.
The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy from Liberty University is a 120-credit-hour program for Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs) who are wanting to complete their bachelor’s degree. This degree focuses on enhancing the existing skills of practicing respiratory therapists while also teaching them to become more sophisticated analysts.
Examples of courses you may take during this program include Advanced Respiratory Support, Cardiopulmonary Physiology and Monitoring, Current Issues in Respiratory Care, and Fundamentals of Respiratory Care Research. Courses are held in an accelerated eight-week format, which allows the degree to be completed in an average of two years. Students can also transfer up to 90 credit hours of previously earned coursework toward this degree. Admission requirements are relatively straightforward, with applicants expected to prove that they graduated from a CoARC-accredited associate’s degree program, provide their RRT credential, and submit official college transcripts.
The University of Kansas offers a bachelor’s degree advancement program that allows practicing respiratory therapists to complete the credits necessary to earn their degree and advance in their careers. Students accepted into this program can choose to specialize in one of three areas: Neonatal Critical Care, Adult Critical Care, or Respiratory Care Management. Courses in this program are held in eight-week segments, and students are expected to take a minimum of 30 credits in respiratory care.
The core curriculum consists of five courses, including Medical Writing & Research; Management, Ethics, and Law; Community and Global Health; Simulation and Interprofessional Education; and Chronic Disease Management. After completing the core curriculum, students will take three courses in the Specialty Credential Track or the Management Track, depending on their goals. The final requirement of this degree is the completion of a capstone course taken during the last semester of study.
The aim of the Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is to enhance and advance the careers of practicing respiratory therapists. The degree program comprises 120 credit hours, 64 credits of which must be transferred from another university. In addition, the school awards 12 credits toward the degree for those who have passed the Registered Respiratory Therapist examination. The Respiratory Therapy major includes 38 credit hours of coursework, and students are expected to take six credits hours of restricted elective courses.
Those wanting to transfer into this program from another university or after earning their Associate’s in Respiratory Therapy are expected to have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Students are also expected to have an unrestricted license to practice respiratory therapy. Applicants are accepted into this program in the fall of each year, with application deadlines in March of the same year.
Boise State University offers a Master of Science in Respiratory Care (MSRC) for practicing respiratory therapists who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. The program was created by the university to develop experts and leaders in the respiratory therapy field. Those who complete this degree may be able to pursue an administrative position in healthcare or become a post-secondary educator at a college.
The MS in Respiratory Care is a 36-credit-hour program with courses held in an accelerated seven-week format, allowing students to complete the degree in two years. Students take two capstone courses while working on finishing their degree, which consists of focusing on patient care issues or other relevant topics to the program major. Students can expect to pay around $500 per credit hour in this program, and when books, graduating application fees, and the admission application fee are included, students will spend just under $19,000 in total for an excellent master’s program.
Midwestern State University was recognized in 2018 as one of the best online colleges in Texas by AffordableOnlineColleges.com. We concur with that assessment, which is why this university’s Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care comes in at our No.7 spot. The program was created for RRTs who want to earn their bachelor’s degree to continue to grow personally and professionally.
The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care is a 120-credit-hour program consisting of 49 semester hours of foundational core curriculum courses. Most of the foundational core courses will have been met by those who have completed their associate’s degree. When all the foundational course requirements have been satisfied, you’ll only have to complete ten upper-respiratory courses and writing proficiency requirements to graduate with your degree.
The University of Missouri offers a fully online Bachelor of Health Science in Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences with an emphasis in Respiratory Therapy specifically for practicing respiratory therapists. Core coursework in this program covers subjects such as advanced mechanical ventilation, adult critical care, clinical ethics, community and patient education, pediatric respiratory care, and pulmonary rehabilitation.
The University of Missouri notes that most students who transfer into this program only need to complete 30 credit hours of coursework to earn the degree. For those who only need 30 credit hours, the estimated program cost comes in at $12,218.70. The school also states that it has a 100% job placement rate for graduates of the respiratory therapy program, which may indicate career advancements for already-employed respiratory therapists.
One of the claims to fame for Highline College’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Respiratory Care is that it was the first bachelor’s degree of its kind in the state of Washington. The school also offers an Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Respiratory Care completion program for those who already have an associate’s degree. The BAS-completion option is a hybrid program that combines online courses with occasional in-person courses.
The only requirement for the BAS-completion program is that applicants have a degree in Respiratory Care and are licensed as respiratory therapists. The completion option is not accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Respiratory Care programs (CoARC) but is regionally accredited. The regular BAS program will take students four years to complete and is composed of 180 credit hours of coursework.
Learning the theories of human psychology is one part of a well-rounded education, but the other is applying those theories to real-world situations. Seattle Central College understands the need to teach both, which is evident in the school’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Allied Health with the Respiratory Care track. This degree is a full-time, four-year program consisting of 180 credit hours of work, unless students enroll in the school’s Associate of Applied Science that features 90 credit hours of coursework.
Seattle Central College works hard to ensure that its students can pay for their education, which is why it offers a variety of ways to cut down its already low tuition costs, like the out-of-state tuition waiver for certain qualifying individuals.
Flexibility and convenience are the key characteristics of the Bachelor of Science in Health Science Respiratory Care program at Northern Arizona University. This program aims to provide students a solid foundation in health promotion and disease prevention. The degree includes 120 credit hours and requires that students maintain at least a C average throughout the program. Northern Arizona University requires that students complete at least 30 credit hours through the university to earn their degree, and students can transfer up to 90 credits from another educational institution.
If you are a practicing respiratory therapist who maintained at least a 2.5 GPA throughout your associate’s degree, then this program may be right for you. The core curriculum consists of eight courses, which include Healthy Lifestyles, Human Diseases, Mind-body Health, Stress Management, Principles of Epidemiology, Organization & Administration of Health Services, Current Health Issues, and Leadership and Interprofessional Team Work for Health Professionals.
If you’re a sophomore or junior and are looking to consolidate your major into respiratory therapy, then check out this Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy from Georgia Southern University. The total program consists of 130 credit hours of coursework, but 97 credit hours can be earned at another school and transferred into the program. The program, once completed, will qualify students to sit for the exam to become a certified respiratory therapist. The school also offers a Career Ladder Online Degree Completion program for practicing respiratory therapists.
Georgia Southern University expects its prospective students to have done their research on the program and be dedicated to the course of study, as it expects applicants to the program to have already performed 20 hours of community service by the time they are interviewed for admission. The interview for entry into this program takes place in the spring before the program starts.
The Bachelor’s in Clinical Health Science from Northern Michigan University is a degree that allows professionals in radiography, surgical technology, and respiratory therapy, among others, to complete their degree so they can reap the benefits of career advancement. This program includes 120 credit hours, 30-60 hours of which will be in the respiratory therapy specialization.
Northern Michigan University works closely with hospitals and other healthcare organizations in the region to give its students transformative opportunities to gain real-world experience through internships. Practicing respiratory therapists who may not have completed an associate’s degree can apply so that credit is counted toward an associate’s degree. Elective courses taken to complete this degree cover areas such as allied health, computer science, clinical laboratory science, human nutrition, and leadership. With these broad categories, you’re sure to find classes that have you engaged and learning.
Rhode Island College offers a Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a concentration in Respiratory Therapy. Respiratory Therapists who have been in practice for a few years and feel like it’s time to finish their bachelor’s may want to give this college serious consideration. Those who have passed the respiratory therapy licensing test can transfer 42 credit hours into this 91-credit-hour bachelor’s program.
Some of the classes in this program are only held one semester a year, so make sure if you choose this school you plan out your class schedule at least a year in advance. Most of the classes in this degree are science-oriented and technical, such as Human Genetics; Statistical Methods I; and General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry I, among others. With the 42 transfer hours from the respiratory therapy licensing test, students will only have to take 13 classes to complete their bachelor’s degree.
While no specific class is going to make you a leader, Middle Georgia State University has designed a program for practicing respiratory therapists to develop leadership traits while earning their Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy. The degree itself is 120 credit hours, and classes are held in eight-week modules, which gives you enough time to deeply learn the information presented before becoming advancing. If you’re an RRT but haven’t earned your associate’s degree yet, Middle Georgia State University allows you to earn 21 credits of coursework by taking and passing a test.
Students looking to gain admission into the Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy program are expected to have at least a 2.50 GPA at the time of matriculation. Individuals looking to take classes at the school’s main campus are eligible to gain valuable clinical experience through rotations at local hospitals and health centers. The Respiratory Therapy program is expected to take students five semesters to complete.
According to the Texas State University website, less than 10% of practicing respiratory therapists have a bachelor’s degree. So, earning the Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care from Texas State University may give you a leg up on other respiratory therapists when applying for future jobs. This 32-credit-hour program can be completed entirely online, and for those with an Associate’s in Respiratory Care, the program can be completed in as little as 12 months.
Coursework in this program covers topics such as pulmonary diagnostics and rehabilitation; leadership, management, and education; interdisciplinary healthcare; disease management; sleep medicine and polysomnography; and neonatal and adult critical care. Students accepted into the program are able to start classes at the beginning of each semester, so you don’t have to wait until the fall to begin earning your degree.
The path to earning your Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy is made clear with San Joaquin Valley College’s program, which can be completed in as little as 15 months of full-time study. What’s more, SJVC is a small, private, junior college, which means you’ll have more of the instructors’ time and attention when you really need it.
The admission requirements for this program are straight forward, with prospective students expected to have an Associate of Science Degree in Respiratory Care with a minimum of 70 units of lower-division courses and to hold an active credential as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. This degree aims to teach students how to analyze, interpret, and give recommendations about clinical data obtained in respiratory therapy.
If you’re not already a respiratory therapist but dream of a career in which you spend your days delivering respiratory care to patients in need, then the Respiratory Therapy program from Wallace Community College is exactly what you need to get where you want to go. Students in this program spend five semesters learning the intricacies of the profession, at the end of which they earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. The entire program features 76 semester hours, which also includes general education classes.
Those with a criminal background may want to give thought to whether or not they wish to pursue a career as a respiratory therapist, as a criminal background check is required for licensure in most states, and a criminal background may prohibit you from practicing. Individuals who already attend Wallace Community College, however, are automatically and unconditionally accepted into the Respiratory Therapy program, while those transferring from another institution are expected to have at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA in past coursework.
The goal of Dalton State College’s Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy is to instill in students the need for lifelong learning and critical thinking. Those who have successfully completed an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy and have the RRT credential are eligible to enroll in this program. This BS program is composed of 122-123 credit hours of work, and the school awards 30 credit hours of professional licensure credit, which every student will automatically earn since one of the requirements for admission is professional licensure.
Once enrolled, students can look forward to completing the core respiratory therapy curriculum with classes like Intro to Respiratory Care, Fundamentals of Respiratory Care, Cardiopulmonary Pharmacology, and much more.
The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care from the Oregon Institute of Technology may be the perfect stepping stone you need to pursue a graduate degree in business, education, or another field entirely. This program has been recognized by the major accrediting body for respiratory therapists, CoARC, as being in the top 2% of all respiratory therapy programs in the nation. Oregon Tech students will pay around $270 per credit hour of coursework.
The Oregon Tech also offers a host of scholarships to its online students, which could mean more money left in your pocket. To be eligible to be accepted into this program, you must have the RRT credential, meet the regular Oregon Tech admission criteria, and be employed at a properly equipped respiratory care facility.
The Respiratory Therapy program at Augusta University is a top-notch program in which students are taught the necessary information to ensure their future success. The program has been awarded the Distinguished Registered Respiratory Therapist Credentialing Success by CoARC four times in the last five years, which is an impressive achievement.
The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy offered by Augusta University is a 130-credit-hour program. During students’ junior and senior years, they will participate in multiple clinical rotations that will allow them to practice what they learned with real patients. The program is designed to accept transfer students at the beginning of their junior year and will take students five semesters to complete.
Ferris State University realizes that finances can be a huge barrier to people reaching their educational goals, which is why the school partners with community colleges across Michigan, allowing students to complete general education courses at lower rates before finishing their degree at Ferris State University.
Admission into this program requires that students have already completed an Associate of Applied Science degree in respiratory therapy with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Accepted students then choose between pursuing the Advanced Practice track or the Leadership track within the Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy program. Each of these tracks includes seven to eight courses. To graduate with the degree, you’ll have to have taken at least 123 credit hours of coursework.
Respiratory Therapists have to be ready to alleviate breathing issues in all age groups and in a wide variety of situations, which is a competence that’s proven after passing the RTT examination. However, research, education, leadership, and management skills have to be learned elsewhere. The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT) at Nebraska Methodist College was created to address these areas, and students enrolled in the program can choose between an advanced practice track in either Education & Research or Healthcare Management & Leadership.
This program requires that students complete at least 129 credit hours before graduating with the degree. The Education & Research track consists of four courses, which include Wellness Assessment & Design in Healthcare, Wellness Implementation & Evaluation, Educational Strategies for the Pulmonary Patient, and Case Management and the Respiratory Practitioner. Alternatively, the Healthcare Management & Leadership track features courses like Human Resources, Healthcare Quality, Leadership in Healthcare, and Operations Management in Healthcare.
If you’re wanting to learn Respiratory Therapy under the supervision of practicing physicians, then the Associate of Science degree from Keiser University is what you’ve been looking for. The tuition for this program is on the higher end, at close to $11,000 per semester, but this cost includes books and the education fee. Students are also required to carry health insurance, which further inflates the cost of attendance.
The Associate of Science degree is a 76-credit-hour program that will prepare students to become licensed as respiratory therapists. To be fully accepted into this program, students must complete the courses Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II with a B or higher and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The University of the Incarnate Word offers a respiratory therapy program that incorporates the sciences with religious studies classes. The school emphasizes a Christian worldview and the importance of service to others, which is why it requires that students complete 22 hours of community service while working toward their degree.
The Associate of Applied Science from this university is a 62-credit-hour program designed to produce respiratory therapy assistants. The core Respiratory Therapy program courses total 32 credit hours of coursework. Accepted applicants can look forward to engaging in courses like Community Health, Mechanical Ventilation I and II, Airway Management, and Respiratory Pharmacology, to name only a few of the options available.
Missouri Southern State University gives students a wide range of classes to choose from in their Bachelor of Science in Health Science – Respiratory Therapy option. The program only accepts applicants who have already earned an Associate’s in Respiratory Care. While working toward your BS degree, you’ll take classes in five areas: General Education; Institutional Degree Requirements; Health Science; Respiratory Requirements; and Electives, when needed.
The Health Science core consists of six classes, or a total of 18 credit hours. Classes in this core include offerings such as Intercultural Communication, Fundamentals of Organizational Management, and Health Care Systems, among others. Many of the respiratory therapy classes needed for graduation are part of an associate’s degree, which you’ve completed before admission, so once you’re enrolled you’ll get to focus on taking some less stressful classes that will help expand your knowledge and worldview.
Individuals who are accepted into Jacksonville State University’s RRT-to-Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy bridge program can enjoy earning their degree in one year and entirely online. The program is meant for respiratory therapists who have already finished an associate’s degree and want to pursue educational and career advancement.
The BSRT program from JSU is composed of ten core courses, and students are given 33 credit hours of credit after the first semester of courses. The core courses in this program include offerings like Advanced Ventilatory Support, Critical Care Monitoring, Research for Respiratory Therapists, and Healthcare Education for Respiratory Therapists, to name only a few. This program also features flexible admission, as it accepts new students in both the fall and spring semesters.
The University of Southern Indiana offers students two ways to earn their Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy: on-campus, through a four-year traditional degree option, and online, as an RRT-to-BSRT program. Both of these degree options require that students complete 120 credit hours of coursework, although 90 credit hours can be earned at another university prior to enrolling in the online program.
The RRT-to-BSRT program can be completed in as few as four semesters, and the tuition is reasonably priced at $345 per credit hour. Classes are conducted in accelerated seven-week modules. The admission criteria include the completion of an associate’s degree and a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or greater. If you’re someone with a lower GPA, the program will consider applicants with a 2.0 or higher based on their individual circumstances.
Those looking into Florida National University’s Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy have the option to take this degree entirely online or through a mixture of online and in-person classes if you live in the vicinity of Hialeah, FL, or Miami. The degree includes 120 credits, but up to 60 credits can be transferred into the program from your completed associate’s degree. Individuals with a current RRT credential will have 38 credit hours put toward their degree requirements.
Through this program, RRTs will gain a more comprehensive understanding of leadership and clinical practice information and skills. Accepted students will take 36 credit hours of upper-level respiratory therapy coursework, which includes classes like Advanced Neonatal and Pediatric Respiratory Care, Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Advanced Seminar in Respiratory Therapy, and many more.
East Tennessee State University prides itself on getting students where they want to go faster by saving them both time and money. The school does this by allowing its students to transfer large amounts of previously earned credits. The tuition for ETSU’s online students is listed at $483 per credit hour, which is not the cheapest among comparable programs but is still a great deal for your education.
The majority of the 120-credit degree is spent in the Cardiopulmonary Science major. In addition, there are quite a few course prerequisites needed for admission into this program, which is further detailed on the school’s website. Admission to the BS-completion program also requires that applicants have a 2.5 GPA or higher in previous coursework, an RRT license, and previous college transcripts.
Do You Have to Be a Respiratory Therapist to Attend These Programs?
The majority of these programs are for individuals who have already taken courses and passed the Respiratory Therapy exam. To become a respiratory therapist, you must complete a minimum of an associate’s degree. You’ll want to make sure that the program you decide to attend is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Respiratory Care to ensure that you’ll be eligible for the credentialing examination to become licensed.
Upon completing the required courses through a college, students are eligible to sit for the National Board for Respiratory Care, which awards two kinds of credentials: one for Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRT) and another for Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT). The CRT credential is obtained before the one for RRTs, which shows employers that you have advanced knowledge and skills in respiratory therapy.
While most of the programs on this list are for Registered Respiratory Therapists, there are options listed for those who are not yet practicing respiratory therapy. Although some coursework can be completed online, programs that prepare students to become licensed respiratory therapists will likely require some in-person classes.
Is an Online Respiratory Therapy Program Right for Me?
Going back to school for more education can feel daunting, and an online degree program can have its challenges for certain kinds of students. That’s why you should make sure that online learning fits your schedule and how you learn. Online degree programs are just as rigorous and intense as in-person classes and often utilize the same curriculum and teachers for both kinds of students. So, what are some of the challenges that students may encounter when working in an online learning environment?
Unlike in-person classes, which often have roll calls and require that students attend classes at particular times, online courses give students the convenience to work on their degrees at their own pace. This freedom is often a double-edged sword, as many students eventually find out, as online coursework requires an extra measure of dedication and time management. It’s easy while working toward an online degree to feel that you can push things off to a later time, which can cause problems in the future.
Another factor to consider is how you learn new material. Some students learn best by reading the information, others by hearing the information spoken, with the majority of students learning best by utilizing a combination of the two. If you’re an auditory learner who has to listen to the information being taught, then you want to pick a program that includes virtual lectures from the professors, or at least plan on recording yourself reading the information to listen to later.
Some learners can remember information best by using their hands to express it. These individuals may benefit from utilizing note cards and whiteboards to write down class content or to draw a picture. Whiteboards may be a particularly beneficial learning tool, as they allow students to write out information and practice memorization
What Are Some Tips for Attending an Online Respiratory Therapy Program?
If you decide to attend an online degree program, it’s important that you block off specific times in your schedule each week to work on your studies and complete the coursework. Once you set the schedule for the week, try not to waver from it unless absolutely necessary. Your schedule may change from week to week, which is why blocking off time each Sunday for the following week of coursework may be the best plan for your success. This still gives you the freedom to complete coursework at your own schedule while simultaneously ensuring there is a structure for optimal learning.
Finding how you best learn information may be a process that takes some trial and error. You may want to consider taking a free online course or auditing a course while trying out different learning methods before enrolling in a full program. Auditing an online course is an excellent way to find out if online learning works for you before spending your hard-earned money on a class for credit.
The key to online learning is realizing that the online platform, just like the traditional classroom, is a medium for which information is relayed to students. It’s the student’s responsibility to take charge of their learning, explore the information in a meaningful way, and connect similar and differing ideas.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out our 30 Top Fastest Accredited Online Graduate Colleges and 30 Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges!