Best Respiratory Therapy Online Programs

A respiratory therapist degree is a great way to start a new career. Here, we outline what you need to know.

Updated August 31, 2022 • 6 Min Read

Find a program that’s right for you.

Respiratory Therapist Schools

Online respiratory therapist programs train learners for jobs in respiratory therapy. Coursework covers biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. Aspiring respiratory therapists complete classes in clinical respiratory care, pharmacology, and mechanical ventilation. Some programs require work or volunteer experience in a hospital or vent center.

Graduates may work with doctors in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and sleep centers. Some respiratory therapists work in diagnostic labs and home health agencies. With additional training and experience, these professionals can advance to staff therapists or administrative positions.

This page highlights online respiratory therapist programs, including the costs and benefits of online learning.

View Our Rankings List Here

Frequently Asked Questions About Respiratory Therapist Programs

How much schooling do you need to be a respiratory therapist?

Respiratory therapists need at least an associate degree. They must also pass a certifying exam. Full-time students can complete a respiratory therapy online program in two years.

What exactly does a respiratory therapist do?

Respiratory therapists care for patients with chronic respiratory illnesses. They also provide emergency care. These therapists examine patients and administer diagnostic tests. Respiratory therapists also help patients learn to use prescribed medications and equipment.

Do respiratory therapists make good money?

Respiratory therapists earn a median annual salary of $62,810, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure exceeds the median annual salary of $41,950 for all occupations.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Why Get a Respiratory Therapist Degree?

Respiratory therapist careers offer opportunities to help patients and possibly even save their lives. Graduates can begin a career in the medical field after only two years of schooling. The BLS projects jobs for respiratory therapists to grow 23% from 2020-2030, which is much faster than average.

Many schools offer their respiratory therapist programs online. Enrollees can complete coursework around work and family responsibilities. Online students can enroll in the most affordable program without relocating.

How Much Does a Respiratory Therapist Degree Cost?

Respiratory therapist students spent an average of $11,150 on tuition in 2020-21. Students can save money by enrolling in an online respiratory therapist program. Online learners do not pay for campus housing or meal plans. They can also continue earning a salary while completing their degree.

Online students should budget for books and lab fees. Some programs also charge graduation fees. Aspiring respiratory therapists must pass the National Board for Respiratory Care Certified Respiratory Therapist and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exams. Each exam costs $190.

How Much Do Respiratory Therapists Make?

Top-earning respiratory therapists make a median annual salary of nearly $90,000, according to the BLS. Respiratory therapists with a bachelor's degree may qualify for jobs in hospital administration and management. Professionals can boost their salary by earning more advanced degrees and credentials.

After passing the RRT exam, certified respiratory therapists can gain credentials in areas such as asthma education and pediatrics. Each credential requires passing a national board exam.

Courses in a ​​Respiratory Therapist Program

Online respiratory therapist programs help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Enrollees also gain technical skills. They learn how to give oxygen, operate mechanical ventilators, and measure lung function. Learners also study math, which helps them with job responsibilities such as measuring patients' medicine.

Respiratory therapy programs often include the courses below. Keep in mind that course titles and descriptions vary by program.

  • Introduction to Mechanical Ventilation

    This course teaches students about mechanical ventilation technology and how it affects patients' oxygenation and ventilation ability. This knowledge helps prepare students for respiratory therapist careers, as these professionals must know how to use mechanical ventilators.
  • Integrative Systems Physiology

    This course provides basic scientific knowledge. Enrollees learn how the human body functions under healthy conditions and with certain diseases. Learners study each body system, such as the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and explore how they work together to maintain homeostasis.
  • Medical Ethics

    This course covers professional guidelines for approaching ethical dilemmas in respiratory therapist careers. Respiratory therapists may face difficulties involving physician-assisted suicide or advance directives. Enrollees also study federal and state healthcare laws. This course helps prepare graduates to make sound decisions in their future work.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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.

Featured Online Healthcare Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Aspiring respiratory therapists need an associate degree. Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. Along with coursework, respiratory therapy students complete clinical components in which they gain hands-on, supervised experience treating patients. Respiratory therapy graduates must pass a state or professional certification exam. Requirements vary by state.

Best Respiratory Therapist Programs 2021

  1. Sinclair Community College
    Location

    Dayton, OH

    Tuition

    $4887

    Based in Dayton, Ohio, SCC offers an associate of applied science in respiratory care. Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, the program teaches enrollees to give emergency care, operate ventilators, and collaborate with medical teams.

    Learners can complete the full-time, 65-credit program in six semesters. The curriculum features general education, division-specific, and program-specific courses. To enter the program, students must complete science and health prerequisites such as chemistry, biology, and psychology. To begin program-specific coursework, students need a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA.

    Program-specific coursework covers respiratory care fundamentals, cardiopulmonary pharmacology, and pediatrics and neonatal care. Learners also study critical care and emergency preparedness. Enrollees engage in experiential learning through clinical rotations at nearby hospitals and intensive care units.

    SCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  2. Central New Mexico Community College
    Location

    Albuquerque, NM

    Tuition

    $4360

    A public community college in Albuquerque, CNM offers an associate of applied science in respiratory therapy. The program trains students in diagnostic testing, critical care support, and therapeutic treatment for cardiopulmonary disease patients.

    Enrollees participate in classroom, clinical, and laboratory training. They receive supervision and instruction from respiratory care specialists. The curriculum covers cardiopulmonary physiology, pathophysiology, and anatomy, plus various diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques. The program prepares graduates to provide respiratory care to infant, child, and adult patients.

    CNM's associate degree in respiratory therapy currently admits 20 students per year. Applicants must complete prerequisite courses, including human anatomy and physiology, composition, clinical preparation, and mathematics. Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA and a passing score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills or the Health Education Systems, Inc. Examination. Enrollees must attend a compliance orientation for the program's clinical components.

    CNM is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. Florida State College at Jacksonville
    Location

    Jacksonville, FL

    Tuition

    $3498

    Part of the Florida State College system, FSCJ offers an associate of science in respiratory care. The five-semester program boasts a low attrition rate and a high rate of registered respiratory therapists among graduates.

    Enrollees must successfully complete 20 credits of prerequisites in mathematics, the humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences. The remaining 56 credits cover professional coursework in areas such as respiratory care, diagnostic monitoring, and mechanical ventilation. The respiratory therapist program also includes courses in pulmonary pathology, community health, and neonatal and pediatric care.

    To graduate, students must fulfill clinical experience requirements, maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA, and complete at least 25% of their credit hours in residence at FSCJ.

    FSCJ is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. Ivy Tech Community College
    Location

    Indianapolis, IN

    Tuition

    $5425

    Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, ITCC's associate of science in respiratory therapy prepares graduates for careers helping patients of all ages with breathing disorders and chronic lung problems. The program incorporates realistic laboratory and clinical learning experiences. Graduates qualify to take the Registered Respiratory Therapist Licensure Examination.

    The 71-credit, seven-semester respiratory therapist program features intensive, eight-week courses. Classes cover topics like assessment and caring for respiratory patients, cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology, and cardiopulmonary pharmacology. Enrollees also take courses in emergency management, critical care, and cardiopulmonary pathology.

    Students enter ITCC as healthcare specialists with concentrations in respiratory therapy. After completing prerequisites, candidates may apply to the respiratory therapy program. Applicants must pass a background check, physical exam, and drug test.

    ITCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. Forsyth Technical Community College
    Location

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Tuition

    $4629

    Forsyth Tech in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, offers an associate of applied science in respiratory therapy that integrates laboratory practice, academic study, and clinical experiences. Enrollees acquire skills in heart and lung disease assessment, diagnostic testing, and care across the lifespan.

    The 72-credit curriculum covers topics like cardiopulmonary anatomy, physiology, diseases, and disorders. The AAS also features courses on tools and treatments, including respiratory therapeutics, medical gas administration, and life support. Students take general education coursework in chemistry, microbiology, algebra, and the humanities.

    The respiratory therapist program admits 20-30 students per year. Eligible applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA, high school or college credits in biology, and CPR certification. Accepted students complete an online orientation.

    Forsyth Tech is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Miami Dade College
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $6393

    The associate of science in respiratory care program at MDC, a public college in Miami, qualifies graduates to take the Respiratory Therapist Licensure Examination.

    The 72-credit program takes two years of full-time study to complete. Students begin with introductory courses in respiratory care, pharmacology, and clinical practice. Learners also take a writing and inquiry course and an anatomy and physiology course during their first semester. During their first-year spring semester, enrollees take chemistry, therapeutics/diagnostics, and pathophysiology courses.

    The seven-credit summer term includes coursework on topics like neonatal and pediatrics, critical care, and psychology. Learners study advanced monitoring, career preparation, clinical practice, and communication in their second year.

    MDC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  7. Delta College
    Location

    University Center, MI

    Tuition

    $4256

    A public college in University Center, Michigan, Delta offers an associate of applied science in respiratory care with small class sizes and up-to-date facilities. Delta's AAS program combines classroom instruction with laboratory and clinical experiences.

    Respiratory care students enter as a cohort and usually complete the 86-credit program in five semesters. New students must complete program prerequisites at Delta or apply for advanced standing by transferring equivalent prerequisites completed elsewhere.

    Learners take courses on topics like ventilatory care, diagnostics and special procedures, and cardiovascular evaluation and monitoring. Students can choose to complete an optional rotation or special project related to their personal interests and goals.

    Delta is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. Clark State Community College
    Location

    Springfield, OH

    Tuition

    $6752

    In collaboration with Rhodes State College, Clark State in Springfield, Ohio, offers an associate of applied science in respiratory care. Students complete general education classes at Clark State. They take their remaining courses in a hybrid format through Rhodes State.

    Courses cover topics like cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology, respiratory care procedure, respiratory disease, and life support. Learners complete a capstone and participate in various clinical experiences at local healthcare facilities. Graduates qualify to sit for the National Board Examination.

    Prospective students apply to both Clark State and Rhodes State. Applicants must hold at least a "C" grade in all coursework and either satisfactory standardized test scores or a minimum 2.5 GPA in prior college coursework. Applicants must also pass various health and background screenings, interview with the program director, and document clinical observations with a qualifying respiratory care professional.

    Clark State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. Erie Community College
    Location

    Buffalo, NY

    Tuition

    $4558

    The associate of applied science in respiratory care at ECC integrates cognitive knowledge, psychomotor skills, and affective behavior training. Students attend lectures and participate in laboratory and clinical experiences.

    The 68-credit AAS program takes two years of full-time enrollment to finish. Enrollees complete 15.5-17.5 credits per semester and three credits during the summer session between year one and two. The curriculum covers topics like respiratory care principles, special procedures, and care for patients of all ages.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts, take math and English placement tests, and attend an orientation. ECC students often complete most of their general education requirements before applying to the respiratory care program.

    ECC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  10. Indian River State College
    Location

    Fort Pierce, FL

    Tuition

    $588

    A state college in Fort Pierce, Florida, IRSC offers an associate of science in respiratory care.The 77-credit program begins with a summer semester of seven credits in biology and healthcare ethics. The fall semester covers topics like cardiopulmonary pharmacology, anatomy, and physiology. In the spring, students take courses in respiratory therapy theory and clinic, cardiopulmonary disease, and algebra.

    Enrollees complete a second summer semester of coursework in respiratory therapy, psychology, and pulmonary function. The second year features coursework in physics, mechanical ventilation, critical care, and pediatric care. Students also complete courses on life support and professional development.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts, background check and health screening documents, and evidence of healthcare practitioner licensure or certification.

    IRSC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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.

Featured Online Public Health Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

See All Posts

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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.

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.