15 Best Respiratory Therapist Schools In 2023

Studying Respiratory therapy won’t only earn you handsome salaries, but you will also be respected and honored in the healthcare field. So if you are interested in allied health science or searching for accredited schools to pursue a degree in respiratory therapy programs, you are definitely in the right place!! Our Kiiky team has compiled this list of the 15 Best respiratory therapist schools in 2023.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) statistics, employment of Respiratory Therapists is projected to grow 23% from 2016 – 2026, which they state is “much faster than average.” Respiratory Therapists rank #19 in Best Health Care Jobs and have an extremely low unemployment rate of 0.3%.

Furthermore, these schools are chosen based on CoARC Accreditation. Also, this article aims at providing answers to the following questions on schools for respiratory therapists:

  • How many years does it take to become a respiratory therapist?
  •  How much do respiratory therapists make an hour?
  •  Can you get a respiratory therapist degree online?
  •  What is the best school for respiratory therapy?
  •  Is the respiratory therapist a good career?


Studying to become a respiratory therapist can benefit those seeking to work with advanced technology and provide medical assistance to patients.

Before we go further into the schools and programs, we should understand what respiratory therapy is all about.

You can scroll through the table of content below to see an overview of all we have wrapped up in this post for you.

What Is Respiratory Care Or Therapy?

Respiratory care is a branch of allied health concerned with the assessment, management, and treatment of a patient’s breathing. In other words, respiratory therapy is the assessment and treatment of patients with both acute and chronic dysfunction of the cardiopulmonary system.

As specialists in the field, respiratory therapists use both evaluation and therapeutic techniques to help patients cope with various breathing issues, from emphysema in adults to underdeveloped lungs in newborn children.

Today, about 120,000 individuals have employment as respiratory therapists in the United States, with more than 75% working in general medical and surgical hospitals. A growing profession, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects double-digit growth national between 2012 and 2022.

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Responsibilities of a Respiratory Therapist

The responsibilities and duties of a respiratory therapist include the following:

  • Identifying lung and breathing disorders and recommending treatment methods.
  • Interviewing patients and doing chest physical exams to determine what kind of therapy is best for their condition.
  • Consulting with physicians to recommend a change in therapy, based on the patient’s evaluation.
  • Analyzing breath, tissue, and blood specimens to determine oxygen levels and other gases.
  • Managing ventilators and artificial airway devices for patients who can’t breathe normally on their own.
  • Responding to Code Blue or other urgent calls for care.
  • Educating patients and families about lung disease so they can maximize their recovery.

The following guide serves as a high-level introduction to educational options available in respiratory therapy, certification and specialization opportunities.

Respiratory Therapy Certification And Licensing

Generally, to qualify for state licenses, you must graduate from an accredited respiratory therapist school and pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam.

The Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) is the organization that accredits schools of respiratory therapy.

As an accreditation body, CoARC ensures that institutions offering degrees and training programs in respiratory therapy maintain a national standard of quality of education and achieve the established learning outcomes.

Notwithstanding, students should check the accreditation status of the university or college through CoARC before applying.

Furthermore, Certified Respiratory Therapists who graduated from advanced-level programs and have met experience requirements can take the exams leading toward the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential. However, some specialty areas, like the intensive care units and supervisory positions, require the RRT or RRT eligibility.

How Long Is a Respiratory Therapist School?

Most respiratory therapists have either a 2-year associate’s degree or 4-year bachelor’s degree programs.

After graduating, you can choose to sit for a national exam to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). After passing this exam, you can decide to sit for two additional tests to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

Fortunately, most respiratory therapist schools offer an accredited four-year or higher degree. Also, there are associate’s degrees and certificate programs that can help you get started. However, all states, except Alaska and Hawaii, require respiratory therapists to obtain a license in order to practice.

National Board for Respiratory Care (NRBC) Examination Success

The NBRC has two certification exams, the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Prospective students should inquire about the institution’s success rate for NRBC applicants for the first time and repeat takers.

Low success rates may indicate the inability of the respiratory therapist school to prepare students to succeed in the real world.


About Respiratory Therapist School Degrees

In addition to classifying respiratory therapy school programs at different levels, CoARC also divides educational programs into types of degrees and combinations.

The three major respiratory therapy educational categories include the following:

  • Associate of Science (AS) in Respiratory Therapy
  • Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Respiratory Therapy
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Respiratory Therapy
  • Master of Science (MS) in Respiratory Therapy

Note: The Associate degree is divided into two types.

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However,  the associate degree is the most common educational degree for registered respiratory therapists. According to CoARC, 85 percent of all accredited degree programs are at the associate degree level, followed by bachelor’s degrees (13 percent).

Degree TypeCoARC Accredited Programs
Associate of Science215
Associate in Applied Science161
Associate in Specialized Technology3
Associate in Occupational Studies2
Bachelor of Science57
Master of Science3
Grand Total441

Respiratory Therapist Associate Degrees

A two-year program in Respiratory Therapy usually leads to an Associate Degree in Applied Science (AAS) or Science Associate (AS). The program is divided into courses in areas such as the principles of respiratory therapy, anatomy and physiology, respiratory therapy procedures, laboratory experience, and hands-on clinical rotations.

Individuals with an associate degree in Respiratory Therapy are eligible to write the CRT Certification Exam of the National Council of Respiratory Therapists and subsequently the RRT Certification Exam.

In addition, the associate of science graduates can use their degree as a starting point for a bachelor’s degree in the field.

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Respiratory Therapist Bachelors Degrees

Bachelor’s degrees in respiratory therapy are less common than associate degree programs. They are generally available in two formats: a four-year first-professional degree program and a two-year degree completion format for students with an associate degree in respiratory science or care.

In general terms, universities offer a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care (BSRC) or a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT).

Typically,  the four-year degree programs are for individuals with no prior experience in respiratory care. In turn, the curriculum is traditionally divided into one year of pre-professional studies (general education course), followed by three years of professional study courses.

In addition, students must perform a practicum consisting of several clinical rotations in which they apply their classroom instruction in acute care settings.

Degree Completion Programs, known as RRT-to-Bachelor degree programs, are for Registered Respiratory Therapists who wish to complete a four-year degree program. Intended for the professional who works, most programs accredit students for both their full associate degree courses and their RRT credentials.

Students must generally complete between 30 and 36 hours of study, which can take two years. The curriculum focuses on advanced courses in respiratory care, ranging from sleep medicine to improving the quality of healthcare, principles of leadership, and a critical review of respiratory therapy research.

Masters Degrees (Respiratory Therapist)

As of 2013, only three universities offered accredited master’s programs in respiratory therapy: Rush University, the University of Mary, and Georgia State University.

The goal of each of these programs is to prepare graduates to pursue advanced careers as respiratory practitioners, educators, researchers or experts in the clinical specialization.

Divided between knowledge-based and professional clinical training, the program is designed to enhance the RRT’s experience in the field by positioning graduates for career advancement.

Best Respiratory Therapist Schools And Programs in 2023

There are several respiratory therapy schools and programs with CoARC accreditation. However, we have put together the 15 Best Respiratory therapist schools in 2023 to aid you in making your choice. Also, you can click on the link under each school for more information.

List of 15 Best Respiratory Therapist Schools

The listing of these respiratory therapist colleges and universities is in no particular other. So, feel free, relax and know more about each school.

  • Northern Michigan University
  • Middle Georgia State University
  • University of the Incarnate Word
  • Kettering College
  • Rhode Island College
  • Dalton State College
  • Wallace Community College
  • Seattle Central College
  • Keiser University
  • Vermont Technical College
  • Kansas City Kansas Community College
  • Highline College
  • University of Rio Grande
  • Genesee Community College
  • The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University offers a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy programs both online and on-campus for those with an associate degree. Also, this program can help current respiratory therapists gain access to management or education positions.

This program offers various courses including an introduction to Clinical Health Management, Behavioral and Organizational Management, and Human Anatomy and Physiology.

However, students are to earn the 120 credits required to complete this degree, in order to gain the enhanced critical thinking skills necessary to progress in their respiratory therapy career.

Tuition: $2,608

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 52%

Financial Aid: 82%



Middle Georgia State University

Middle Georgia State University offers 2 respiratory therapy degree programs online and on campus. The associate-to-a-bachelor-of-science bridge program is open to those who want to earn a bachelor’s degree. However, this program covers partially online courses and only requires students to come to campus once a month.

Upon completion of this program, graduates may sit for the National Board of Respiratory Care specialty exams.

The second program, the bachelor of science is an entry-level program that requires 60 hours of prerequisites. It can be completed in 5 semesters and prepares students to earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.

Tuition: $2,608

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 46%

Financial Aid: 99%



University of the Incarnate Word

The Respiratory Therapy Assistant AAS degree at the University of the Incarnate Word is for students who wish to pursue careers as respiratory assistants. It is an 84 credit hour program that includes general education courses, introductory courses, program courses, practicum courses, and community service.

However, students who apply for this program will be evaluated on a number of factors including GPA, ACT and/or SAT scores, extracurricular activities, work experience, and optional reference letters.

Once they graduate with their Associate in Applied Science, students will be eligible to take the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination, which will allow them to earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.

Tuition: $27,000

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 46%

Financial Aid: 99%



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Kettering College

Kettering College allows students to earn a 3 year Bachelor of Science degree in Respiratory Care online or on campus. Through this program, students can acquire the technical knowledge and clinical experience necessary for a successful career as a respiratory therapist.

For acceptance into the program, GPA, ACT or ACT test results in high school or college, a solid academic background in mathematics and basic science, a minimum grade of 70 on the Kettering College mathematics test, a personal statement and experience will be taken into account.

Upon completing the required 132 credit hours, students can register for the therapist’s multiple-choice exam and earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) degree.

Tuition: $11,808

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 43%

Financial Aid: 27%



Rhode Island College

Rhode Island College offers a respiratory therapy completion program online and on campus. To enroll in this bachelor of science degree, students must have a respiratory therapist license and 42 transfer credits.

Human genetics, social and global perspectives on health, society and social behavior, and dynamics and determinants of disease are some of the courses required for this program.

Upon completing the 91 credits, students should be eligible for enhanced job opportunities, promotions and/or leadership positions.

Tuition: $7,118

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 50%

Financial Aid: 42%



Dalton State College

Dalton State College offers both an associate of applied science in respiratory therapy and an online Respiratory Therapy B.S. Completion Program. However, the program is for respiratory care practitioners with an associate of science degree in respiratory therapy and have a Registered Respiratory Therapists certification.

The program allows these respiratory therapists to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care while reducing the duplication of their current knowledge and skills. By completing the 122-123 credit hours required for this program, students gain the quality education that fosters critical thinking and professional leadership and development.

Also, the comprehensive curriculum allows the students to become successful communicators, critical thinkers, and conscientious leaders while encouraging life-long learning.

Tuition: $2,452

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 26%

Financial Aid: 5%



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Wallace Community College

The George C. Wallace Community College offers 5 semesters, 76 credit hours online or on-campus associate in applied sciences degree for students who want to become respiratory therapists.

However, several factors are used to determine the acceptance of a candidate in this program. This includes GPA, completed courses, and ATI Test of Essential Skills performance.

At completing their Associate in Applied Science degree, students acquire the clinical skills and training necessary to serve as a medical assistant in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of Respiratory Therapy. They have the right to take the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination and to obtain the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.

Tuition: $3,510

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 20%

Financial Aid: 18%



Seattle Central College

The Respiratory Care Track in the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Allied Health program combines classroom theory with practical, hands-on experience, preparing students to become members of dedicated healthcare teams that treat patients with cardiopulmonary (heart & lung) disorders.

Tuition: $3,393

Online Program: 2

Financial Aid: 13%



Keiser University Respiratory Therapy School

Keiser University offers an associate of science degree in respiratory therapy online or on campus. The goal of this major is to prepare graduates with demonstrated competence in cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills.  And also, affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRT’s).

The prerequisites for this program include among many background check and drug screening and also a cumulative average of 3.0 on a scale of 4,0

Tuition: 9,504.00 per semester

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 42%

Financial Aid: 58%



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Vermont Technical College

Vermont Technical College offers prospective students the opportunity to earn an Associate Degree in Respiratory Sciences either online or on campus.

For admission, students must enter ENG 1060 or 1061, obtain a Level 2 math placement and be ready to go to hospitals.

Furthermore, after completing 69 credit hours and gaining valuable experience in providing care to patients under supervision in Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire, students will graduate and take the certification exams by the National Board of Respiratory Care.

Also, once students pass the certification exams, they receive the Registered Respiratory Therapy credential and may apply for the license. A license will qualify them for a career as a respiratory therapist in Vermont or New Hampshire.

Tuition: $12,960

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 41%

Financial Aid: 54%



Kansas City Kansas Community College

Kansas City Kansas Community College offers the Respiratory Therapist Program leading to an Associate in Applied Science Degree both on-campus and online

The goal of the Program is to prepare students to become competent entry-level RRT-AAS graduates according to the National Board for Respiratory Care requirement.

Also, students can start the program in the spring or fall semester.

Tuition: $2,580

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 23%

Financial Aid: 25%



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Highline College

The college offers AAS Respiratory Care, BAS (completer) Respiratory Care, and BAS Respiratory Care in both online and on campus.

Highline’s Respiratory Care program provides a comprehensive curriculum that includes study in respiratory medical theory and hands-on laboratory work that is put into practice during clinical rotations.

Tuition: $3,056

Online Program: 2

Financial Aid: 24%



University of Rio Grande

The university offers an associate degree in Respiratory Therapy program both online and on campus. The program provides an educational program that will prepare students to practice as qualified Respiratory Care Practitioners and to serve the community healthcare agencies by graduating competent and experienced Respiratory Care Practitioners.

However, the Respiratory Care Therapy program has several requirements and can also be very competitive. Click on the program link below for more information.

Tuition: $24,310

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 26%

Financial Aid: 31%



Genesee Community College

Genesee Community College offers the Associate in Applied Science Degree Program (A.A.S.) in Respiratory Care in as little as two years of full-time study. Also, you can choose a more flexible part-time class schedule for a large part of the curriculum.

At completion, you can sit for the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exams to earn the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credentials. Thereafter, these credentials qualify graduates to apply for a state license to practice Respiratory Therapy.

Tuition: $3,950

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 26%

Financial Aid: 5%



The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences offers both full-time and part-time tracks of the baccalaureate (B.S.) degree program in cardio-respiratory care. Also, they offer RRT-to-BS program for practicing professionals who already have the RRT credential.

The BS students earn credentials in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) as program requirements.

Furthermore, graduates can earn the CRT (Certified Respiratory Therapist) and RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) credentials.

Successful completion of all program requirements qualifies graduates to sit for national credentialing exams and apply for a license to practice in Arkansas.  However, students should note that successful completion of the program does not ensure licensure.

Tuition: Resident (per hour) – $245; Non-Resident (per hour) – $561

Online Program: 1

Graduate Rate: 66.7%

Financial Aid: 80%



Career Opportunities

Due in part to a growing middle-aged and elderly population, the demand for respiratory therapists is expected to increase by 12% by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Earning a bachelor’s degree will help you be more competitive for jobs as a Respiratory Therapist and qualify you to work in a variety of healthcare settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Extended care facilities
  • In-home care providers
  • Rehabilitation
  • Emergency services

FAQs | Respiratory Therapist Schools

How long does I take to become a respiratory therapist?

The process of how to become a respiratory therapist takes a minimum of two years if you obtain your associate’s degree. However, many employers favor candidates with a bachelor’s degree in the field, which takes about four years to complete.

Best tips for Surviving through Respiratory Therapy School.

Check out these best tips for Surviving through Respiratory Therapy School.

Know why you’re here.
Study a little bit every day
Prepare your books and materials
Don’t skip classes
Buy your textbooks as early as possible
Don’t procrastinate
Take lots of notes

Carer Outlook for Respiratory Care Therapist

Job Outlook, especially in the nearest future, is Good for Respiratory Therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than average for all occupations.

What is the cost of bachelor program in Respiratory Care Therapy?

The average annual out-of-state cost for a bachelor program in Respiratory Care Therapy/Therapist is $34,159, with an estimated average four-year degree total cost of $136,636.

What is the most affordable bachelors program in Webster Stae University?

Weber State University offers the most affordable bachelor program at an annual $24,860 out-of-state total cost.

There are many accredited online programs for respiratory therapy that you can take while you work. You can obtain an online associate’s and bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy from many communities and technical colleges across the nation. This will allow you to begin entry-level work as a respiratory therapist.


Respiratory therapists help people with chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. 

People who have had heart attacks or who have sleep disorders and infants who are born prematurely might also need respiratory therapy to help them breathe more easily.

As a Respiratory therapist, you must have a broad knowledge of the pathophysiology of the cardiopulmonary system and the complex procedures required to properly diagnose and treat patients, from the very young to the very old.

These are reasons to consider studying in any of the Best Respiratory Therapist Schools above.


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