Online Respiratory Therapy Degree Program Options

Dec 04, 2019

Learn about online degree programs with respiratory therapy courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Online bachelor's degree completion programs are available for working professionals who already hold an associate's degree in respiratory therapy. The Registered Respiratory Therapist credential from the National Board for Respiratory Care is typically required for applicants. All states except Alaska require respiratory therapists to be licensed.

Associate's degrees are also offered in the field. Some programs include on-site requirements such as clinical practice components.

Respiratory Therapy Bachelor's Degree

This online program is designed primarily for existing certified respiratory therapists who wish to obtain a bachelor's degree. There are very few, if any, online associate-level respiratory therapist degree programs available. Online bachelor's degree programs are designed for working professionals and are flexible enough to work around their schedules.

Most programs require that the student hold a Registered Respiratory Therapist credential from the National Board for Respiratory Care. In addition, students must possess an associate's degree in respiratory therapy and meet each schools' required prerequisite grade point average. The bachelor's degree program offers students leadership skills and an advanced knowledge of respiratory diagnostic techniques.

Information and Requirements

Respiratory therapy bachelor's degree programs are offered entirely online. Students are generally able to set their own schedule and complete the required course credits in a time frame that fits their work schedule. Programs require between approximately 120-140 credit hours, though may require significantly fewer if the student is transferring from another school. In some cases, programs can be completed in as little as 16 months.

Most online programs utilize a course management system, like Blackboard, to deliver course material. Students must have access to the Internet and a computer to access this information as well as to take part in online discussions and complete research projects. It is helpful to have a high-speed connection in order to work efficiently. Coursework can be accessed from any computer with Internet access at any time. Some programs may also include an on-site clinical practice component, which can be completed at a local hospital or clinic.

List of Common Respiratory Therapist Bachelor's Degree Courses

Program coursework consists of general education and core curriculum courses. Students study human physiology, the respiratory system and communication methods in addition to developing advanced skills in diagnosis and respiratory therapeutic treatment.


This course teaches students about respiratory diseases and the effects of diseases on the body. Students learn about the initial effects of various diseases and the resulting consequences the disease may have on other body systems.

Respiratory Systems Diagnostics

Students in this course learn to diagnose disorders in the lungs. The course outlines testing techniques for the chest area, which incorporates the heart and lungs. Skills acquired include waveform analysis and blood pressure monitoring.

Pharmacology in Respiratory Therapy

This course outlines the use of pharmaceutical drugs in the treatment of respiratory problems. Students gain an understanding of how to administer drugs, calculate dosages and various classifications of drugs. The course also outlines symbols and abbreviations used to identify various pharmaceutical respiratory care drugs.

Career Information for Respiratory Therapists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of respiratory therapists work in hospitals, primarily in pulmonary, respiratory or anesthesiology departments ( The BLS reported that employment for respiratory therapists would increase by 21%, faster than the average for all occupations between 2018-2028. Although candidates with an associate's degree and a certification can obtain employment, a bachelor's degree allows individuals to hold advanced respiratory therapist positions. The same source also indicated that the average annual wage of a respiratory therapist as of May 2018 was $60,280.

Respiratory therapists who already have an associate's degree and certification may pursue an online bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy. Students who complete these degrees may advance to higher respiratory therapist positions.

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