Schools for Aspiring Respiratory Care Practitioners

Respiratory therapists assist individuals who suffer from cardiopulmonary diseases or disorders. Students enrolled in respiratory therapy programs can work in the field once they have earned an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree and obtained certification.

Respiratory therapists care for people with cardiopulmonary disorders like asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Individuals interested in working in this field can find education programs at community colleges, technical schools and 4-year colleges and universities.

10 Schools With Respiratory Care Programs

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Bunker Hill Community College Boston, MA 2-year, Public Associate $3,576 in-state, $8,520 out-of-state
Dalton State College Dalton, GA 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate, Bachelor's $4,052 in-state, $12,032 out-of-state
George C Wallace State Community College-Dothan Dothan, AL 2-year, Public Associate $4,260 in-state, $7,710 out-of-state
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Private not-for-profit Associate $17,664
Mercyhurst University-North East Campus Erie, PA 2-year, Private not-for-profit Associate $33,314
Midland University Fremont, NE 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $29,400
Northern Michigan University Marquette, MI 4-year, Public Associate $9,620 in-state, $15,020 out-of-state
Seattle Central College Seattle, WA 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate, Bachelor's $3,891 in-state, $9,083 out-of-state
University of Rio Grande Rio Grande, OH 4-year, primarily associate's, Private not-for-profit Associate $23,860
Northeastern University Boston, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $21,801

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Here are some considerations for students in this field:

  • Different degree programs prepare students for different careers; for instance, associate's degree programs provide training for entry-level technician jobs, while master's degree programs prepare students for leadership positions in the field. Students can choose between programs based on their future aspirations.
  • Prospective students may want to find out what the pass rates are for graduates on the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) certification exams, which are offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care.
  • It can be helpful to get information about the school's laboratory facilities, in order to ensure that students gain experience with the latest respiratory care technologies.
  • Prospective students who are considering programs that include internships may want to make sure that work experience opportunities are available in the setting in which they hope to pursue a career, such as a large hospital or small family clinic.

Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) Programs

In an associate's degree program, students learn how to operate basic respiratory therapy equipment, like nebulizers and oxygen analyzers. Advanced clinical classes often take place during the second year of study. Students also take basic biomedical science courses and fulfill general education requirements.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs

Bachelor's degree students explore topics like pulmonary function testing and electrocardiogram interpretation. Program prerequisites may include classes in physiology, microbiology and chemistry. A significant number of clinical practicum hours are required for graduation.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs

This 2-year degree program is often available to students who have a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field. Some schools offer an integrated B.S./M.S. program. In addition to classroom and clinical training in respiratory therapy, some master's programs allow students to choose a concentration area such as healthcare management, clinical trial design or higher education administration. Students may be able to choose between thesis and non-thesis program options. A master's degree may prepare students for supervisory roles in the respiratory therapy field.

Educational programs for aspiring respiratory care practitioners are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prospective students should consider their career goals and the school's facilities when choosing between programs.


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