Why This Matters

  • COPD TO BE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH BY 2030

    According to the World Health Organization, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, increasing the need for respiratory therapists.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 27,900 MORE OF YOU BY 2028

    As the nation’s population ages, more respiratory therapists will be needed to diagnose and treat older adults who suffer from respiratory conditions, including pneumonia, COPD, chronic bronchitis, and more.

  • 14% PROJECTED GROWTH FOR HEALTHCARE JOBS

    The overall outlook for the healthcare industry is very bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the healthcare industry will add 1.9 million jobs in the next decade, more than any other occupational group in the U.S.

Our Research

Our list focuses on Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in respiratory therapy. Bachelor’s programs are typically designed for individuals who already have an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy, and are looking to advance their careers. Meanwhile, master’s programs focus on advanced clinical therapy or leadership skills. All of the listed programs can be completed online, although some schools also offer their courses on-campus. You can select the program delivery type that best suits your learning preferences and availability.

The schools included on this list have accreditation through regional or national accrediting bodies. Most programs also have specialized accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), which guarantees excellence in education and training for respiratory therapists.

We reviewed each program’s faculty, cost, flexibility, reputation, and course strength, and calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online respiratory therapy programs are highly regarded and a good value.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 53 hours to write this article
  • 67 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 293 education programs we compared

The Top 27 Online Respiratory Therapy Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

An associate’s degree is the minimum level of education needed for entry into the respiratory therapy field. Bachelor’s degrees are becoming increasingly common, and may make you more attractive to employers. Many bachelor’s programs are designed for respiratory therapists who already have an associate’s degree, as well as professional credentials and work experience. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy and want to move into leadership or administrative positions, a master’s degree will help you advance into these roles.

Currently, respiratory therapists must be licensed in order to practice in the majority of U.S. states. Licensure requirements vary by state, but they generally include having a degree from a CoArc-accredited program. Respiratory therapists also need professional credentials awarded by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The NBRC offers two levels of credentialing – the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Individuals must usually pass an exam and pay an application fee to obtain their licenses and credentials.

Even if the coursework for a program can be completed online, you may still be required to complete clinical education in an in-person setting. Review the program’s plan of study for more information about clinical experience requirements, and confirm that they will fit into your schedule when enrolled in the program.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Respiratory Therapy programs:

  • Am I eligible for admission to this program? Respiratory therapy education builds upon itself, so most programs are designed for students who already have some background in the field. Be sure to look carefully at the admission qualifications before applying to confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements for acceptance.
  • How are online courses delivered? Online courses are usually offered in either asynchronous or synchronous formats. In asynchronous courses, students access lessons and complete assignments on their own schedules. In synchronous programs, students attend classes remotely at set times. Prior to enrolling, look at how courses are delivered to determine which program will best fit your schedule and learning preferences.

Admissions requirements vary by school and program. As part of your research, look at the program’s application procedures and deadlines, and gather your application materials so you can submit them well in advance of deadlines. This will facilitate a smooth admissions process.

Also consider how you will finance your degree. Talk to financial aid counselors about your options for loans, grants, and scholarships. If you are currently employed, find out if your job offers tuition assistance benefits.