Respiratory therapy

University of Missouri-Columbia
Bachelor of health science in clinical and diagnostic sciences
A model of a respiratory system.
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Bachelor of health science

Respiratory therapists perform a lifesaving role in health care delivery. As a current Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), you rapidly respond to patients experiencing breathing difficulties and other cardiopulmonary issues — no matter their age or medical condition. Along with emergency situations, you work with a doctor to establish respiratory recovery and management plans, supporting patients with chronic conditions like asthma and acute concerns like COVID-19.

Over the past few years, you’ve noticed both growing demand for respiratory therapists and changes in expectations — from specialized equipment knowledge to delivering evidence-based diagnostic care. The University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) online bachelor of health science (BHS) in clinical and diagnostic care with an emphasis in respiratory therapy program builds off your previous education and experience. Through this advanced course of study, you upgrade your clinical knowledge, grow into a leader and prepare to serve your patients through research-informed care.

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Mizzou's online bachelor's programs ranked among the nation's finest in U.S. News & World Report 2024.

Quick facts

Official name

Bachelor of health science in clinical and diagnostic sciences with an emphasis in respiratory therapy


University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Bachelor's degree

Academic home

College of Health Sciences | Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Transfer credit hours


Transfer estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

A respiratory therapist with a child.

Career prospects

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the health care field to hire 13% more respiratory therapists between now and 2032, with growth coming from two channels. Hospitals seek professionals with more advanced skill sets for therapeutic purposes, intensive care units, emergency rooms and neonatal and pediatric care. Additionally, air and ambulance transport services, sleep laboratories, skilled nursing facilities, in-home care and the medical device industry understand the benefits of having dedicated respiratory therapists on staff — whether to improve patient outcomes or update related equipment.

In these settings, respiratory therapists typically operate under the guidance of a physician to manage and deploy ventilators and artificial airways, administer inhaled medications, conduct testing to assess pulmonary function and analyze blood samples. Related job titles for bachelor’s degree holders include:

  • Advanced clinicians
  • Clinical and academic educators
  • Community educators
  • Consultants
  • Department managers
  • Medical equipment industry leaders
The MU respiratory therapy program boasts 100 percent job placement after graduation. University of Missouri Health, School of Health Professions.
job placement
Most current salary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
median salary

Why earn an online bachelor’s in respiratory therapy?

Health care systems increasingly expect respiratory therapists to possess a bachelor’s degree to enter or move up in the field. For current RRTs, this credential serves two purposes. You refine your clinical and diagnostic skills so that you’re equipped to treat a broader range of patients and conditions. You also acquire the leadership, management and research skills essential for directing teams, mentoring newly licensed therapists and putting together more complex care plans.

For those who’ve sat for the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exam and the clinical simulation portion, or possess an equivalent Canadian credential, Mizzou’s online BHS program picks up where your associate degree left off. Through more specialized, research-focused course work, you learn to deliver evidence-based treatments that aid patient recovery or the management of chronic conditions.

Enrolled students:

  • Understand the role of the respiratory therapist in supporting patient recovery across a range of cardiopulmonary conditions, including under the direct and indirect supervision of a physician
  • Prepare to assemble, operate and monitor devices supporting patient recovery or aiding in respiratory therapy, including mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, pulmonary function testing equipment and aerosol generators
  • Deepen their clinical knowledge base to treat adult, pediatric and neonatal patients in acute and chronic care settings
  • Explore topics in clinical laboratory science, diagnostic medical ultrasound, nuclear medicine and radiography to improve their practice and keep their skills current with recent advances in respiratory care delivery

Program structure

Over 29 credit hours, the online bachelor of health science in respiratory therapy focuses on higher-level competencies for existing practitioners.

This program is 100 percent online; no campus visits are required. You may meet your course work requirement with both semester-based and self-paced courses.

Core course work covers

This sequence explores the following topics:

  • Bioethics in health care, including assisting patients and provider responsibility
  • Emergency and disaster management for respiratory therapists
  • Developing educational presentations for patients and community members
  • Pediatric respiratory care, including resuscitation and treating respiratory conditions
  • Advanced mechanical ventilation therapy
  • Delivering critical respiratory care to neonatal through adult patients
  • Current issues influencing the respiratory therapy field

Review all requirements for the online BHS in respiratory therapy


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length


Typical course load

Varies if full time or part time

Program Goals

This program provides graduates of entry-into-respiratory-care-professional-practice degree programs with additional knowledge, skills and attributes in leadership, management, education, research or advanced clinical practice, both to meet their current professional goals and to prepare them for practice as advanced degree respiratory therapists.

Expected Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Utilize management and leadership principles to solve problems and improve performance.
  2. Demonstrate strategies and techniques to enhance patient education and rehabilitation.
  3. Employ research methodology to analyze relevant medical literature.
  4. Integrate pertinent clinical data into recommendations for appropriate critical care interventions.
  5. Understand ethical theories and principles as they apply to patient scenarios.
  6. Analyze multiple perspectives on current issues in healthcare

See all online programs offered through the College of Health Sciences.


The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

This program (CoARC #510020) holds Provisional Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
This status signifies that a program with an Approval of Intent has demonstrated sufficient compliance with the Standards through submission of an acceptable Provisional Accreditation Self-Study Report and any other documentation required by the CoARC, as well as satisfactory completion of an initial on-site visit.

Faculty spotlight

Jennifer Keely

Professor Keely has been teaching in the MU RT program since 2008 in addition to being a 2001 graduate of the program. Her areas of expertise are adult critical care and writing for the health professions. She teaches Pharmacology, Equipment and Techniques, Principles of Mechanical Ventilation, Adult Critical Care, Clinical Ethics and Patient and Community Education. She also serves as the faculty advisor for the Respiratory Therapy Students Association.

Jennifer Keely, M Ed, RRT, RRT-ACCS
Program Director
Linda Lair, RRT, MS, RPFT

Linda Lair has a master's in training and development and is a Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist. She began her career as an on-the-job trainee in the mid-1980s working in home care, pulmonary rehabilitation and fixed-wing patient transport with patients across the lifespan. She has served as the Director of Clinical Education for the University of Missouri's respiratory therapy program since 2008. In addition to coordinating all the students’ clinical experiences and precepting students, she teaches Pulmonary Function Testing; Pulmonary Rehabilitation; and Organization and Administration.

Linda Lair, RRT, MS, RPFT
Director of Clinical Education and Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences
Ivan Lee

Ivan Lee is a proud alumnus of the University of Missouri's respiratory therapy program class of 2012 and has been facilitating online learning for the program since 2021. His clinical specialties and interests include adult critical care, research, high-fidelity simulation and management of patients with sleep-related breathing disorders. He has taught Clinical Leadership; Community and Patient Education; and Current Issues in Respiratory Care.

Ivan Lee
Professor, Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences