Respiratory therapy student intubates a simulated patient.


5 Things to Look for in a Quality Respiratory Therapy Program

Health Professions

Respiratory therapists are specialized healthcare practitioners with training and expertise in the diagnosis, treatment and management of cardiopulmonary diseases, including mechanical ventilation in emergency, critical-care and long-term care settings. They have been on the front line during COVID-19, a disease that attacks the lungs and respiratory systems. 

Respiratory therapists are licensed and specialty board-credentialed and work with critical-care physicians and nurses to develop treatment strategies. As a profession, respiratory therapy is growing much faster than the average, with a 31-percent projected job growth outlook between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020). The median salary for respiratory therapists is just under $70,000 a year, according to

So now that you’re interested in becoming a respiratory therapist, how do you find a high-quality program? Here are the top factors to consider.

Types of degrees offered. Bellarmine offers both a Bachelor of Health Science in Respiratory Therapy degree and a Master of Health Science in Respiratory Therapy degree. The entry-level Respiratory Therapy graduate program is one of nine in the nation. As an entry-to-practice program, no prior healthcare experience is required for admission to the master’s program.

Board exam pass rates for graduates. The undergraduate program was awarded the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (COARC)’s Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success for five consecutive years, from 2013 through 2017, and also for 2020. Both undergraduate and graduate students exhibit credentialing success higher than the national average.

Curricular design. Bellarmine offers a robust combination of in-person and virtual classes, labs and clinical experiences. faculty members are practicing respiratory therapists who are on top of industry trends and practices.

Clinical experiences. Bellarmine Respiratory Therapy students complete more than 750 hours of clinical experience across varying patient populations in the Intensive Care Unit, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the Emergency Room, sleep laboratories, home care, pulmonary clinics, and trauma centers. Bellarmine is well-positioned in Louisville, a regional healthcare hub. All students complete an evidence-based practice or quality improvement capstone project.

Reputation of the program/recruitment of students. College Choice ranked Bellarmine University's bachelor's degree in Respiratory Therapy as No. 1 in the nation in 2018. One hundred percent of Bellarmine’s respiratory therapy graduates get jobs—in fact, many students land full-time jobs before they graduate.

Tags: Healthcare , Respiratory Therapy



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.