Associate of Science (AS) Degree in Respiratory Care

Prepare for a Career in Respiratory Care

If you’re looking for Associate of Science in Respiratory Care programs in PA, Gwynedd Mercy University’s associate degree in respiratory therapy provides a quick path to professional competency as a respiratory therapist. The program is offered by the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions, renowned for its long and celebrated history of preparing competent, caring and compassionate respiratory therapists. It's how we earned our reputation as a renowned respiratory therapist school in Philadelphia.

The GMercyU Difference

Gwynedd Mercy University is a distinguished respiratory therapist school and has one of the best respiratory therapy programs in PA.

Our students have a 100% pass rate on the Certified Respiratory Therapist exam (administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care) and 100% pass rate on the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam.

In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, the program has been recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) to receive the Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success Award with a 90+% pass rate over the 3-year cycle.

The program is fully accredited as a Base Program for entry into Respiratory Care Professional Practice by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care,* CoARC accredits respiratory therapy education programs in the United States. To achieve this end, it utilizes an ‘outcomes based’ process. Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the educational goals of the program are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented. The School CoARC number is 200274.

Gwynedd Mercy University is proud to offer educational opportunities unrivaled to other Associate of Science in Respiratory Care programs in PA.

*To register a complaint, please contact: Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)

In just three years, you can:

  • Receive an Associate Degree in Respiratory Care
  • Attain the program goal of acquiring the knowledge, skills and professional behaviors to practice as a competent, caring and compassionate health care practitioner
  • Be eligible to sit for the NBRC Therapist Multiple Choice Examination and the NBRC Clinical Simulation Examination
  • Apply for a temporary permit from the State of Pennsylvania (or other state agency) and secure temporary employment as a graduate therapist
    • Your temporary permit becomes a permanent license once you successfully complete the NBRC Therapist Multiple Choice Examination at the designated level
    • After completion of the NBRC Therapist Multiple Choice Examination at the designated level, you will be eligible to sit the NBRC Clinical Simulation Examination and secure the title of Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) -- the highest level credential of professional practice.

In your program, you will:

  • Gain hands-on experience from clinical specialists at world-renowned health care institutions
  • Benefit from our low student-faculty ratios (16:1 in the classroom setting and 8:1 in the laboratory)
  • Work with junior and senior respiratory care students serving as tutors and mentors 
  • Make the most of GMercyU’s 21 regional health care affiliations 
  • Have the flexibility to extend your studies by one year for a BS degree in Respiratory Care and greater employment opportunities
  • Learn in GMercyU’s state-of-the-art Respiratory Care Laboratory with the latest technology, including a broad array of equipment, models, mannequins, and simulators

The Role of a Respiratory Therapist

As a respiratory therapist, you’ll use a combination of physical examination and sophisticated technology to diagnose and treat patients with cardiopulmonary disorders. You will learn to administer oxygen therapy, deliver inhaled medications, and initiate and monitor patients on life support, such as mechanical ventilators. This fulfilling work can take you to a variety of settings, from hospitals to home care, and provides the opportunity to work with patients of all ages, from neonatal to elderly.

Undergraduate Minors

Increase the value of your associates in respiratory therapy degree by adding an undergraduate minor. GMercyU offers a wide variety of minors so you can choose the one that best meets your personal and professional goals.


In addition to general education requirements, you will complete the following courses:

Respiratory Care Courses:  63 Credits

RC 200 Introduction to AH - 2 Credits
RE 210 Medical Terminology – 1 Credit
RC 230 Respiratory Theory I – 4 Credits
RE 231 Respiratory Theory II – 3 Credits
RC 232 Respiratory Theory  III – 3 Credits
RC 233 Respiratory & Cardiac Physiology – 3 Credits
RC 234 Respiratory Pharmacology – 3 Credits
RC 240  Respiratory Procedures I – 1 Credit
RC 241 Respiratory Procedures II – 1 Credit
RC 242 Respiratory Procedures III – 1 Credit
RC 250 Clinical Respiratory Care I – 3 Credits
RC 251  Clinical Respiratory Care  II – 3 Credits
RC 330  Advanced Respiratory Theory I – 3 Credits
RC 331  Advanced Respiratory Theory II – 3 Credits
RC 332 Advanced Respiratory Theory III – 3 Credits
RC 333 Respiratory Pathophysiology – 3 Credits
RC 334  RC Research – Capstone – 3 Credits
RC 335 Respiratory Seminar – Capstone – 3 Credits
RC 340  Advanced Respiratory Procedures I – 1 Credit
RC 341  Advanced Respiratory Procedures II – 1 Credit
RC 342 Advanced Respiratory Procedures III – 1 Credit
RC 350  Advanced Clinical Respiratory I – 2 Credits
RC 351  Advanced Clinical Respiratory II – 3 Credits 

Credit Requirement

A minimum of 99 credits is required for the associate degree in respiratory care.

See the undergraduate catalog for more information and course descriptions.


Clinical Opportunities

GMercyU’s Respiratory Care students have gained hands-on clinical experience at the following locations:

  • Abington Hospital
  • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  • Aria Health Systems
  • Grand View Hospital
  • The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP)
  • Jeanes Hospital
  • Lankenau Hospital
  • Lehigh Valley Medical Center
  • Mercy Catholic Medical Center
  • Taylor Hospital
  • Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • Mercy Suburban Hospital
  • Montgomery Einstein Hospital
  • Pennsylvania Hospital
  • Chester County Hospital

Our Outstanding Faculty

Career Outcomes

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that respiratory therapist jobs will grow faster than average through 2022 (at 19%), presenting graduates with rich employment opportunities. Respiratory care has been recognized for its great return on investment for career-seekers by both U.S. News and Business News Daily. In 2015, the profession ranks #24 on U.S. News’  list of “Best Health Care Jobs” and #51 on their “100 Best Jobs” list. In 2015 the median pay for Respiratory Therapists was $57,790/year (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Now's the time to earn your degree from one of the best respiratory therapist schools in the area.

Possible Careers for Respiratory Care Majors

  • Clinician
  • Diagnostician
  • Adult critical care specialist
  • Pulmonary function technologist 
  • Sleep technologist 
  • Asthma educator
  • Neonatal/ pediatric specialist
  • Patient advocate
  • Tobacco cessation counselor
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation specialist
  • Clinical preceptor

Areas of specialization

•    Medical/ surgical care
•    Adult Critical Care
•    Neonatology

•    Pediatrics
•    Pulmonary diagnostics
*    Additional education and training may be required for some of these positions.