Respiratory Therapist Program (BHS)

Respiratory Therapist Program (BHS)

Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Respiratory Care

Gwynedd Mercy University’s bachelor of health science (BHS) degree in respiratory care offers a clear path to a career as a respiratory therapist. First-year students can begin their college journey in this BHS program; it also serves as a degree completion program for AS degree graduates and RRTs.

The program is part of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions, distinguished as an innovative and leading program with a long and celebrated history of preparing competent, caring and compassionate respiratory therapists. For years, GMercyU has been known as one of the leading schools for respiratory therapy. 

Here, you can acquire the value of a four-year degree from a program that’s accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and University Commission on Higher Education.

The Respiratory Care program, Associate of Science and Bachelor of Health Science degrees, offered on our Gwynedd Valley campus, is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care,*  You can view our current accreditation status here. 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.


Outstanding Pass Rates

Gwynedd Mercy University offers a wide range of educational advantages, making it one of the most prominent Baccalaureate Respiratory Care 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.

    Here, you'll earn the highest level of professional preparation within the field of respiratory care. All graduates of our bachelor’s degree program are:

    • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT), which is the entry-level credential
    • Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT), which is the highest level of credential

    Our respiratory therapy program curriculum will take you beyond entry-level capabilities, and teach you advanced-level respiratory care skills. Your clinical rotations will expose you to university teaching hospitals, pediatric and neonatal centers, community hospitals and alternate care sites.


    In 2020 and 2021, all GMercyU respiratory care graduates secured immediate employment in top area institutions. "Juniors in our program are already being recruited, some with signing bonuses and other compelling incentives," said Randy Solly, MS RRT RPFT, Professor of Practice and Program Coordinator of the Respiratory Care Program.


    Program Details

    Program Highlights

    More benefits of choosing GMercyU's Bachelor of Health Science in Respiratory Care include:

    • Progress in a career ladder approach (a 3+1 model, with the first 3 years representing the Associate Degree and the final year being a degree completion culminating in the Bachelor of Health Science Degree)
    • Gain hands-on experience through GMercyU’s 21 regional health care affiliations 
    • Get a head start on your career with full employment eligibility after year three
    • Participate in a fulfilling and exciting learning experience with the personal attention you need 
    • Attend courses taught by our experienced faculty who are published and present at state, national and international conferences and conventions
    • Experience GMercyU’s state-of-the-art Respiratory Care Laboratory with cutting edge technology and a comprehensive array of equipment, models, mannequins, and simulators

    As a graduate with a bachelor of health science in respiratory care, you’ll have first-hand experience, and be prepared to:

    • Use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and competently treat patients with cardiopulmonary disorders
    • Administer oxygen therapy, deliver inhaled medications, and initiate and maintain life support equipment, such as mechanical ventilators, among other responsibilities
    • Work in large academic medical centers, community hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long term care, and even the home care setting
    • Provide care for patients of all ages (from newborns to children, to adults and the elderly)
    • Enter entry-level leadership positions in education or management/ supervision

    In addition to general education coursework, students in respiratory care school 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 
    RC 232 Respiratory Theory  III
    RC 233 Respiratory & Cardiac Physiology 
    RC 234 Respiratory Pharmacology 
    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
    RC 251 Clinical Respiratory Care  II
    RC 330 Advanced Respiratory Theory I
    RC 331 Advanced Respiratory Theory II
    RC 332 Advanced Respiratory Theory III
    RC 333 Respiratory Pathophysiology
    RC 334 RC Research – Capstone
    RC 335 Respiratory Seminar – Capstone 
    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 (2 credits)
    HA/HS Elective (3) 

    Credit Requirement
    A minimum of 126 credits is required for the bachelor’s degree in respiratory care. To review respiratory therapy school course descriptions, please refer to the undergraduate catalog.

    Undergraduate Minors

    Increase the value of your bachelor's in respiratory care 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.

    Clinical Opportunities

    Here are some of the places where GMercyU’s Respiratory Care majors have gained practical, hands-on experience locally.  Some students choose to go to other regions of the country to gain hands-on experience and training.

    • Abington Memorial Hospital
    • Aria Health Systems (Frankford Hospitals)
    • Cancer Treatment Centers of America
    • Chester County Hospital
    • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
    • Doylestown Hospital
    • Einstein Montgomery Hospital
    • Fox Chase Cancer Center
    • Grandview Hospital
    • HCR Manor Care
    • The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
    • Jeanes Hospital
    • Lankenau Hospital
    • Lehigh Valley Hospital Center
    • Lehigh Valley Medical Center and Health Care System
    • Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia
    • Montgomery Einstein Hospital
    • Mercy Suburban Hospital
    • Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center
    Meet GMercyU's Respiratory Care Faculty

    William R. (Randy) Solly MS RRT RPFT

    Position: Professor of Practice and Program Coordinator, Respiratory Care
    Did You Know? Solly has presented at the local, state, and national levels on topics such as pulmonary function testing, updated spirometry standards, interventional bronchoscopy, disaster medicine, and health care provider burnout.

    Learn More

    William Galvin, MSEd, RRT, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC

    Position: Assistant Professor, Respiratory Care
    Did You Know? Galvin authored and edited the 60-chapter comprehensive textbook, Respiratory Care: Principles and Practice, which has been adopted and used by students in the RC Program. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards.

    Learn More

    Barbara Schuster, MSEd, RRT

    Position: Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education, Respiratory Care
    Did You Know? Schuster's specialties include Acute Care, Advance Cardiac Life Support, Invasive Cardiac Monitoring, Cardiopulmonary Anatomy & Physiology, and Neonatal & Pediatrics. 

    Learn More

    Tom Lamphere, BS, RRT-ACCS, RPFT, FAARC

    Position: Adjunct Professor, Respiratory Care
    Did You Know? He is currently the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care (PSRC).

    Learn More
    Griffin Success Stories

    Noel Beers '23

     Noel majors in Respiratory Care, serves as Vice President of Voices of Gwynedd, and is an EMS worker in his downtime. He loves the warmth of the GMercyU community and the access he has to his professors.

    "If my respiratory care professors have specific office hours, I wouldn't even know. I feel comfortable just stopping by to ask questions, and I know my fellow students have the same mindset," says Noel.

    Read more about Noel's GMercyU experience.


    Catharine Hay '21, RRT

    Catherine's first clinical experience confirmed that she was on the right career path. "When I placed my stethoscope on the patient’s back to listen to their breath sounds, I had a moment that made me realize that I was about to embark on a career that makes a huge difference," she said.

    Catharine landed her new job before she even graduated, as an RRT at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, and absolutely loves what she does for a living.  

    Read more about Catharine's GMercyU experience.


    Omar Duggan '16, RRT

    "[GMercyU] is more of a family-oriented school. Everyone’s really close, and the teachers really care about you and want you to succeed," said Omar. “My clinical work at HUP and at Magee made me see many different types of patients – and some of the equipment I used I haven’t even seen yet at my current hospital.” 

    Today, he is a respiratory therapist at The Brooklyn Hospital Center. Omar has also worked for Electromed, Inc., the company that makes SmartVest®, a device that helps keep airways clear for patients prone to illnesses such as pneumonia.

    Read more about Omar's GMercyU experience.


    "As a new graduate and a new employee in this field, I can honestly say that I truly love what I do. I am proud to call myself a GMercyU graduate for this reason." — Catharine Hay' 21, RRT



    More About Respiratory Care

    The Need for Qualified Respiratory Care Therapists

    Throughout the pandemic, respiratory therapists have cared for an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients who've required advanced and life-sustaining ventilator care.

    Yet even before COVID, there was an urgent need for more respiratory therapists due to an aging population and an increase in chronic diseases such as asthma and COPD. COPD is one of the  leading causes of death in the U.S., and the number of diagnosed asthmatics continues to rise.

    Earning your bachelor’s degree in respiratory care will qualify you to specialize and focus on the lungs and the heart, and to secure specialty credentials in areas such as adult critical care, neonatal/ pediatrics, pulmonary function testing, and asthma education. Additionally, you will be prepared to work in pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep medicine, and home care.

    You may also pursue leadership roles as a respiratory care supervisor, department director, clinical preceptor, classroom educator, disease manager, and/or in patient advocacy.

    Career Opportunities

    In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 23% increased demand for respiratory therapists through 2030 – almost double the expected growth of all healthcare jobs and nearly three times the growth of all occupations. And, respiratory care has been recognized as a career with a great return on investment. In 2021, the profession ranks #22 on U.S. News’ list of “Best Health Care Jobs” and #57 on their “100 Best Jobs” list. 

    Average Salary for Respiratory Therapists

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for respiratory therapists was $62,810 in May 2020, with the top 10% earning more than $89,170.

    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
    • Shift supervisor
    • Department manager
    • Classroom/laboratory instructor
    • Program director
    • Director of clinical education

    *This is only a partial list and not meant to limit you. Additional education and training may be required for some of these positions.

    Areas of Specialization 

    • Medical/ surgical care
    • Adult Critical Care
    • Neonatology
    • Pediatrics
    • Pulmonary diagnostics
    What Is Respiratory Therapy?

    Respiratory therapy is the study of issues affecting patients' hearts and lungs. Respiratory therapists evaluate, diagnose and treat heart and lung issues, including chronic diseases and emergencies. They may work in hospitals, long-term care facilities or in patients' home.

    What Does a Respiratory Therapist Do?

    Respiratory therapists diagnose and treat lung and heart problems in patients. They work as part of the medical team that administers medications, manages airways, and conducts rehabilitation activities. Here are some other job responsibilities:

    • Manage ventilation machines
    • Assess lung capacity
    • Perform diagnostic tests
    • Develop and implement treatment plans
    • Consult with physicians
    • Monitor and record progress of treatment plans
    • Educate patients about diseases and their treatments

    Next Steps

    Admission Requirements

    Have questions about GMercyU's admissions requirements or transferring eligible credits? Contact us! Our Admissions staff is ready to walk you through the process of applying to GMercyU’s BHS in Respiratory Care Program.

    Phone: 215-641-5510

    Please note: Students enrolling in this program must have the ability to obtain a U.S. background check and other clearances for placement in a U.S. clinical/school setting. U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is also a requirement for licensure within certain academic programs. International students and students who are under DACA status or are undocumented should carefully review the licensure requirements in their state before enrolling in a degree program that leads to licensure. Additional information can be found on the National Conference of State Legislatures website

    Licensure: This program was designed to meet the licensure requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you reside in a different state, you should carefully review your home state’s licensure requirements prior to enrolling in this program. For more information, please visit our Program Licensure Requirement page.

    Already Have a Degree and Looking to Change Careers?

    As a field with tremendous demand, respiratory therapy is a smart career move. Credits from your bachelor's degree may already count towards a GMercyU associate degree in Respiratory Care, allowing you to become a respiratory therapist in as few as 20 months.

    Find out how many credits from your bachelor's degree are transferable — contact our transfer admissions counselor, Emma Campbell at

    (Students earning a second undergraduate degree generally are not eligible for federal financial aid.)

    Financial Aid & Tuition

    At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs. 

    Tuition & Fees
    Financial Aid
    Scholarships and Grants
    Net-Price Calculator 

    Apply Now

    Gwynedd Mercy University offers a wide range of educational advantages, making it one of the most prominent Baccalaureate Respiratory Care Programs in PA. Start your journey today!