Degree type(s): Master's
Degree field(s): Healthcare
Location(s): Bismarck, ND

MS in Respiratory Therapy Overview

Graduate degree; Master of Science

Earn your master’s degree in a program designed to prepare leaders in the field of respiratory therapy. In the Respiratory Therapy master’s program at the University of Mary, you will gain the knowledge and skills to provide therapies, develop care strategies, and offer education for patients suffering from a variety of respiratory and cardiac problems. Graduates of the professional curriculum are eligible to sit for state licensing and national credentialing examinations offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care, leading to the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.  

The professional respiratory therapy program is located at CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck, North Dakota (which includes faculty offices, laboratory, classroom and clinical facilities), and is co-sponsored by the University of Mary and CHI St. Alexius. The master’s program curriculum consists of classroom, laboratory, and clinical practicum courses, including over 1100 hours of supervised experience in direct patient interaction.


Respiratory Therapy Master’s Program Highlights

The Respiratory Therapy master’s degree program at the University of Mary offers unique learning experiences and hands-on opportunities to learn within a supportive healthcare community:

  • Earn your MS in Respiratory Therapy in a program designed to accelerate your mobility into leadership roles, such as healthcare education coordinators, clinical instructors, clinical team leaders, assistant managers, or specialty therapists.
  • Gain valuable career experience through classroom, laboratory, and clinical practicum courses, including over 1100 hours of supervised experience in direct patient interaction.
  • Learn from experienced faculty who bring professional respiratory therapy practice experience to the classroom.
  • Develop a foundation for the practice of professional skills, therapeutic use of self, ethical decision making, attitudes of service, and respect for others through a curriculum based in Christian, Catholic, Benedictine values.

Career Outlook for Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists are essential members of the modern healthcare team and work in collaboration with physicians and other health professionals in adult and newborn intensive care units, hospital emergency rooms, outpatient rehabilitation clinics, sleep-related breathing disorders clinics, and in the home. In addition to treatment, respiratory therapists perform complex diagnostic and monitoring procedures to assist physicians in devising an appropriate care strategy. In the home, outpatient, and community settings, respiratory therapists provide education to patients and families in the day-to-day self-management of chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that employment of respiratory therapists will grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations, due in part to the growth in the middle-aged and elderly population. The University of Mary Respiratory Therapy master’s degree program outcomes (including attrition, job placement, and graduate credentialing success) can be compared to the outcomes of all accredited programs in the United States at the CoARC website. 


Upon completion of the Master’s of Science in Respiratory Therapy, graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the physiological bases for all therapeutic interventions and diagnostic procedures in all areas of respiratory therapy practice
  • Demonstrate proficiency in implementing all respiratory therapy treatment and diagnostic procedures
  • Demonstrate proficiency in interpreting physical exam findings, cardiopulmonary monitoring data, laboratory data, and diagnostic imaging information
  • Demonstrate problem solving and critical thinking skills as consultants to physicians and other healthcare personnel in developing cardiopulmonary care strategies
  • Demonstrate proficiency in establishing an evidence base for best practice through research and the critique and interpretation of the professional scientific literature
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the ethical obligations and responsibilities of healthcare professionals and institutions
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the legal, social and economic environments in which healthcare institutions function
  • Demonstrate effective cross-cultural human interaction skills in the healthcare setting and the broader community
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current issues and trends in healthcare, including public policy, healthcare access and reimbursement issues
  • Demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication, including the preparation of a manuscript suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal
  • Educate patients and the general public in matters of cardiopulmonary health and chronic disease management
  • Develop a healthcare related research proposal that meets requirements for institutional review board approval   
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge in one of three specialization areas in respiratory therapy: (1) professional education; (2) hospital department administrative leadership; or (3)a clinical specialty practice area   

Professional Graduate Curriculum

First Year

Fall Semester

RTH 301 Introduction to Respiratory Care - 3

RTH 305 Basic Procedures - 6

RTH 307 Basic Procedures Laboratory - 1

RTH 535 Clinical Cardiopulmonary Physiology - 6

Total Credits - 16


Spring Semester

RTH 320 Clinical Practicum I - 3

RTH 622 Clinical Cardiopulmonary Assessment - 5

RTH 526 Human Diseases I - 4

RTH 536 Critical Respiratory Care - 5

RTH 438 Ventilator/Critical Care Laboratory - 1

Total Credits - 18



RTH 427 Human Disease II - 2

Total Credits - 2



RTH 616 Pediatric/Neonatal Respiratory Care - 3

RTH 430 Clinical Practicum II - 5

Total Credits - 8


Second Year

Fall Semester

RTH 411 Respiratory Care in Alternate Sites - 2

RTH 650 Research - 2

RTH 652 Health Promotion - 2

RTH 441 Clinical Practicum III - 8

Total Credits - 14


Spring Semester

RTH 618 Department Leadership - 2

RTH 420 Professional Seminar - 2

RTH 628 Respiratory Care Specialty Capstone - 8

Total Credits - 12


Professional Phase Total Credits - 70

Total Graduate Credits - 37

Even as one of the most affordable private universities in the nation, the University of Mary does offer a variety of scholarships. In fact, 99% of main campus undergraduate students receive some form of scholarship! 

Some scholarships are available for specific academic programs, such as nursing, while other scholarships are available for certain student populations, such as military and veteran students

We strongly encourage you to contact your personal admissions representative to discover all of the options that might be available to you. In many cases, a program specific scholarship is just one component of a complete financial aid package. 

Our admissions professionals will work together with our Office of Financial Assistance to ensure that you get the best financial aid package possible to finance your education. 

The application deadline is February 15 each year. Applicants for admission to the Professional Master of Science in Respiratory Therapy degree must meet the following minimum qualifying criteria: 

1. Earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with an overall college grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher   

2. Admission to the University of Mary Graduate Studies  

3. A 3.00 or higher GPA in the respiratory therapy program's prerequisite pre-professional courses in math, biology, chemistry, physics, pharmacology, ethics, English (communication) and social sciences, with no individual course grade below a "C."  

4. Three letters of reference from the applicant's undergraduate professors or academic counselors who are in a position to judge the applicant's written communication proficiency and ability to perform graduate level work. In addition, applicants must have successfully completed the following prerequisite courses: 

  • General Inorganic Chemistry (two semesters)  
  • Microbiology  
  • College Algebra  
  • Ethics  
  • Introduction to Physics  
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology (two semesters)  
  • Pharmacology

Upon meeting preliminary qualifying criteria, applicants are eligible for a respiratory therapy admissions interview. Admissions decisions are based academic GPA, references, and the interview score.

Program Advisors: 
Christine Sperle, Chair and Director
Jessica Arndt, Director of Clinical Education
Dr. Will Beachey
Dr. Elizabeth Hughes

For more information on the MS in Respiratory Therapy program, please contact the University of Mary Graduate Admissions Office at (800) 288-6279.

If you are considering a master’s degree in respiratory therapy, you might also be interested in the following graduate programs offered at the University of Mary: