Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care

Respiratory Care, also known as respiratory therapy, is an exciting and challenging health profession responsible for providing care for patients with cardiopulmonary system deficiencies.  There are a variety of opportunities to practice respiratory care in areas such as critical care, neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, cardiopulmonary diagnostics, and in alternate site care such as nursing homes, long term acute care hospitals, home care, pulmonary rehabilitation, polysomnography (sleep studies), and disease management.

The respiratory therapist works with diverse patients ranging from newborn and pediatric patients to adults and the elderly.  Disease states or conditions often requiring respiratory care include asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, shock, trauma, and postoperative surgical care.

Graduates of the Respiratory Care program are awarded a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care degree and are eligible to sit for the national board examination for Entry Level Respiratory Therapists , which is the entry-level to practice respiratory therapy, and the Registry Examination for Advanced Respiratory Therapists (RRT), required for advanced-level respiratory therapy practice given by the National Board for Respiratory Care.  Graduates are also eligible to take any specialty examinations such as the perinatal/pediatrics and pulmonary function technology examinations.

The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), 1248 Harwood Rd., Bedford, Texas 76021-4244, phone (817) 283-2835, fax (817) 354-8519 


The application deadline for fall (July) entry into the Respiratory Care is April 15. The Texas Common Application is required for admission.  A completed application, the application fee, official transcripts from each college or university attended, test scores, and other supporting documents must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by April 15. The completed ap­plication, official transcripts, and all supporting materials must be on file before the application can be processed. It is the applicant’s responsibility to verify that all documents have been received before the application deadline.

A maximum of 30 full-time students are admitted to the Respiratory Care program each year.  Admission is on a competitive basis. In addition to non-academic factors that may be considered, the basis for inviting an applicant for an interview includes the applicant’s academic performance represented by coursework grades, load, trends, and degree of difficulty. 

Bachelor of Science in RC applicants must complete the Texas Core Curriculum (42 hours) with a grade of a C or better in all Core courses:

  • English Composition I & II, 6 hours
  • College Algebra, 3 hours
  • General Chemistry I with lab, 4 hours
  • Biology I & II with labs, 8 hours
  • Any philosophy, language, humanities, or English Literature course, 3 hours
  • Any arts, drama, or music course, 3 hours
  • History 1301 & 1302, 6 hours
  • Government 2301 & 2302 or 2305 & 2306, 6 hours
  • Any psychology or sociology course, 3 hours

 All applicants must complete the program prerequisites (18 hours) and requirements below: 

  • Any Anatomy & Physiology I & II with labs, 8 hours
  • Microbiology, 3 hours
  • Physics I with lab, 4 hours
  • Statistics (math or psychology), 3 hours
  • Sophomore standing or higher at the time of application (minimum of 60 hours)
  • Overall GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Completion of the Texas Common Application
  • Payment of the non-refundable application fee
  • Submission of official transcripts from each college and university currently or previously attended.   Applicants who are enrolled in college courses at the time of application should submit an official transcript showing courses in progress.  An updated transcript must be submitted upon completion of the courses.  Note: Transfer credits indicated on another school’s transcript are not accepted in lieu of submitting the original institution record for that coursework. Transcripts from institutions outside the United States must be submitted in the original language and must be accompanied by a NACES Members evaluation agency English translation.
  • Personal interview with program faculty
  • International Applicants only: Submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores; minimum scores 560 (paper) or 68 (Internet).              


Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care

The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care degree requires a minimum of 125 semester credit hours, including the Texas Core Curriculum requirements, program prerequisites, respiratory care coursework, and clinical practice. The professional phase of the program, which consists of respiratory care coursework and clinical practice, is completed at the Health Science Center and affiliated clinical sites. The professional phase is approximately 23 months long and is dedicated to clinical and academic excellence. This includes approximately 1,000 hours of in-hospital clinical experiences. As a leadership program in respiratory care, the program is designed to provide graduates with the opportunity to gain the foundation needed to assume professional leadership roles in clinical practice, clinical specialty areas, research, education, and management. 

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program

Individuals that hold the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential awarded by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) and are graduates of a regionally accredited and CoARC-accredited program are eligible to apply for the Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program.

Individuals holding the RRT credential may be eligible to receive up to 35 semester credit hours based on the RRT credential.  Such individuals must enroll in and complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework at the Health Science Center and must complete all Texas Core Curriculum courses before beginning the Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program. 

To graduate from the RC program, a student must:

  • Complete all required respiratory care pre-professional and professional courses with a grade of C or better
  • Successfully complete the Entry Level CRT and RRT Examinations given by the National Board for Respiratory Care, or an equivalent departmental examination
  • Successfully complete a comprehensive end-of program competency assessment
  • Hold current certification in Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Neonatal Resuscitation Provider (NRP).

Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care Sample Plans of Study

First Year
FallCredit Hours
RESC 3002Fundamentals of Respiratory Care 4
RESC 3005Respiratory Care Pharmacology 2
RESC 3010Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology I 4
RESC 3011Patient Assessment 3
RESC 3019Clinical Practice 1 3
RESC 3020Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology 2 3
RESC 3023Pulmonary Function Testing 2
RESC 3029Clinical Practice 2 4
RESC 3030Respiratory Care across the Life Span 3
RESC 3031Critical Respiratory Care Management 4
Second Year
RESC 4009Clinical Practice 3 5
RESC 4010Advanced Critical Care Management 5
RESC 4012Disease Management, Rehabilitation, and Extended Care 4
RESC 4017Introduction to Research 2
RESC 4013Leadership and Management in Respiratory Care 3
RESC 4015Education in Respiratory Care 3
RESC 4029Clinical Specialization 6
RESC 4030Research Practice and Principles 3
 Total Credit Hours: 65.0

Respiratory Care Degree Completion Program Curriculum (online)

RESC 3020Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology 23
RESC 3030Respiratory Care across the Life Span3
RESC 4012Disease Management, Rehabilitation, and Extended Care4
RESC 4013Leadership and Management in Respiratory Care3
RESC 4015Education in Respiratory Care3
RESC 4017Introduction to Research2
RESC 4021Issues and Trends4
RESC 4029/4091Clinical Specialization6
RESC 4030Research Practice and Principles3
Total Credit Hours31

Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care Objectives/Program Outcomes

Upon graduating from the Respiratory Care program, the student will possess the following abilities and competencies (adopted from the Competencies Needed by Graduate Respiratory Therapist in 2015 and Beyond. Respiratory Care Journal. May 2010. 55 (5) 602-607)

Evidence-Based Medicine & Respiratory Care Protocol Competencies

  • Critique published research.
  • Explain the meaning of general statistical tests.
  • Apply evidence-based medicine to clinical practice.
  • Explain the use of evidence-based medicine in the development and application of hospital-based RC protocols.
  • Evaluate and treat patients in a variety of settings, using the appropriate respiratory care protocol.

Leadership Competencies

  • Contribute to organizational teams as related to planning and collaborative decision making.
  • Describe fundamental organizational implications of regulatory requirements on the healthcare system.
  • Demonstrate effective written and verbal communications with various members of the healthcare team, patients, families, and other stakeholders to include cultural competence and literacy.
  • Describe healthcare financial reimbursement systems and the need to reduce the cost of delivering healthcare.
  • Lead care planning groups, bedside decision making, and collaboration with all healthcare professionals.

Diagnostic Competencies

  • Perform spirometry to include coaching, recognition of improperly performed maneuvers, corrective actions and interpretation of test results.
  • Compare and evaluate indications and contraindications for advance Pulmonary Function tests and recognize normal and abnormal results.
  • Compare and evaluate the indications and contraindication s for sleep studies and relate results to the types of respiratory sleep disorders. .
  • Determine the indications, contraindications, general hazards, and complications associated with bronchoscopy procedures and the role of the respiratory therapist.
  • Monitor and evaluate the noninvasive monitoring devices associated with the patient’s clinical condition.
  • Perform arterial puncture sampling, and analysis.

Chronic and Acute Disease-Management Competencies

  • Describe the etiology, anatomy, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiopulmonary diseases (e.g., asthma, COPD) and the accompanying comorbidities.
  • Communicate and educate to empower and engage patients.
  • Develop, administer, and reevaluate the care plan for chronic disease management.
  • Develop and manage care plans in the acute-care setting, using evidence-based medicine, protocols, and clinical practice guidelines.

Emergency Care Competencies

  • Maintain current certifications and perform basic life support, advanced cardiovascular life support, pediatric advanced life support and neonatal resuscitation in appropriate clinical settings according to the guidelines.
  • Perform endotracheal intubation.
  • Perform as a member of the rapid response team (RRT).
  • Participate in mass-casualty staffing to provide airway management, manual and mechanical ventilatory life support, medical gas administration, aerosol delivery of bronchodilators and other agents in the resuscitation of respiratory and cardiovascular failure.
  • Provide intra-hospital transport of critically and chronically ill patients and provide cardiopulmonary life support and airway control during transport.
  • Recommend emergency pharmacotherapy in clinical settings.

Critical Care Competencies

  • Effectively demonstrate practice and analysis on all invasive and noninvasive mechanical ventilators.
  • Interpret ventilator and hemodynamic monitoring data and be able to calibrate these monitoring devices.
  • Manage airway devices and the airway monitoring systems.
  • Make recommendations for treatment based on waveform graphics, pulmonary mechanics, and related imaging studies.
  • Evaluate and treat using therapeutic medical gases for critically ill patients.
  • Apply circulatory gas-exchange systems in respiratory care practice (e.g., ECMO).
  • Participate in collaborative care management based on evidence-based protocols.
  • Deliver therapeutic interventions based on protocol.
  • Integrate the delivery of basic and advanced therapeutics in conjunction with the mechanical ventilator in the care of critically ill patients.
  • Make recommendations and provide treatment to critically ill patients based on pathophysiology.
  • Recommend cardiovascular agents based on pharmacologic actions.
  • Use electronic medical record data systems in respiratory care practice.

Patient Assessment Competencies

  • Complete patient assessment through physical examination, chart review, and share the information with the healthcare team members.
  • Obtain medical, surgical, and family history social, behavioral, occupational, and other historical information related to the patient’s current complaint.
  • Review and interpret pulmonary function studies to include spirometry, lung volumes and diffusion studies.
  • Review and interpret arterial blood gas results, electrolytes, CBC, and related laboratory tests
  • Inspect the chest and extremities to detect deformation, cyanosis, edema, clubbing, and other anomalies.
  • Measure and document vital signs correctly under all conditions (e.g. blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation).
  • Evaluate the patient’s breathing effort, ventilatory pattern, and use of accessory muscles.

Therapeutic Competencies

  • Assess the need, administer, and evaluate respiratory therapies in all patient settings prior to, during, and after therapy.

Therapeutic Applications Competencies

  • Assess, administer, evaluate and trouble shoot:
    • all medical gas delivery systems
    • all humidity therapy systems
    • all aerosol delivery systems
    • all hyperinflation systems
    • airway management skills
    • all mechanical ventilation

Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care Program Policies and Information

Computer Requirement

Respiratory care students are required to purchase a laptop computer from the Health Science Center Computer Store on matriculation. The cost of the computer is calculated into program costs, and eligible students may receive financial aid to purchase the computer. Students are expected to have high-speed Internet access.

Program Costs

In addition to required tuition and fees, there are costs for textbooks, scrubs, and equipment.  The clinical rotations and the specialization/internship experiences included in the curriculum may require that students travel outside of San Antonio.  Clinical rotation expenses will vary according to individual arrangements and depending on the cost of travel, temporary housing, maintenance of local accommodations, etc. Students are encouraged to budget for major expenditures that could be associated with these course experiences.  Detailed information about program costs can be found on the Department of Respiratory Care website.


RESC 3002. Fundamentals of Respiratory Care. 4 Credit Hours.

The course will present the principles of chemistry and physics as they apply to respiratory care. Students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with basic respiratory care equipment. Specific types of therapy are examined to understand the principles of application to patients, indications, hazards, contraindications, select, assemble, and troubleshoot equipment. Equipment will include oxygen delivery services, aerosol generators, medication delivery devices, pressure ventilators, gas delivery, metering and analyzing devices, percussor, positive pressure devices, environmental devices, manometers, gauges, and vacuum systems.

RESC 3005. Respiratory Care Pharmacology. 2 Credit Hours.

This course introduces the physiologic and pharmacologic basis of pulmonary and cardiac medications. Students will study several aspects of the formulation and preparation of the most commonly prescribed respiratory drugs. Pharmacodynamics and pharmacoknetics will be discussed along with drug formulation, drug dosage calculations, indications, contraindications and side effects of cardiac and pulmonary medications. Topics covered include an overview of bronchactive agents, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-asthmatics, neuromuscular blocking agents, diuretics, cardiac drugs and drugs that affect the central nervous system.

RESC 3010. Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology I. 4 Credit Hours.

Provides a comprehensive approach to etiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of common pulmonary diseases and syndromes. Main topics include obstructive and restrictive pulmonary disorder.

RESC 3011. Patient Assessment. 3 Credit Hours.

Fundamentals of respiratory assessment will be covered to include review of existing data in the patient record, patient history, physical examination, oximetry, blood gases, respiratory monitoring, pulmonary function assessment, laboratory studies, chest and upper airway radiographs, ventilation/perfusion scans, bedside EKG interpretation, cardiovascular monitoring, and nutritional assessment.

RESC 3019. Clinical Practice 1. 3 Credit Hours.

This course introduces students to clinical practice in basic respiratory care procedures. Topics include: introduction to the clinical affiliate, patient assessment, medical gas therapy, oxygen therapy, and aerosol therapy. In addition, hyperinflation therapy, airway clearance therapy, airway care using nasal, endotracheal and tracheal tubes is introduced in basic care situations. Case presentations are required to integrate clinical and classroom theory.

RESC 3020. Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology 2. 3 Credit Hours.

Provides a comprehensive approach to etiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of common diseases and syndromes that affect the respiratory system. Non-respiratory disorders impacting cardiopulmonary function commonly encountered in the critical care unit will be discussed including renal and cardiovascular diseases.

RESC 3021. Mechanical Ventilation. 3.5 Credit Hours.

This course provides instruction in the theory, setup, operation, and maintenance of mechanical ventilators and related equipment. Topics include mechanical ventilator theory, ventilator operation, ventilator maintenance, and troubleshooting. Maintenance of artificial airways, fiber-optic bronchoscopy, thoracentesis, chest tube maintenance, and arterial blood gas sampling related to the critical care patient.

RESC 3023. Pulmonary Function Testing. 2 Credit Hours.

This course provides a comprehensive overview of diagnostic tests used to evaluate normal and abnormal pulmonary function. Students will have the opportunity to perform, interpret and evaluate various tests of lung functions, including spirometry, measurement of lung volumes, diffusing capacity and metabolic measurements. Additionally, students will learn how to operate, calibrate and do quality control on pulmonary function and gas analysis equipment.

RESC 3029. Clinical Practice 2. 4 Credit Hours.

Critical respiratory care is introduced to include all tasks presented in Clinical Practice I as applied to the intensive care unit. In addition, tracheostomy care, ventilator monitoring, arterial puncture and blood gas analysis, endotracheal intubation, EKG services, and bronchoscopy observation are introduced. Case presentations are required to integrate clinical and classroom theory. Prerequisites: RESC 3019.

RESC 3030. Respiratory Care across the Life Span. 3 Credit Hours.

This course will provide students with a holistic view of how respiratory therapists interact with patients of all ages. Principles, practices, theories and therapeutics related to cardiopulmonary health and disease across the neonatal, pediatric, adolescent, adulthood and geriatric periods will be covered. Presenting respiratory care as a continuum will provide students with a unique developmental overview, designed to enhance their didactic and clinical acumen.

RESC 3031. Critical Respiratory Care Management. 4 Credit Hours.

This course provides a study of invasive and non-invasive patient monitoring techniques and equipment. Invasive topics will include arterial pressure monitoring, central venous and pulmonary artery catheters, as well as cardiac output measurement. Non-invasive monitoring topics include pulse oximetry, transcutaneous monitoring, inductance plethysmography, capnogrpahy and electrocardiogram. It also covers instruction on the phase of adult critical care and continuous mechanical ventilation. The history of mechanical ventilation , modes of mechanical ventilatory support, implementation, patient stabilization, monitoring, hemodynamcis, ventilator weaning and discontinuance will be covered.

RESC 4001. Cardiopulmonary Technology. 3 Credit Hours.

An overview of the various areas comprising cardiopulmonary diagnostics and related technology will be provided. Topics include sleep laboratory, stress and exercise testing, metabolic testing, ventilation/ perfusion scanning, cardiac catheterization laboratory, and noninvasive cardiology. In addition, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, mechanical circulatory assistance, hyperbaric medicine, and perfusion technology will be introduced.

RESC 4002. Geriatric Respiratory Care. 2 Credit Hours.

The course introduces students to aging issues along with expected psychological changes in older adults and how they relate to patient care. Topics include: ageism, demographics of aging, age associated cardiac and pulmonary changes, geriatric patient assessment, atypical disease presentation, pulmonary disease, geriatric pharmacotherapy, delirium and dementia, communicating with the elderly, health aging strategies, and health care economics.

RESC 4003. Pediatric and Neonatal Respiratory Care. 4 Credit Hours.

The processes of growth and development relating to respiratory care, from the fetus to the adolescent, will be discussed. The study relates physiologic function to respiratory care including assessment, evaluation, and treatment. Topics include fetal growth and development, neonatal growth and development, fetal assessment, fetal evaluation, neonatal assessment, neonatal evaluation, neonatal respiratory care, neonatal pathology, pediatric pathology, and pediatric respiratory care.

RESC 4009. Clinical Practice 3. 5 Credit Hours.

Students will have an opportunity to further develop skills required in the intensive care of the respiratory patient. Topics include comprehensive ventilator management, measurement and evaluation of hemodynamic variables, noninvasive monitoring, and pulmonary function laboratory. Specialty rotations include: intubation, hyperbaric oxygen therapy units, cardiac catheterization, chocardiography, pulmonary rehabilitation and home care. This course also introduces the student to neonatal and pediatric care. Case presentations are required to integrate clinical and classroom theory. This clinic also includes a review of respiratory care as it pertains to the national credentialing examinations administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

RESC 4010. Advanced Critical Care Management. 5 Credit Hours.

An overview of the various areas comprising cardiopulmonary diagnostics as they apply to neonatse, pediatric and adult populations. Topics include advanced hemodynamic monitoring, ventilation/perfusion scanning, cardiac catheterization and noninvasive cardiology. In addition, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), mechanical circulatory assistance and perfusion technology will be introduced. This course has a laboratory component to utilize the respiratory care equipment used for ventilating neonates, pediatric and adult patients.


This course is a review of respiratory care as it pertains to the national credentialing examinations administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). A series of simulation examinations will be used to help students prepare for these exams. Emphasis will be placed on decision making and problem solving as they relate to clinical respiratory care. Topics include Certified Respiratory Therapy Technician (CRTT) exam preparation and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) exam preparation.

RESC 4012. Disease Management, Rehabilitation, and Extended Care. 4 Credit Hours.

This course provides an overview of the concepts, procedures, and equipment utilized in the delivery of long-term care to persons with a chronic cardiopulmonary disorder. The development and implementation of disease management programs for the care of patients with asthma, COPD, and other chronic conditions is presented. Pulmonary rehabilitation, patient education, and smoking cessation programs are reviewed. Provision of health care services in the home and other nonacute settings is examined, along with technological and procedural aspects of cardiopulmonary equipment.

RESC 4013. Leadership and Management in Respiratory Care. 3 Credit Hours.

This course is an introduction to management principles and problems and their relation to health care organizations. The duites and obligations of the healthcare manager are covered and related to various leadership strategies. The student will develop an understanding of their own personal leadership style and how to effectively utilize their strenghts in a leadership capacity. The primary focus is on hospital-based respiratory care departments and alternative settings. Open to seniors only.

RESC 4015. Education in Respiratory Care. 3 Credit Hours.

This course is an introduction to basic principles and techniques used in respiratory care education. Topics include patient education, inservice education, course design, objectives, lesson-plan development, learning activities, use of media, development of presentations, testing, and evaluation. Senior status is required.

RESC 4017. Introduction to Research. 2 Credit Hours.

This course provides an overview of the basic principles of research, research design and statistical analysis as it relates to healthcare professionals, with the goal of encouraging involvement in research after graduation. Students will develop a hypothesis, write a problem statement, review the literature, evaluate the literature, design a study, analyze data, write an abstract and prepare a poster for presentation to the class. Open to seniors only.

RESC 4019. Clinical Practice 4. 4 Credit Hours.

The course focuses on perinatal and pediatric respiratory care. Topics include: medical gas therapy, oxygen delivery devices, aerosol therapy, hyperinflation therapy, airway clearance devices, patient assessment, monitoring (invasive and noninvasive), airway care, and labor and delivery assistance. Speciality rotations include the burn unit. Case presentations are required to integrate clinical and classroom theory and review the national credentialing examinations. Prerequisites: RESC 3019, RESC 3029, and RESC 4009.

RESC 4021. Issues and Trends. 4 Credit Hours.

Current issues relevant to the cardiopulmonary sciences and respiratory care will be explored. Health care delivery systems, new trends in organization and management, new treatments and technologies, ethical issues in health care, as well as issues related to professional development and practice will be discussed in the capstone course for advanced standing students. For Bachelor Degeee completion students only.

RESC 4029. Clinical Specialization. 6 Credit Hours.

Students will have an opportunity for in-depth application and reinforcement of critical care competencies. In addition, students are provided with the opportunity to develop an area of specialization. Specialization areas may include neonatal/pediatrics, adult critical care, pulmonary function laboratory, advanced diagnostics, pulmonary rehabilitation, home care, management, research, or education. Prerequisites: RESC 4019.

RESC 4030. Research Practice and Principles. 3 Credit Hours.

This course provides an opportunity to expand research knowledge in practice and principles. This course provides the student with an opportunity to expand research knowledge into application. The course will provide a study of the research process including IRB application, design, data collection and reporting. Topics include scientific method, theory, development of research questions, issues of measurement, models of experimental and non experimental designs. The learner will conduct a research project and write a manuscript.

RESC 4091. Independent Study. 1-6 Credit Hours.

This course includes independent reading, research, discussion, and/or writing under the direction of a faculty member. The course may be repeated.