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Respiratory Therapist Associates Degree / Bachelors Degree Program

Medical school

Respiratory Therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing — for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock. The respiratory therapy field requires compassion, attention to detail, strong problem-solving abilities, and interpersonal and communication skills.

About Our Program

The Respiratory Therapy Program at Simi Institute for Careers & Education is conducted in consortium with Excelsior College and is an associate's degree program that starts in June of every year. There is also an option to earn a bachelor’s degree. The RT Program prepares the graduate to apply and take the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credentialing examination by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) and apply for the Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) License by the Respiratory Care Board (RCB) of California.

This intensive SICE Respiratory Therapy program includes courses in math and science, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, microbiology and infection control, foundations of respiratory care, applied anatomy and physiology, assessment of respiratory disorders, cardiopulmonary disease and pharmacology, airway management and therapy, acute and critical care, preventative and long-term care, exam preparation, and clinical experiences in area hospitals. Associates / Bachelor’s degree from Excelsior University has additional course requirements. 

View excelsior program outline for b.s. degree

The Respiratory Therapy Program of Simi Institute for Careers & Education / Excelsior University Consortium, with CoARC number 200586, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (

Program Admission


The application process is now closed for the 2024 / 2026 cohorts. Please check back in January 2025.


A non-refundable application fee of $50 is required and must be paid at time of application submission.  


The total approximate cost for enrollment, tuition, and graduation is between $5,800 - $8,700, depending upon credits. More information will be available during the application process.  Excelsior offers a payment plan and you may also qualify for financial aid. Please visit their website for more information.



Selection for the Respiratory Therapy program is based on:

  • application essay
  • a written entrance test of adult basic skills
  1. Part 1:  English - reading comprehension and language skills
  2. Part 2:  Math skills - equations, fractions, percentages, scientific notation, pre-algebra
  • an interview with SICE Respiratory Program Staff
  • academic preparation (from optional transcripts)
  • relevant work experience or volunteer work (listed in application)

Although not required for admission, successful completion of college courses and experience in the medical field are considered in admission selections.  Transcripts must be provided with the application packet in order for coursework to be considered.  A record of work experience, volunteer work, or involvement in school clubs is also favorable.


Must be 18 years or older with a US high school diploma, GED (English version) or US college degree. Must speak, read, and write English at a college level. Foreign transcripts must be translated by a third party. Per the requirements of our clinical site partners, all Respiratory Therapist students are required to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination(s) prior to beginning any externship. No exceptions will be made.

At the student's expense, the following are required:

1. A physical exam that includes extensive lab work and proof of Hepatitis B immunization AFTER acceptance into program.

2. A current background check (90 days or newer) BEFORE starting clinical externship. Additional background check may be required for licensing and / or registration with the appropriate governing board.


This program plan outlines how students may transfer from Simi Institute's Respiratory Therapy program to the Excelsior College A.S. Liberal Arts program.

2024 / 2026 Cohort

Dates: June 2024 - June 2026

Days: Monday - Friday

Time: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm (Externship sites and hours may vary. May include evenings.)

Room: 504, 703 & 704

Year 1 Fee: $12,050* ($50 Application Fee; $4,000 Summer Term 2024; $4,000 Fall Term 2024; $4,000 Spring Term 2025). Includes SICE Respiratory Therapy courses, uniforms, textbooks, required course materials, CPR training & certification, Fire Card, background check, and drug screening.

Year 2 Fee: $250* (Summer Term 2025). Includes all Year 2 SICE Respiratory Therapy courses, credentialing exam preparation course, and clinical externship.

Additional Fees: Approximately $5,800 - $8,700. Please read the application packet for Excelsior University fees and more information on additional costs associated with clinical preparation (such as physical and immunizations), the completion of associates degree, credentialing exam, and obtaining licensure as an RT in California.

NCCRS Credits: 54 (Please Note: AS Degree requires 73 units; BS Degree requires 120 units)

Medical Program Requirements: All SICE medical courses include required textbooks, supplies, and uniforms (unless otherwise noted). Students in all SICE medical programs should be 18 years or older, and speak, read, and write at a minimum 10th grade level.

Clinical Requirements: A Social Security or tax ID number, background check, medical exam, vaccinations (including Covid-19), drug screening, government-issued picture ID, N95 mask fitting, CPR, TB test, and Fire Card (for Los Angeles if applicable) are mandatory for those SICE medical programs that require clinical externships at partner facilities. Other clinical requirements may exist. Clinical externships included in SICE medical programs are unpaid educational experiences.

Licensing Requirements: In addition to program completion and clinical requirements, proof of U.S. High School diploma or equivalent, passing licensure exam score, and additional items may be required for licensure in California. 

Prerequisite: U.S high school diploma or equivalent (foreign equivalency accepted). Must speak, read, and write English at a college level.

*Fees and dates are subject to change.

+Excelsior University courses are offered online with flexible schedules. Transfer credits from other accredited universities area also accepted for most courses.

A background check may be required for externships, clinicals and licensing, certification or registration with the appropriate governing board.


Program Flyer

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Job Duties

Respiratory therapists typically perform the following tasks:
  • Interview and examine patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Consult with physicians to develop patient treatment plans
  • Perform diagnostic tests, such as measuring lung capacity
  • Treat patients by using a variety of methods, including chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications
  • Monitor and record patients’ progress
  • Teach patients how to use treatments and equipment, such as ventilators

Respiratory therapists use various tests to evaluate patients. For example, therapists test lung capacity by having patients breathe into an instrument that measures the volume and flow of oxygen when they inhale and exhale. Respiratory therapists also may take blood samples and use a blood gas analyzer to test oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Respiratory therapists perform chest physiotherapy on patients to remove mucus from their lungs and make it easier for them to breathe. Removing mucus is necessary for patients suffering from lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, and involves the therapist vibrating the patient’s rib cage, often by tapping the patient’s chest and encouraging him or her to cough.

Respiratory therapists may connect patients who cannot breathe on their own to ventilators that deliver oxygen to the lungs. Therapists insert a tube in the patient’s windpipe (trachea) and connect the tube to ventilator equipment. They set up and monitor the equipment to ensure that the patient is receiving the correct amount of oxygen at the correct rate.

Respiratory therapists who work in home care teach patients and their families to use ventilators and other life-support systems in their homes. During these visits, they may inspect and clean equipment, check the home for environmental hazards, and ensure that patients know how to use their medications. Therapists also make emergency home visits when necessary.

In some hospitals, respiratory therapists are involved in related areas, such as diagnosing breathing problems for people with sleep apnea and counseling people on how to stop smoking.

Work Environment

Most — about 4 out of 5 —  respiratory therapists work in hospitals. Others work in nursing care facilities and physicians’ offices. Respiratory therapists are on their feet for long periods and may need to lift or turn disabled patients. Therapists work closely with registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and medical assistants.

Work Schedule

Most respiratory therapists work full time. Because they may work in medical facilities, such as hospitals that are always open, some may work evening, night, or weekend hours.

Important Qualities To Have

Compassion. Respiratory therapists should be able to provide emotional support to patients undergoing treatment and be sympathetic to their needs.

Detail oriented. Respiratory therapists must be detail oriented to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate treatments and medications in a timely manner. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills. Respiratory therapists interact with patients and often work as part of a team. They must be able to follow instructions from a supervising physician.

Patience. Respiratory therapists may work for long periods with patients who need special attention.

Problem-solving skills. Respiratory therapists need strong problem-solving skills. They must evaluate patients’ symptoms, consult with other healthcare professionals, and recommend and administer the appropriate treatments.

Science and math skills. Respiratory therapists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate the right dose of a patient’s medicine.

Respiratory Therapist FAQs

How long is the program?

  • The program is two full years.

How much does the program cost?

  • The program costs approximately $21,000, which includes all materials, Excelsior costs, etc. All of these costs are broken down in the information packet.

When does the program start?

  • New cohorts begin once a year, starting in June. 

When are applications available?

Applications for the next cohort will be available in January 2025.

What happens during the application process?

  1. A non-refundable application fee of $50 is required and must be paid at time of application submission. 
  2. Once your application is submitted with relevant attachments, you will receive an email regarding TABE testing.
  3. TABE testing of all applicants for reading comprehension is scheduled and conducted.
  4. Interviews with RT staff are scheduled and conducted.
  5. Upon completion of the application process, all applicants will be notified of their status in the program via email.

Do you offer financial aid?

  • Yes. Please visit our Financial Aid page to see the full list of financial aid opportunities. 
National Board for Respiratory Care

For more information on the steps to becoming a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination (TMC), and the Clinical Simulation Examination (CSE), please visit the National Board for Respiratory Care's website.  

You can learn more about our school's Respiratory Therapy program on the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care's "Programmatic Outcomes" webpage. Programmatic outcomes are performance indicators that reflect the extent to which the goals of the program are achieved and by which program effectiveness is documented. Programmatic outcomes data reported on the CoARC website include: 3-year time period being reported; CRT credentialing success; RRT credentialing success; Achievement of the high cut score on the TMC Exam (beginning 2018); Retention (Attrition); Job placement; Overall Graduate Satisfaction; Overall Employer Satisfaction; On-time Graduation Rate; Total number of program enrollees; Total number of program graduates; Maximum Annual Enrollment.

Financial Aid Consortium Agreement Application

View information on Excelsior College's financial aid consortium agreement.

NCCRS College Credit Recommendations

More than 1,500 cooperating colleges and universities (including most California Community Colleges and Cal State Universities) will consider granting college credit based on NCCRS credit recommendations. Additional colleges may also award college units for SICE Medical Career Courses. 

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