Respiratory Care Associate Degree


Program Spotlight

A respiratory therapist is a licensed health care professional who cares for patients with heart and lung problems. This can include providing oxygen therapy, pulmonary medications, diagnostic testing, life support and mechanical ventilation. Respiratory therapists care for a variety of patients, including newborn infants in respiratory distress, children with asthma or pneumonia, and victims of trauma or older patients with emphysema or heart failure.

The Respiratory Care Program at Skyline College is an accredited two-year program that provides the instruction and clinical practice needed to be a successful Respiratory Care Provider

four respiratory care students practicing on a medical dummy

Demand for respiratory therapists is high. Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

At Skyline College, students will learn from dedicated instructors who have practical experience in the field and gain valuable hands-on experience through over 800 hours of clinical exposure and practice coordinated with sites in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.

The program offers an Associate of Science Degree in Respiratory Care which allows a graduate to become a licensed Certified Respiratory Therapist and also affords the opportunity to attain a higher level of credentialing (Registered Respiratory Therapist) as well.

Students who complete the Respiratory Care program at Skyline will be eligible to take the NBRC Examination and, upon passing, must apply for a professional Respiratory Care Practitioner license through the state of CA. Completing these requirements are a necessary step in obtaining employment.

To succeed in Respiratory Care, individuals must employ strong problem-solving skills when evaluating patients’ symptoms and should be detail-oriented to ensure patients receive the appropriate treatments. Interpersonal skills, compassion and patience are also needed to succeed in the field.

Skyline College also offers a 4-year Baccalaureate Degree in Respiratory Care.

Career Outlook

Most respiratory therapists participate in three phases of patient care: diagnosis, treatment and patient management. While many respiratory therapists work in hospitals, some work in nursing care facilities or travel to patients’ homes.

Demand for respiratory therapists is high, and employment is expected to grow 14% over the next decade according to the U.S. Department of Labor partly due to a growing aging population. In California, respiratory therapists make an average of $96,150 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Program Type Total Units
Respiratory Care BS 60 Units
Respiratory Care AS 60 Units

Skyline College Allied Health Sciences has a Simulation Laboratory located in Building 7, Room 7-211. The lab features state-of-the-art Gaumard adult, infant and premie tetherless simulators. The lab also includes full patient monitors, beds, standard clinical supplies and a video recording system.

Patient simulators can provide all vital signs, including heart & respiratory rates, pulses, lung sounds, pupil response and oxygen saturation. The manikins are able to realistically simulate virtually any medical problem or condition, including cardiac, respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal and metabolic issues.

The patient simulators provide a total hands-on experience in which students are able to see the results of their actions in real time. Currently, the Simulation Lab is used for training students in the Surgical Technology, Respiratory Care, Anesthesia Technology, and Sterile Processing Technology programs.

If faculty at Skyline have any questions or would like to schedule some time in the lab, please contact Scoutt Kessler, Simulation Coordinator at (650) 738-7928.

Program Goal

To prepare graduates with demonstrated competency in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains of respiratory care practice as performed by registered respiratory therapists (RRTs).

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of degree requirements, students will be able to:

  • Obtain the RRT credential.
  • Obtain gainful employment as a Licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP).
  • Demonstrate competency in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains when providing respiratory care.
Office Information
Location: Building 7
Phone: (650) 738-4176

The Respiratory Care Program at Skyline College (Program Number: 200147) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

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 Respiratory Care Program at Skyline College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

CoARC Contact Information:
Address: 264 Precision Blvd. Telford, TN 37690
Phone: (817) 283-2835

Thank you for your interest in the Respiratory Care Program at Skyline College. Students are admitted into the program once a year only, for each Fall semester. The application period is open January 15 - May 1.

Respiratory Care Associate's Program Application

Approximately 25 students are admitted to the program each year. Selection is based on criteria approved by the Skyline College Administration and consistent with state regulations. 

Full-time registration is required, and all courses must be taken in sequence. Credit may be given for previous coursework.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

The following college-level courses must be completed with a C or better:

  • Intermediate Algebra - Math 120 or equivalent
  • Chemistry (with lab) – CHEM 192 410 or equivalent
  • Human Anatomy (with lab) – BIOL 250 or equivalent
  • Human Physiology (with lab) – BIOL 260 or equivalent
  • Medical Terminology – HSCI 484 or BUS 485 or equivalent
  • Composition - ENGL 100, 105 or equivalent

All academic prerequisites must be completed by the application deadline. Eligibility can be demonstrated through successful course completion of Intermediate Algebra, an equivalent course, or higher level math.

NOTE: Students admitted into the program must complete Microbiology course or equivalent to BIOL 240 by the end of the first Fall semester in the program. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the course prior to admission into the program.

Application Steps

Step 1: Apply to Skyline College

Follow the steps to enroll at Skyline College.

Step 2: Complete the Respiratory Care Online Application

Applicants must complete the Respiratory Care Associate Degree Online Application. Please be prepared to answer all questions in one sitting. The application will take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete.

To fill out the application, you will need:

  • Information ready to complete prior educational history and prerequisite grades, such as copies of transcripts.
  • Information ready to complete a brief medical history on any chronic conditions or communicable illnesses.
  • An approximately 500-word personal-statement ready to copy and paste that answers the following prompt: In your own words, please write a description of yourself, your goals, and why you chose respiratory care. Please address your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Digital copies (PDF or Word files) of all unofficial transcripts showing completed prerequisites.

Step 3: Submit Three Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must submit three (3) letters of recommendation. Applicants should download the Standard Form   which describes what should be included in the letter. A general letter is acceptable addressing the qualities in the Standard Form. Please read the instructions on the reference form before giving them to the recommenders. The following are suggested categories for recommenders:

  • Dean, counselor, principal
  • Teacher or instructor
  • Health care workers
  • Employer or supervisor
  • Leaders of community organizations (volunteer, church or club)

Recommendations from close friends or relatives will not be accepted. Completed recommendation forms may be uploaded during the application process, or brought/mailed to: Skyline College, SMT Division/RCP Program, 3300 College Dr, San Bruno, CA 94066.

Please Note: Your application will not be considered COMPLETE until you receive verification that all three steps are complete.

Questions? Contact Nadia Tariq, Respiratory Care Program Services Coordinator, at

Requirements After Acceptance:

After acceptance, once notified, students must successfully complete a physical examination, immunization record, social security referenced background check, and drug test.

Please Note:

We recommend that minimum entrance requirement courses be completed within 5 years of applying to the program. High school coursework cannot be accepted to meet prerequisite requirements.

To determine specific General Education requirements, applicants are encouraged to contact Counseling. We suggest that you complete most GE requirements prior to submitting your application.

Students selected into the program must complete a satisfactory social security referenced background check, drug test, physical examination, and documented immunizations.

An Associate Degree is required to take the Respiratory Care Practitioner Exam administered by the California Respiratory Care Board.

Clinical Affiliates

The Respiratory Care Program at Skyline College is closely tied with the hospitals and organizations it serves, providing the latest information, hands on training and individualized support to each student in the program. Students will each complete over 800 hours of clinical practice at these various affiliated hospitals and healthcare facilities:

San Francisco County

  • California Pacific Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco
  • San Francisco General Hospital
  • Saint Francis Hospital
  • St. Luke's Hospital
  • University of California, San Francisco
  • Veteran Affairs Hospital, San Francisco

San Mateo County

  • Apria Healthcare
  • Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital
  • Mills-Peninsula Hospital
  • San Mateo General Hospital
  • Stanford Hospital
  • Veteran Affairs Hospital, Palo Alto

Respiratory Care Resources

Use the links below to find additional information about respiratory therapy, visit the websites of national and state organizations, and download study aids, clinical guidelines, and details about the program at Skyline College.

Primary Contacts

Nadia Tariq
Nadia Tariq (Program Services Coordinator - Respiratory Care)
Science|Math|Technology-Respiratory Care (RPTH) More details »
Heather Esparza
Heather Esparza (Director of Allied Health)
Science|Math|Technology-Respiratory Care (RPTH) More details »