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Respiratory Care

Associate of Applied Science Degree

Program Director: Leonard Bates
Program Faculty: Brian Cayko

NOTE: Exciting changes coming to the Respiratory program! Starting Summer 2021 and affecting the Fall 2021 intake students, the prerequisites are changing, there will be a hybrid option available for this program and the program name is changing to Respiratory Therapy. Please contact Advising & Career Center with questions at 406-771-5100.

Program Website

Program Application (Fall 2021 Application available February 15)

Most people take breathing for granted. It’s second nature, an involuntary reflex. But for the thousands who suffer from breathing problems, each breath is a major accomplishment. Those people include patients with chronic lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema; heart attack and accident victims; premature infants; and people with cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, and AIDS.

In each case the patient will likely receive treatment from a Respiratory Therapist (RT) under the direction of a physician. RTs work to evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. They are a vital part of a hospital’s lifesaving response team that answers patient emergencies.

While most RTs work in hospitals, an increasing number have branched out into alternative care sites, such as nursing homes, physicians’ offices, home health agencies, specialized care hospitals, medical equipment supply companies, and patients’ homes.

RTs perform both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, such as:

  • Obtaining and analyzing sputum and breath specimens;
  • Taking blood specimens and analyzing them to determine levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gases;
  • Interpreting data obtained from specimens;
  • Measuring the capacity of patients' lungs to determine if there is impaired function;
  • Performing studies on the cardiopulmonary system;
  • Studying disorders of people with disruptive sleep patterns;
  • Operating mechanical ventilators for patients who cannot breath adequately;
  • Delivering inhaled medications and medical gases;
  • Teaching patients with lung disorders to maintain meaningful and active life systems.

RTs work collaboratively with other healthcare practitioners. Critical thinking and problem solving skills are mandatory for success in this environment. Strong verbal and written communication skills are necessary when interacting with other members of the multidisciplinary health care team as well as the patients and families. Such a role also requires a broad educational background in English composition, communication, and interpersonal relations. Computer literacy is especially important in today’s health care environment.

The RT Program is a two-year program designed to help students develop the knowledge, skills, and professional attitude necessary for a successful career in RT. Upon completion of the AAS degree in RT, graduates will be prepared to begin a career as an Advanced Practitioner RT. Graduates are eligible to take the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) Entry Level and the Advanced Practitioner examinations.

The RT program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

Information about Great Falls College MSU’s Respiratory Therapist Program is posted on the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) web site. You can see information about our program by selecting the interactive map of CoARC program data and then Great Falls from the map. Graduate job placement and credentialing success as well as program attrition data for all CoARC accredited program is also posted at this site. Click on Outcomes data from the Annual Report of Current Status. Programs are listed by state.

Graduates are prepared to:

  • Practice as a registered RT in the healthcare delivery system.
  • Comply with the standards-of-practice and ethical code of the American Association for Respiratory Care.
  • Apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to patient care.
  • Demonstrate effective verbal and written communication as well as good interpersonal skills.
  • Safely and correctly utilize current technology and equipment in the practice of Respiratory Care.

Estimated Resident Program Cost*

Tuition and Fees $10,253
Application Fees $30
Course Fees $366
Program Fee $280
Books/Supplies $2,534
Total $13,463


Fall 2020 MUS Student Health Insurance Premiums will be changing. Please check the Health Insurance website and/or Student Central for confirmed premium rates. Students will be charged an additional fee of $21 per credit for online/hybrid courses.

Many students need preliminary math, science, and writing courses before enrolling in the program requirements. These courses may increase the total number of program credits. Students should review their math and writing placement before planning out their full program schedules.

Prerequisite Courses and Skills

Background in basic science and math is essential to prepare applicants to succeed in the RT Program.

Recommended (not required) courses:

BIOM 250Microbiology for Hlth Sci wLab4
AHMS 144Medical Terminology3

Prior to admission to the RT program, students must have completed high school chemistry with a grade of B or above within the past five (5) years and demonstrate computer literacy. (Students without high school courses should consult the RT Program Director about the appropriate college coursework to meet this requirement.)

The Great Falls College MSU RT Program is a limited enrollment program, accepting a restricted number of students each year. Interested students are urged to contact the RT Program Directory or Advising and Career Center Advisors for student advising specific to admission requirements and criteria for program acceptance.

Prior to formal program acceptance, the applicant must successfully complete all of the program prerequisites with a minimum grade of C-.

Required Prerequisite Courses

BIOH 201Human Anat Phys I/Lab (= 301) *,**,+4
NOTE: UM Western students may substitute BIOB 160, BIOH 365 & BIOH 379 for GFC MSU BIOH 201 & BIOH 211. All 3 classes are required and must have a grade of C or higher (not C-) within the last 5 years of application.
WRIT 101College Writing I **,+3
Select one of the following:
COMX 115Intro to Interpersonal Communc +3
PSYX 100Introduction to Psychology +3
PSYX 230Developmental Psychology +3
Select one of the following:
M 121College Algebra **,+3
M 140College Math for Healthcare **,+3
Total Credits13


Placement in course(s) is determined by placement assessment.


A grade of C- or above is required for graduation.

Program Course Requirements After Formal Acceptance

The courses below are to be taken in the order that they are listed. Admission into the RT Program and completion of the previous semester are required.

A grade of C- or above must be earned in all required courses to continue in and graduate from the program. CPR certification is a prerequisite for entrance into clinical courses. Each student is required to sign a clinical contract defining their professional responsibilities and behavior and must complete two to four weeks of clinic outside of Great Falls during the summer semester.

First Year
AHRC 152 Respiratory Care *,+ 3
AHRC 155 Respiratory Physiology *,+ 3
AHRC 170 Respir Care Tech & Proced I *,+ 5
BIOH 211 Human Anat Phys II & Lab(=311) *,+ 4

First Year
AHRC 140 Respiratory Care Clinic I *,+ 3
AHRC 171 Resp Care Tech & Proced II *,+ 5
AHRC 180 Ventilator Management *,+ 3
AHRC 254 Pulmonary Assessment *,+ 2

First Year
AHRC 141 Respiratory Care Clinic II *,+ 4
AHRC 262 Neonatal Respiratory Care *,+ 3

Second Year
AHRC 240 Respiratory Care Clinic III *,+ 4
AHRC 245 Resp Care Clinical Seminar I *,+ 1
AHRC 251 Hemodynamic Monitoring *,+ 4
AHRC 274 Pulmonary Diseases *,+ 2
ECP 212 Advanced Cardiac Life Support *,+ 1

Second Year
AHRC 241 Respiratory Care Clinic IV *,+ 4
AHRC 246 Resp Care Clinical Seminar II *,+ 1
AHRC 264 Respiratory Care In Alt Sites *,+ 1
AHRC 273 Pulmonary Function Testing *,+ 2
AHRC 280 Supervisory Management *,+ 2
ECP 241 Pediatric Advanced Life Supprt *,+ 1
HTH 120 IV Therapy for HC Providers *,+ 1
Total Credits59



Indicates prerequisites needed.


Placement in course(s) is determined by placement assessment.


A grade of C- or above is required for graduation.