Best CRNA Degree Programs 2021

by NurseJournal Staff
• 1 min read

Nurse anesthetist programs train graduates to pursue advanced nursing careers. Our guide lists the best CRNA schools and provides information on admissions, curriculum, and work settings.

Best CRNA Degree Programs 2021

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia to patients undergoing a surgery or other medical procedure, and work in collaboration with physicians, dentists, and anesthesiologists. CRNAs, a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), often practice with a high level of autonomy.

CRNAs must hold at least a master of science in nursing (MSN) but can go on to pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). CRNAs earn a mean annual salary of $181,040, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CRNA programs prepare graduates to administer anesthesia before and during procedures or to manage pain after surgery. Most MSN-level programs require 2-3 years for completion, including requisite hours of clinical experience. Coursework focuses on anesthesia practice, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and pain management. CRNA program graduates qualify to take the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists examination.

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Featured Online Programs

Applying to an CRNA Program

Admission to CRNA programs commonly requires a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited program, a registered nurse (RN) license, and 1-3 years of nursing experience in a critical care setting, such as a surgical intensive care unit or ICU.

Applicants submit transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA and undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry, health assessment, physiology, and statistics. Additionally, candidates must often provide GRE scores, 2-3 letters of recommendation, and a resume. CRNA programs may invite applicants to interview or encourage prospective students to shadow a CRNA in the operating room for at least one day.

Some CRNA programs offer accelerated or bridge curriculums for associate degree (ADN)-holders and those with a non-nursing bachelor's degree in a related field.

Frequently Asked Questions


How long does it take to become a CRNA?

It can take 7-8 years to become a CRNA, including time spent earning a BSN, obtaining an RN license and critical care work experience, and completing CRNA training and certification. Most students graduate from a BSN program in four years and finish their CRNA program in 2-3 years.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Top CRNA schools hold accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Accreditation ensures a program undergoes regular evaluation and meets or exceeds national standards of academic quality. It also ensures graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam.

Where do CRNAs work?

CRNAs work in healthcare facilities that provide anesthesia, such as delivery rooms, dentists' offices, hospitals, podiatrists' offices, and surgical centers. Employers include private practice settings, public health services, military and veterans affairs, and higher education. Texas, North Carolina, and Tennessee offer the highest employment of CRNAs.

What is the difference between a CRNA and an anesthesiologist?

CRNAs receive training and licensure as nurses. Anesthesiologists graduate from medical school with an M.D. and practice as physicians. CRNAs and anesthesiologists deliver anesthesia using the same methods, but CRNAs provide primary care independently or practice in collaboration with physicians and anesthesiologists, depending on state law.

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