Best CRNA Programs of 2022

December 16, 2021 , Updated on May 4, 2022 · 6 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.

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Best CRNA Programs of 2022

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery or other medical procedures. CRNAs, a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), often practice with a high level of autonomy.

A CRNA program qualifies graduates to take the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists examination. Most master's-level programs require 2-3 years for completion, including requisite hours of clinical experience.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best CRNA degree programs, making it easier to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about CRNA programs, or go straight to our list of the best CRNA degrees.

How Do CRNA Degree Programs Work?

Currently, CRNA programs result in either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). By 2025, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists will require all CRNAs to earn a doctoral degree.

An MSN program generally takes at least two years, while a DNP takes three years or longer. The curriculum for either program includes assessment, evidence-based practice, informatics, and public health and epidemiology. Pharmacology, advanced physiology and pathophysiology, and practices in administering anesthesia are also studied. DNP programs include a residency component in the last year.

CRNA programs all include clinical hours and practicums. Once you graduate, you must apply for certification from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.

You must also attest that you do not have any factors in your life that would impede your ability to act as an anesthetist, as CRNAs have access to controlled substances.

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Applying to a CRNA Degree Program

The best CRNA program for you depends on which degree you want to earn, your budget, academic background, and experience.

1. Admission Materials

Current and unencumbered RN license, bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or MSN, personal statement or essay, at least two letters of recommendation

2. GPA Requirements

3.0 minimum (some schools require a 3.2 or higher)

3. Other Requirement

Successful criminal background check and at least one year of experience as an RN in critical care, an emergency department, or similar setting; strong preference for two or more years of experience

Why Is CRNA Degree Program Accreditation Important?

During the nursing program accreditation process, an independent body of examiners, consisting of academics and active professionals, reviews the program to ensure graduates can safely practice as CRNAs.

The review covers the curriculum, teacher and staff qualifications, and student outcomes (grades and board certification results). Teaching methods, school facilities (online or on campus), academic resources available to students, and other factors are also evaluated.

While not a guarantee, program accreditation is an endorsement of a CRNA program's teaching ability.

Because program accreditation is vital to patient safety, employers do not hire graduates of unaccredited programs. Accredited programs do not accept transfer credits from unaccredited programs.

This guide lists only accredited programs since unaccredited programs are not worth your time or money.

Learn More About the Best CRNA Degree Programs and Schools

#1

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

School Information
Location Knoxville, Tennessee
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville now offers only a DNP-CRNA program, where students learn in the Human Anesthesia Simulation Laboratory and participate in clinical placement. Each year includes three terms, with a mini-term for focused study on a specific area. 

The CRNA program provides clinical placement at sites in or near Knoxville and Memphis. Students may work while attending the program, but the school discourages this, due to the intense academic requirements. 

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Knoxville, TN
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $700 per credit hour for in-state residents; $775 for out-of-state students, with additional fees for certain classes
  • Admission Requirements: At least one year of full-time adult critical care nursing, CCRN certification (by the time the student enrolls)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.0%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $91,502 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#2

Lincoln Memorial University

School Information
Location Harrogate, Tennessee
Admission Rate 50%
Graduation Rate 55%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Like other CRNA schools, Lincoln Memorial University has transitioned its MSN program to a DNP program. The program comprises 109 credit hours, with some classes available online. The school offers clinical placement at sites in Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky. Students may not enroll on a part-time basis.

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Harrogate, TN
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $735 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: BSN, 3.0 GPA, competitive GRE scores, three letters of admission, undergraduate courses in statistics, chemistry, and organic chemistry, minimum of one year of critical care experience, current and unencumbered Tennessee RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 26 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes 
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $98,403 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#3

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

School Information
Location Winona, Minnesota
Admission Rate 92%
Graduation Rate 64%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's CRNA program offers only a DNP degree. The program typically enrolls 32-33 per program. Over the past 10 years, 100% of graduates have found employment after graduating. Students participate in clinical practice at more than 30 hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Winona, MN
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Tuition: $955 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: A bachelor's degree in nursing, biophysical, biological, or behavioral science with at least a 2.75 total GPA and 3.0 GPA in science courses; current and unencumbered Minnesota RN license or reciprocal license valid in Minnesota; at least one year of RN experience in critical care nursing 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $188,108 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#4

Samuel Merritt University

School Information
Location Oakland, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Samuel Merritt University's CRNA program is only available at the DNP level; the final MSN cohort graduated in 2022. The program actively seeks to increase diversity in nursing and offers a Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. All students are assigned a faculty and a senior student mentor, and all students receive some form of financial aid.

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Oakland, CA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). 
  • Tuition: $1,569 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum cumulative and science GPA of 3.0 or higher; BSN; adult, pediatric, or neonatal CCRN certification; at least one year of critical care RN experience; current and unencumbered RN license (must have a California RN license by the time of enrollment)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes 
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.4%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $139,136 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#5

Midwestern University-Glendale

School Information
Location Glendale, Arizona
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 1% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Midwestern University-Glendale offers a CRNA-DNP program with a 97% graduation rate and class sizes of 34 students. The first nine months of the program take place online, with the remainder on campus and in clinical placements. Note that COA accreditation is pending. It also offers a post-master's doctoral CRNA program for CRNAs with an MSN; this program takes one year of full-time study or two years for part-time students.

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Glendale, AZ
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) for the post-master's doctoral program. Accreditation is pending for the DNP degree.
  • Tuition: $49,197 per year
  • Admission Requirements: BSN with 3.0 GPA; current and unencumbered RN license; one year of critical care RN experience; courses in general chemistry and anatomy and physiology
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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#6

Gannon University

School Information
Location Erie, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

This CRNA program is a cooperative program between Gannon University and UPMC Hamot, a local medical facility, where students complete clinical hours. The program is only available to full-time students. The curriculum emphasizes culturally competent care and the ability to be an effective healthcare leader and advocate. 

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Erie, PA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Tuition: $1,110 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: BSN with 3.0 cumulative and science GPA; undergraduate statistics and nursing research courses with at least a "B"; at least two years of critical care nursing; four letters of recommendation; GRE scores; PALS, ACLS, and BCLS certification
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89.2%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $164,940 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#7

University of New England

School Information
Location Biddeford, Maine
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

The University of New England offers the only DNP program in Northern New England. The first two semesters take place mostly online. The CRNA program comprises an initial on-campus phase and a 19-month clinical phase at 38 sites throughout the New England region. The on-campus phase includes study in the Interprofessional Simulation and Innovation Center. The 2020 board certification pass rate was 95%.

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Portland, ME
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Tuition: $67,940 per year
  • Admission Requirements: BSN with a 3.0 GPA (strongly recommended); upper-level biochemistry class with "B" or higher; current and unencumbered RN in home state and in the state where clinicals take place; ACLS and PALS certification; 18 months critical care nursing experience; three references
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.8%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $182,280 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#8

Rhode Island College

School Information
Location Providence, Rhode Island
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Rhode Island College offers its CRNA program in collaboration with the St. Joseph Hospital School of Nurse Anesthesia. It is the only CRNA school in Rhode Island. Students participate in clinical placement in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Learners must maintain a 3.0 GPA, and those with a lower GPA are subject to academic review. RIC offers an MSN-to-DNP program, as well as a BSN-to-DNP. 

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Providence, RI
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Tuition: $495 per credit for in-state residents; $743 per credit for nearby states; $964 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN with a 3.0 GPA; undergraduate statistics class with minimum "C" grade; two courses in chemistry with a minimum "C" and a graduate course in chemistry with a minimum "B-"; GRE or Miller Analogies Test; current and unencumbered RN license for Rhode Island and Massachusetts; at least one year of critical care experience; BLS and ACLS certification
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.5%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $109,286 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#9

Texas Wesleyan University

School Information
Location Fort Worth, Texas
Admission Rate 42%
Graduation Rate 30%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Texas Wesleyan offers a BSN-to-DNP and a MSN-to-DNP CRNA option. The 2020 board examination pass rate for the first attempt was 84% and 98% within six months of graduation. Graduates have a 100% employment rate within six months of passing board certification. The 2020 attrition rate was 7%. The CRNA program offers clinical placement in nine different states.

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Fort Worth, TX
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Tuition: $1,144 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: BSN with minimum 3.0 GPA; recent college-level chemistry class with "B" grade; college-level algebra course with "B" grade; GRE current and unencumbered RN license; one year of critical care experience; CCRN, ACLS, and PALS certification; 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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#10

Lourdes University

School Information
Location Sylvania, Ohio
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 36%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Lourdes University transitioned its MSN CRNA program to a DNP program comprising 97 credit hours. Students may take the prerequisite courses at Lourdes. The program seeks to inspire students to practice Franciscan values of community, learning, reverence, and service in healthcare. 

Details:

  • Program(s): DNP-CRNA
  • Campus: Sylvania, OH
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Tuition: $995 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN with 3.0 GPA; "B" grade in anatomy and physiology, inorganic, and organic chemistry; recommendations from peer, supervisor, and physician, NP, or PA colleague in critical care; critical care experience; at least one day CRNA shadowing experience; ACLS, BLS, CCRN, and PALS certification; courses in scientific writing, theory and philosophy of advanced practice nursing, and graduate statistics
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 82.6%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $209,569 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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Frequently Asked Questions About CRNA Degree Programs


What are the prerequisites for a CRNA program?

You must have a current and unencumbered RN license, a BSN with at least a 3.0 GPA, a minimum one year of experience as a nurse, and a degree in nursing for an MSN or a DNP program. Some accelerated MSN programs do accept non-nursing undergraduate degrees.

Many programs require or strongly prefer at least a 3.2 GPA and two years of nursing experience.

What is the fastest way to become a nurse anesthetist?

If you have a BSN, the fastest program is a BSN-to-MSN CRNA program. These programs can be as short as two years. However, by 2025, the MSN option will be phased out, and only DNP CRNA programs will be available.

While the MSN is fastest, the DNP is the best CRNA degree program for career advancement.

What are the top-paying industries for CRNAs?

Outpatient care centers are the highest-paying industries, with an average CRNA salary of $254,180, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Colleges, universities, and professional schools also have high salaries, at an average of $200,340. General medical and surgical centers have an average CRNA salary of $212,340.

What are the top-paying states for CRNAs?

Connecticut CRNAs earn the highest average annual salary, $276,540, according to the BLS. In New Jersey, the average is $263,850, followed by Illinois at $250,280. West Virginia is the fourth-highest paying state at $247,650.


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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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