The nurse anesthetist also referred to as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), is a sought after and rewarding occupation in the field of advanced practice registered nurse. Those with a desire to work in anesthesia and the drive to work with a high level of autonomy can enter the CRNA pathway via a specialty Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). With campus-based and online options based all throughout the country, becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist is as easy as picking the right program.

Choosing a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) School

There are a few key elements to look for when researching nurse anesthetist programs:


Making sure a nurse anesthetist program is accredited is extremely important, and is a great sign that the program is of a high caliber. Prospective CRNA students will want to look for accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs.

Program Cost

Nurse anesthesia programs typically list tuition costs by credits. While these costs can vary depending on location and school, students can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $1,700 per credit for tuition for both MSN and DNP program options. This usually does not include additional costs such as mandatory school fees, course materials, or books. Financial aid is widely available for well-qualified students.

Program Length

MSN-level nurse anesthetist programs can typically be completed in around 29 months, with roughly 64 credits required. DNP-level CRNA programs take closer to 36 months and can require around 100 credits. Both programs are usually split between classroom-based courses and clinical experiences.

Internship/Externship Opportunities

Clinical residencies are a large part of the CRNA student's learning experience. Most schools will help to arrange internships, externships, and other hands-on rotations at local hospitals and medical centers, as this is a requirement of the program.

Online/Campus Options

To meet the demands of busy students, many programs offer both online and campus-based certified registered nurse anesthetist pathways. Some schools will even offer a "hybrid" program, allowing students to take many courses online but also offering classroom-based lectures and labs.

Nurse Anesthetist Degree Levels Offered

Nurses have two pathways to become CRNAs; they can choose the master's route or the doctoral route. Both programs offer advanced-level core and specialized courses and also require clinical hours as part of the program of study. Students should consider which type of educational program is right for them when thinking about CRNA education.

MSN Programs

An MSN Nurse Anesthesia program consists of a mix of advanced general nursing courses, specialty anesthesia courses, and lots of hands-on training. Students take courses such as Chemistry and Physics for Nurse Anesthetists, Anesthesia Principles, Research Methods, and more. The clinical practicum is extensive and involves pre-operative interviews, patient assessment, intravenous sedation, and other hands-on experiences. Westminster College in Utah, as an example, offers an accredited MS Nurse Anesthesia program.

DNP Programs

There are roughly 16 DNP Nurse Anesthesia programs available around the country. The DNP goes a step farther than the MSN-based programs to prepare students in nurse anesthesia at the highest level. Beyond the generalized and anesthesia-based coursework, DNP students take classes such as Leadership Theory, Teaching/Learning, and Economics of Health Care to hone supervisory and leadership skills. The University of Minnesota, for example, offers an accredited DNP Nurse Anesthetist program dedicated to creating advanced CRNAs.

Online Nurse Anesthetist Programs

There are some distance learning (i.e. online) CRNA programs available for students who want the convenience and flexibility of completing coursework from their own homes. These programs usually utilize a hybrid model of delivery, offering some courses online but requiring some labs and hands-on experiences in the classroom.

Advantages of An Online Program

Online learning has numerous advantages. Those with busy schedules and families usually enjoy being able to take the courses from home on their own time. Online programs are also essential for those in rural areas who couldn't feasibly get to a university on a day-to-day basis. These programs can also save on expenses, as online students don't have to worry about the costs associated with commuting, such as gas and parking fees. While hands-on clinical hours in a hospital or medical facility are required, many online programs allow students to arrange these in their local area. Prospective students should inquire with their school of choice to get information on things like on-campus requirements and clinical practicum options.

Program Accreditation

Like classroom-based programs, online CRNA programs can hold accreditations, and students should check to make sure a prospective program is properly accredited. The most important for a nurse anesthetist program is accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs, but ACEN and CCNE accreditations are also ones to watch for.

Costs and Length

Online nurse anesthetist programs require the same amount of credits as their classroom-based counterparts but allow students to work at their own pace, making the length a variable factor. Most online programs require that students finish the coursework in a specified amount of time (for example, within 7 years of starting). Tuition cost is also similar, at $1,000 per credit and up, but overall costs for online students are typically lower since these students don't have commuting costs and often don't have to pay for as many mandatory fees as campus-based programs. For instance, the Nurse Anesthesia DNP program at Texas Wesleyan University charges $1,150 per credit hour, which includes fees.

Nurse Anesthetists FAQs

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and nurse anesthetists are similar in that they are both advanced-practice nurses. However, they do differ in terms of education, job duties/roles, and salary.

Both NPs and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) start off in a master’s or doctorate program to earn their advanced-practice degree. After foundation courses are completed, students complete courses pertaining to their specialty “track”. For example, NP students focus on adult or pediatric primary or acute care, women’s health, psychiatry, etc., while the nurse anesthetist students begin a course of study on anesthesia concepts and research.

The roles and duties of an NP versus a nurse anesthetist are quite different.  While both must take a complete history and complete a full assessment, a nurse practitioner, depending on his or her role, is responsible for the care of the patient in either the acute or primary care setting. They may focus on preventive care, or care for the patient during an acute illness. Nurse anesthetists have a different, highly specialized role. They are responsible for administering anesthesia and sedation, monitoring the patient during a procedure, and inserting central lines and epidurals. They must be knowledgeable about the different types of anesthesia medications and be alert to any adverse reactions.

Because CRNAs are in high demand, it is not uncommon for hospitals to begin recruiting students. Depending on the state, some CRNA students can sign contracts while still in school, and employment is contingent on becoming licensed. In other states, licensing is required first.

Many hospitals offer employment contracts with CRNA students, advertising student loan reimbursement, benefits packages, etc. It’s a good idea to read these contracts closely. Sometimes students are dazzled by the loan reimbursement, but realize the pay or benefits aren’t that great. Also, sometimes a length of time of employment is outlined in the contract, and the new graduate decides a specific work area or organization is not a good fit for them - and they are stuck. There may be the possibility to “buy out” of a contract, but it would take time and money out of pocket to do so.

CRNA students should read any contract carefully, and possibly have an attorney advise. Identifying the positive and negative aspects of a contract is a must to determine what component is of most value to the individual. Additionally, CRNA students are strongly encouraged to check their state's board of nursing to see if licensing is needed before signing a contract.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced-practice nurses who are certified in administering anesthesia. Due to a widespread physician shortage, advanced-practice nurses are taking a more prominent role in healthcare delivery - including the field of anesthesiology.

While healthcare continuously progresses and evolves, there are still remnants of “old-school” hierarchies that exist between physicians and nurses and yes, male and female providers. Some physicians have difficulty coming to grips with a nurse practicing at an advanced level and performing the same work as medical doctors. Additionally, tensions run high during a surgical procedure. Everything must be precise and organized to allow for the best patient care outcome. The strain of this considerable responsibility often brings the worst out in people- and a hierarchical environment doesn't help matters.

In healthcare, new practitioners sometimes must “prove themselves” to experienced staff to earn respect. There are many anecdotes of nurses and APRNs verbally biting back when they are snapped at by a physician, and the hostility stops. However, it's not acceptable for any verbal abuse or harassment to occur in any setting, including the operating room. It doesn't matter if the culture is "old-school" or not. If discussing the issue directly with the surgeon doesn't end the behavior, it should be reported immediately to a supervisor.

What Are the Admissions and Certification Requirements?

Nurse anesthetist MSN and DNP programs typically have the following requirements:

  • BSN or MSN from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Personal statement outlining the student's desire to become a CRNA
  • Three letters of professional reference
  • Resume or CV detailing relevant job titles
  • GRE scores may be required
  • Current RN license in good standing
  • Copy of official university transcripts
  • Current PALS and ACLS certifications

Certification as a CRNA is obtained through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Criteria for the examination includes:

  • Hold an unrestricted RN license
  • Must have completed an accredited nurse anesthesia program
  • Must submit a completed application and an electronically prepared record of academic and clinical experience signed by both the student and a program administrator within 30 days of completing the program

Certification as a CRNA is awarded upon successful completion of the examination.

List of Nurse Anesthetist Schools

A variety of nurse anesthetist programs designed to prepare CRNAs are available from coast to coast and include the following list.

Jump to Your State Listings


DNP ProgramsMSN Programs
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
(205) 726-2011

1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294
(205) 975-7529


DNP Programs
1305 N. Martin | PO Box 210203
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6154


P.O. Box 910
State University, AR 72467
(870) 972-3074


11262 Campus St.
Loma Linda, CA 92350
(909) 558-4923

20 River Park Pl W
Fresno, CA 93720
(559) 708-4484

School of Nursing
3100 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 879-9200


1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
(203) 254-4000


Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
(305) 348-7703

P.O. Box 248153
Coral Gables, FL 33124
(305) 284-3666

DNP Programs
1 UNF Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32224
(904) 620-1000

MSN Programs
12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd MDC Box 22
Tampa, FL 33612
(813) 974-2191


DNP Programs
1120 15th Street
Augusta, GA 30912
(706) 721-9767

1520 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-7980


DNP Programs
1184 W. Main St.
Decatur, IL 62522
(800) 373-7733

DNP Programs
600 S. Paulina St
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-7100

DNP Programs
1 Hairpin Dr
Edwardsville, IL 62025
(888) 328-5168


DNP Programs
3200 Cold Spring Road
Indianapolis, IN 46222
(317) 955-6000


DNP Programs
50 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242
(319) 335-7018


MSN Programs
3100 McCormick
Wichita, KS 67213
(316) 942-4291

3901 Rainbow Blvd
Kansas City, KS 66160
(913) 588-6612


DNP Programs
1900 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 568-4200


DNP Programs
655 W. Lombard St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 706-6109


MSN Programs
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-4250

MSN Programs
360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2000


220 Trowbridge Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 355-1855

DNP Programs
433 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370-4253

DNP Programs
303 E. Kearsley Street
Flint, MI 48502
(810) 762-3300


200 First St. SW
Rochester, MN 55905
(507) 284-3745

MSN Programs
700 Terrace Heights
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 452-4430

308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 624-9600


DNP Programs
4483 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 454-7055

5100 Rockhill Rd
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 235-1000

DNP Programs
470 East Lockwood Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119
(800) 981-9801


5035 Everett Street
Lincoln, NE 68506
(402) 481-3801

MSN Programs
101 S. 42 Street
Omaha, NE 68131
(402) 552-3100

New Jersey

180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 972-4307

New York

617 W 168th St
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-5756

3435 Main St. Wende Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 645-2000

North Carolina

DNP Programs
East Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 328-6131

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
(704) 687-8622

Medical Center Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27157
(336) 716-2011

1 University Way
Cullowhee, NC 28723
(828) 227-7211


Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
10900 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-2000

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
6832 Convent Blvd.
Sylvania, OH 43560
(800) 878-3210

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
302 E Buchtel Ave
Akron, OH 44325
(330) 972-7111

DNP Programs
College of Nursing
2600 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
(151) 355-8550 x0

MSN Programs
1 University Plaza
Youngstown, OH 44555
(330) 941-3000


MSN Programs
400 E. Second St.
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
(570) 389-4000

MSN Programs
1601 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 895-2000

MSN Programs
109 University Square
Erie, PA 16541
(814) 871-7000

DNP Programs
School of Nursing and Health Sciences
1900 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19141
(215) 951-1000

DNP Programs
418 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-8281

3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
(412) 624-4586

MSN Programs
235 Jefferson Ave
Scranton, PA 18510
(570) 941-7673

443 Country Club Rd
York, PA 17403
(717) 846-7788

Rhode Island

MSN Programs
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 456-8000

MSN Programs
200 High Service Ave
North Providence, RI 02904
(401) 456-3050

South Dakota

1105 West 8th Street
Yankton, SD 57078
(605) 668-1545


DNP Programs
6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752
(423) 869-3611

DNP Programs
910 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38163
(901) 448-5500

MSN Programs
615 McCallie Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 425-4416

1200 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 974-4151

1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305
(731) 661-6545


DNP Programs
6901 Bertner
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-2000


1840 S 1300 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
(801) 484-7651


502 E Boone Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
(509) 328-4220

Washington, DC

BSN to DNP Programs
School of Nursing & Health Studies
3700 O St NW
Washington, DC 20057
(202) 687-0100


DNP Programs
1250 W Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(800) 222-6544

800 Algoma Blvd
Oshkosh, WI 54901
(920) 424-1234

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