Schools for Aspiring Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are individuals who have earned a graduate degree in anesthesiology and have passed the national certification exam. Aspiring CRNAs must complete a bachelor's degree program and obtain certification as a registered nurse (RN) in order to apply to graduate school in this field of study.

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Programs for nurses seeking advanced training in anesthesia can be found at 4-year colleges and universities. There are a variety of graduate-level programs that prepare aspiring nurse anesthetists for the CNRA exam.

Top Schools with Nurse Anesthetist Programs

These institutions offer training for aspiring nurse anesthetists:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $21,260 (in-state), $34,944 (out-of-state)
Rush University Chicago, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral $32,608
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral $47,590
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $10,710 (in-state), $21,933 (out-of-state)
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Bethesda, MD 4-year, Public Doctoral $0**
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral $31,068
University of Maryland Baltimore, MD 4-year, Public Doctoral $12,944 (in-state), $28,328 (out-of-state)
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $41,137
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 4-year, Public Doctoral $8,396 (in-state), $25,574 (out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics, **U.S. News and World Report

School Selection Criteria

Anesthesiology graduate programs may last from 24 to 36 months, with programs in nursing typically taking longer due to residency periods and general nursing courses.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when seeking a school in this field:

  • Search for a program that has been accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Anesthesiology.
  • Look for programs that offer the greatest amount of financial support while still offering the desired coursework - graduate assistantships could offer tuition reduction or stipends to students willing to work under the supervision of professors and faculty members at some schools.
  • Seek a school that offers a strong focuses in your specialty area of interest.
  • Review a program's curriculum options and clinical opportunities to make sure that it fulfills your educational needs.

Master's Degree in Anesthesiology

Master's programs in anesthesiology prepare students to pass the national CRNA certification exam and become working professionals in the field. Students will most likely be required to complete several clinical practicums and possibly a thesis. Typically offered as a Master of Science (M.S.) in Anesthesiology, these programs offer courses in such areas as pharmacology and pathophysiology.

Master of Nursing in Anesthesiology

An MSN in Anesthesiology is very similar to an M.S. in the field, but includes specialized courses in nursing such as nursing research and health policy in nursing. Clinical residencies are a required part of graduate-level nursing programs and account for the difference in program length between the MSN and the M.S. A master's thesis may also be required of MSN students.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The DNP in anesthesia option grants students a doctoral degree and qualifies them to take the national CRNA examination. A DNP program may take as long as three years to complete due to advanced coursework, practicums and extended residencies. A capstone project is typically required toward the end of the program.

Experienced nurses who want to direct their careers toward anesthesia can enroll in graduate-level programs that prepare them for the CRNA exam. Master of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing programs take about 2 to 3 years to complete, and both focus on more specialized nursing topics than a Master of Science in Anesthesiology program.

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