Top CRNA Schools

This article presents some of the best CRNA schools training the next generation of nurse anesthetists. Learn more about the featured programs’ admissions requirements and criteria to help jumpstart your application shortlist. The best CRNA programs have competitive admissions, but are an excellent first step into this dynamic and growing field.

CRNAs deliver anesthesia and related care, along with airway management, across all healthcare settings. Nurse anesthetists are vital parts of the American healthcare system, particularly in rural areas where they are often the only anesthesia providers. The job is in high demand and ranked the 5th best paying job in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Learn more about how to enter the field at a top CRNA school now!

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic
  • Duke University School of Nursing
  • Georgetown University
  • Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia – CSU Fullerton
  • University of Cincinatti
  • Villanova
  • Baylor College of Medicine

    Houston, Texas
    Program Information:

    This top CRNA school features two tracks – a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program for students with Bachelor of Nursing Science (BSN) degrees and a DNP for master’s certified CRNAs. Baylor prides itself on educating students who are excellent clinical practitioners and also highly skilled in research and policy. Students speak highly of how the program helps them prepare and deepen their careers. Beyond the clinical and didactic education the program offers, it has robust professional support like resume and interview preparation. The program receives around 150 applicants annually and admits 30 students to the BSN to DNP track. Up to 30 offers to the Master’s to DNP program are made annually as well.

    Factors weighed in the admissions process include:
    • prior academic performance,
    • GRE scores,
    • character and accomplishments, and
    • interview performance.
    GRE, GPA, and Prerequisites:

    All applicants who have not completed a CRNA degree are required to take the GRE. The test should be taken within four years of applying. Applicants should be at or above the 50th percentile for each section to be competitive. For the BSN track, average GRE scores are 155 in verbal and quant and 4.2 in writing.

    Students on the BSN track must have taken organic chemistry and statistics, both with a grade of B or better. MSN track applicants must have received a B or higher in a research and statistics graduate course. The average GPA for BSN track applicants is 3.7.

    National Examination Pass Rate:

    100% overall pass rate with a 94% first time pass rate over the past five years.

    Graduation Rate

    94.8% graduation rate average from 2018 through 2020

    Employment Rate

    100% of the most recent graduating class had employment offers upon graduation.

    Cost of Attendance

    BSN to DNP Track, estimated direct and indirect expenses

    • First year (spring semester only): $45,589
    • Second year: $80,558
    • Third year: $77,311
    • Fourth year (fall semester only): $39,399

    MS to DNP Track, estimated direct and indirect expenses

    • First year (spring semester only): $32,654.50
    • Second year: $59,475
    • Third year (fall semester only): $30,817.50

    Case Western Reserve University & Cleveland Clinic

    Cleveland, Ohio
    Program Information:

    Case Western created the first Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the nation in 1979. Today, it’s one of the best CRNA programs in America. All applicants must have one or more years of recent critical care experience and a specialty certification to apply. Applicants apply through Case Western, but they actually apply to two programs – Case Western and Cleveland Clinic. Curriculum and tuition are identical no matter which clinical site you are matched to. The Case Western program is university-based and the Cleveland Clinic program is hospital-based. Both provide the same didactic training from a diverse pool of clinicians and instructors. Each program accepts around 15-20 students annually. Applicants must have 3 recommendations, with at least one reference being from a current assistant nurse manager or nurse manager. An essay with short answer prompts is also required.

    GRE, GPA, and Prerequisites

    The GRE is not required for admission. Applicants should have a science GPA of 3.0 or higher. There are four prerequisites for matriculation: a basic statistics course, a writing course, and two chemistry/physics courses. The program requires specific online courses for the writing and chemistry/physics courses and has a similar recommendation for statistics. The details for these courses are shared in your acceptance letter.

    National Examination Pass Rate

    The five-year first time average pass rate for the program is 88%. The most recent graduating class had a 93% first pass rate.

    Graduation Rate

    The average graduation rate over five years is 94%.

    Employment Rate

    The program has a 100% employment rate averaged over five years.

    Cost of Attendance

    Each credit hour costs $2,425.
    The estimated cost of tuition for the duration of the program is $147,041.

    Duke University School of Nursing

    Durham, North Carolina
    Program Information

    This top CRNA program boasts an innovative didactic curriculum including a focus on the intersection of anatomy, physiology, and anesthesia. Clinical experiences for students are wide-ranging and include rural hospitals, VA facilities, and active-duty military hospitals. The program touts offering the widest range of cases and patient scenarios as a means to best train clinical leaders. The Nurse Anesthesia DNP program averages 125 applications per year, although it saw double that number in 2022. An extremely competitive CRNA school, the program usually admits around 25 students and encourages early application. You’ll need at least one year of critical care experience to apply, although two years is preferred. A CCRN certification is highly encouraged; the program prefers experience in surgical, pediatric, cardiac, neuro, trauma intensive, or level III neonatal intensive care. Duke has drop-in admissions events to help answer applicants’ questions.

    GRE, GPA, and Prerequisites

    Duke no longer requires the GRE. The minimum GPA for science coursework is 3.2; the minimum cumulative GPA should be 3.0. The program requires applicants to have a BSN and to have passed a descriptive and inferential statistics course.

    National Examination Pass Rate

    First-time pass rate for the class of 2022 was 96%. The overall pass rate is 100%.

    Graduation Rate

    The five-year graduation rate (2019-2023) is 95.6%.

    Employment Rate

    The employment rate for the class of 2022 was 100%.

    Cost of Attendance

    First year estimated tuition: $91,300
    Second year estimated tuition: $49,800
    Third year estimated tuition: $31,125

    Georgetown University

    Washington D.C.
    Program Information

    One of the best CRNA schools offering a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) degree, Georgetown prepares students to be leaders in the field. The program offers robust science education, exceptional facilities, a wide range of experiential learning and clinical experience options, and individual mentoring. Each class must complete and present research projects as a capstone to their education. The program spans three years, starting with a year heavily focused on didactic instruction. Applicants should have at least two years of ICU experience as an RN, with a preference for experience in an adult surgical ICU, although other ICUs are acceptable. The program typically admits 25% of its applicants, enrolling about 35 students from around 200 applications.

    GRE, GPA, and Prerequisites

    The average science GPA for admitted students is 3.5; the average cumulative GPA is 3.7. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA in science courses. Those with cumulative GPAs below 3.5 must take the GRE. Applicants need an undergraduate or graduate level statistics course completed with a B grade or better. They also need an undergraduate or graduate level chemistry course completed within the last 5 years with a B grade or better.

    National Examination Pass Rate

    The class of 2023 achieved a first-time exam pass rate of 93%. The overall pass rate for the past four years is 96%.

    Graduation Rate

    The graduation rate for the class of 2023 was 94%. The current overall attrition rate (2023-2025) is 4%.

    Employment Rate

    From 2020 to 2023, 100% of new graduates secured employment within two months of graduation.

    Cost of Attendance

    First year estimated tuition and mandatory fees: $98,518
    Second year estimated tuition and mandatory fees: $40,871
    Third year estimated tuition and mandatory fees: $30,444

    Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia – CSU Fullerton

    Pasadena, California
    Program Information

    The program operates as a partnership between Cal State Fullerton’s School of Nursing and the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia. It is a three-year program that culminates in a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a concentration in Nurse Anesthesia. The program aims to deliver extremely high-quality anesthesia care affordably to the communities the school serves. Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena hosts the coursework, which spans 36 months and 109 full-time units. Clinical sites spread throughout southern California. Students train in a state-of-the-art simulation center to hone advanced technical skills. A research project caps off the program, showcasing students’ research abilities. Applicants must have at least one year of experience as an RN in an adult critical care unit within the two years prior to applying. Admitted students also need an active, unrestricted California RN license before matriculation.

    GRE, GPA, and Prerequisites

    Applicants must have at least a 3.2 GPA in their final 60 hours of college/university work. Competitive applicants typically hold a 3.5 GPA or above. While the program does not specify prerequisite courses, obtaining a California RN license does involve prerequisites. Admitted students must have California licensure to enter the program and may need to meet these prerequisites if they are coming from out of state.

    National Examination Pass Rate

    The first-time pass rate for the 2021 graduating class was 100%. The first-time pass rate for the 2022 graduating class was 97%.

    Graduation Rate

    In 2021 and 2022, the graduation rate was 94%.

    Employment Rate

    The program has maintained a 100% employment rate from 2012 to 2022.

    Cost of Attendance

    In-state tuition for the 2024-2025 academic year is $25,960.72. Out-of-state students will be charged an additional $420 for each credit hour.

    University of Cincinnati

    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Program Information

    The University of Cincinnati has a top CRNA program that ranks as the nation’s fourth oldest. With 15 didactic and simulation faculty members dedicated to the CRNA program and over 80 clinical faculty, the program is an excellent place to learn. The school offers a wide variety of clinical experience options at sites within 45 minutes of the school. The program is for BSN educated registered nurses. It also offers an online program for master’s certified nurse anesthetists pursuing a DNP. Lasting for 36 months, the program is full-time only. Most competitive candidates have a minimum of two years of ICU experience. Large hospital, high acuity ICU experienced candidates are given top priority. You will need CCRN certification to be admitted. At least one recommendation in your application must be from a direct clinical manager.

    GRE, GPA, and Prerequisites

    The GRE is required for applicants who do not already have a master’s or doctorate degree achieved with a GPA of 3.5 or above. If you have a low GRE score, you are strongly urged to retake the exam after completing a GRE prep course. If your GPA is low, you are strongly encouraged to take graduate level courses in statistics, nursing, and/or basic health sciences to show academic readiness. The program wants to see basic science courses (like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and chemistry) passed with a B grade or better.

    National Examination Pass Rate

    The class of 2022 first time pass rate was 96%. The overall pass rate since 2012 has been 100%.

    Graduation Rate

    The graduation rate for the class of 2020-2022 was 97%.

    Employment Rate

    The employment rate from 2012 to 2022 was 100%.

    Cost of Attendance

    Villanova

    Villanova, Pennsylvania
    Program Information

    The program combines expert didactic instruction with hands-on clinical experience at sites in and around Philadelphia. This top CRNA program lasts 36 months with a student-to-faculty ratio that never exceeds 2:1, boasting a robust curriculum. All applicants must have at least one year of ICU experience when applying. The preferred ICU sites are cardiac, neuro, surgical, trauma, and pediatric ICUs in large children’s hospitals. Initially, in your first two semesters starting in January, you will complete core course requirements. Subsequently, the fall of the first year marks the start of your clinical rotations, allowing you to attend classes when not engaged in clinicals. Clinical rotations begin at a pace of 2 days a week, eventually expanding to 4 days a week. The first clinical rotation lasts 7 months, while subsequent rotations range from 1 to 6 months. Annually, the program receives 150-200 applications, interviews up to 60 candidates, and accepts 30.

    GRE, GPA, and Prerequisites

    Applicants with GPAs below 3.4 must score at the 50th percentile or better on the GRE. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required to apply.

    National Examination Pass Rate

    The first time pass rate for 2022 was 83%, 87% in 2021, and 92% in 2020. Remarkably, the overall pass rate for all three years maintained at 100%.

    Graduation Rate

    The graduation rate for the 2020-2022 cohort was 93.8%, with a five-year average of 98%.

    Employment Rate

    The six-month employment rate for graduates in 2022 and 2021 reached 100%.

    Cost of Attendance

    The tuition cost per credit hour is $1,350. The program consists of 73 credits, culminating in an estimated total tuition of $98,550.

    Author

    More from Magoosh