List of Top CRNA Programs Online + No GRE Options!

This article contains information about what a Master of Science in Nursing is to become a Certified Nurse Anesthetist or CRNA. It discusses what a CRNA is and why you would want to earn an advanced degree in this in-demand nursing profession. It also highlights available CRNA programs where you can earn this degree.

What Is a CRNA Degree?

A CRNA degree is either a Master of Science or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a specialty in nurse anesthesia. CRNAs are some of the the most highly educated and highest compensated nursing professionals. Current surveys indicated that CRNAs now provide more than 50% of anesthetic services in the US annually.

CRNAs are advanced nursing professionals who administer anesthesia during operations, either in a team with an anesthesiologist or alone. The CRNA profession is one of the most rapidly growing in the health field because there is a general shortage of full medical doctors and anesthesiologists.

Anesthesiologists are full MDs, and these professionals require up to eight years of training before they can practice on their own. For that reason, CRNAs are becoming the go-to healthcare professional for anesthesia services. They can do most of the same work but at a fraction of the cost. They also can complete their education in half the time that doctors take.

CRNAs allow more surgeries to be done at a lower cost and with fewer anesthesiologists. A certified registered nurse anesthetist is often supervised by an anesthesiologist, or he or she can work independently. While CRNAs are paid very well when compared to all other nurses, they are more cost effective for hospitals to employ. So, CRNAs enjoy excellent job prospects and stability.

Some of the common subject areas that you will study in a CRNA program are:

  • Principles of pharmacology
  • Principles of anesthesia
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Pathophysiology in anesthesia
  • Research methods in anesthesia
  • Professional practice aspects


Previously, earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) was the path to become a CRNA. However, it is important for CRNA candidates to know that in October 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) voted to change the degree level needed to work in advanced nursing practice, including CRNA, from the Master of Science to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

This new policy took effect in 2015. This means that for professionals considering most forms of advanced nursing practice, you will now need to earn your DNP, which generally takes longer and costs more than earning an MSN.

So, you should assume that to become a CRNA, you are going to need to earn your DNP. Some universities are beginning to phase out the CRNA-MSN track and replacing it with the DNP track. This should continue for the next several years until most CRNA-MSN programs have been entirely replaced by CRNA-DNP programs.

A recent review of previous MSN-CRNA programs shows that universities are beginning to discontinue these programs and are converting them to DNP programs.

Why Earn a CRNA Degree?

The healthcare profession is adding jobs at a tremendous rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in all healthcare roles will skyrocket by 19% by 2024. This is a rate that is much faster than average. In total, it is believed that there will be at least 2.3 million new jobs by that year. Healthcare jobs will be added faster than in any other industry.

This growth rate is expected because our population is living longer and is getting older. Health insurance reform also has increased the number of people who are seeking healthcare services.

The increase in demand for healthcare workers clearly will affect the number of nurse anesthesia professionals who are needed across the country. CRNAs are highly trained professionals who are able to perform much needed services at a reasonable price, far below what a full anesthesiologist costs.

CRNAs are the only providers of anesthesia in many rural hospitals in the US, which enables these smaller health centers to offer more surgical and trauma services. In some states, CRNAs are even the sole providers in almost 100% of hospitals located in rural areas.

BLS states that the demand for all advanced nursing practice professionals including CRNAs will increase by a total of 31% by 2024. For CRNAs specifically, demand will increase by a healthy 19% by that date. Professionals who earn their MSN or DNP will have little problem finding work in most parts of the US.

The salary in this field is also excellent. BLS reports that the median salary for CRNAs today is $160,000 per year.

If you want to work on your own without doctor supervision, becoming a CRNA in some states could be a great fit, as well. There currently are 16 states where CRNAs may work without physician supervision, so the demand for CRNAs in these states could be higher. These are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

The highest paying states for CRNAs are California, Washington, New York, New Hampshire and New Jersey, with a CRNA salary of over $170,000.

Recent data in US News and World Report also states that these five US cities offer very high CRNA salaries:

  • Cape Coral, Florida: $255,610
  • San Diego, California: $241,900
  • Providence, Rhode Island: $241,600
  • San Jose, California: $234,900
  • Vallejo, California: $221,000

3+ Online No GRE Options for CRNA

Some good options for CRNA programs resulting in a DNP degree online include the following:

South University

South University offers a Master of Medical Science in Anesthesia Science that will allow you to work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. According to the university’s website, an anesthesiologist in most states may supervise as many as four anesthesia services locations that may be staffed either by nurse anesthetists or anesthesiologist assistants.

This program is designed to offer students classroom, laboratory and clinical work that will prepare them to provide a high level of anesthesia services to work with patients of all ages and illness types.

This program teaches students about gathering preoperative patient data, establishing an airway and how to maintain proper lung ventilation. Also, students study how to safely administer all of the drugs that currently are used in anesthesiology today.

More Info

  • Campus: Savannah, Georgia
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire
  • GRE Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Programs: Master of Medical Science
  • Request Information: South University

Medical University of South Carolina

This Doctor of Nursing Practice program is dedicated to producing competent and effective CRNAs who are able to meet the varied healthcare needs of patients through clinical practice, education and research.

Students in this DNP program are given education in every aspect of nursing anesthesia. The first 18 months of the program are largely done online. This portion of the program supports the student learning the basic and more advanced nurse anesthesia skills that are necessary to administer anesthetics safely. Students will practice their clinical skills through online simulations.

Students must demonstrate a high level of advocacy in the profession through attending various national and state meetings. During the next part of the program, students dive into the clinical component where they perform anesthesia services for all sorts of patients and in all practice settings. Students will be evaluated based upon how well they integrate their online class knowledge with real world clinical practice.

This university has various clinical sites in South Carolina, where students will be able to provide anesthesia to complex pediatric and adult patients.

The objectives for this partially online DNP program are as follows:

  • Expand clinical education of CRNAs with added clinical education hours, advanced instruction in cutting edge nurse anesthesia technology and crisis simulation.
  • Prepare nurse anesthetists to offer clinical practice that is based upon research, evidence and outcomes.
  • Produce well educated CRNAs who have the skills and education to become leaders in nurse anesthesia.

To qualify for this program, you must be an RN and possess significant experience in a critical care environment. Students also must have their BSN and a GPA of at least 3.0.

More Info

  • Campus: Online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Per Credit Hour: Full time – in state $7,292 per semester; out of state $11,000 per semester
  • GRE Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Programs: Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesia
  • School Site: |Tuition | Financial Aid

Duke University

The DNP program in nurse anesthesia at Duke University prepares you to become a clinical scholar in this growing, popular field. Students who graduate from this campus-based CRNA program will become highly skilled in anesthetic administration for all types of clinical settings.

Graduates will be prepared to translate research and other evidence into modern clinical practice. Students also will learn how to properly measure patient outcomes, and to transform healthcare systems that ensure both safety and quality.

This is a three year, 83 credit, full time, on campus CRNA program. The program ends with a capstone project that will address a critical quality improvement project in nurse anesthesia that will affect patients and healthcare systems in a clinical environment.

Ranked as the #3 nurse anesthesia program in the US, you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Clinical rotations in nurse anesthesia with a broad range of clinical experiences
  • Ongoing and dynamic interaction between faculty and students
  • A student mentoring program where you are paired with a current and experienced CRNA
  • Top quality clinical preceptors and faculty
  • Development of an e-portfolio that will showcase your skills for future employers

Graduates from this CRNA program have a CRNA certification pass rate of 100%. After graduation, approximately 50% of graduates stay in North Carolina, while the rest practice across the US.

Students who apply will have their application forwarded to the nurse anesthesia faculty. Candidates who are deemed to be possible fits for the program will be interviewed on campus.

Required courses include the following:

  • Evidence Based Practice I and II
  • Transforming the Nation’s Health
  • Date Driven Healthcare Improvements
  • Effective Leadership
  • Quantitative Methods

More Info

  • Campus: Online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Per Credit Hour: $1425
  • GRE Required: Waived if your cumulative undergraduate GPA is 3.4 or higher
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: Yes – 3 day on campus orientation, 4 on campus sessions per year
  • Programs: Nurse Anesthesia (CRNA) Specialty
  • School Site: |Tuition | Financial Aid

Rutgers University

The Rutgers University prepares DNP graduates for the complete scope of nurse anesthesia practice in any clinical setting. It is an 85 credit hour program that requires at least 2500 clinical hours to be completed in the 36 month program.

This program features a didactic phase in year one, and a clinical specialty phase in years two and three. The didactic phase is where you learn the core and scientific components of nurse anesthesia. There are 11 courses that you will take, and they are available in both a distance and campus based format. Courses that are required in this phase include:

  • Information Technology for Evidence Based Practice
  • Epidemiology and Population Health
  • Management and Analysis of Health Data for the Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Advanced Physiology
  • Pharmacology of Anesthetics
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Physics and Technology – Equipment in Anesthesia

The last 24 months of the program include 14 credits of clinical anesthesia practicum, as well as the last 39 credits of didactic classes. In this phase, all classes, lectures, simulation labs and workshops are held on campus in Newark, New Jersey.

The 2500 clinical hours you are required to take in the CRNA program can be completed at 16 clinical affiliates in New Jersey and New York metro areas.

More Info

  • Campus: Online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Per Credit Hour: $1268
  • GRE Required: Waived with an undergraduate GPA of 3.4 or higher
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Programs: DNP – Nurse Anesthesia
  • School Site: |Tuition | Financial Aid


Earning a CRNA degree will allow you to enter a thriving profession with a nearly limitless future of job demand. Salaries also are soaring for these highly educated healthcare professionals. It is recommended to strongly consider getting your DNP rather than your MSN if you are planning to become a CRNA, due to educational standards in the field changing.

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