5 Best CRNA Schools in California – 2023

As a graduate of one of the CRNA programs in California, you’ll be a highly respected professional in any operating room, surgical facility or intensive care unit in the Golden State. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists in California earn $232,540 annually on average, making them the highest-paid RNs in the Golden State. They’re highly sought after as well; employment opportunities for CRNAs in California are expected to increase by 31 percent within the next decade. Are you interested in evaluating whether this challenging specialty could be the next career move for you? Keep reading to learn more about the 5 best CRNA schools in California for 2023.



1) Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia California State University Fullerton - Pasadena

Programs Offered: DNP Nurse Anesthesia

California State University Fullerton offers its Nurse Anesthesia training in partnership with Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia, a recognized name in graduate nursing education that has been producing competent nurse anesthetists since 1972. This collaboration between CSU and KPSA takes pride in the high quality of its graduates, many of whom play leadership roles in clinical settings as well as in prominent professional organizations. If you are keen on graduating from one of the distinguished CRNA programs in California, then here, this DNP Nurse Anesthesia certainly fits the bill. If are you are wondering why enroll in this DNP when you can obtain your CRNA licensure with an MSN? Well, you should know that the additional one year of this DNP by building up your knowledge in evidence-based practice, epidemiology, quality improvement, leadership & advocacy certainly equips you better in improving overall patient outcomes. Besides, as a graduate of this program, you will be trained with the most employable skills, little wonder that most of the students have multiple job offers even before graduation.

Program Overview: To prepare you for a successful career as a nurse anesthetist in California, the college takes you through three years of rigorous training that includes one year in didactic training and two years of clinical rotations. During the nine semesters of this full-time program, you will focus on anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, professional roles, and basic and advanced principles of anesthesia. Thereafter, the clinical rotations take place in both, regional and general anesthesia. Apart from the core courses which are offered at CSU, the nurse anesthesia concentration courses are held at KPSA and other affiliated sites in Pasadena. The coursework requires completing 110 credits and educates you on advanced health assessment, advanced evidence-based practice, leadership, management & economics, epidemiology, data management, quality improvement, healthcare policy, and advanced pharmacology & physiology. Also, you learn about the principles of anesthesia, and anesthesia for surgical and special populations.

Admission Requirements: Admission into this CRNA program in California is highly competitive and to be considered for admission, you must have a BSN or an MSN along with an active RN license in California. Also, the college requires you to have a minimum GPA of 3.2 and current full-time work experience in critical care. Additionally, a CCRN certification is needed to fulfill the minimum qualifications for application.

2) University of Southern California - Los Angeles

Programs Offered: DNAP

If you are ready to take your nursing career to the next level by advancing to the nurse anesthetist position, then what better than obtaining skills at the doctoral level. Well, to get onto this career path, enrolling in one of the best CRNA schools in California should be high on your priority list. The University of Southern California is one such nurse anesthesia school that prepares you with a robust foundation of knowledge and leadership to provide anesthesia care to patients across the lifespan. The college prepares you for this respected advanced nursing position through a conducive learning environment and a wide exposure to various specialties. Here, clinical rotations in training hospitals including the USC Medical Center, Keck Hospital, USC Cancer Center, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and other clinical sites across Los Angeles provide you with ample practice to hone professional skills. With the rigorous training that this DNAP provides, the college boasts of not only having almost 100% of its graduates pass the certification exam but also has all of them securing suitable placements within six months of graduation.

Program Overview: This CRNA program in California leads to a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia and national certification & licensure as a Nurse Anesthetist. It is a comprehensive 36-month program, that is offered only on a full-time basis. The curriculum comprises 78 credits which include didactic training in the first year, followed by an intense two-year clinical residency. The program starts with a three-day orientation after which you complete the remaining courses of the first summer semester in the hybrid format. The remaining part of the program is offered in the face-to-face format. Through the didactic courses, you learn about anesthesiology, pharmacology, basic science, health policy, leadership, and healthcare technology. On the other hand, the clinical rotations make you adept in anesthesiology, perioperative care, and pain management by taking you through rotations in cardiothoracic, regional, and local anesthesia.

Admission Requirements: To be considered for this nurse anesthesia program in California you must have an active RN license in California and an accredited BSN, BS, or BA degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Also, the college requires you to complete at least two years of critical care experience before the start of the program. The critical care experience that you must complete must include adults, pediatric and neonatal patients. Additionally, to fulfill the admission requirements you must submit three letters of recommendation, complete a shadowing experience, present your GRE score, and complete all the pre-requisite courses.

3) Samuel Merritt University - Oakland

Programs Offered: Master of Science in Nursing — Nurse Anesthesia

As a nurse anesthetist, your role in pain management will be vital in improving the overall health outcome of a patient. You will work in various types of clinical settings, including operating rooms, outpatient centers, emergency care, delivery rooms, and dental clinics. If you are someone with enhanced interpersonal communication and critical thinking skills, then this advanced nursing position is a career that will prove to be rather rewarding in terms of salary and personal fulfillment. Samuel Merritt, listed among the best CRNA schools in California trains you to practice as a compassionate and culturally competent CRNA in California. Here, the small-sized student to faculty ratio of 1:8 makes learning effective while opening up opportunities of forming lasting bonds between students and faculty. Furthermore, if you are looking at value for the investment you are making, then as a graduate of this program you will be much in demand as almost 100% of the CRNA graduates are employed within six months of leaving college.

Program Overview: Unlike most other CRNA programs in California, which take almost three years to graduate, here, you can kickstart your Nurse Anesthesia career within 27 months of full-time study. Through the seven semesters of your coursework which culminate in an MSN in Nurse Anesthesia degree, you will take graduate core and Anesthesia-specific courses. Some of the topics you master include theoretical foundations for health professionals, advanced health assessment, principles of anesthesia, pharmacology, human anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, clinical anesthesia, research methods, and health policy issues. The 66-credit coursework also includes an oral comprehensive exam, pain management, and a preparatory course on the CRNA certification exam. To hone professional skills, the college offers experiential learning experiences at various affiliated sites across the state.

Admission Requirements: There are various factors that you must fulfill to qualify for this nurse anesthesia program in California. These factors include having a BSN degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, an active RN license in CA, at least 12 months of work experience as an RN in an intensive care unit, and completion of at least 8 hours of shadowing experience. Additionally, you are required to submit three letters of recommendation and a personal goals statement.

4) Loma Linda University – Loma Linda

Programs Offered: BS to DNP

Are you a registered nurse, keen on taking your nursing career to an advanced level of practice? If so, what better than the position of a nurse anesthetist that will not only fetch you some of the highest APRN salaries but also make you rise in professional respect. Well, if you are searching for online CRNA schools in California that offer the flexibility of taking few courses through the distance format, then you may want to learn about Loma Linda University as here the first six months of the program are offered in the hybrid format with minimal campus visits required. Counted among the best CRNA schools in California, the college’s nurse anesthesia education is grounded in Christian values of service and compassion. As a graduate of this college, you will be committed to providing healing care to the patient as a whole. Being home to respected healthcare facilities like the Children’s Hospital, East Campus Hospital, Outpatient Surgery Center, and Surgical Hospital, Loma Linda, offers students excellent clinical training on campus. Also, through well-established affiliations with area healthcare centers, students experience a wide range of rotations outside the college to hone professional skills in varied settings.

Program Overview: This CRNA program is a 39-month full-time program that prepares you to provide anesthetics for patients across the lifespan. As a CRNA, you will be required for pain management in any type of surgery or medical procedure. This program not only equips you with the professional tools required for professional anesthesia practice but by earning a doctorate, you will be able to transform lives through leadership and research. The 148 curriculum extends to the fourth year of completing the DNP project and clinical practicum. While the first six months of the program, you take most courses through the online format, the remaining part of the program is primarily offered in-person. The coursework which comprises graduate-level courses, nurse anesthesia-specific courses, and the DNP project enhances your clinical judgment, systems thinking, and evidence-based knowledge.

Admission Requirements: As a potential student, you must fulfill the minimum admission requirements which include a personal goals statement, three letters of recommendation, and active RN and CCRN certifications. Also, you must have a BSN or MSN with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additionally, the college requires you to have at least one year of experience in critical care.

5) National University - La Jolla

Programs Offered: Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP)

National University is not only one of the veteran-friendly CRNA schools in California but also proudly the only school that has received the Planetree recognition. Being a leader in producing patient-centered nurse anesthetists, this distinction affirms the school’s focus on patient-centered nurse anesthesia education. The Planetree recognition also opens up several interprofessional learning opportunities where students can collaborate with more than 700 healthcare partners across 23 countries. Besides, if you are keen on enrolling in an online CRNA program in California, then here, some classes are offered online, while taking in-person courses at the Fresno campus. The college offers aspiring nurse anesthetists a DNAP which boasts of a 100% pass rate on the national certification exam. Through this terminal degree, the college strives to meet the growing demand for CRNAs across the state and nation. Trained with the highest level of clinical skills, college graduates play varied roles in anesthesia, some of whom choose to serve within the U.S. military while others get hired by any one of National’s clinical partners.

Program Overview: This three-year CRNA program is divided into two phases of didactic courses and clinical training. The program is intensive and it is advised that you complete the pre-requite courses as preparation for the DNAP courses. The first 15 months of the program offer some of the didactic courses online which are complemented by hi-fidelity simulation learning. During the second phase of the program, you will complete clinical courses at the college’s clinical affiliate where you administer anesthesia to patients under the supervision of a mentor. So, typically, the curriculum comprising of eight online courses, nineteen on-campus courses, and seven clinical courses requires completing 138 quarter units. The program prepares you to play leadership roles in nurse anesthesia administration and education by teaching you concepts in systems analysis, quality assessment & improvement, leadership, health policy, and evidence-based practice.

Admission Requirements: To qualify for admission into this highly competitive CRNA program in California, you must either have a BSN or a BS and an active RN license. Furthermore, National requires you to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.25 and a science GPA of 3.0 or higher. Additionally, at least one year of critical care experience, three letters of recommendation, certification in either CCRN, CEN, or CFRN, and shadowing hours in the operating room with a CRNA or anesthesiologist is highly recommended to enhance your odds of admission.

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What are the Total Number of Accredited CRNA Schools in California?

As per the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA), currently there are 5 accredited CRNA schools in California that offer a total of 5 Nurse Anesthesia programs.

Program Type #
Post-Master's Certificate 0
DNAP Completion 0
Total 5

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