7 Best RN-to-CRNA Programs (Online & Campus-Based) – 2023

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you a registered nurse considering transitioning to a new role? Do you love pharmacology and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge? Does having a job with great income potential, a positive job outlook, and a high level of autonomy sound like a dream? If so, have you considered becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

Perhaps you thought of becoming a CRNA but wonder, “What are the best RN-to-CRNA programs?” In this article, I will shed light on the answer to that question by sharing the 7 best (campus-based and online) RN-to-CRNA programs in 2023. As you continue reading, you will learn about the programs, their curriculum and cost, as well as learn other interesting facts about income and job outlook. The information you find in this article will help you decide if pursuing an RN-to-CRNA program is right for you.



The goal of RN-to-CRNA programs is to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to become safe, competent anesthesia practitioners. The programs offer classroom, laboratory, and clinical instruction designed to teach you about advanced anesthesia care and pharmacologic methodologies. You will learn from experienced faculty and clinical preceptors in various settings as you prepare for independent clinical practice.


Becoming a CRNA is an amazing accomplishment, one you can certainly be proud of. When you enroll in RN-to-CRNA programs, you will find they offer many advantages. The following are three main advantages of pursuing your degree through one of these programs.

ADVANTAGE #1: CRNA's earning potential is awesome!

One of the biggest advantages of RN-to-CRNA programs is once you get your degree and become certified, you will earn a great income. In fact, the starting salary for program graduates is more than $143,000 per year. As you gain continued experience, your income potential will increase, as well. The average CRNA salary is greater than $200,000 annually.

ADVANTAGE #2: You will have a high level of autonomy in practice.

As a CRNA, you will be qualified to make independent judgments and decisions regarding all aspects of anesthesia care. Because of your knowledge and broad knowledge base, you will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in your practice.

ADVANTAGE #3: You can become a travel CRNA.

If you love to travel but need to work, you can have the best of both worlds with a degree from one of the nation’s best RN-to-CRNA programs. Travel CRNAs work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities that are short-staffed and in need of anesthesia care professionals.


RN-to-CRNA programs offer students a broad range of opportunities and learning experiences, but there are also some disadvantages to this degree program and career. I believe it is important to compare the pros and cons to determine if the downside is worth it before committing to a program. The following are three of the main disadvantages of these programs.


If you do not know what it is like to be tired, wait until you start an RN-to-CRNA program. The coursework is rigorous. Not to mention, you will spend approximately two years in clinical rotations learning the art of nurse anesthesia. Most programs suggest students dedicate 60 to 70 hours each week to the program, which means there is little time for much else.

DISADVANTAGE #2: One mistake could mean someone’s life.

As a CRNA, you will be tasked with making critical patient care decisions. Depending on where you work, you could face emergency situations that require quick decision-making, which means the difference between someone living and dying. If you are careless or practice something you have not been trained to do, your mistake could cost someone their life.

DISADVANTAGE #3: You may have to give up your job while in school.

Because RN-to-CRNA programs are so rigorous, most schools discourage students from working while enrolled. If your family depends on your income, you could feel at a gross disadvantage not working. Careful planning and budgeting before beginning your program is one way to help counter the impact of lost income, but for some people, it is too much to give up their jobs completely. Before deciding, I recommend talking to your academic advisor and program mentor to see what the program entails and their recommendation.


On average, RN-to-CRNA programs take three years to complete on a full-time basis. Some programs, like the ones offered at Mount Marty University and Columbia University, allow students to transfer credits from previous degrees for credit. In this case, you could reduce the time it takes to graduate by one or two semesters, depending on the number of credits you transfer.


At Newman University, the RN-to-CRNA program costs an average of $16,777 per semester. The program takes nine semesters to complete, which makes the total cost approximately $150,993. Webster University’s military students pay $390 per credit hour. All other students pay $730 per credit. Webster’s program requires you to complete 141 credits, which means tuition ranges from $54,990 to $102,930.


(Based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the 7 best RN-to-CRNA programs in 2023. The following list includes both (Campus-Based and Online) programs. These RN-to-CRNA programs are for students with an RN degree.)

1. Columbia University - New York, NY

Program Length: 36 Months

Program Details: Columbia University is home to one of the best RN-to-CRNA programs in the nation. The program, which is designed for experienced critical care registered nurses, takes three years, and is designed in a full-time study format.

The program is front-loaded, with the first 15 months dedicated to advanced science courses, doctoral core courses, and learning principles of anesthesia through structured high-fidelity laboratory simulations in the university’s high-fidelity simulation center. The curriculum requires you to complete 87 to 88 credits and includes classes such as Principles and Practice of Nurse Anesthesia, Incorporating Genetics and Genomics in Advanced Practice Nursing, and Anesthesia and Coexisting Disease.

Task trainers will teach you the insertion of central, arterial, and intravenous lines, how to perform spinals, epidurals, and peripheral nerve blocks, and the use of anesthesia equipment. You will also learn ultrasound imaging in didactic and lab settings to assist you in using POCUS techniques, regional anesthesia, and invasive line placement. Additionally, you will complete a 21-month anesthesia clinical residency. Clinicals are completed in a broad range of clinical settings and offer opportunities to provide care to patients with multi-system issues.

How Fast Can You Complete Columbia University RN-to-CRNA Program: The RN-to-CRNA program at Columbia University is only available for full-time study and takes approximately three years to complete. Advanced standing admission is offered on an individual basis based on transfer of credits, credit by exam, or course exemption, which could reduce the time it takes you to complete the program. You may transfer up to nine credits of coursework. Students who achieve advanced standing typically complete the program in seven semesters instead of the traditional nine.

Admission Requirements: The RN-to-CRNA program at Columbia University is designed for registered nurses with at least one year of ICU experience who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or higher. Admission to the program is competitive, and candidates with two or more years in critical care and CCRN certification are preferred. In addition to submitting official transcripts, you must provide three letters of recommendation, written and video essays, and a timed writing sample.

Why Choose Columbia University RN-to-CRNA Program

• At Columbia University, you will learn from CRNA and MD faculty members and preceptors dedicated to your success.
• The university offers certification exam preparation guided by experienced CRNAs.
• The program has a less than 5% attrition rate, which is indicative of student satisfaction and success with the program, faculty, and outcomes.

2. University of South Carolina - Columbia, SC

Program Length: 36 Months

Program Details: The University of South Carolina offers another exceptional RN-to-CRNA program. Through the integration of didactic coursework, simulation experiences, and clinical practicums, you will gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. The program offers a broad base of exposure to the health sciences and in-depth instruction on the mechanics of anesthesia practice.

The three-year program features a 79-credit curriculum and includes classes such as Pain Management and Ultrasound, Teaching Managing for Nurse Anesthetists, and Policy, Ethics, and the Law. The first two semesters of the program are completed online, with you visiting campus at the end of the second semester to complete orientation and simulation activities. Beginning the third semester, you will participate in classroom and simulation center learning as well as continue some online coursework.

The program features five clinical practicum rotations, the first of which occurs in the first semester of the second year. You will complete clinical requirements at one or several of the university’s clinical partner sites.

How Fast Can You Complete University of South Carolina RN-to-CRNA Program: Unlike some other programs, the program at USC does not accept transfer credits or offer advanced standing placement. The program offered at the University of South Carolina is only available full-time and follows a 36-month plan.

Admission Requirements: To be considered for admission to the RN-to-CRNA program at the University of South Carolina, you must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or an associate degree in nursing and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree in one of the basic sciences. GRE scores within the past five years are required. Applicants with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher may have the GRE requirement waived. You must have a minimum of one year of critical care experience as an RN and maintain an active, unrestricted RN license while enrolled in the program.

Why Choose University of South Carolina RN-to-CRNA Program

• Faculty of the University of South Carolina RN-to-CRNA program are renowned for their contributions to the field of nurse anesthesia.
• The University of South Carolina’s CRNA program is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top Nurse Anesthesia programs in the nation.
• The university offers students small class sizes, which allows individualized attention and interaction with instructors and peers.
• You will learn hands-on skills at Prima Health and the School of Medicine’s state-of-the-art simulation centers.

3. Newman University - Wichita, KS

Program Length: 36 Months

Program Details: At Newman University, you will find another of the country’s best RN-to-CRNA programs. The program features rich classroom instruction emphasizing anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, and physics, as well as a research focus. Clinical practicum experiences provide opportunities for hands-on anesthesia training where you will perform techniques and procedures related to pain management, general, and regional anesthesia.

At Newman, you will complete 88 credits over the course of three years. Classes are held year-round in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. The curriculum includes classes such as Advanced Anatomy for the Nurse Anesthetist, Populations, Wellness, and Epidemiology, and Biomedical Statistics. Although some courses are available online, all students are required to be on campus each week for some didactic classes.

How Fast Can You Complete Newman University RN-to-CRNA Program: The Newman University RN-to-CRNA program starts a new class in May of each year. The program is formatted to be completed in three years. On rare, space-available occasions, transfers are allowed into the program with advanced standing. You may transfer a maximum of six graduate credit hours, which must be approved by the Program Director. By transferring credits, you may be able to reduce the time it takes to graduate by one semester.

Admission Requirements: To get into the RN-to-CRNA program at Newman University, you must have a BSN or an ADN and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, an active Kansas state or NLC registered nurse license, and at least one year of critical care work experience. Candidates with two years or more of critical care experience are preferred. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s, you must complete a statistics course and a research course approved by the program and earn a minimum grade of “C.” Candidates with a BSN must have a statistics course with parametric and nonparametric statistical methods required. A minimum college GPA of 3.0 or a 3.2 GPA for the last 60 credits of college coursework is also required.

Why Choose Newman University RN-to-CRNA Program

• Graduates of Newman University’s program have exceptional pass rates on the CRNA certification exams, which indicates strong preparation for clinical practice.
• The university offers one-to-one student/instructor ratios for labs and a structured learning environment to help improve your chances of success.
U.S. News ranks Newman University as one of the Best Graduate Schools for Nursing-Anesthesia.

4. Mount Marty University - Sioux Falls, SD

Program Length: 36 Months

Program Details: Another of the best RN-to-CRNA programs in the United States is offered at Mount Marty University. The program features an 83-credit curriculum with classes like Advanced Pathophysiology, Anesthesia Principles, and Anesthesia Pharmacology.

The three-year program is divided into two phases: the initial didactic phase, which is 14 months, followed by a 22-month clinical phase. The didactic phase of the program is completed in person on the anesthesia campus.

Although you will be assigned a primary clinical site at which you will complete most of your 22-month clinical phase, you will complete two to four months of the clinical phase at a specialty rotation to gain experiences not offered at your primary clinical site. If invited to an interview for admission, you will be asked to select preferred clinical locations. The Clinical Director will use your preference information to determine final clinical assignments.

How Fast Can You Complete Mount Marty University RN-to-CRNA Program: The program at Mount Marty University is designed to be completed in three years. Students follow a cohort model of full-time study. In some cases, with permission of the program director, you may transfer up to nine credits into the anesthesia program. Students who utilize the transfer option may complete the program in eight semesters instead of nine.

Admission Requirements: Mount Marty’s RN-to-CRNA program is available in a post-bachelor's or post-master's format. BS to DNAP candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or biomedical sciences. MS to DNP applicants must have a Master of Science in nursing and be prepared as a practicing nurse anesthetist. Candidates for both pathways must have at least one year of full-time work experience as a registered nurse in a critical care setting and have a cumulative college GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Why Choose Mount Marty University RN-to-CRNA Program

• At Mount Marty University, you will learn from faculty who are experienced leaders, educators, and clinicians who are nurse anesthetists or doctoral-prepared registered nurses.
• The university is home to a state-of-the-art, high-fidelity simulation lab where you will learn skills before transitioning to clinical practicum.
• Mount Marty University has 37 clinical partnerships to offer you diversity in your clinical training.

5. Webster University - St. Louis, MO

Program Length: 36 Months

Program Details: If you are searching for a top RN-to-CRNA program with a rich curriculum and diverse clinical experiences, you may need to look no further than Webster University. The program is designed to prepare you with a clinical doctorate in nurse anesthesia and specialization in health administration.

The Entry into Practice program is a 141-credit pathway that includes ten clinical practicums. The curriculum features science courses, nurse anesthesia courses, clinical simulation courses, and nurse anesthesia clinical courses. You will study topics, including Anesthesia and Coexisting Diseases, Organization and Management in Health Administration, and Biostatistics for Health Sciences.

The CRNA Completion pathway is a 32-credit program. Your classes in this program include Politics & Economics of Healthcare, Translational Research, and Population Health and Epidemiology.

Clinical practicums are offered at several clinical partner sites, such as SSM Health DePaul Hospital, Missouri Delta Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital, SSM Health Glennon Children’s Hospital, and Baptist Health Paducah. You will identify your desired clinical sites and submit requests for approval to the Clinical Director, who makes final clinical assignments and approves clinical preceptors.

How Fast Can You Complete Webster University RN-to-CRNA Program: The RN-to-CRNA program is a cohort program that requires following the prescribed study plan. The program requires three years of continuous, full-time enrollment, including summer semesters. Any deviations from the plan or requests for transfer credit to reduce the time it takes to graduate must be approved by the Program Director prior to the start of the program. The amount of time you save by transferring credits will depend on the number of credits that are eligible.

Admission Requirements: Admission to the Entry into Practice pathway is open to currently licensed registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a related field who have at least one year of critical care experience. The CRNA completion pathway is available to RNs with a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia. All candidates must have a college GPA of 3.0 or higher for their most recent nursing degree and must provide three letters of reference, a current resume, and copies of BLS, ACLS, and PALS certifications. Additionally, you must participate in an admissions interview with program faculty.

Why Choose Webster University RN-to-CRNA Program

• Webster University’s RN-to-CRNA program boasts of award-winning faculty with years of experience in clinical anesthesia practice.
• Graduates of the program have outstanding CRNA certification pass rates!
• The program is ranked by U.S. News as one of the top nurse anesthesia programs in the nation.

6. Excela Health School of Anesthesia - Latrobe, PA

Program Length: 36 Months

Program Details: Excela Health School of Anesthesia, in partnership with Saint Vincent College, offers one of the best RN-to-CRNA programs in the country. The program is delivered in a full-time, hybrid format consisting of in-person and online classes, face-to-face laboratory simulations, and clinical practicums.

The curriculum features 91 credits with classes including Critical Events in Anesthesia, Risk Management and Patient Safety, and Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology. The first year of the program consists of didactic study. Beginning your second year, clinical practicums will begin and continue for the remainder of the program. The university offers diverse clinical experiences, with clinical rotations occurring in as many as 20 affiliate sites.

How Fast Can You Complete Excela Health School of Anesthesia RN-to-CRNA Program: The RN-to-CRNA program at Excela takes three years to complete. You will begin studies in the spring semester and continue for nine consecutive semesters, including summers. The university does not accept transfer credits or award advanced standing. Therefore, all students must follow the prescribed 36-month plan.

Admission Requirements: Candidates seeking admission to the RN-to-CRNA program at Excela Health School of Anesthesia must meet the following criteria. You must have a BSN or an associate degree in nursing plus a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and one year of full-time critical care nursing experience prior to admission. You must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. In addition to an anesthesia school application, you must provide a professional resume, statement of interest, copy of your nurse's license, and three letters of reference.

Why Choose Excela Health School of Anesthesia RN-to-CRNA Program

• Excela is proud to promote a family atmosphere that offers individualized support from staff and clinicians to help you succeed.
• Excela Health School of Anesthesia introduced its anesthesia program in 1954 and has been educating successful nurse anesthetists since that time.
• The university reports a high student retention rate and excellent certification exam pass rates, which indicates student satisfaction and preparation for success.

7. CAMC Institute for Academic Medicine - Charleston, WV

Program Length: 36 Months

Program Details: The CAMC Institute for Academic Medicine offers an RN-to-CRNA program that combines advanced professional nurse anesthesia practice and entrepreneurial business training management. The program features an integrated format that allows you to participate in didactic and clinical training simultaneously. The 127-credit curriculum includes didactic instruction, laboratory simulations, clinical practicums, and a Doctoral Project. Classes are held at the Marshall University South Charleston campus. You will complete clinical training through the Charles Area Medical Center, which is a regional referral and academic medical center. CAMC consists of four hospitals, two outpatient facilities, and an endoscopy clinic.

How Fast Can You Complete CAMC Institute for Academic Medicine RN-to-CRNA Program: At CAMC, the program is designed to be completed in 36 months as a full-time student. The program does not afford advanced standing opportunities or allow transfer credits toward the DNAP degree.

Admission Requirements: If you have an associate degree in nursing and a non-nursing baccalaureate degree, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, and a valid RN license, you are eligible to apply for the RN-to-CRNA program at CAMC Institute for Academic Medicine. Although a minimum of one year of clinical experience in critical care is required, candidates with two or more years of experience are preferred. You must provide official post-secondary transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a resume detailing your education and work experience. You may be asked to participate in a personal interview with program faculty.

Why Choose CAMC Institute for Academic Medicine RN-to-CRNA Program

• At CAMC, you will learn from experienced nurse anesthetists and licensed physicians.
• The program boasts outstanding certification exam pass rates and employment rates for graduates.
• Your clinical training will occur at CAMC's medical campus, which has over 6,000 employees and a long history of preparing anesthesia students for success.



Graduates of RN-to-CRNA programs earn an impressive starting salary of $143,870 per year! This pay breaks down to equal $69.17 per hour, $2,767 per week, or $11,990 per month.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Whoever said experience does not pay never looked at a CRNA's earning potential. On average, program graduates with experience earn $205,770 per year. This pay, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, equals $98.93 per hour, $3,957 per week, or $17,150 per month.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


One factor that impacts your earning potential is the geographic location where you work. States with higher costs of living typically pay higher wages. Also, the more populated an area, the more healthcare professionals are needed, which can also lead to higher income opportunities. For instance, three of the highest-paying states for experienced graduates of RN-to-CRNA programs are California, Illinois, and Minnesota. In these states, CRNAs earn between $222,540 and $246,510 annually. Kansas, Tennessee, and Florida are some of the lowest-paying states, with CRNAs here earning between $169,410 and $174,390.

State Average
Annual Salary
Alabama $191,200
Arizona $179,730
California $246,510
Colorado $185,860
Connecticut $240,580
Delaware $198,070
Florida $174,390
Georgia $190,800
Idaho $181,110
Illinois $238,440
Indiana $220,020
Iowa $211,010
Kansas $169,410
Kentucky $235,260
Louisiana $179,140
Maine $214,930
Maryland $182,710
Massachusetts $204,690
Michigan $199,690
Minnesota $222,540
Mississippi $184,390
Missouri $205,190
Montana $203,430
Nebraska $225,590
New Hampshire $215,970
New Jersey $232,630
New Mexico $215,240
New York $238,710
North Carolina $214,740
Ohio $197,630
Oklahoma $168,470
Oregon $205,920
Pennsylvania $203,620
South Carolina $195,840
South Dakota $223,200
Tennessee $174,170
Texas $208,940
Vermont $228,710
Virginia $215,530
Washington $222,610
West Virginia $229,430
Wisconsin $230,270
Wyoming $205,270
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


The outlook for jobs for graduates of RN-to-CRNA programs is promising. The BLS predicts that graduates will see an increase in available jobs of 11.73% between 2021 and 2031.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


If you are a registered nurse who wants to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, there are many things to consider. In addition to researching the price of programs and how long they take, you naturally wonder, “What are the best RN-to-CRNA programs?” In this article, I answered that question by sharing information with you about the 7 best (campus-based and online) RN-to-CRNA programs in 2023. These programs offer excellent training and learning opportunities to catapult you into a career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. With that in mind, if you feel becoming a CRNA is the right path for you, I encourage you to contact schools and start your journey today!

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).