Expert advice, rankings, and data to help you navigate your nurse anesthesia education journey and find the best CRNA schools for you.
The world of nurse anesthesia has been changing at a record pace each and every single year. There is no better time than now to be a nurse anesthetist. In fact, it is anticipated that there will be a shortage of CRNAs by 2022 as close to half of current CRNAs will be retiring soon. For prospective students, the choices of CRNA schools can be overwhelming. That is why I went to get feedback from real nurse anesthetists.
Over 125 certified CRNAs from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)* participated in the first ever survey ranking Best CRNA Schools. Through extensive surveys, I found the best CRNA programs and best nurse anesthetist schools for prospective nurse anesthetist students. These are the true insiders – the people who have graduated from these same Nurse Anesthetist schools and have been working with fresh CRNA School graduates every year. In fact, these survey responders are even likely the same people that student SRNA Nurses will be interviewing with to get the coveted CRNA job offer.
Best CRNA Schools Background
My goal for the Best CRNA Schools and Best Nurse Anesthetist Schools list is to help provide more CRNA schools and information for all prospective CRNA school students to examine more closely and to also highlight new programs they might have not considered before. Each CRNA school has an individual profile page with information on acceptance rates, tuition, class size and reviews submitted by alumni and members of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
All feedback written is from actual members of the AANA and do not represent my personal opinions or view of Everything CRNA. In addition, it is important to reiterate that this website and the survey is in no way affiliated with the AANA.
Why I wanted to rank the Best CRNA schools?
A few years back, I was applying to all CRNA schools. I was completely overwhelmed at the lack of information and resources online for applying to CRNA schools. Of course, each CRNA school had its own individual website which stated how great their program was. All CRNA schools tell prospective students how overprepared they will be when they graduate, state-of-the-art break through curriculums and training facilities, near 100% pass rates and employment rates. It was almost as if all the CRNA programs were nearly identical and you could simply replace one name for another on all the schools’ websites.
For me, what was missing was a resource that shared real feedback and opinions on the CRNA programs from real nurse anesthetists. In my opinion, real authentic feedback is the most valuable information. These current nurse anesthetists currently working in the field all went to CRNA schools, have colleagues who went to various nurse anesthesia schools, and will be the ones most likely interviewing you in the future after you graduate. Because of that, I reached out to my fellow nurse anesthetists from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to ask them to share their feedback and experiences studying at, working with other CRNAs from the respective schools, and what they thought of each of the schools. I am grateful for the time and sincere feedback from over +125 CRNAs who have completed the Best Nurse Anesthetist Schools survey and offered to share their feedback to future prospective CRNAs.
Why is wrong with US News Rankings?
US News & World Report is well known for their yearly best colleges. The best colleges ranking evaluate 17 different ranking factors from SAT scores, class standing all the way to alumni giving rates with different weighting in coming up to the final score. However, the US News & World Report for CRNA Schools DOES NOT do that.
Problems with the US News CRNA Rankings
Here are the problems with the US News CRNA school report:
- US News & World report did not conduct the survey. This is completely opposite from their Best Colleges Ranking report. They outsourced the entire CRNA section to Ipsos Public Affairs and simply branded it as a US News Best Grad Schools report. This is misleading for not only the public but for students applying to CRNA Schools.
- The US News & World report CRNA survey was completed in 2015 and is over 5 years old now. With how rapidly the field of nurse anesthesia is changing, the results are definitely out of date and some are irrelevant.
- The methodology for the US News & World CRNA report survey was to send survey questionnaires to only academic school faculty. I believe academic feedback is only one aspect of ranking for a nurse anesthesia school. In my opinion, the most important criteria is how graduates and working professionals view the school, its faculty & program and most importantly – it’s graduates.
- The US News & World report CRNA survey is incomplete. There are over 20 CRNA schools that are missing rankings and / or completely not included at all. In the past 5 years, there have been numerous new CRNA schools including the University of Tulsa, Johns Hopkins CRNA as well as many others.
Because of these problems with the US News report, I created the Best CRNA Programs for this new year.
Best CRNA Schools Ranking Methodology
Here is the background information and methodology for the Best Nurse Anesthetist Schools survey:
- All 124 CRNA Schools in the United States that are accredited by COA were included in the survey.
- Respondents were only asked to rate schools they were familiar with.
- Only schools that received a certain threshold response rates were included in the ranking
- Only members of the AANA were permitted to participate in the Best CRNA Schools
- All comments & feedback received are posted to individual CRNA school pages. In total, the Nurse Anesthetist survey participants left over 120 comments on various CRNA programs. These comments are invaluable because they let prospective students know frank and honest feedback on the school’s faculty, experience, and reputation outside the university.
This is the first time ever that CRNA schools are being ranked by other nurse anesthetists. I will be looking to continuously refine the approach based on feedback from the comments below, discussions with nurse anesthesia schools, my anesthesia peers as well as new data and trends in the field of nurse anesthesia and anesthesia school years.
What are the best CRNA Schools?
The following schools are the Best CRNA schools and Best CRNA programs in the United States in order of rank with select feedback from real nurse anesthetists.
What is the best CRNA School?
According to our survey rankings, The USUHS Military CRNA is the best CRNA School in the United States. Here are some of the select feedback and comments that real nurse anesthetists in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists gave on each of the schools. Click on the School Name to read additional feedback as well as to learn more information & statistics on the school itself, like acceptance rates, tuition, program length, etc.
#1 Rank Best CRNA School: Military CRNA
Overall, the Military CRNA really stood out amongst all the CRNA Schools in the US. CRNAs from all different States and age groups all spoke very highly of the program, the graduates and the reputation of the program.
USUHS – I have been deployed with and worked with the military trained anesthetists. They are truly outstanding.
I have worked with many of the military programs grads (USUHS) and being in the military myself, so I know that program is excellent even though I attended elsewhere.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences – All military schools are always solid, 10/10
From what I’ve heard, military schools are highly regarded because they allow them to practice independently and don’t have to fight residents for cases.
#2 Rank Best CRNA School: University of Pittsburgh CRNA
The CRNA program at Pitt also received stellar reviews and very high feedback score.
Pitt CRNA – Excellent CRNA program overall.
#3 Rank Best CRNA School: University of Iowa CRNA
The University of Iowa Nurse Anesthesia program has ranked excellent throughout the years.
U of Iowa – Great reputation. Attended RASCI course.
U of Iowa – Excellent mix of independent practice and supervised academic practice.
#4 Rank Best CRNA School: Baylor College of Medicine CRNA
Baylor has consistently ranked in the top 5 CRNA schools in both the US News Report from 2016 as well as our ranking. This shows consistency in reputation and quality of the nurse anesthesia program.
Baylor CRNA – reputation rated 7/10
#5 Best CRNA School: Army CRNA
The Army CRNA also ranked excellent, similar to the Military CRNA at #1.
Army Graduate – Very solid school, overall rate 10/10
Army Graduate Program (former faculty) Excellent program, instills independence, some sites participate in extended neuro and pediatric rotations at a world class university medical center.
#6 Rank Best CRNA School: VCU CRNA Program
VCU, which was previously ranked #1 in the US News ranking, is still in the top 10 CRNA Schools. The School received excellent feedback and reviews and we continue to highly recommend the school.
VCU has outstanding faculty and resources. Clinical site opportunities are varied. High quality graduates.
Virginia Commonwealth U: Had a close friend attend here and I had applied as well. She told me that her clinical experience was lacking, and she had to share cases with both SRNAs and MD residents. Didactic was also very technical/science heavy without a lot of correlation to anesthesia itself.
I got my Doctorate in Anesthesia practice from VCU. Excellent. Highly recommend.
#7 Rank Best CRNA School: Buffalo CRNA Program
I am rating 9/10 based on quality of graduates I have encountered.
#8 Rank Best CRNA School: Wake Forest CRNA
North Carolina has a lot of CRNA schools and Wake Forest is the top CRNA program in NC.
Wake Forest NC – My alumni, the program is outstanding. Am considering the DNP there. I know the director and many of the staff personally at the school. Solid, smart, excellent teachers, good opportunities for practice and learning.
#9 Rank Best CRNA School: Georgetown CRNA
Georgetown is the only CRNA school in DC and also has ranked in the Top 10 Best CRNA Programs consistently.
Georgetown – know of 1 person who attended, she was a quality candidate, and she liked the CRNA school.
#10 Rank Best CRNA School: Northeastern CRNA
Solid CRNA program.
#11 Rank Best CRNA School: Old Dominion University CRNA
Old Dominion was one of the very interesting standouts in our Best CRNA Schools ranking.
See below for more info on Old Dominion.
#12 Rank Best CRNA School: Gonzaga CRNA
The CRNA Program at Gonzaga has consistently ranked well and nurse anesthetists spoke highly of the academic rigor of the course load.
Gonzaga/Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center School of Anesthesia has traditionally been a close-knit program with cohort sizes ranging from 8-15 students per year. SRNAs do not compete with physician anesthesiologist residents at the primary hospital location (PSHMC) for clinical assignments which optimizes their clinical experiences. SRNAs also rotate to many other CRNA-only practices and the list of program clinical sites continues to grow. The program is integrated as opposed to front-loaded and SRNAs start clinical second semester after passing the first-year airway exam. Typically, cohorts start in May and graduate 3 years later which aligns with the University graduation timeline (usually Mother’s Day weekend). This program has a reputation of graduating strong and well-rounded CRNAs that are ready to enter the anesthesia workforce in any type of setting from independent to medically directed.
Full List of Top CRNA Schools
Below is the full list of all 124 Top CRNA Schools in the US that have been approved by COA. I have also listed the US News & World Report ranking alongside so you can compare how the top CRNA programs have evolved in the past 5 years as well as how the score differs based on real life feedback (compared to US News).
Biggest Improvements in CRNA Rankings
Notable differences in the list are the inclusion of CRNA schools, which were previously ranked very poorly by US News & World Report and now in the Best CRNA Schools list.
These include Old Dominion CRNA, which ranks #11 (US News Ranking: #74). Real nurse anesthetists provided incredibly positive feedback on Old Dominion including:
Old Dominion-excellent faculty also associated with excellent CME provider. Old Dominion very strong PD, no doubt of quality produced.
CRNA Program at Old Dominion – I am rating 9/10 based on quality of graduates I have encountered.
ODU – good clinicals, not a lot of coddling.
This was a big change in Best Nurse Anesthetist Schools ranking and I believe Old Dominion CRNA did not receive the proper rating and credit they deserve compared to before.
Another CRNA School with big changes in ranking was Texas Wesleyan University CRNA. Texas Wesleyan ranks #17 for 2021 but previously ranked #74 in the US News Ranking from 2016. Members in the AANA mostly spoke highly of the school including:
Texas Wesleyan University is a big program, but the personal connection with the faculty CRNA advisors are professional and almost one-on-one.
Wesleyan is one of the largest programs in the country (admits over 100 new CRNA students each year). However, their attrition rate is on par with the national average. The education will present the opportunities that you need in the future.
Although there are some negative feedbacks on the tuition and faculty, Texas Wesleyan received one of the greatest number of ratings and we believe the higher #17 CRNA ranking is warranted.
In addition to Texas Wesleyan University CRNA, Midwestern University CRNA also improved significantly in the rankings. Midwestern currently ranks #18 in Top CRNA Schools but was ranked #65 by US News previously. Alumni and nurse anesthetists who worked with Midwestern graduates spoke highly of the CRNA school.
Midwestern University was a very tough school. Even though it was hard to move every three months for clinicals, I was very happy with the varied experiences I got by going through this CRNA program. I was very prepared to be independent when leaving Midwestern.
Midwestern CRNA – worked with a graduate of that program and he was excellent.
Finally, another CRNA school that improved massively was the Rosalind Franklin CRNA in Illinois. Previously, the nurse anesthetist program was ranked #65 and that rank improved to #24 in the Top CRNA Schools. One alumnus gave the feedback:
Rosalind Franklin CRNA offers a wide variety of clinical placements. Excellent regional education and training. All their faculty still practice.
Overall, I’m very happy with this section of Top CRNA Schools as it seems there were significant improvements with these nurse anesthetist programs and they deserve the better ranking and improved reputation.
Biggest Drops in CRNA Rankings
At the same time, some CRNA schools seemed to worsen significantly in the Best Nurse Anesthetist Schools list.
The biggest fall from grace was Rush University. Previously in the top 5 CRNA schools in the country and ranked #4 in US News, today Rush University CRNA is ranked #66. This is the perfect example of why real authentic feedback from practicing professionals in the field of nurse anesthesia is so crucial for prospective CRNA students.
The reason is when you look at the pure statistical figures, the numbers are outstanding. There is 0% CRNA student attrition rate, a 100% first time exam pass rate and students at Rush CRNA receive a good number of nurse anesthesia case exposure. However, when you speak with alumni and other people who have worked with Rush CRNA alumni, the feedback is quite negative. Here are some of the select feedback on the program:
Rush CRNA – much turmoil. They have gone through 3 program directors in the past year. In and out of clinical sites. Not a good place for students now.
Rush University is in turmoil. Two program directors left in one year. Students having difficulty getting access to required cases for graduation.
Although Rush looks great on paper, the reality is it is not. Ranked by US News as the 4th program in the county was totally wrong. The program is in crisis and has been for many years. I work with many alumni who tell the truth about how they were used to staff the ORs for the private group of anesthesiologists at Rush University Medical Center. The department NEEDS ~ 15 3rd year students /day to run the facility. . During the 2nd year of the program, students are paired with a CRNA but are mostly in the GI lab or IR doing MAC cases. Come Labor Day the 3rd year they become anointed to now take on a room with a physician anesthesiologist who is working 1:2 with students. Students are not provided the ability to learn the pearls of wisdom that come with being apprenticed by a seasoned CRNA. In addition, if a CRNA or SRNA calls in sick, students are shuffled to satellite campuses to cover. This often causes the loss of a better case. The College of Nursing nor the University are willing to do what is needed and instead defer to the department of anesthesiology. The alumni who have stayed at Rush don’t know any better and don’t see any issues. The department of anesthesiology has only been able to recruit 1-3 SRNA/year to stay and work due to the poor treatment they received as students. The current program director is a Rush graduate, who works for the department of anesthesia and has been undoing the advances the previous program director was able to make.
Another CRNA school which seems to be facing difficulty is Kaiser CRNA at California State University Fullerton. Previously tied at #4 with Rush University, Kaiser has now fallen in ranking to #32.
Kaiser school residents are well prepared. Students from Kaiser say they get extraordinarily little instruction on independent practice, billing, pricing and how to negotiate for a position.
Kaiser is the former Wolford program. It needed a major overhaul. Hopefully Kaiser will improve them.
Finally, University of Detroit Mercy. Previously ranked #10 by US News, today Detroit Mercy CRNA school is ranked #31, a drop of 21 spots. As given in a commentary feedback,
The program director picks favorites and everyone else suffers. He makes biting comments publicly to embarrass students during clinical rotations and other ceremonies and public functions.
On a different note, one CRNA school which caught me by surprise is Emory University. As a professional nurse anesthetist, my perception of Emory CRNA had always been a prestigious CRNA program since the nursing school is one of the top in United States. However, Emory rated as the worst CRNA school at the bottom of the list. Emory alumni expressed frustration between the school having a conflict of interest with the Emory AA program and other nurse anesthetists rated the school very poorly as well.
Emory is very anti-CRNA. They train AA’s and prefer them because they do not have their own license and are completely controlled by MDs.
In summary, it is fair to say that the program directors and faculty as well as practical career guidance is especially important to recent graduates and other nurse anesthetists hiring and working with the graduates. My purpose here is not to criticize specific schools and not to put excessive importance on a specific number ranking for the school. Rather, my purpose to share constructive feedback on large shifts in ranking. This may be due to the CRNA program quality or reputation of the CRNA school changing and this is important for prospective students to be aware of. In addition, the officials at the CRNA schools themselves should also be aware of this information for their self-improvement.
As you’re interested in the Best CRNA Schools, be sure to check out our CRNA Salary Guide and CRNA Starting Salary. If you are still a student or if you’re wondering how much a fresh CRNA can make right out of nurse anesthesia school, this information will be especially helpful. You might be surprised too! We spent hundreds of hours researching salary information from the BLS, the AANA CRNA survey from over 5,000 actual nurse anesthetists as well as from my own CRNA job offers after I graduated.
Lastly, different states have different demand and supply economics for nurse anesthetists, so our CRNA Salary by State Guide will help you see which States are the best fit for you.
Best CRNA Schools Conclusion
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed reading through the Best Nurse Anesthetist Schools list and had some meaningful takeaways. In addition, I have also organized further information to complement your journey and research on which CRNA school to apply to. To make things easier, I also organize other categories of information for prospective CRNA students including:
All the nurse anesthetist information is free but please understand it is all still a work in progress. (I am a full-time CRNA and this is a hobby / passion of mine.) I have spent hundreds of hours putting everything together. If you see anything that needs to be corrected or found the information helpful, let me know in the comments. Taken all together, the CRNA rankings, CRNA Salary, career articles – combined with your own school visits, interviews with alumni & school faculty, can be a wonderful resource in your journey to find the best CRNA programs for yourself.