How to Choose a Masters in Nursing Anesthesia

This article will describe how you would benefit in your career from getting your master’s degree in nursing anesthesia, which is also referred to as a Master’s of Science in Nursing or MSN. We will detail the different’ types of programs that are available online to earn this degree, how to be sure that the program is properly accredited, and also understand the requirements to work in nursing anesthesia as a career.

What Is a Master’s in Nursing Anesthesia?

A master’s degree in nursing anesthesia is a variation of a Master of Science in Nursing, with a speciality in nursing anesthesia. When you earn this degree and then pass your national certification examination, you become a Certified Nurse Anesthetist or CRNA. This career path is recognized as one of the core advanced practice registered nursing occupations in the US.

To be a CRNA, you have to graduate successfully from an accredited nurse anesthesia program and take the exam to practice. Most of these programs will take two or three years to complete. You must be an experienced nurse with an RN designation and bachelor’s degree to be admitted into most CRNA programs.

A CRNA is responsible for the management and monitoring of how anesthesia is given to patients during many different surgeries and medical procedures.

Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing Anesthesia?

One of the biggest benefits of becoming a CRNA is that you can earn a very high salary and enjoy most of the same jobs as an anesthesiologist but you only need to go to college for another two or three years after you earn your BSN.

Becoming a CRNA is a great career move because of the much greater demand for all types of health care services today, many of which are surgeries and procedures that require anesthesia.

Also, there is a much stronger focus today on keeping health care costs affordable. Because a CRNA can do many of the same jobs as a full anesthesiologist for a lower salary, more smaller hospitals will often hire CRNAs because they can work for less money, but still earn a good living.

You will discover that when you become a CRNA, you will have a very different career than if you had just stayed a regular nurse. Many CRNAs find that one of the best parts of becoming a nurse anesthetist is that you are able to make many important, life changing decisions.

You will need to make critical decisions about the types of medications and dosages to use on patients. These are very powerful drugs that can be deadly if used incorrectly.

Also, many CRNAs report that you will be closely working with doctors, but your advice and input carries great weight with them. As an RN, you can administer drugs to patients but you are not involved in the decision making process about which drugs and dosages to use.

Growing Job Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the job demand for CRNAs will increase by 19% by 2024, which is much faster than average. The vast majority of nurse anesthesia graduates will have at least one job offer before they graduate.

High Salaries

The BLS also states that the median wage for CRNAs is $157,140. While they earn considerably less than anesthesiologists, you should keep in mind that you will need to go to school for four or five fewer years, and spend much less money on your education.

Also, many CRNAs may have a full time job where they earn a high salary, and also hold part time jobs where they can earn more money.

Licensing and Certification

When you have graduated from your nursing anesthetist master’s program, you will need to take the national examination that is administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). You will need to recertify every 24 months, and this includes 40 hours of continuing education credits.

Online Master’s in Nursing Anesthesia Degree Options

If earning your online nursing anesthesia degree sounds like a good option for you, we recommend the following program:

Drexel University

Drexel University offers a full time, online master’s in nursing anesthesia program that you can complete in 28 months. It is a 90 credit program that starts each January. After you are done with the program, you are then eligible to take your national certification examination.

All of your core and research classes are online, and you can take many of them on your own schedule. Every month you will have some virtual class requirements when you must sign into class at a certain time, but you will know when those classes are well in advance.

When you are a graduate of this accredited program, you will have all of the skills you need to provide safe and compassionate anesthesia services in many types of practice environments. This MSN degree program will allow you to grow professionally and develop into a highly competent CRNA.

Learning Outcomes

The CRNA program is a highly regarded advanced nursing practice program that will provide you with highly challenging learning opportunities. You will be thinking critically and making decisions based upon evidence to greatly expand your nursing knowledge and to enhance your patient outcomes.

Students will do their nursing anesthesia clinical practicum work under the supervision of CRNAs or anesthesiologists in their area. You will learn how to give many types of anesthetics, which includes sedation, general anesthesia and regional anesthesia. You also will have clinical rotations where you are providing anesthesia services for cardiac, neurosurgical, pediatric and obstetrical patients.

At this time, the program has:

  • 19 theoretical research and nursing credits
  • 15 credits for sciences
  • 31 credits for anesthesia classes and a 25 credit practicum

Unique aspects of this 28 month, accredited program are:

  • Modern, smart classroom technology that feature archived recent lectures so that you can use them for preparing for your exams.
  • Highly personalized plan of study for part time students who want to complete their core MSN programs before they enroll full time.
  • Top rates clinical sites in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware areas.


The core curriculum of this anesthesia education program goes above and beyond the requirements of the AANA. The basics of nursing anesthesia practice and perioperative management of patients will introduce you to the scope of this exciting medical profession.

The first nursing anesthesia course that is offered in your first quarter will be done side by side with a nine week clinical experience that is simulated. You will work with a small student group to practice all of your core anesthesia skills, which include:

  • Pre-op preparation for anesthesia that uses pharmacological agents and modern anesthesia equipment.
  • Interaction with patient actors so that you can practice your pre-op anesthesia interviews and also health assessment. These are critical aspects of practicing anesthesia services safely.
  • Hands on, up close experience with the management of the air way and regional anesthesia skills
  • Participating in the entire anesthesia process that involves induction, maintenance and emergence.

The pharmacology course that you take will give you a complete study of all modern anesthetic agents and all pharmacologic principles that are related to anesthesia.

Your required classes in this program are:

  • Basic Principles of Nurse Anesthesia
  • Overview of Nurse Anesthesia
  • Advanced Clinical Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning
  • Clinical Practicum
  • Advanced Principles of Nurse Anesthesia
  • Clinical Residency
  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology


When you are looking at nursing anesthetist master’s programs online, it is very important for you to consider accreditation. You should ensure that the program you are considering has been accredited by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. This will assure you that you are earning a high quality degree.


Earning your master’s in nursing anesthesia is a superior career move because you will be very highly paid and will usually have your choice of jobs across the country. If you want to earn a lot of money and enjoy high job demand and plenty of respect in the field, you should consider this profession.