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Top CRNA Schools in California

7 Min Read Published December 14, 2023
CRNA schools in California

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice registered nurses who provide patients with anesthesia and pain medications. They often perform these services throughout surgical procedures and the post-operative phase. California has several options for those interested in becoming CRNAs.

This guide will discuss how to become a CRNA in The Golden State. We'll explore CRNA programs in California, including location and tuition, as well as estimated salary and job outlook. 

How to Become a CRNA in California

Becoming a CRNA in California is similar to other states in the country. First, you will attend an accredited CRNA school and pass the required national board. The California Board of Nursing requires the following to apply for CRNA licensure:

  • A completed Online Application for Nurse Anesthetist Certification
  • Nurse Anesthetist certification fee of $500.00
  • Verification of Nurse Anesthetist Certification by a National Organization/Association form submitted by the National Association
  • Verification of the Completion of a Nurse Anesthesia Academic Program form submitted by the nurse anesthesia program
  • Official transcripts for the completed nurse anesthesia academic program submitted by the nurse anesthesia academic program

Source: California Board of Registered Nursing NA Certification Requirements

CRNA Schools in California

Finding a CRNA school near you in California is a breeze since the state is home to five excellent CRNA schools. Universities in California with CRNA programs include:

  • California State University Fullerton
  • Loma Linda University
  • National University
  • Samuel Merrit University
  • University of Southern California (USC)

1. California State University Fullerton

In conjunction with Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia, this three-year program has affiliations with several clinical sites statewide. These connections provide CRNA students with various clinical experiences. Students will rotate through roughly 15 different clinical sites during the program.

  • Location: Fullerton, CA
  • Program Cost: $68,715
  • Degree Offered: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • School Type: Public
  • Online Options Available? No

2. Loma Linda University

The program at Loma Linda University (LLU) is competitive, admitting up to 18 students per cohort. The university may place students at clinical sites up to 90 miles from the campus. However, it will provide housing in those situations.

  • Location: Loma Linda, CA
  • Program Cost: $156,620
  • Degree Offered: DNP
  • School Type: Private
  • Online Options Available? Hybrid & In-person

3. National University

As the first-ever academic institution to receive Planetree Recognition, National University offers a unique experience for its CRNA students. The program is front-loaded with didactic information and high-fidelity simulation courses. CRNA students at NU take 34 courses in a specific sequence over 36 months.

  • Location: Fresno, CA
  • Program Cost: $58,213
  • Degree Offered: DNAP
  • School Type: Private
  • Online Options Available? Hybrid & In-Person

4. Samuel Merritt University

Samuel Merritt University's CRNA program is committed to diversity, with over 63% of its students coming from diverse backgrounds. SMU prides itself as the West Coast “home” of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. The university is a leader in CRNA diversity, partnering with national conferences and mentoring students from across the nation.

SMU offers small class sizes, with a 9 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. Additionally, every CRNA didactic and clinical faculty member holds a doctorate.

  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Program Cost: $173,300
  • Degree Offered: ADNP
  • School Type: Private
  • Online Options Available? No

5. University of Southern California (USC)

The CRNA school at USC is a full-time, 36-month hybrid program. It blends in-person learning with high-fidelity clinical simulations and remote didactic learning. Students gain top-notch experience during clinical rotations at top hospitals in the greater LA area.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Program Cost: $170,960
  • Degree Offered: DNAP
  • School Type: Private
  • Online Options Available? Hybrid | In-person

Admission Requirements for California CRNA Programs

Program admission requirements vary by school, but generally, most programs require the following:

  • Minimum of 2 years of critical care experience
  • Minimum (undergraduate cumulative) GPA 3.0
  • Official transcripts from ALL postsecondary schools
  • Official GRE transcripts
  • CRNA or anesthesiologist shadow experience
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of intent
  • Official school application
  • Official CV/resume
  • Current RN license

Read our guide to CRNA school requirements to learn more about what it takes to get into a CRNA program.

How Hard is CRNA School in California?

CRNA school is challenging, time-consuming, and stressful regardless of what program you attend. Completing a CRNA program requires a higher level of learning and processing than a BSN degree. Programs in California are highly competitive, with a limited number of programs available to interested students.

How Long is CRNA School in California?

CRNA programs in California are 36 months (3 years) long and include full-time didactic and clinical coursework. Because students must complete classes according to a specific progression, CRNA students follow a strict educational pathway.

CRNA programs in California offer didactic coursework in both online and in-person formats. However, students complete clinicals and simulations in person.

What to Expect Working as a Nurse Anesthetist in California

CRNA Salary in California

CRNAs in California earn an average annual salary of $246,510 or $118.52 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). California CRNA salaries exceed the national average of $205,770 annually or $98.93 per hour.

Career Outlook

The BLS predicts a 9% growth in nurse anesthetist jobs over the next decade, faster than all other occupations. Currently, there are 2,000 CRNAs employed in California. From 2022 to 2023, there will be a need for 4,500 more nurse anesthetists nationwide.

 Where Can You Work? CRNA Jobs in California

Facilities with operating rooms, emergency rooms, and intensive care units need CRNAs. Some places nurse anesthetists can work in California include the following:

  • Medical and surgical hospitals
  • Critical access hospitals
  • Mobile surgery centers
  • Pain clinics
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Offices of plastic surgeons, dentists, ophthalmologists, pain management specialists, and other medical professionals
  • U.S. military medical facilities

Next Steps for Becoming a CRNA in California

Becoming a CRNA, regardless of the state, is a serious commitment. Programs in California are 36 months long with few breaks, which can be emotionally and physically stressful.

If you want to become a CRNA, consider speaking to an admissions counselor and shadowing a current CRNA. This will give you first-hand experience of the day-to-day responsibilities.

For more information on what it takes to be a nurse anesthetist, check out these helpful guides:


  • How many CRNA schools are in California?

    • There are currently five accredited CRNA programs in California. 
  • How much do CRNA schools in California cost?

    • CRNA programs range in price from roughly $58,000 to over $170,000, depending on the program. 
  • How long is CRNA school in California? 

    • CRNA school is 36 months in California. 
  • How many CRNAs are in California?

    • Currently, there are 2,000 CRNAs employed in California.
  • How much do CRNAs in California make?

    • California CRNA salaries exceed the national average of $205,770 annually or $98.93 per hour.


Kathleen Gaines
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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