CRNAs Will Need A Doctorate Degree By 2025

2 Min Read Published March 4, 2020
CRNAs Will Need A Doctorate Degree By 2025

Over the past few decades, the CRNA role has evolved into a popular career choice for nurses who are interested in critical care patient management and want to grow their scope of practice. 

Historically, CRNA certification required the successful completion of a master's degree. However, the landscape for CRNA entry requirements is changing, just as it has for RNs. If your goal is to become a nurse anesthetist, this changing landscape is something you must consider. 

Why Are The CRNA Requirements Changing?

In the world of healthcare, more and more complex needs arise, which calls for more refined education. Many different healthcare practices — including Pharmacy and Physical Therapy — have recognized this, and have permanently moved toward a doctorate-level degree as the entry requirements to the profession.

The COA (Council on Accreditation) — the credentialing body for nurse anesthetists — is in support of raising the degree standard for CRNAs. Because of this, all schools are required to graduate only clinical doctorate educated CRNAs starting in the year 2025.

>> Related: CRNA vs DNP & DNAP -- What's the Difference?

Who Will This Affect? 

This will affect all nurses applying to CRNA schools through the year 2022. Because doctorate nurse anesthetist programs are typically 3 years, this timeline will allow for the first graduating class to meet the new requirement of having a doctorate by 2025.

What If I’m Already Enrolled In A Master’s CRNA Program? Will I Need To Get A Doctorate Degree? 

If you are already enrolled in a master’s CRNA program, it will NOT be required of you to return to school and obtain a doctorate degree. It is important, however, to measure the benefits of continuing your education to obtain a doctorate degree.  

Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Where do I want to work when I graduate?
  • What are the typical credentials of the other applicants I will be competing with for the positions I want? 
  • Will a doctorate  make me a more competitive candidate for these positions? 
  • How do I see my career evolving? Will a doctorate help me achieve the career advances I hope to accomplish one day?

Many schools offer a post-masters DNP, which works as a bridge program for those nurses who already have their masters and wish to obtain a terminal degree in nurse anesthesia. See below for a breakdown of the schools and what they offer. 

Show Me CRNA Programs

I’m Already A CRNA, Will I Have To Obtain A Doctorate Next?

For licensure, current practicing CRNAs who obtained their license through a masters program will NOT have to complete a doctorate degree in order to have an active license. However, facility requirements may differ from institution to institution. It is possible that some facilities may require all their nurse anesthetists to have a doctorate  in order to be considered for the position. 

To keep up with degree requirements changes for CRNAs, follow the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) or the Council on Accreditation (COA). To find a CRNA program for you, check out this list of CRNA schools by state. 

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Mariam Yazdi
Mariam Yazdi Contributor

Mariam is a writer and travel nurse from El Paso, Texas. After three years in the ICU, she hit the road with her husband and two pups, living in San Francisco, Tennessee, and Los Angeles. Currently in New York City, Mariam is a nurse journalist for Nurse.Org. Catch her on Instagram @mariamcat.

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