Anesthetist with students

Master of Science in Nursing — Nurse Anesthesia

Nurse anesthetists ensure patient safety and comfort before, during, and after complex and routine procedures.  

Campus Location


  • On Campus

Program Duration

  • 27 Months (Seven Semesters)

Upcoming Deadlines

Advanced Practice Care Specialist

It’s common for a patient to worry about experiencing pain or awareness during an operation. A caring, compassionate professional at the bedside can make a big difference in helping a patient and their loved ones feel safe and secure as they prepare for and recover from surgery or another procedure.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, work alongside physicians, dentists, anesthesiologists, and other health care professionals to administer anesthesia and related medications. This could mean a general sedative to put a patient in a deep sleep during surgery, a local anesthetic for a minor outpatient procedure such as a biopsy, or a regional anesthesia such as an epidural during childbirth. CRNAs monitor patients as they’re receiving the anesthesia, as well as oversee them through their recovery.

CRNAs may provide a variety of anesthesia care in a number of medical settings such as:

  • Operating rooms

  • Outpatient centers

  • Emergency rooms

  • Delivery rooms

  • Dental offices

Together with other advanced practice nurses, these specialists often fill gaps in medically underserved communities. For example, nurse anesthetists often serve as the sole providers of anesthesia care at rural hospitals. SMU’s CRNA program has a special focus on preparing nurses to provide ethical culturally sensitive anesthetic care to patients of all backgrounds.

Nurse anesthetists have a great amount of responsibility and are highly valued members of the patient care team. That’s why this advanced practice registered nursing speciality is among the most well-paid and well-respected in the profession.

What we look for:

  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal/interprofessional communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Responsibility

Featured Events

Program Requirements & Info

Admission to the CRNA program is competitive. Applicants are considered for admission based upon the following criteria:

  • A baccalaureate in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university. RNs with baccalaureate degrees in other fields will be evaluated individually and additional coursework may be required. Official transcripts of all previous academic and professional coursework completed or in progress prior to admission must be submitted with the application.

  • Current unencumbered, California RN license. Must be available by new student orientation.

  • Evidence of experience in clinical practice as a registered nurse with a minimum of 12 months of intensive care unit experience within the last five years, required at the time of the interview, though two to three years of ICU experience is preferred. Practice areas that are considered critical care includes: surgical intensive care (including trauma, post-cardiovascular surgery, and neurosurgical specialty units), medical intensive care units, and pediatric and neonatal intensive care units. Emergency room, PACU, Critical Care Transport,  and Flight Nursing do not fulfill the ICU experience requirement.

  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0; the average has been 3.4

  • Minimum last 60 semester or 90 quarter unit GPA of 3.0 or higher; the average has been a 3.6

  • Minimum science GPA of 3.0 or higher; the average has been 3.2
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE), no minimum required. Admission to graduate school is a competitive process, the average cumulative GRE score for Class of 2020 was 311. Please be advised that the scores need to be available at the time of application. GRE scores must be taken within five years of the application. Older scaled GRE scores will not be accepted.

  • Completion of a minimum of 8 hours of clinical shadowing experience with a CRNA is required.

  • Three written goal statements that clearly articulate your academic and professional preparedness for the program and your desire and preparedness to become a CRNA.

  • Three letters of recommendation. It is preferred that one letter is from applicant’s ICU manager who can speak to the applicant’s critical care expertise and critical thinking. The other two letters may be from the following persons: a CRNA who can speak to the applicant’s preparedness for the career and address clinical expertise; a colleague who can readily assess current levels of clinical expertise; an instructor who can speak to applicant’s academic preparedness for graduate study.

  • Current ACLS, PALS, and BLS certifications are required at the time of matriculation. CCRN is strongly recommended.

Required Courses, Semester Units

  • Chemistry (To include inorganic, organic or biochemistry content), 6.0-8.0
  • Statistics, 3.0
  • Physics (highly recommended), 3.0

Selection of candidates for interview will be based on criteria listed above, quality and presentation of application material, quality and professionalism of communication with the program during the application process and an informed understanding about the role of a CRNA. Not all qualified candidates may be interviewed and not all interviewed candidates will be accepted. The program faculty reserves the right to interview and accept qualified students at any time after the priority application deadline of November 1st.


Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the program, and a cost estimator for the entire program.

Tuition Calculator

Your nursing education at Samuel Merritt University is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in health care, but Samuel Merritt University graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent.  This means that students who borrowed to attend Samuel Merritt University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

Samuel Merritt University is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships, work study and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SMU offers scholarships and an assortment of resources for funding opportunities outside of the program. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. A limited number are awarded for academic merit. Scholarships for Nurses include:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Marshall Steele, Jr.
  • Hitchcock Heydman
  • Henry & Bernice Bigge
  • Faculty Scholarship
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Elks of the Year
  • William Breslin

In addition to the cost of tuition, books and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs.

Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost and application processes are available on the webpage.

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming.  We are here to help.  Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards and understanding the process.  The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student.  We have an open door policy and are available via phone or email. or 510-879-9200

Nursing 600 Theoretical Foundations for Health Professionals 3.0
Nursing 649/649L Advanced Health Assessment - Nurse Anesthesia 3.0
Nursing 651/651L Principles of Anesthesia I 4.0
Nursing 652 Advanced Pharmacology I 4.0
Nursing 657/657L Human Anatomy and Physiology 5.0
Total units 19.0

Nursing 653 Advanced Pathophysiology in Anesthesia 3.0
Nursing 654 Advanced Pharmacology II 3.0
Nursing 655/655L Principles of Anesthesia II 6.0
Nursing 656L Clinical Anesthesia I 1.0
Total units 13.0

Nursing 601 Research Methods 3.0
Nursing 658L Clinical Anesthesia II 3.0
Nursing 660 Advanced Principles of Anesthesia I 4.0
Total units 10.0

Nursing 659 Professional Aspects of Practice 3.0
Nursing 661L Clinical Anesthesia III 2.0
Nursing 662 Advanced Principles of Anesthesia II 3.0
Total units 8.0

Nursing 602 Analysis of Health Policy Issues 3.0
Nursing 627 Pharmcology Comprehensive Examination 1.0
Nursing 663L Clinical Anesthesia IV 3.0
Total units 7.0

Nursing 628 Oral Comprehensive Examination 1.0
Nursing 631 Advanced Acute and Chronic Pain Management 2.0
Nursing 664L Clinical Anesthesia V 3.0
Total units 6.0

Nursing 629 NCE Prep Series and ACRM Simulation Sessions 2.0
Nursing 665L Clinical Anesthesia VI 1.0
Total units 3.0

Total Units: 66.0

Total Program Length: 27 months

For complete course descriptions, please refer to our current course catalog.

Clinical Sites

Community Regional Medical Center, Fresno

David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield

Fresno Veterans Administration Medical Center, Fresno

Highland General Hospital, Oakland

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Walnut Creek

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Pleasanton

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Antioch

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fresno

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Honolulu

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Roseville

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, North Sacramento

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Richmond

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Redwood City

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Jose

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fremont     

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Leandro

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Rafael

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Rosa

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, South Sacramento

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, South San Francisco

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vacaville

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vallejo

Mercy Medical Center, Mount Shasta

San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco

San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Francisco

San Joaquin General Hospital, French Camp

Sutter Medical Center Sacramento

Stanford Medical Center, Palo Alto

UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento

UCSF Mission Bay Hospital, San Francisco

UCSF Parnassus Hospital, San Francisco

UCSF Mount Zion Hospital, San Francisco

Kaweah Delta Medical Center, Visalia

Visalia Children's Dental Surgery Center, Visalia

Graduates of our accredited program will be eligible to take the national certification exam (NCE) to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. 

Clinical practice rights are granted by reciprocity in all states after successful completion of the NCE. 

Attrition, Certification Exams, Graduation, and Employment Rates

2019 Attitrion Rate (COA) 0%
2018 Attitrion Rate (COA) 0%
2017 Attitrion Rate (COA) 0%

Certification Pass Rates (First-Time Takers Only)

2019 Pass Rate (NBCRNA)      81%
2018 Pass Rate (NBCRNA)      89%
2017 Pass Rate (NBCRNA)      93%

Graduation Rate*
2018-2019 Cohort      96%
2017-2018 Cohort      96%
2016-2017 Cohort      96%

*%  of Entering Cohort Graduated Within 150%  of Expected Time

Employment Rate in the Profession (within six months of graduation)**

2018-2019 graduating class     100%
2017-2018 graduating class     100%
2016-2017 graduating class     100%

**Employment data only includes graduates who responded to SMU Alumni Survey; employment rate not necessarily representative of graduates who did not respond to SMU Alumni Survey.

Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; 510.748.9001. 

The Program of Nurse Anesthesia is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). The Program underwent a reaccreditation review in Fall 2013 and was granted continued accreditation for the maximum period of 10 years effective May 30, 2014. The program was found in full compliance with the Standards of Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs and will be scheduled for its next consideration of continued accreditation in Spring 2024.

The COA requires that all students matriculating into a nurse anesthesia educational program on January 1, 2022, or thereafter be enrolled in a program approved by the COA to award a practice doctoral degree. The PNA at SMU plans to submit its application to the COA for approval to award the DNP degree in Fall 2021. Pending approval by the COA, the program plans to enroll its first doctoral cohort of students in September 2022.

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
222 S. Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068-1160

The master's degree program in nursing at Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC., 20001.

Master's Accreditation
Initial Accreditation Date: April 21, 2001
Most Recent Accreditation Date: October 11, 2010
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2021
Last On-Site Evaluation: October 2010
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2020

DNP Accreditation
Initial Accreditation Date: September 24, 2012
Most Recent Accreditation Date: September 25, 2017
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2028
Last On-Site Evaluation: September 2017
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2027

The Program of Nurse Anesthesia (PNA) strives to educate outstanding clinicians who demonstrate a high level of competence in the full scope of anesthesia practice. We are committed to providing innovative educational opportunities that engender reasoned, safe, culturally sensitive, evidence-based practice, and practitioners who value integrity and professionalism. The following technical standards, in conjunction with the academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. The term “candidate” refers to candidates for admission to the PNA program as well as current PNA students who are candidates for retention, promotion, or graduation.

These requirements may be achieved with or without reasonable accommodations, the cost of which will be borne by the institution. These standards should not serve as a deterrent to any candidate with disabilities who desires to pursue a medical education. Candidates with disabilities bring unique perspectives which contribute to the diversity of the student population and will create a diverse healthcare workforce of culturally competent practitioners who can meet the needs of their patients. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center immediately upon acceptance to begin a confidential conversation about possible accommodations necessary to meet these standards. Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from the FNP program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific clinical position.

Observational skills:  A candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in foundational sciences. Also, a candidate must be able to evaluate a patient accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral and medical information.  Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient physiologic data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses. Also, candidates must have sufficient capacity to make accurate observations, interpret and effectively participate in the context of patient care and simulated learning activities.  

Communication skills:  Candidate must be able to perceive changes in mood, activity, posture; and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communications from patients and others. Each candidate must have the ability to effectively communicate with patients, their family members, and other professionals in health care and classroom settings.  The candidate must be able to document patient care to maintain accurate clinical records effectively. 

Motor skills:  The candidate must perform complete physical examinations utilizing multiple types of diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate must be able to perform and assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, management and operation of diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment utilized in the initial administration, maintenance and emergent of anesthesia for patients. The candidate must possess the stamina to meet the demands associated with satisfactory and safe performance in clinical and classroom settings.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities:  Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to, classroom instruction; laboratory, including cadaver lab; small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of computer technology.  A candidate must effectively interpret, assimilate and understand the complex information required to function within the PNA curriculum including, but not limited to, the ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures; effectively participate in individual, small group, and lecture learning modalities in the classroom, clinical and community settings; learn, participate, collaborate and contribute as a part of a team; synthesize information both in person and via remote technology; interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available data and information; formulate a hypothesis, investigate the potential answers and outcomes; and reach appropriate and accurate conclusions. A candidate must be able to find sources of knowledge and acquire the knowledge through various modalities and possess the ability to be a life-long learner.

Behavioral and Social Attributes:  Candidates must possess the physical, mental and emotional health required for the application of intellectual abilities and the employment of sound judgment appropriately and promptly. Candidates must be able to function effectively under physically taxing workloads and in times of physical and mental stress. Candidates must accept constructive criticism, display compassion, sensitivity, and empathy while maintaining professional integrity, in addition to professional moral and ethical standards at all times.

Why SMU for Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

We've been preparing nurse professionals for success in the field for more than 100 years.


Teacher to Student Ratio

At SMU, we're all about small classes and personalized education.


Graduates Employed Within Six Months of Graduation

Our nurse anesthetists are heavily recruited experts in their field.


Annual Median Salary for Nurse Anesthetists in California

CRNAs are among the highest paid RNs in the field.



Jake Sareerak

DNP, RN Adjunct Assistant Professor

Joseph Janakes

MSN, CRNA Program Director, MSN Nurse Anesthesia Assistant Professor
Kevin Hamby

Kevin Hamby

MSN, CRNA Associate Director, MSN Nurse Anesthesia Assistant Professor

Ora Bollinger

MSN, CRNA Assistant Professor