This page was last updated in 2023.
While the DNP and DNAP both prepare students to be practicing CRNAs, the DNP is the only degree recognized as “terminal”. If you want to pursue a faculty position at some point, the DNP is preferred, as it qualifies you for tenure.
The DNP is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), which offers a system of education, around which, the anesthesia portion of the degree conforms. So a person with an anesthesia-based DNP degree would have a very similar nursing education as a DNP nurse practitioner, for example. The AACN outlines 8 DNP essentials, which are shared among all APNs (Advanced Practice Nurses). With a DNP degree, you also obtain a national APN certification.
The DNaP was created to fill a need. Only universities or colleges with a School of Nursing can offer a DNP degree. There is a greater need for CRNAs to be trained than there are Schools of Nursing. To fill the gap, the DNaP was created and is accredited directly by the COA (Counsel of Accreditation).
The DNaP requires students to complete a capstone research project to expand evidence-based nurse anesthesia clinical practice, nurse anesthesia education, and/or administration/business management related to nurse anesthesia. This capstone project is considered by the COA to be a sufficient substitute for the structure of a DNP program.
On the School Finder, there are 4 degrees listed: DNaP, DNP, DNP-Na, DNP-NaP. I’m not aware of any meaningful difference between the various DNP degrees. As far as I know, the DNaP and DNP are the only important distinctions.
Components of the Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree
After your bachelor’s degree, it will be a minimum of three calendar years or 36 months of full-time study including summers or four years on a traditional academic calendar.
If you enter a post-master’s degree program it will be a minimum of 12 months full-time study to complete your DNP.
Practice Experiences in the curriculum
Minimum of 1,000 hours of practice post-baccalaureate as part of a supervised academic program.
DNP Essentials The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, October 2006.
It’s a 20 page PDF, published by the AACN (American Association of Colleges ohttp://The CRNA: DNap vs. DNP – Understanding the Differencef Nursing), describing the 8 essential components of the DNP program.