Nurses with a passion for mental health who want to take their careers to a higher level can opt to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. With both Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) pathways, students have a wealth of educational program options for the specialty. With just a few years of schooling, a rewarding psychiatric nurse practitioner career can be achieved.

Choosing a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program

Students who want to choose a great psychiatric nurse practitioner program should keep the following in mind when researching schools:

Accreditation

It's important to pick a psychiatric nurse practitioner program that's accredited by a nationally recognized organization, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and/or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Programs may also hold various local and regional accreditations as well. Accreditations demonstrate that the program is held to rigorous standards.

Program Cost

Psychiatric nurse practitioner program tuition is typically listed per credit hour. Both MSN and DNP level programs can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 or more per credit, depending on the school, state, and degree level chosen. DNP programs are generally more expensive, as they require more credits than MSN programs. Tuition costs usually do not include extra expenses, such as books, program fees, and other mandatory fees.

Program Length

A typical MSN-level psychiatric nurse practitioner program requires roughly 50 credits for completion. Part-time and full-time study options are readily available, so students can finish in anywhere from 8 to 11 semesters. Doctoral programs require closer to 75 total credits and can take 3-5 years to complete, depending on whether a student attends full or part-time. Both program options require a minimum number of clinical hours as well.

Internship/Externship Opportunities

With clinical hours being a requirement of psychiatric nurse practitioner programs, many schools have special relationships with nearby hospitals and medical facilities to facilitate this. Students can inquire about what internship opportunities are available and where, and may even be able to choose their own preceptor sites.

Online/Campus Options

In this age of technology, many schools are now offering online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs in addition to traditional, campus-based programs. Some schools even offer a "hybrid" program, allowing students to take many courses online but also offering classroom-based lectures and labs.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner FAQs

Public health emergencies and disasters often have unique challenges that require flexible solutions. Different disasters and emergencies necessitate different health service needs, depending on who they impact and how.

Exposure to disasters, including hurricanes, fires, floods, and contagious disease outbreaks can severely affect many individuals' mental health, which can add to the rising needs of services that are already stretched thin.

During times of crisis, it is critical that mental health professionals, including psychiatric nurses and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs), provide services immediately after the event. Populations exposed to traumatic events frequently experience anxiety, depression, grief, and mental stress. It is not uncommon for people to attempt to regulate their mental disorders through alcohol and substance abuse. If mental health professionals cannot make themselves available physically - for instance, due to road closures after a natural disaster - telehealth options can be utilized to ensure that patients are able to access care quickly.

Following an emergency or natural disaster, it is normal for mental health administrators to be overextended. Through careful planning, implementation, and community efforts, clinics can apply trauma knowledge to their communities. Survivors of natural disasters must get the PTSD care they need, along with other mental health needs.

Mental health professionals, especially psychiatric nurses, are in high demand in the face of shortages, especially in rural areas. According to reports, one in five Americans has a mental health or substance abuse issue. Across the country, many patients are burdened with unmet needs, which is where telehealth comes in.

Mental health treatments do not rely on a physical exam or contact to treat medical conditions. Most mental health sessions rely on emotional connections and the ability to hold conversations. Often, a video or phone platform is sufficient for creating a safe space. During times of crisis or natural disasters, telehealth psychiatric sessions can remove stress and fears that come with traveling beyond the safety of one’s home.

Telehealth services can impact mental health by addressing the nationwide shortage of mental health professionals. Now, a psychiatric nurse can extend their geographic sessions and treat patients who are hundreds of miles away. This allows our telehealth psychiatric care to grow and meet the demands of many Americans.

Access to mental health services is critical, especially for mobility-challenged patients, those unable to leave the house, those lacking dependable transportation, and those who live in remote areas. Many psychiatrists and therapists are able to lower their hourly fees to treat low-income patients without having to leave their homes.

Depending on where a psychiatric nurse practitioner works, the dress code can be variable.

Psychiatric NPs working in acute care (i.e., emergency rooms or inpatient units) may wear scrubs and a lab coat with the facility logo. They can also wear professional, business attire with or without a lab coat. It depends on the facility.

Psychiatric NPs working in the clinic setting can wear business attire. A lab coat may or may not be required by the organization. Some feel that providers who do not wear scrubs and a lab coat are more "approachable" therefore allowing patients to be more receptive to care. It helps place patients at ease and makes them feel more comfortable. Many psychiatric nurse practitioners prefer a less “clinical” environment when treating patients, and shunning the scrubs and lab coat helps build a quiet, comforting environment.

Regardless of the setting, psychiatric nurse practitioners must also consider safety when choosing professional attire. Sometimes patients experience acute mental illnesses and may view the provider as a threat. Dangling jewelry, lanyards, strings, neckties, and even belt loops can be grabbed and used to harm a provider. Dressing for safety as well as professionalism is essential in the field of mental health.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Degree Levels Offered

Two advanced nursing options are available for those interested in becoming psychiatric nurse practitioners. A master's level program, which gives students the high-level education needed to enter this advanced field, and a doctoral program for those who want an even more elevated educational experience.

MSN Programs

The master's level psychiatric nurse practitioner program prepares nurses to perform mental health assessments and interventions on children, teens, and adults. The curriculum consists of both advanced general nursing courses and specialized psychiatric nursing courses. Classes taken may include Integrated Behavioral Health Care and Common Psychiatric Presentations, Diagnoses and Management of Adults for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Advanced Pharmacology and Therapeutics. The University of Colorado, for example, offers both full-time and accelerated MSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner programs.

RN to MSN Programs

For nurses who are interested in pursuing a career as a psychiatric NP but have not completed their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, an RN to MSN bridge program may be a good first step. RN to MSN programs allow registered nurses who have an ADN or non-nursing bachelor's degree to complete their BSN and MSN simultaneously. There is also certain RN to MSN programs that specialize in the psychiatric nurse practitioner role by offering courses in psychotherapy with individuals, psychotherapy with groups, and psychopharmacologic approaches to the treatment of psychopathology. One example of these programs is offered at Walden University, which prepares students to provide care for patients with psychiatric disorders, medical brain disorders, and patients with substance abuse problems.

DNP Programs

Doctoral psychiatric nurse practitioner programs take a more complex approach to the curriculum, preparing nurses to utilize a full scope of therapies and emphasizing leadership. Courses taken may include Theory of Psychopharmacology from a Neurological Basis, Therapeutic Modalities, and Organizational Systems and Leadership. Washington State University, as an example, offers a DNP-level Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.

RN to DNP Programs

Another route to a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner for nurses who have completed their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is a BSN to DNP bridge program. BSN to DNP programs are specially designed to allow students to complete their master's and doctoral degrees in nursing simultaneously. Some BSN to DNP programs are tailored for aspiring psychiatric nurse practitioners, such as the one at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which offers courses in advanced psychiatric mental health nursing, counseling models for advanced practice psychiatric nursing, and neuroscience of pharmacology for advanced practice nursing.

See our list of post master’s psychiatric NP graduate certificate programs.

Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Programs

Prospective psychiatric nurse practitioner students are often incredibly busy with work, family, and other obligations. This has prompted many schools to offer online programs to accommodate these students. Keep in mind, however, that some online programs may still require a few trips to campus for various orientations, and clinical hours will still need to be completed in person.

Advantages of an Online Program

Online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs offer the most convenience and flexibility. Students enrolled in these programs are able to take courses from the comfort of their own homes, at times that suit their schedules. This is particularly ideal for those who don't have a university within feasible commuting distance. Speaking of commuting, online programs also eliminate the expenses associated with transportation, including gas, parking fees, and more.

Program Accreditation

Those apprehensive about opting for an online psychiatric nurse practitioner program should look for schools that offer fully accredited programs. Like campus-based programs, CCNE and ACEN are two reputable accreditations to search for. Many large universities offer an online or hybrid version of their programs.

Costs and Length

Credit requirements are the same for online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs as they are for campus-based versions. Total length can be more variable for online programs, though, as they tend to offer more flexibility when it comes to program entrance and course completion. Tuition also falls in a similar range, from $500 per credit and up, though students tend to have a lot more options when it comes to online programs. As an example, Drexel University offers an online MSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program which charges approximately $1,046 per credit.

What Are the Admissions and Certification Requirements?

Admissions requirements for most psychiatric nurse practitioner programs include:

  • BSN or higher from an accredited university
  • Active, unencumbered RN license
  • Resume or CV
  • 1 or more years of clinical experience may be required
  • Official transcripts from all schools attended
  • Reference letters

Certification as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) can be obtained through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must hold a current, U.S. RN license
  • Graduate of an accredited psychiatric nurse practitioner program (MSN or DNP)
  • Must have completed clinical training in at least two psychotherapeutic treatment modalities

List of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

Psychiatric nurse practitioner programs are available across the country, see the following campus, hybrid, and online nurse practitioner programs by state.

Jump to Your State Listings

Alabama

50 University Boulevard East
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
(205) 348-6639

1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294
(205) 975-7529

5721 USA Dr N
Mobile, AL 36688
(251) 445-9400

Alaska

3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
(907) 786-4406

Arizona

411 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 965-7788

1305 N. Martin | PO Box 210203
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6154

Arkansas

4301 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 686-7000

California

5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(323) 343-3000

11262 Campus St.
Loma Linda, CA 92350
(909) 558-4923

9388 Lightwave Ave
San Diego, CA 92123
(800) 628-8648

UCSF Box 0602
San Francisco, CA 94143
(415) 476-1435

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 260-4600

Colorado

2200 Bonforte Blvd
Pueblo, CO 81001
(719) 549-2462

12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152

Connecticut

1678 Asylum Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06117
(186) 023-2457 x1

400 West Campus Drive
Orange, CT 06477
(203) 785-2389

Delaware

25 North College
Newark, DE 19716
(302) 831-1253

Florida

Graduate Certificate Programs
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431
(561) 297-6261

Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
(305) 348-7703

Graduate Certificate Programs
600 W. College Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32306
(850) 644-5621

Ron and Kathy Assaf College of Nursing
2050 Civic Center Place, 3rd Floor
Miramar, FL 33025
(954) 262-9498

P.O. Box 248153
Coral Gables, FL 33124
(305) 284-3666

Georgia

1120 15th Street
Augusta, GA 30912
(706) 721-9767

231 W. Hancock St.
Milledgeville,, GA 31061
(800) 342-0471

1332 Southern Drive
Statesboro, GA 30458
(912) 478-4636

33 Gilmer St SE
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 413-2000

Idaho

921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, ID 83209
(208) 282-2102

Illinois

600 S. Paulina St
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-7100

511 NE Greenleaf Street
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 655-2201

845 South Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 996-7800

Indiana

600 Barnhill Drive, NU 122
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 274-2806

8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712
(812) 464-8600

Iowa

1990 Heath St
Waterloo, IA 50703
(319) 226-2000

1550 Clarke Drive
Dubuque, IA 52001

50 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242
(319) 335-7018

Kansas

1246 West Campus Road Room 153A
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-6414

Kentucky

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
195 School Street
Hyden, KY 41749
(606) 672-2312

Nunn Drive
Highland Heights, KY 41099
(800) 985-7215

555 South Floyd Street Suite 3019
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 852-5825

DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate Programs
315 College of Nursing Building 751 Rose Street
Lexington, KY 40536
(859) 323-5108

1906 College Heights Blvd
Bowling Green, KY 42101
(270) 745-0111

Louisiana

1900 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 568-4200

4205 Ryan Street
Lake Charles, LA 70609
(337) 475-5000

906 East 1st St.
Thibodaux, LA 70301
(187) 764-2465 x7

500 W University Ave
Hammond, LA 70402
(985) 549-5637

Maine

PO Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104
(180) 080-0487 x6

Maryland

School of Nursing
525 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(410) 955-4766

655 W. Lombard St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 706-6109

Massachusetts

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-4250

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
36 1st Avenue
Boston, MA 02129
(617) 726-2947

179 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 879-5964

360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2000

235 Wellesley Street
Weston, MA 02493
(781) 768-7000

651 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-2703

Michigan

303 E. Kearsley Street
Flint, MI 48502
(810) 762-3300

Minnesota

1200 Kenwood Avenue
Duluth, MN 55811
(800) 447-5444

308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 624-9600

859 30th Ave SE
Rochester, MN 55904
(507) 285-7100

Mississippi

118 College Drive
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-1000

Missouri

650 Maryville University Drive
St. Louis, MO 63141
(314) 529-9300

5100 Rockhill Rd
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 235-1000

1 University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
(314) 516-5000

S235 School of Nursing
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-0277

Montana

P.O. Box 173560
Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-3783

Nebraska

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
(402) 280-2700

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
42nd and Emile
Omaha, NE 68198
(402) 559-4000

Nevada

School of Nursing
4505 S. Maryland Pkwy.
Las Vegas, NV 89154
(702) 895-3011

New Hampshire

420 South Main Street
Nashua, NH 03060
(603) 888-1311

Hewitt Hall, 4 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-1177

New Jersey

1000 River Rd
Teaneck, NJ 07666
(201) 692-2000

400 Cedar Avenue
West Long Branch, NJ 07764
(732) 571-3400

180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 972-4307

New Mexico

P. O. Box 30001, MSC 3185
Las Cruces, NM 88003
(575) 646-3812

2502 Marble Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87131
(505) 272-0858

New York

Graduate Certificate Programs
One South Ave, P.O. Box 701
Garden City, NY 11530
(800) 233-5744

Graduate Certificate Programs
4400 Vestal Parkway East
Binghamton, NY 13902
(607) 777-2000

617 W 168th St
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-5756

320 Porter Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14201
(716) 829-8000

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
433 First Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 998-5300

3690 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 385-8000

School of Nursing
101 Nicolls Road
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 689-8333

North Carolina

MSN Programs
307 Trent Drive
Durham, NC 27710
(919) 684-3786

Carrington Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
(919) 962-2211

601 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 962-3000

North Dakota

3501 University Ave
Grand Forks, ND 58202
(701) 777-3000

Ohio

10900 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-2000

1375 University Esplanade
Kent, OH 44242
(330) 672-7930

School of Nursing

Athens, OH 45701
(740) 593-1000

1585 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-4041

School of Nursing
302 E Buchtel Ave
Akron, OH 44325
(330) 972-7111

2801 W. Bancroft
Toledo, OH 43606
(800) 586-5336

College of Nursing
2600 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
(513) 556-0000

Graduate Certificate Programs
2550 Lander Rd
Pepper Pike, OH 44124
(440) 449-4200

3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton, OH 45431
(937) 775-3333

Oregon

3147 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd
Portland, OR 97239
(503) 494-8311

Pennsylvania

Division of Nursing
2755 Station Ave.
Center Valley, PA 18034
(610) 282-1100 x2838

1601 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 895-2000

1900 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19141
(215) 951-1000

School of Nursing
6001 University Blvd
Moon Township, PA 15108
(800) 762-0097

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
418 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-8281

3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
(412) 624-4586

South Carolina

College of Nursing
1601 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7412

South Dakota

1105 West 8th Street
Yankton, SD 57078
(605) 668-1545

Graduate Certificate Programs
1004 Campanile Dr
Brookings, SD 57007
(605) 688-4114

Tennessee

6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752
(423) 869-3611

Texas

3410 Taft Blvd
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
(940) 397-4000

3601 4th St.
Lubbock, TX 79430
(806) 743-2730

1201 W University Dr
Edinburg, TX 78539
(888) 882-4026

MSN Programs
6901 Bertner
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-2000

Utah

10 South 2000 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 581-3414

Vermont

Graduate Certificate Programs
The University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405
(802) 656-3131

Virginia

E Main St
Radford, VA 24141
(540) 831-5000

DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
225 Jeanette Lancaster Way
Charlottesville, VA 22903-3388
(434) 924-0141

1100 East Leigh Street
Richmond, VA 23298
(804) 828-0724

Washington

12180 Park Ave S
Tacoma, WA 98447
(253) 535-7411

901 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 296-6000

1410 NE Campus Parkway
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2100

1815 Wilson Rd
Pullman, WA 99164
(509) 335-3564

14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave
Vancouver, WA 98686
(360) 546-9788

West Virginia

59 College Avenue
Buckhannon, WV 26201
(304) 473-8000

Wisconsin

3400 S 43rd St
Milwaukee, WI 53234
(414) 382-6000

Graduate Certificate Programs
702 West Johnson Street. Suite 1101
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 263-2400

Wyoming

1000 E. University Ave
Laramie, WY 82071
(307) 766-1121

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

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