Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online 2021

by NurseJournal Staff

If you're interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner, check our list of the best online psychiatric nursing programs of 2021.

Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online 2021

Nurse practitioners (NPs) fill vital gaps within the healthcare industry. They take on many of the same responsibilities as doctors and often work in underserved areas.

There are about 290,000 licensed NPs in the U.S., according to figures from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Approximately 30,000 graduated in the 2018-19 school year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that, along with other advanced practice nurses, the number of NPs may increase by 45% from 2019-29, making it one of the fastest growing careers in the United States.

While many NPs specialize in certain areas, only about 2% possess a certificate in the psychiatric mental health specialty.

Psychiatric nurse practitioner programs can help prospective psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) achieve their career goals. Online PMHNP programs offer flexibility and convenience, making it easy for candidates to earn a degree.

Check out a list of the best online PMHNP programs below.

Best Online PMHNP Programs

Rank School Location
1 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA
2 George Washington University Washington, DC
3 Samford University Birmingham, AL
4 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
5 Cox College Springfield, MO
6 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX
7 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
8 The University of Texas at Tyler Tyler, TX
9 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
10 MCPHS University Boston, MA

Featured Online Programs

Learn More About the Best Online PMHNP Programs

Georgia College & State University View School Profile $$$$ Milledgeville, GA 64% 44% 25% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Description:

At Georgia State, students can enroll in an online master of science in nursing (MSN) degree program with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) concentration. The degree comprises 39 credits completed over the course of two years for full-time students or three years for part-time students.

The online psychiatric nurse practitioner program includes some synchronous components with students streaming didactic classes on Thursdays. But distance learners also participate in some asynchronous online modules and lectures. Degree seekers must complete 570 clinical hours at a location within their own communities.

In addition, students visit campus a few times for face-to-face immersion experiences. These include an orientation experience during the student's first summer and an intensive skills practice experience as part of the advanced assessment course.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Milledgeville, Georgia
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $543 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing; Georgia or compact registered nurse license; three reference letters; resume; personal goals statement
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.06%
George Washington University View School Profile Washington, DC 82% 36% 24% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Description:

The online master of science in nursing (MSN) degree at GW includes a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) concentration. The full program comprises 50 credits and 600 clinical hours. The curriculum covers topics in neuropsychopharmacology, crisis intervention, and psychotherapy.

The program is designed for registered nurses who can continue to work while pursuing their degree on a part-time schedule. Distance learners also participate in one on-campus session for the health assessment and diagnostic reasoning course. The in-person learning experience trains students how to carry out a patient history and physical examination.

Although the program enrolls students from most states, it cannot accept applicants from Alabama and Louisiana.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with PMHNP concentration
  • Campus: Washington, D.C.
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,395 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; two recommendation letters; active nursing license; statement of purpose
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: N/A
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Samford University View School Profile Birmingham, AL 76% 33% 31% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Description:

The online master of science in nursing (MSN) program at Samford offers a unique opportunity for students to specialize in both the family nurse practitioner (FNP) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) fields simultaneously. After graduating, alumni can sit for both certification exams.

The distance learning curriculum includes four intensive on-campus visits when they can practice their clinical skills. Degree seekers also participate in 1,200 clinical hours overall, including adult, pediatric, mental health, and OB/GYN care. Courses cover all of these demographic areas, in addition to research, ethics, physical care, and pharmacology. Distance learners can complete these at sites in their local communities across the United States.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with FNP/PMHNP dual concentration
    • Campus: Birmingham, Alabama
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $888 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; registered nurse license; undergraduate nursing research course with at least a grade of "C"; undergraduate health assessment course with at least a grade of "B"; three recommendation letters; personal statement
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 28 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.08%
Maryville University of Saint Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO 72% 49% 56% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

Maryville facilitates an online master's degree for nurses with a concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). Unlike many online PMHNP programs, Maryville does not require on-campus visits. Degree seekers also arrange supervised clinical hours at sites within their own communities.

The program prioritizes holistic nursing, training students how to proactively find healthcare solutions while on the job. The 50-credit curriculum includes courses such as evidence-based practice in nursing, health promotion and disease prevention, and psychopharmacology and mental health assessment.

Students interested in pursuing this specialization can also pursue Maryville's doctor of nursing practice or post-master's psychiatric mental health certificate.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Saint Louis, Missouri
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $813 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; registered nurse licensure; personal statement
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 32 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.97%
Cox College View School Profile Springfield, MO 60% 74% 100% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

Cox operates as a private college in Springfield, Missouri, focusing on nursing and other healthcare professions, including a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).

The curriculum includes didactic courses that students complete online, such as leadership in healthcare and nursing education systems, family and child dynamics, and psychiatric management across the lifespan. They also participate in clinical practicum experiences in their communities.

Graduates of this online PMHNP program qualify to take the national certification exam as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. About 96% of graduates of Cox's MSN program find employment within one year of graduation.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Springfield, Missouri
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $600 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; registered nurse licensure
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.55%
The University of Texas at El Paso View School Profile $ El Paso, TX 39% 41% 39% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Description:

Students at UTEP can enroll in the master of science in nursing-nurse practitioner (MSN-NP) degree program with an emphasis in psychiatric mental health across the lifespan.

The curriculum plan lasts two years, plus an additional semester. Degree seekers complete 49 credits with courses in neuroscience across the lifespan, telehealth and rural service delivery, and diagnosis and management of substance abuse disorders. The program requires 675 clinical hours, including 630 within the psychiatric mental health specialization.

This particular degree follows a hybrid format which means students take both online and face-to-face courses. On-campus courses occur on alternating weekends starting with students' second year.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN-NP with psychiatric mental health concentration
    • Campus: El Paso, Texas
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $552 per credit for Texas residents; $782 per credit for nonresidents
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing; registered nurse license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.64%
Duquesne University View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA 80% 68% 18% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Description:

Students at Duquesne can enroll in an online psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) program that allows students to study either part or full time. The degree focuses on relationship-based care, training students in skills like diagnosis and management of psychiatric disorders.

The 44-credit program emphasizes collaboration among distance learners who enter the program with a cohort of 12-15 fellow students. The curriculum covers foundational skills such as pharmacology and assessment, and it includes advanced courses in caring for people with substance abuse issues.

Degree seekers complete 550 clinical hours overall. They also participate in two in-person experiences at Duquesne's Pittsburgh campus.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,509 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA; undergraduate statistics course with at least a "C" grade; registered nurse (RN) license; at least one year of full-time RN work experience
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.38%
The University of Texas at Tyler View School Profile $$ Tyler, TX 45% 37% 68% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Description:

At UT Tyler's School of Nursing, distance learners may pursue a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) focus. The program takes a holistic approach to the specialization, teaching integrated mental healthcare across the lifespan.

Students can choose between a two-year, full-time curriculum or a three-year, part-time curriculum. UT Tyler offers small class sizes so that distance learners may interact with each other. The curriculum includes certification exam prep to supplement foundational and advanced courses. While most courses are online, the advanced health assessment course is a hybrid format, and the program requires a couple of on-campus visits so that students can practice their clinicals in a hands-on setting. Degree seekers must also complete 500 clinical hours.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Tyler, Texas
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $915 per credit for Texas residents; $1,386 for nonresidents
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 course credits; registered nurse licensure; three professional recommendation letters; personal statement
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.86%
Clarkson College View School Profile Omaha, NE 53% 49% 95% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

Omaha-based Clarkson College facilitates an online registered nurse to master of science in nursing (RN-to-MSN) degree with a speciality option in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). This particular program admits individuals who possess RN licensure but not necessarily a bachelor's in nursing. The curriculum includes courses at both the bachelor's and master's level to serve as a bridge program for RNs.

The 51-credit program comprises core and major courses. Core courses cover skills, such as research design and methods, scholarly writing, and statistics. Major courses move into the mental health concentration, with courses such as pharmacology for practitioners and advanced psychiatric-mental health concepts.

Degree seekers complete all of their didactic coursework online, but they must visit campus to practice their clinical skills. They also may carry out their clinical practicum experiences at sites in their own communities.

Details:

  • Program(s): RN-to-MSN with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Omaha, Nebraska
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
    • Tuition: $621 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA; RN licensure
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.1%
MCPHS University View School Profile Boston, MA 69% 66% 27% New England Commission on Higher Education

Description:

MCPHS operates as a Boston-based higher education institution focused on health sciences. Students who pursue the master of science in nursing (MSN) in psychiatric mental health can complete the program on a part-time schedule in two years.

Distance learners complete their coursework primarily online, but they also participate in three residences. These include a new student orientation, second-year residency, and final graduation residency. Each of these experiences lasts 1-3 days.

The curriculum comprises 45 credits, and students enroll in courses such as the study of telemedicine, psychopharmacology for the advanced practice nurse, and basic counseling theory and techniques. Degree seekers must also participate in at least 630 supervised clinical hours.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner concentration
    • Campus: Boston, Massachusetts
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,235 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing; registered nurse licensure
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93%
Graceland University-Lamoni View School Profile Lamoni, IA 49% 68% 51% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

At GU, students can enroll in a 47-credit master of science in nursing (MSN) with a nurse practitioner concentration in psychiatric mental health. The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) program prepares students to provide mental healthcare to patients across the lifespan. While the main, residential campus is in Iowa, the School of Nursing as well as GU's online programs are based in the school's Missouri location.

Courses cover advanced topics within the concentration, such as psychopharmacology and psychotherapeutics. Students enroll in three practicum courses, each consisting of 180 supervised clinical hours. Degree seekers also participate in a synthesis project in which they identify a clinically significant issue in the field and use evidence-based research to develop an improvement within the field.

The degree follows an online format, although a few courses require mandatory face-to-face sessions on Graceland's School of Nursing campus in Independence, Missouri.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Lamoni, Iowa
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $830 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; registered license licensure; three references; professional goals statement
    • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
Briar Cliff University View School Profile Sioux City, IA 45% 83% 37% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

Located in Sioux City, Iowa, BCU offers a master of science in nursing (MSN) program for aspiring nurse practitioners with a focus in psychiatric mental health. The distance learning degree includes on-site lab requirements in a few of its courses. Students spend a total of six days on campus.

The online psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) program lasts three years, with students completing 52 credits and participating in 600 clinical hours. Degree seekers take 2-3 courses each semester, learning about topics in neuroscience of pharmacology and therapeutic modalities for advanced practice learning. BCU also helps students find clinical placements in rural, underserved, and multicultural settings.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN with PMHNP concentration
    • Campus: Sioux City, Iowa
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $525 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; at least 2,000 hours of professional nursing experience; personal goals statement
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 75%

Applying to an Online PMHNP Program

Psychiatric nurse practitioner programs are essentially MSN degrees with a specialization in psychiatric mental health care, and applicants should hold an undergraduate degree. Many schools prefer candidates with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, while some RN-to-MSN bridge programs accept associate degree-holders.

Applicants must usually demonstrate a minimum GPA from 2.5-3.0. They should also possess a valid RN license. Some MSN programs expect incoming students to hold previous work experience.

Additionally, candidates may need to submit supplementary materials like transcripts, a resume, personal essays, and letters of recommendation. Some schools request GRE or MAT scores, although this is less common in nursing programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

true What degree do you need to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner?

Licensed psychiatric NPs must hold both a bachelor's and a master's degree in nursing. Many universities offer MSN programs with a concentration in psychiatric mental health. Some students earn an associate degree in nursing instead of a BSN and bypass a bachelor's degree by enrolling in an RN-to-MSN program.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Accreditation guarantees that students receive a quality education. Accreditation agencies review higher education institutions and academic programs to ensure that those programs uphold quality standards. Aspiring nurses need accredited degrees to obtain licensure. Two of the most well-known nursing accreditation agencies include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

What can you do as a nurse practitioner?

NPs play many important roles in the healthcare industry. They meet with, assess, and diagnose patients, and may prescribe medication or other treatments. In some states, NPs need to enter into supervisory or collaborative agreements with physicians, but many states allow NPs to work completely autonomously.

What does a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner do?

Psychiatric NPs provide patients with mental health care. They counsel individuals dealing with issues of anxiety, depression, and other psychological, emotional, and behavioral disorders. PMHNPs can also offer treatment like medication or therapy.

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