The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Ayana Dunn, RN
Updated May 14, 2024
Edited by
There is a growing need for psychiatric nurse practitioners. Think about these factors when choosing an online psychiatric NP program.
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Psychiatric NP listens to patient with compasssion.Credit: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

The demand for mental healthcare is rising along with the need for mental health practitioners. To become a psychiatric nurse practitioner (NP), you must complete a master’s program and get a license. Many online degree programs combine high-quality training with added flexibility and convenience.

Discover the best online psychiatric NP programs to determine the right one for you. Explore what accreditation to look for, how to pay for school, and salary and career outlook for psychiatric NPs.

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Learn About the Best Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs and Schools

#1 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

George Washington University

  • Location-markerWashington, DC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$57,894
  • Out-of-state$57,894
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate49%
  • Students Enrolled25,939
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment26%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Maryville University of Saint Louis

  • Location-markerSaint Louis, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$24,766
  • Out-of-state$24,766
  • Retention Rate82%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled10,596
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment84%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Purdue University Global-Indianapolis

  • Location-markerWest Lafayette, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,080
  • Out-of-state$13,356
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled43,458
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

University of Southern Indiana

  • Location-markerEvansville, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,976
  • Out-of-state$21,824
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled7,361
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment63%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

  • Location-markerLubbock, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,665
  • Out-of-state$19,344
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,378
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment64%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global

  • Location-markerMarion, IN
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,453
  • Out-of-state$8,453
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled10,008
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment94%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Cox College

  • Location-markerSpringfield, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,080
  • Out-of-state$10,080
  • Retention Rate50%
  • Acceptance Rate39%
  • Students Enrolled956
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment99%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Mount Marty University

  • Location-markerYankton, SD
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$27,720
  • Out-of-state$27,720
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled1,262
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment41%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Husson University

  • Location-markerBangor, ME
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$18,890
  • Out-of-state$18,890
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate91%
  • Students Enrolled3,078
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment69%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 The Best Psychiatric NP Programs Online of 2023

Bluefield University

  • Location-markerBluefield, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$27,050
  • Out-of-state$27,050
  • Retention Rate59%
  • Acceptance Rate72%
  • Students Enrolled948
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment72%
  • AccreditationYes

Using Our Rankings: What to Look For in an Online Psychiatric NP Program

We evaluated and ranked this list of online psychiatric NP programs based on specific metrics. These factors are also crucial for students when evaluating a nursing program. They indicate how well the program fits the student’s life and educational needs.

Admission Requirements

Each online psychiatric NP program has its own consistent admissions requirements, some of which can be unique to the school or program. Be sure to look closely at the requirements for your program and follow them to the letter.

In general, however, it is a safe bet that you will need an active registered nurse (RN) license. Not all programs require GRE scores.

Clinical Experience

Every program requires some kind of clinical experience, with mental healthcare settings taking on extra importance for psychiatric NP learners. Finding the right fit for your clinical experience can vary by program. For example, some programs help students find these experiences, while others simply approve (or reject) placements after students identify them.

Schools that don’t help students find these placements or have demanding clinical schedules might place added stress on students, which could influence the decision to enroll in the program.


Accreditation is crucial for a student to receive federal aid, transfer credits to another program, or take the certification exam necessary to practice.


Program Length

An online master of science in nursing (MSN) program for prospective psychiatric NPs usually takes 2-3 years, encompassing 46 credit hours and 600 clinical hours. A doctor of nursing practice (DNP), a more advanced degree that can lead to the nurse practitioner career path, may require more time.

A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is often required before pursuing an advanced degree like the MSN or DNP. However, select programs allow qualified nurses with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) to directly pursue their MSN degree.

Regardless of length, many degree programs have part-time and other flexible options for working students.

NP Certification Pass Rate

The program may publish the certification pass rate, which tells a candidate how well the program prepares students to take the national certification exam required to practice.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

Online learning differs from in-person programs in how information is delivered to students. The delivery format might significantly influence your decision based on your learning style. Technology requirements may differ between programs, requiring students to purchase more hardware or software, which increases cost.

Why Is Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is important because it ensures a program meets educational and industry standards. The accrediting organization assesses the quality of individual nursing programs by determining, among other things, how many of its graduates can pass the NCLEX, the exam required to obtain a nursing license.

Attending an accredited nursing school helps ensure you’re getting high-quality training. That is why all of our listed programs are accredited.

Other factors to consider include:

  • You must graduate from an accredited nursing program to take the NCLEX
  • Employers typically only hire graduates from accredited nursing programs
  • Many schools don’t accept credits transferred from unaccredited programs
  • Government financial aid only applies to accredited schools

How Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs Work

Online nursing programs enable students to take classes and complete assignments anywhere, as long as they can access a computer. Although attending live class recordings is recommended, students can watch classes whenever convenient.

Nursing students can communicate with professors and peers via email, video conferences, and school-approved chat software. Online students must complete assignments and exams by their due dates.

Depending on the school, an MSN or DNP may also have lab components and fieldwork experience requiring in-person attendance. Students attending an online program find clinical placement assistance as an online nursing student an important factor in program choice.

Applying to an Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program

Applying to online psychiatric NP programs is similar to the process you’d follow for brick-and-mortar schools. One potential difference is that your admissions interview may be virtual instead of in person.

The admissions process helps prove your desire to become a psychiatric NP, your ability to work legally in the U.S., your sense of integrity, and your expertise on key subject matter. It’s important to make a positive first impression by correctly following directions. Don’t hesitate to contact the school if you have questions.

Common application requirements include:

  • Personal essay
  • MSN or BSN from an accredited nursing program
  • Current RN license
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • At least one year of relevant experience
  • Background check
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency card
  • 3.0 GPA or higher

The relevant experience and license requirements don’t apply to students starting with their BSN. Some schools prefer applicant MSNs to have a concentration in psychiatric nursing, or for the nurse to have met the minimum relevant experience requirement within 1-3 years of applying.

Paying for Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

Several factors affect the cost of an online psychiatric NP program, which affects the student’s ability to pay out-of-pocket for nursing degrees. These factors include many of the criteria used in the ranking of the best online Psychiatric NP programs.

For example, the program’s length influences how much money it will cost a student. Students should know the cost per credit hour and the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition costs.

Some students can work to help cover the cost of living during school. Attending an accredited program allows students to apply for federal financial aid, including nursing grants, loans, and federal scholarship programs.

Accreditation also influences the ability to qualify for private grants and loans. Students should search for scholarship programs that help cover the cost of an online psychiatric nurse practitioner program. It is important to seek information about financial aid for nurses to help pay for your program, including loan forgiveness for nurses and programs to help support economically disadvantaged and minority students.

What Can You Do as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

A licensed and nationally board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner can care for patients in various settings. They focus on mental health disorders and most frequently address the needs of patients with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Trauma
  • Psychosis

These professionals are highly analytical and adept at problem-solving. Typical work settings include hospital mental health departments, private clinics, mental health clinics, and mental health departments.

According to Payscale, the median annual salary of a psychiatric nurse practitioner is $119,840 as of April 2024, making it one of the highest-earning NP specialties.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

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

Are You Ready to Earn Your Online Nursing Degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.