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Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP) diagnose and treat individuals with psychological conditions. They conduct psychiatric evaluations, prescribe medications, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide high-quality care to patients. While specific requirements can vary from state to state, you’ll typically need a license as a registered nurse, an MSN with a specialization in psychiatric mental health care, and a PMHNP certification to become a PMHNP

Many universities offer online degree programs that allow you to earn your degree while also managing your professional and personal responsibilities. A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner online program can teach you the essential skills you need to earn your PMHNP certification and thrive in this rewarding career. Read on to learn about some of the best online PMHNP programs currently available.  

Best Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Online Programs  

With so many universities offering psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs online, selecting a distance-based program that meets your educational and budgetary requirements can be challenging. The following universities have been highlighted for excellence in academic rigor, flexibility, and online learning options.    

WGU  

Western Governors University is a nonprofit university that empowers students through affordable, online education. Its competency-based degree programs allow students to progress through courses as soon as they demonstrate mastery of the course material. Consequently, many WGU students complete their degrees faster than students at a traditional university. Tuition is charged at a flat rate per term instead of per credit, meaning students pay one low price for as many courses as they choose to complete during a term.  

WGU offers several degree and post-degree programs for individuals interested in nursing, including a Master of Science in Nursing–Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree. The university also offers a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate program for individuals who already have a master’s degree and want to prepare for the ANCC Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam. 

Tuition: $6,625 per term  

Program Length: 2.5 years  

Number of students enrolled online: 169,352 students total 

Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted year-round, and terms begin on the first of each month. 

Duke  

Duke University is a private research university offering in-person and online college courses. The university’s mission is to provide exceptional education that facilitates intellectual growth and prepares professionals to be life-long learners who positively impact their communities.  

The Duke University School of Nursing’s Master of Science in Nursing program leverages intensive courses, simulations, and on-site clinical hours to teach students the skills they need to provide psychiatric mental health services to patients in a wide range of settings. The university has partnered with over 2,000 clinical placement sites across the country, making it possible for students to receive a quality distance-based education regardless of their location.  

Tuition: $2,075 per credit hour 

Program Length: 2.5 years  

Number of students enrolled online: 4,320 students 

Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 

Application Deadline: March 15, 2024 

Yale 

Yale is a well-respected Ivy League university with a rich history. It offers traditional on-campus classes in New Haven, Connecticut, as well as online classes. With an acceptance rate of just under 6%, Yale is a difficult university to get into and only accepts students with exceptional academic records.   

The Yale School of Nursing online Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program provides students with live online instruction as well as in-person clinical training. This 52.5-credit hybrid program helps students develop the skills they need to thrive in a PMHNP career. The Yale School of Nursing strives to provide students with a holistic understanding of patient care and prepare them to become leaders in their field.   

Tuition: $24,509 per semester 

Program Length: Three years   

Number of students enrolled online: 11,923 students  

Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024 

The Ohio State University  

The Ohio State University has campuses across Ohio that offer in-person courses as well as distance-based degree programs that are conducted 100% online. The university is dedicated to educating students through rigorous academic programs and fostering a culture of diversity, innovation, community engagement, and service.  

The Ohio State University College of Nursing is recognized by the National League for Nursing as a Center of Excellence and includes multiple top-ranked programs. Students can pursue the Psychiatric Mental Health Specialty track through an M.S. degree, post-master’s study, BSN to DNP, or BSN to Ph.D. program. Each of these programs prepares students to earn the PMHNP certification and establishes the foundation for a career as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. 

Tuition: $10,580.94 per semester for Ohio residents; $10,780.94 for nonresidents  

Program Length: Two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study 

Number of students enrolled online: 5,160 students  

Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 

Application Deadline: October 31, 2024 or March 1, 2024 

Stony Brook University 

Stony Brook University provides high-quality undergraduate, graduate, and professional education through over 200 majors, minors, and combined degree programs. The U.S. News & World Report 2024 Best Colleges ranked Stony Brook as the top public university in New York state.  

 Stony Brook University’s online Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree Program involves live, online classes taught by the same professors who instruct on-campus classes. It also includes some on-site requirements. The program focuses on psychopharmacology, healthcare policy and advocacy, organizational leadership, and other nursing essentials that prepare students to take the ANCC Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner National Certification Exam.  

Tuition: $471 per credit hour for New York residents; $1,020 per credit hour for non-residents 

Program Length: Two years 

Number of students enrolled online: 3,072 students  

Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 

Application Deadline: June 1, 2024 for domestic applicants; May 5, 2024 for international students 

Rush University 

Rush University is a private university based in Chicago, Illinois. It offers on-campus and distance-based degree programs that are consistently ranked among the best in the country.  

Students have the option to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate in nursing. However, the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialty is only available through their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Rush University does not offer a PMHNP MSN degree. 

Tuition: $1,344 per credit hour 

Program Length: Two to four years 

Number of students enrolled online: 2,057 students  

Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 

Application Deadline: January 3, 2024 

How Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs Work  

One of the primary benefits of online degree programs is flexibility. Many programs allow students to access course materials at any time, meaning they can study when and where it is convenient for them. Some online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs require students to attend live virtual classes at specific times, while others allow students to complete their classwork independently. Self-paced programs typically provide instruction through recorded video lectures, e-books, and digital learning modules. Students may collaborate with instructors and fellow students through online discussion boards, emails, phone calls, and video calls. Depending on the specific program, tests and exams may be scheduled for particular dates and times, or the students may be free to take exams whenever they’re confident they understand the course material.  

Requirements to Pursue an Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program  

If you want to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, the first step is to become a registered nurse. The exact degree requirements needed to earn your RN license vary by state. Some states only require an associate degree in nursing, while others require nurses to hold a BSN to qualify for an RN license.   

You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain state licensure. The NCLEX-RN is a digital test consisting of 74 to 145 questions. It follows a variable question format that adapts the question difficulty based on the candidate’s previous responses.  

Once you’ve passed the NCLEX-RN exam, earned your RN license, and gained real-world experience as a registered nurse, you can apply to a psychiatric nurse practitioner program.  

What Can You Do as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?  

Psychiatric nurse practitioners can work in a variety of settings, including in-patient facilities, hospitals, schools, government agencies, and prisons. Their responsibilities are broader in scope than those of registered nurses, and they are authorized to prescribe medications. They diagnose mental health conditions, develop treatment plans, manage patients’ psychiatric medications, and may also provide therapy or counseling. Nurse practitioners in the mental health field help patients who are dealing with psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, and trauma-related conditions. They may also treat patients with eating disorders, neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, and substance abuse problems.  

Estimated Salary of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners  

Nurse practitioners hold advanced positions compared to registered nurses. Consequently, their salaries tend to be higher, and this is especially true for psychiatric nurse practitioners. The average base salary for a PMHNP is $194,174 per year. Salaries typically range from $157,594 to $230,827 a year. Your employer, geographic location, and previous nursing experience can greatly impact your salary.  

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