January 25, 2024

Top Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Programs 2024

If you're looking to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, AKA a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), you'll need to find an accredited psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. We've ranked the top PMHNP programs for 2024 to help make your decision a little easier. 

Top 10 Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs

In selecting the top ten PMHNP programs, we based our ranking criteria on the following factors:

  • Reputation
  • PMHNP certification exam pass rate
  • Tuition
  • Acceptance rate

But you may want to consider additional factors when choosing the best online psych np program. Think about whether the online lectures are synchronous or asynchronous or the school's in-person attendance requirements.

1. University of Pennsylvania

Tuition: $53,166 per year

A top-ranked institution for psychiatric-mental health, the NP program at the University of Pennsylvania combines neuroscience with psychotherapy. Full-time students finish this program in just 14 months, making this a quick and high-quality option. Part-time students typically finish in two to five years. 

2. Rush University

Tuition: $1,224 per credit hour

Online Options Available: Yes

Rush University's PMHNP program culminates in a doctorate degree; keep that in mind before applying - it typically takes two or more years to complete. This is a 100% online PMHNP program, so students won’t have to relocate to earn their degrees.

3. University of Washington

Tuition: $9,934 per quarter in-state, $14,150 per quarter non-resident

UW’s PMHNP program is technically a graduate certificate and is completed in person. Applicants must be either enrolled in the DNP or PhD program at UW OR already earned a doctorate degree from an accredited program. UW has one of the top health and nursing programs in the nation, so even without intense specialization, this is an education worth having.

4. University of California – San Francisco

Tuition: $60,482 per year in-state, $72,727 per year non-resident

While the focus of the psychiatric nurse practitioner program at UCSF is on all demographics, students have the option to complete their residency while focusing on a specific age group. This program is ideal for nurses who want to work exclusively with adults or children.

5. Yale University

Tuition: $26,162 per term

A master’s specialty, Yale’s psychiatric-mental health nursing specialty gives students the benefits of Yale’s highly respected nursing education. Yale boasts an impressive 100% pass rate on the PMHNP examination for the last five years. Students will receive an all-around education in the psychiatric-mental health field, preparing them for any setting they might end up in.

6. University of North Carolina

Tuition: $34,535 for full program in-state tuition; $61,124 for full program out-of-state tuition

A part of UNC’s Master of Science nursing program, psychiatric-mental health is an advanced practice area that students can focus their studies on. This all-around education will require students to be able to attend in-person practice, something to keep in mind before applying.

7. Duke University

Tuition: $1,910 per credit hour. The average fully enrolled tuition per semester is $11,460

According to the 2022 U.S. World News & Report, Duke’s program currently ranks #1 for PMHNP programs in the country. While Duke’s PMHNP program will teach students to help people of all ages, it does focus on people living in rural and underserved areas. Any nurses interested in treating and helping these communities will find that Duke’s program is a good fit.

8. University of Maryland

Tuition: $824 per credit hour in-state, $1,461 per credit non-resident

UM’s psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner program takes anywhere from three to five years, making it one of the longer programs of study on this list. This is also a doctoral program, and students are required to be located in the Maryland/Washington, D.C. area for the program.

9. Vanderbilt University

Tuition: $1,793 per credit hour

Online Options Available: Yes

One of the top nursing schools in the nation for graduates, Vanderbilt’s PMHNP program offers a holistic approach to a complicated subject. This program doesn’t require relocation - it is offered entirely online. Also, it is possible to earn this degree without a strong psychiatric nursing background.

10. New York University

Tuition: $1,983 per credit hour

The master’s program in psychiatric-mental health at NYU will teach nurses how to help people of all ages. By the end of the program, nurses will be able to conduct individual or group therapy, allowing them to pick whichever focus they feel is best for them.

While these are some of the top schools, there are many options out there, including some great online programs. Find a school that works for you!

Types of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

RN-MSN PMHNP Programs

Who is it right for? RNs who have an ADN or Diploma

If you have your RN license and an associate degree, you can enter into a bridge program that will roll the types of classes you would have taken with a Bachelor’s degree into one program to earn your Master’s. 

MSN Psychiatric NP Programs

Who is it right for? RNs with a BSN degree

One of the most common options for earning your Master’s degree in any field of nursing, you can enter into a Master’s program if you already have your Bachelor’s in Nursing. 

Accelerated MSN Psychiatric NP Programs

Who is it right for? Those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree

Many graduate nursing programs also allow you to enroll directly if you have your RN license and a bachelor’s in a non-nursing-related field.

Some schools may also accept non-nurses with bachelor’s degrees to fast-track them into a master’s program; by the end of the program, you will have earned your RN and be eligible to sit for the NP certifying exam as well. 

Direct-Entry Psychiatric NP MSN Programs

Who is it right for? Those with a non-nursing master’s degree

Similar to the non-nursing Bachelor’s degree, direct-entry MSN (sometimes called post-master's certification) programs welcome individuals who have a master’s degree in a non-nursing field.

With this type of program, you can fast-track your nursing education because you already have many of the master’s level courses needed and will focus on the nursing component throughout your coursework. 

DNP Psychiatric NP Programs

Who is it right for? Those who  know they want to further their education 

Some nurses will also choose to enroll in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or in a Ph.D. and EdD, to perform additional work as professors, researchers, or administrators. 

Show Me Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

How to Pick the Right PMHNP Program for You

It’s hard to know what the perfect school is for what you’re looking for. While there are only a handful of institutions that offer a psychiatric nurse practitioner program, narrowing it down further will likely be based on different factors, including:

  • Cost: Is the school within an affordable range? Will you have to move to attend school, and how expensive is the new city going to be? Do they offer financial aid?
  • Location: Commuting to and from facilities where you get real-world experience is common for psychiatric NPs. This means you might have to move to a new area for school or work with the school to find clinical sites near your home and complete your coursework online. 
  • Program length: Depending on the program you study toward, you may have to plan to be in school for 2-4 years, and possibly even longer if you’re working full-time and studying part-time. If you have to continue to work while you’re in school, you’ll also want to verify that the program can be completed while you work. 
  • Accreditation: Accreditation is always something important to keep in mind before selecting any school or program–not only does it ensure that your school will properly prepare you for your certifying exams, but if you plan on applying for federal loans, you may get turned down if your school is not accredited. 

Deciding on a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program is a personal choice. In addition to doing your research online, we also recommend talking to medical professionals who currently work in the specialty. Continuing your education is not an easy decision to make but, one thing is for sure, it will open many opportunities for you in the near future.

Show Me Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

More Information on a Career as a Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner

PMHNP Duties

What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner do? Some primary duties for these APRNs include the following:

  • Create healthcare plans based on outpatient or home-based care for acute or chronic mental healthcare conditions
  • Provide consultations
  • Perform patient assessments
  • Prescribe medications per their state laws
  • Prescribe and offer various treatments, such as psychotherapy, medication therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc. 
  • Work alongside doctors for referrals and to provide patient care
  • Participate and/or initiate research
  • Education on mental health disorders
  • Contribute to policy development, quality improvement, practice evaluation, and healthcare reform.

PMHNP Salary

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are one of the highest-paying nurse practitioner specialties because they are a highly specialized field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Practitioners make a mean annual salary of $ 124,680 with an average hourly wage of $59.94 as of May 2022.  

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certification

Once you complete your education program, you will have to pass the PMHNP certifying exam issued by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). According to the ANCC, upon successful completion of the exam, you will be Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PMHNP-BC). Once you earn your license, the credential is valid for 5 years.

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