Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs 2020

Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs 2020

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Psychiatric nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) who focus primarily on mental health. The field of nurse practitioning has undergone rapid growth, as well, with more than 30,000 NPs completing their academic programs in 2018-19, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Among the nurse practitioners currently working, fewer than 2% hold certificates in the psychiatric-mental health specialty, AANP data shows.

Additionally, advanced practice nurses can join one of the fastest-growing professions in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of APRNs to increase by 45% from 2019-29.

Individuals hoping to follow this career path must first obtain a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a concentration in psychiatry-mental health. Several students prefer to enroll in online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs, which offers them a greater degree of flexibility and convenience.

If you’re interested in this career path, you can find a list of online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs below.

Top Affordable Online PMHNP Programs 2020

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Top Affordable Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

  1. University of South Carolina
    Location

    Columbia, SC

    Located in the state capital of Columbia, UofSC offers several online nursing programs, including two with a psychiatric mental health nurse specialization. Students can pursue a DNP with a clinical concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), or an MSN with the same focus area.

    For incoming students with master's degrees, the DNP requires 33 credits. Learners can apply if they only hold a bachelor's degree, although the curriculum then demands an additional 40 credits of coursework. Degree-seekers complete their courses online, but must also participate in at least 1,000 clinical contact hours. The curriculum includes a DNP final project, and learners can graduate within six years.

    The MSN program follows an eight-semester, four-year curriculum. Students complete 47 credits, or two courses each term. Advanced practice students must also travel to campus at least one time during each clinical course.

    Applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous academic experience. MSN applicants should also possess at least one year of full-time nursing experience within the past 24 months. UofSC prefers candidates with experience within psychology or psychiatry, but does not require it. UofSC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. New Mexico State University
    Location

    Las Cruces, NM

    With an enrollment of over 14,000 students, Las Cruces-based NMSU runs several academic programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The DNP with a psychiatric/mental health speciality can be completed entirely online.

    Students can enter the program with either a bachelor's or a master's degree. The BSN-to-DNP includes a 69-credit curriculum and 1024 required clinical contact hours. In contrast, MSN-to-DNP students need to complete just 33 credits.

    Coursework covers advanced health assessment, diagnosis, psychotherapy, and medication management. All students complete a doctoral project. Additionally, BSN-to-DNP learners must enroll full-time, participate in a two-day in-person orientation at the start of their first semester, and complete a one-week clinical seminar during the summer of their second year.

    Prospective students should hold at least a 3.0 GPA in previous coursework. MSN-to-DNP students should also possess an active APRN licensed and advanced practice nursing certification. NMSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. University of Southern Mississippi
    Location

    Hattiesburg, MS

    Southern Miss educates about 14,500 students on its Hattiesburg campus. The school offers several programs through distance learning, including an MSN and DNP in psychiatric mental health nursing.

    The MSN program follows a hybrid format in which students complete on-campus components in addition to online requirements. Full-time students can complete this 46-credit master's degree in five semesters. Students may also enroll part-time.

    The BSN-to-DNP is offered mostly online, though students must visit campus each semester for didactic courses. Degree-seekers can finish this 73-credit program in three years if they enroll full-time. Learners must complete a doctoral project, pass a comprehensive exam, and maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate.

    Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an active RN license. Southern Miss requires GRE scores and expects candidates to apply with at least one year of clinical experience as an RN. Southern Miss is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Based in Grand Forks, UND was founded in 1883, before North Dakota officially acquired statehood. Among its many academic programs, UND offers an online psychiatric nurse practitioner program that prepares learners to sit for the PMHNP certification exam after eight semesters of study.

    The 49-credit curriculum includes 22 credits of common coursework and 27 credits of psychiatric-mental health concentration credits. Students learn to approach mental health for patients across the lifespan, as well as how to administer psychotherapy for both groups and individuals. Degree-seekers also complete three clinical practicums that total 12 credits. UND offers assistance to students searching for these clinical placements.

    Interested individuals may apply if they earned an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA during their last two years. They must also possess an unencumbered nursing license and at least one year of nursing experience. UND is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    With a student body of about 22,000 students, UAB is the only four-year university in Birmingham and the largest research institution in the state. Enrollees can pursue several distance learning programs, including the MSN with a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner specialty.

    The 45-credit curriculum includes 35 credits of didactic coursework and 10 clinical credits. Learners enroll part-time, and the distance learning format integrates on-campus intensives. These on-campus experiences include laboratory work and simulations to gain hands-on practice. Degree-seekers generally finish these requirements within six or seven semesters of study.

    Applicants must possess at least a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of their undergraduate degree. However, those with a GPA under 3.2 must send in GRE scores with their application. Prospective students should also hold a registered nursing license. UAB is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. University of South Alabama
    Location

    Mobile, AL

    Based in Mobile, Alabama, USA offers its approximately 15,000 students several healthcare-oriented academic options, including a few different online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs. Registered nurses with bachelor's degrees can pursue either an MSN or a DNP within this specialization. In addition, USA offers an RN-to-MSN pathway for nurses without BSN degrees who want to earn their master's.

    Both the MSN and DNP focuses specifically on family psychiatric health. As a result, the curriculum covers mental health psychotherapy for families rather than individuals. MSN students complete 45 credits of coursework and 600 clinical hours, while DNP candidates must enroll in 69 credits and 1,140 clinical hours.

    Students must travel to campus for a mandatory clinical skills intensive orientation during the fall semester when they take their first clinical course. Learners also need to attend campus for certain simulation intensives. Finally, DNP candidates must undertake an evidence-based scholarly project that examines different ways to improve the healthcare system. They can complete this project within their home region if they work with an approved mentor.

    Incoming DNP students must possess at least two years of clinical experience before they can begin the program. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores or meet a certain GPA requirement, but they should possess nursing licensure. USA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  7. Anderson University
    Location

    Anderson, SC

    AU is a Christian-affiliated liberal arts institution with about 3,500 students. Based in Anderson, South Carolina, the school offers 17 master's and doctoral programs, including MSN and DNP programs with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner focus.

    The MSN degree follows a hybrid format and lasts about 15 months. Although learners complete most of the coursework online, they also meet their classmates and professors in person for 2-3 days each semester. These on-campus experiences allow students to participate in hands-on simulations and clinical training. Overall, the curriculum consists of 49 credit hours and 500 clinical contact hours.

    The longer, 75-credit DNP can be completed in about three years. In addition to online classes, students also travel to campus once a semester for simulation labs and seminars. Learners must also complete 1,000 clinical contact hours.

    For both the MSN and DNP programs, application requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.2 GPA and an active nursing license. AU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  8. Wilkes University
    Location

    Wilkes-Barre, PA

    Located in Wilkes-Barre in eastern Pennsylvania, Wilkes educates 5,000 students, about half of whom pursue graduate degrees. The university offers an online MSN with a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner specialization for registered nurses both with and without bachelor's degrees.

    Students can complete this 15-credit degree in just 2.5 years. Courses cover topics like advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and psychopharmacology. Students must also participate in two residency visits and 500 clinical hours. Wilkes helps students identify clinical placements. The curriculum prepares students for the PMHNP certification exam, which 95% of alumni pass.

    Individuals meet application eligibility if they possess either a bachelor's or associate degree with at least 3.0 GPA. They should also hold an active RN license with at least one year of clinical nursing experience. Wilkes is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  9. Husson University
    Location

    Bangor, ME

    Husson is a private institution in Bangor, Maine with about 3,700 students. Degree-seekers can find several distance learning programs at Husson, such as the MSN with a concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

    Students pursue this degree mostly online, with the exception of two on-campus clinical intensives. Online courses consist of both synchronous and asynchronous components.

    Courses include advanced health assessment, sociocultural perception of addiction and population health, diagnosis and pharmacologic management of psychiatric illness, and a graduate nursing capstone. During this capstone course, students complete a scholarly project through a presentation or paper. The 51-credit curriculum also includes 600 clinical contact hours.

    Applicants should possess an active RN license and a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The admissions process also requires an interview. Husson is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

  10. Tennessee Technological University/East Tennessee State University Joint
    Location

    Cookeville, TN

    Cookeville-based Tennessee Tech and Johnson City-based ETSU jointly offer a distance learning DNP with several concentrations, including psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner.

    This degree follows an online format with required on-campus intensive experiences 2-3 times a year. Students who pursue the PMHNP programs attend these intensives at ETSU. The curriculum DNP candidates to complete a doctoral project meant to demonstrate their advanced knowledge and skills. Students must defend this project in front of a committee to graduate.

    Learners who start the program with a bachelor's degree must complete 80 credits and 1040 clinical contact hours. Those who already possess an MSN only need to complete 32 credits and 500 clinical contact hours. BSN-to-DNP students who enroll full time can graduate in nine semesters, while full-time MSN-to-DNP students can graduate in four semesters.

    Applicants should submit previous academic transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA; those with a GPA below 3.2 should send in GRE scores as well. All candidates should hold a registered nursing license and possess at least two years of clinical experience. Tennessee Tech and ETSU are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Applying to an Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program

Requirements for online mental health nurse practitioner degrees vary, depending on several factors. Applicants should possess both a registered nurse (RN) license and undergraduate degree. Traditionally, graduate programs accept students with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, RN-to-MSN bridge programs also allow candidates with an associate degree to apply.

Prospective students need competitive undergraduate GPAs to start a master’s program. Usually graduate programs set the minimum GPA requirement at 2.5-3.0, but higher GPAs can improve an applicant’s chance at admission. Sometimes, schools require candidates to apply with 1-2 years of work experience. Prospective students may need to additionally submit GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendations, or personal essays. Finally, some schools require applicants to participate in an admissions interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What degree do you need to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner?

    In order to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you need at least a master’s degree in nursing. Some NPs earn a doctoral degree, which can prepare them for leadership or teaching positions. Either way, nurse practitioners first need an undergraduate degree — either an associate or bachelor’s degree — before they enroll in graduate school.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation essentially ensures that students receive a quality education from their program. Accreditation agencies evaluate academic degrees and higher education institutions. Programs that do not receive accreditation usually won’t deliver a proper education or training, so be sure to avoid unaccredited programs. Nurses also need accredited degrees to earn licensure.

  • What can you do as a nurse practitioner?

    Nurse practitioners take on several responsibilities that registered nurses do not. They meet individually with patients, diagnose diseases and illnesses, and treat patients. NPs can prescribe medication independently in many states. In some states, they must go into a supervisory agreement with a physician to prescribe medication.

  • What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner do?

    Psychiatric nurse practitioners focus on mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders in patients. They meet with patients with serious psychiatric illnesses, and those with less severe issues like stress or insomnia. They may carry out therapy sessions or prescribe medications for mental health disorders.

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