Online MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP Programs – Selecting the Best Program

Last Updated/Verified: Jul 4, 2021

If you’re a nurse who loves helping people with their mental health, becoming a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) can be a step toward advancing your career. There are several different options for getting your credentials to work as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, and many nursing professionals choose to get their Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to move their careers forward. In order to successfully apply to a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner MSN program, you’ll need to have your BSN. Some programs even allow you to earn your BSN and MSN at the same time. If you do not yet have your BSN, you may be interested in pursuing this avenue to your graduate degree. In any case, you’ll need an unencumbered, current RN license, as well as at least a year of experience working as a nurse in the mental health field. 

Why Get an MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Degree?

Earning your psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner MSN degree can be a smart career move depending on your long-term career goals. If you’ve finished your BSN, this can be the perfect next step for advancing your career. As the stigma associated with mental health continues to dissipate, there are many openings for healthcare professionals in the mental health field. As a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner with an MSN degree, you’ll have many career options. You’ll find gainful employment in areas such as:

  • Public healthcare
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Addiction services
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Private mental health care practice

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of earning an MSN instead of a post-master’s certificate or a DNP.


  • Can be a fast option to becoming a nurse practitioner
  • Emphasizes hands-on patient care’
  • MSN-level PMHNP programs are common, with many online options available


  • For nurses who are interested in eventually earning their DNP, it can make financial sense to skip over an MSN and enroll directly in a DNP program
  • Lack of emphasis on healthcare administration and leadership
  • Those who already have an MSN may wish to pursue the cheaper, faster PMHNP post-master’s certificate

How to Choose an Online MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP Program

There are several factors to consider as you search for the right online psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner MSN program for you. Most online psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner MSN programs take one to three years. Some accelerated programs format courses over three consecutive semesters including the summer, providing a tough yet fast experience to get through the program. While programs vary, most require between 40 – 65 credits for completion of the program. Many programs accept transfer credits from other graduate work.

As you research online psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner MSN programs, you’ll need to decide whether you want a fully online or a hybrid program. If you choose a fully online program, you may be able to completely choose when you do your work. You may also be required to be online at certain times to participate in class discussions. If you’re planning on working while you earn your MSN, be sure to talk with your program advisor about whether there are times that you’ll be required to be online, and talk to your supervisor and any changes in your work schedule your coursework will require. Fully online programs can be ideal for flexibility, but a hybrid program has benefits as well. Face to face time with other students and faculty members can be a valuable part of the traditional classroom experience, and a hybrid experience can provide the flexibility you need with the interaction you desire.

MSN PMHNP Curriculum

Over the course of your MSN program, you’ll take classes both in advanced nursing and within the mental health specialty. Courses in your MSN program may include:

  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Neuroscience for mental health practitioners
  • Population-based mental health care across the lifespan
  • Psychotherapy with individuals, groups, and families
  • Advanced pharmacology

Clinical requirements can vary from program to program. Students can expect to spend approximately 600 hours completing clinical requirements. Typically, it’s required that these hours are spent practicing direct patient care. It’s likely that you’ll be able to fulfill your clinical hours requirement while at your job, provided you work in a facility that treats psychiatric patients. If you’re not currently working in mental health, you may want to consider a transfer or search for new opportunities that will allow you to get the experience you need as you work toward earning your MSN.

List of Online MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP Programs

Online and hybrid PMHNP programs at the MSN level are available at schools across the country. Check out the listings below to see program options near you.

Select Your State:


The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL
University of South Alabama
Mobile, AL


University of Alaska Anchorage
Anchorage, AK


University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, AR


Azusa Pacific University
Azusa, CA


Colorado State University Pueblo
Pueblo, CO
University of Colorado
Aurora, CO


Nova Southeastern University - Miramar
Miramar, FL


Georgia College
Milledgeville,, GA
Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA


University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford
Rockford, IL
University of St. Francis
Joliet, IL


Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
Indianapolis, IN
Indiana Wesleyan University
Marion, IN
University of Southern Indiana
Evansville, IN


Allen College
Waterloo, IA


Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY
Frontier Nursing University
Hyden, KY
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY


McNeese State University
Lake Charles, LA
Nicholls State University
Thibodaux, LA
Southeastern Louisiana University
Hammond, LA


Massachusetts College Of Pharmacy And Health Sciences
Boston, MA
Regis University
Weston, MA


Wayne State University
Detroit, MI


The University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS
University Of Mississippi Medical Center
Jackson, MS


Maryville University
St. Louis, MO
University Of Missouri Kansas City
Kansas City, MO


University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV

New Hampshire

Rivier University
Nashua, NH

New Jersey

Monmouth University
West Long Branch, NJ

New Mexico

The University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM

New York

Hunter College
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY

North Carolina

Duke University
Durham, NC

North Dakota

University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND


Kent State University
Kent, OH
Ohio University
Athens, OH
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH
The University of Toledo
Toledo, OH


Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA
Duquesne University
Pittsburgh, PA
La Salle University
Philadelphia, PA

South Carolina

Anderson University
Anderson, SC
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC


East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN


Midwestern State University
Wichita Falls, TX
University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston
Houston, TX


Gonzaga University
Spokane, WA

West Virginia

West Virginia Wesleyan College
Buckhannon, WV