Master's Degree Programs in Psychiatric Nursing

Registered nurses who want to provide primary care services for patients with mental illness could pursue a master's degree in psychiatric nursing. Read about this advanced practice nursing specialty, and explore the typical coursework for a master's degree program in this field. Check the availability of online or hybrid learning options. Review job outlook and salary info for the nursing field. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Courses Will I Take in a Psychiatric Nursing Master's Degree Program?

Psychiatric nursing master's degree programs are designed for licensed registered nurses who want to become nurse practitioners or advanced practice nurses. Psychiatric or mental health nursing is typically offered as a specialization within a nursing master's degree program.

In addition, many programs offer the ability to concentrate on adult or child and family mental health. You'll develop knowledge and skills in assessment, diagnosis and psychiatric disorder management. Your curriculum will focus on the treatment and prevention of mental disorders through advanced classes like:

  • Neurophysiology
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Medication management
  • Nursing theory
  • Human development
  • Advanced physiology
  • Therapeutic interventions

Common Courses Neurophysiology, advanced pharmacology, medication management, nursing theory, human development
Online Programs No programs are fully online, on-site intensives and clinical practicum experience mandatory
Career Options Advanced practice psychiatric nurses can work as clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners
Opportunity due to increase by 35% from 2014-2024 (for nurse practitioners)*
2015 annual median wage for nurse practitioners: $98,190*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

There are no fully online psychiatric master's degree programs; however, there are hybrid programs that combine online and on-campus classes. Most of these programs offer didactic or lecture courses on CD-ROMs or in an online, streaming video format. You'll be required to attend laboratory courses on-campus. You'll also be expected to attend on-site intensives and clinical practicum experiences at locations approved by the school; you may be allowed to complete practicums in your hometown.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Advanced practice psychiatric nurses may work as clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners in hospitals, correctional facilities, mental health centers, schools and substance abuse centers. Many advanced practice nurses choose to work in the business side of mental health care. They may work in hospitals, insurance companies, managed care facilities and pharmaceutical manufacturers; duties might include marketing, consulting or policy development. You might find work as a faculty member at a college or university instructing nursing students.

Career opportunities for nurse practitioners in general were expected to increase by 35% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). This increase in job opportunities reflects an anticipated upswing in demand for health care due to Baby Boomers getting older, more people having health insurance and greater interest in preventative health care. In 2015, the annual median salary for nurse practitioners was $98,190.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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