What Courses Are Required in an Online Psychiatric Nursing Degree?

Psychiatric or mental health nursing is a specialty area that may be entered through nursing practice in a psychiatric setting or through a dedicated degree program. This article discusses the required coursework of online master's and doctoral programs. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Required Courses in an Online Psychiatric Nursing Degree Program

Online degree programs in psychiatric nursing normally lead to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing and include preparation for Psychiatric Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner examinations. Online psychiatric nursing degree programs may require one or more short on-campus residencies each year in order to coordinate clinical rotations and allow for in-person supervision. A doctoral degree program or post-master's certificate program in psychiatric nursing, which requires an MSN to enter, assumes that your master's-degree program covered many required subjects. Required courses may fall into three program areas:

  • Theory, philosophy and science
  • Leadership and teaching
  • Clinical practice

Important Facts About This Degree

Program Length Registered nurses with master's degrees might be able to qualify for a psychiatric nursing credential after 4-6 quarters of study.
Degree Levels Master's or Doctoral degree
Specializations Substance abuse, children & adolescents, emergency nursing, etc.
Practice Levels Psychiatric mental health nurse (PMHN) or Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (PMH-APRN)
Licensing The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing board certification; registered nurses (RNs) can earn this 5-year credential: Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC). State licensing requirements vary.
Median Salary (2019) $60,812 (for psychiatric registered nurses)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth (for all registered nurses)**

Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Theory, Philosophy and Science in Psychiatric Nursing

Courses in this area usually start with a theoretical look at psychiatric nursing or advanced practice nursing in general. Master's-degree programs include courses on evidence-based practice, health promotion, advanced physiology and patho-physiology, ethics and current legal, economic or policy issues. There may be a course on theories of addictions or principles of epidemiology. Ph.D. programs usually have courses on research methods and statistics. If the master's degree program requires a thesis, it may have those courses as well.

Leadership and Teaching

Doctoral degree programs may focus on research, teaching, policy or institutional leadership, clinical practice or all of these. Courses with names like 'Leadership and Health Policy' or 'Educating the Advanced Practice Nurse' might appear in the required curricula. There will often be a course on evaluating outcomes for a program or system.

Clinical Practice

This is where clinical rotations and their practice seminars fall. Also, expect required courses on some or all of the following subjects:

  • Advanced health and mental health assessment
  • Diagnostic reasoning
  • Nursing informatics and information technology
  • Psycho-pharmacology: psychiatric drug therapy
  • Individual therapy or interventions
  • Group and family therapy or interventions
  • Specific psychiatric disorders and the ways in which they are managed

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Davenport University

    Davenport University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Davenport University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Northern Illinois University

    Northern Illinois University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northern Illinois University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Brenau University

    Brenau University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Brenau University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

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