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Post-Master's Certificate Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

Learn about online post-master's certificate programs for those interested in psychiatric mental health nursing, including admission and in-person requirements and common coursework. Also, explore the top programs of this type and get tips on how to choose the right program.

Best Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Post-Master's Certificate Programs

Online post-master's psychiatric nurse practitioner certificate programs are available for those in the nursing profession who want to hone their mental health treatment skills. Below, you can explore the top programs of this type, which are all affordable, include online coursework and in-person practicums, and fully prepare nurses for their chosen career specialty.

1. Cox College

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Springfield, MO $12,430

Cox College is home to a Post-Master's Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate that is 15-22 credits and can be completed in 2 years. Online coursework in this certificate program focuses on child/family dynamics, psychiatric management, and psychotherapy. Students must also complete 540 hours of clinical experience in psychiatric settings. Students in this graduate-level nursing program pay $600 per credit plus fees, and Cox College has the distinction of being accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

2. University of Kansas

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Lawrence, KS $11,027

The University of Kansas offers an online Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate that is for current nurses who want deepen their skills and knowledge about psychiatric care in a general or mental health setting. This program features online coursework in psychopharmacology, psychotherapeutics, and psychiatric assessment. Students can earn this certificate in about 2 to 3 years and must also complete in-person clinical practicums. The University of Kansas' School of Nursing and its programs have received accreditation on the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

3. Georgia College & State University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Milledgeville, GA $7,206

At Georgia College & State University, nurses who already have a graduate-level degree, can earn a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Masters Certificate in a convenient online format. This is a 32-hour credit program that features courses in pharmacology, nursing assessment, and pathophysiology. Students also complete in-person labs and practicums that allow them to hone their nursing skills in a mental health setting. This online program has an affordable $544.50 per credit tuition rate that also includes fees. Georgia College & State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the College of Health Sciences has received important accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

4. Washburn University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Topeka, KS$8,998

Washburn University's Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate Certificate has 3 unique tracks, based on a student's background. Theses tracks include a Nurse Practitioner track that requires 20 to 23 credits, a Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) track that has 25 to 26 credits, and finally, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) track for those without nurse practitioner training that is 32 credits. All of these tracks also require 540 clinical hours and feature mostly asynchronous classes where students can complete their assignments on their own time, and field placements can be arranged within the student's own community. After completing a program, students will be eligible to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)'s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) exam. All students, regardless of residency status, pay $657 per credit for this certificate program.

5. Frontier Nursing University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Hyden, KY $17,921

Frontier Nursing University has an online Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate Certificate that is designed for nurses with a graduate nursing degree and national certification. This certificate program requires 32 credits with coursework in psychotherapy, neuroscience, and psychiatric care for vulnerable populations. Students also complete 540 hours of clinical experience in their own communities after attending Clinical Bound, an on-campus skills-intensive seminar that is offered 4 times each year. After completing their certificate, students are prepared for ANCC's PMHNP exam and can choose to go on to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program through direct admission. Students in the certificate program pay $600 per credit. Frontier Nursing University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the nursing department is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH $14,468
7 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY $10,570
8 Southeastern Louisiana University Hammond, LA $8,781
9 Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO $20,994
10 University of Missouri-St Louis Saint Louis, MO $11,436
11 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA $8,728
12 New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM $5,427
13 McNeese State University Lake Charles, LA $7,955
14 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY $13,007
15 University of St Francis Joliet, IL $13,839

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs

Online post-master's psychiatric nurse practitioner certificate programs are designed for current nurses who want to specialize their practice in the field of psychiatric care. These types of certificate programs usually require around 17 to 34 credits of coursework and clinical practicums.

Generally, students can complete their coursework in an online format through either synchronous or asynchronous classes, depending on the program. Students also typically complete 540 hours of clinical practicums in mental health settings where they gain important practical nursing skills. Schools with these certificate programs often work with online students to find suitable clinical placements within their community. A limited number of schools require students to come to campus for in-person intensives, such as nursing simulation labs or skill sessions, that prepare students for clinical work.

Some schools may also require students to complete a final capstone course, which consists of a scholarly project in the field of psychiatric mental health, or a comprehensive exam course where students demonstrate that they are ready to practice in the mental health field.

Some post-master's programs have a curriculum that is designed to prepare students to take the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which leads to national certification. To be eligible to take this exam, registered nurses must hold an accredited graduate-level nursing degree in psychiatric-mental health and have taken coursework in physiology/pathophysiology, health assessment, pharmacology, health promotion, and differential diagnosis and disease management. They must also have completed clinical training in two or more treatment modalities.

Length of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs

Online post-master's certificate programs for psychiatric nurse practitioners are designed to be completed quickly, and students can earn their certificate in about 2 years. However, some programs are designed to be completed in only 1 year with shorter 8-week classes. If you are not a nurse practitioner, it may take about 3 years to complete your certificate, as you will need to take additional coursework.

Prerequisites for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs

To apply to an online post-master's certificate program in psychiatric nursing, you must have already earned a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Most schools with certificate programs also require that your MSN comes from a program that is accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Some schools could also require that you have a GPA of 3.0 or 3.2 in your MSN coursework and have completed prerequisite coursework in pharmacology, physical assessment, physiology, and pathophysiology.

Additionally, schools with typical certificate programs require that you are a Registered Nurse (RN) and/or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). At least 1 year of professional psychiatric nursing experience could be needed as well.

Generally, you must submit the following materials:

  • Application and fee
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Personal statement or essay

Common Courses in Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs

Schools with online programs in this area require some classes that center on developing your knowledge about human physiology and medications as well as developing your practical nursing skills in the field of mental health. Below, you can explore common course subjects that you will likely take in your certificate program.

  • Pathophysiology - This is the study of how disorders and diseases alter the physical, biochemical, and mechanical functions of human physiology.
  • Pharmacology - In this course, nurses study the effects that different medications and drugs have on the human body. Specific topics that are covered include pharmacokinetics, adverse reactions, drug interactions, and pharmacotherapeutics.
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Assessment - This class helps nurses develop their assessment skills in a mental health context. Nurses learn specific techniques for history taking and interviews, and there is also a focus on diagnosing mental health disorders, such as dementia, substance abuse, and anxiety, using the current edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
  • Mental Health Practicums - Students must also complete several in-person practicums that take place in different mental health settings. In these supervised practicums, students might conduct psychiatric assessments, make diagnoses, and lead therapy. There is usually an emphasis on working with diverse patients across the lifespan.

How to Choose a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program

Choosing an online certificate program is a difficult task that can be made easier by taking into account several important factors. When deciding which program to attend, we suggest that you consider the cost of a program, how it helps you achieve your professional goals, and whether your school and program have received accreditation.

Cost

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a program is the total cost of earning your certificate. Generally, these types of programs can range from $544 to $1026 per credit with many programs falling into the $600 per credit range. On top of tuition, you might also need to pay additional fees, such as lab, technology, or online class fees. You can always ask your school for a breakdown of your total cost, including tuition and any additional fees.

Professional Advancement

When choosing a certificate program, you also want to consider how the program helps you advance your nursing career. For example, if you have the professional goal of earning the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) credential, then you want to choose a program that clearly helps you fulfill the eligibility requirements for sitting for the exam. Likewise, if you think that you might like to go on to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, then you may want to choose a program that allows for direct entry from a certificate to a doctoral program or a certificate program that allows you to apply your credits towards a DNP degree.

Accreditation

Accreditation should be high on your list of things to consider when choosing a program, as accreditation proves that a school or program has met high, independent standards of quality.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accrediting agencies offer accreditation to colleges or universities that are located within a geographic region. The following accrediting agencies are all approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA):

  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Regional accreditation is important for many reasons beyond being assured you're getting a high-quality education. For one, federal financial aid is only available to students who attend an accredited school, and most schools will only accept transfer credits from other accredited schools.

Nursing Program Accreditation

You can also look to see that your nursing department has accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), which is a CHEA-approved organization that accredits nursing programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, including certificate programs. ACEN's accreditation standards include governing values and goals, faculty credentials, learning outcomes, program resources, and curriculum.

Additionally, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, which includes certificate programs. CCNE has accreditation standards that take into account program quality, program resources, teaching practices, curriculum, and program outcomes.

Career Options with a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate

After you earn your certificate, you can most likely apply it to your nursing or counselor career. Find out more about applicable careers below.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners perform a range of important job duties that include:

  • Interacting with patients
  • Recording a patient's history
  • Assessing health through examinations and observations
  • Diagnosing patients
  • Administering treatments and/or medicines

With a certificate in psychiatric mental health, you will be able to specialize in the field and offer care to patients suffering from different mental health issues. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $109,820 in 2019, and the number of jobs is expected to increase 28% from 2018-2028.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

Substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors help patients who have different mental health and behavioral issues, such as addiction or anger issues. Mental health counselors focus more on helping patients who are suffering from depression or anxiety or have trouble coping with other life issues. Each type of counselor must evaluate and assess patients, create treatment plans, and help clients recover from unwanted behaviors.

The BLS reports that in 2019, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median salary of $46,240, and for 2018-2028, and the number of jobs is expected to rise 22%.