Most Affordable Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

Explore accredited and affordable online PMHNP programs that let you pursue a career in mental health nursing for less.

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Written By
Edumed Staff

last updated

Last Updated: 10/04/2021
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As more patients seek counseling and other mental health services, mental health professionals are increasingly in demand. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP) work closely with primary care physicians to help patients find the assistance they need.

There are several different paths to becoming a PMHNP, including through convenient and affordable online grad degree programs from accredited universities. This guide will help you find a quality online psychiatric nurse practitioner program at a price that’s within budget. You’ll also find additional tips and strategies for lowering the cost of grad school that can help keep your degree financially within reach.

23 Most Affordable Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs in 2021

Among the many factors to consider when choosing a PMHNP program, one of the most important is overall cost. In the following program rankings, informed by data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), schools received a combined score based on tuition rate, financial aid availability, and several key education quality factors. To learn more about our methodology, click the “About the ranking” button.

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Most Affordable Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

 

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Affordability

  • Cost Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement Existence of this service on campus or online.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

 

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Mount Marty CollegeYankton, SD Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 2

Mount Marty University offers two options for those looking to become psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. The MSN track results in a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on providing psychiatric mental health medical care to patients. For those who already have an MSN, the post-graduate certificate option leads to a psychiatric mental health specialty.

The MSN track requires 50 credits that include coursework and clinical hours, while requirements for the post-graduate certificate depend on previous coursework and clinical experience. These online programs are offered in a hybrid learning model combining distance learning with on-campus instruction. Students may also need to complete practicums to meet the hands-on requirements.

Graduates are prepared to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification examination. Passing this exam allows for licensure as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

MSN and Post-graduate Certificate – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 50 (MSN); Varies (certificate)
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $620/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
91%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 New Mexico State University-Main CampusLas Cruces, NM Public $$ 1

New Mexico State University offers two program tracks to become a licensed psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. For practicing APRNs, the Post-Graduate APRN Certificate program allows them to shift their focus into mental health care in about a year. While much of the curriculum is delivered online, students must still complete 500 hours of clinical work to graduate.

Nursing professionals seeking a terminal degree can opt for the BSN to DNP program track. The curriculum follows a hybrid model that includes online learning plus a clinical requirement. Remote learning takes place both synchronously and asynchronously, and students must complete at least 1,000 hours of supervised clinical training.

Regardless of track, students graduate ready to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification exam.

BSN to DNP and Post-graduate APRN Certificate – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 74 (BSN to DNP); 18 (certificate)
  • Length: Three years (BSN to DNP); one year (certificate)
  • Cost: $436 per credit (in-state and out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
3 Briar Cliff UniversitySioux City, IA Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1

Briar Cliff University offers two options for aspiring licensed psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. The MSN and Post-Graduate ARNP programs both prepare students to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification exam.

The MSN program is designed for those who lack a master’s level nursing degree, and the Post-Graduate ARNP program is for MSN-prepared nurses. The MSN track typically takes three years to complete while the Post-Graduate track takes two years.

These PMHNP programs have hybrid learning models with the bulk of work in online learning, but students must also complete in-person clinical practice hours. Both programs are part-time, making it easier to continue working while in school. Students are eligible for up to nine transfer credits to save some time and/or money earning their degrees.

MSN and Post-Graduate ARNP Certificate – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 52
  • Length: Three years (MSN); two years (certificate)
  • Cost: $525.00/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4 South Dakota State UniversityBrookings, SD Public $$ 1

South Dakota State University’s graduate nursing program offers four programs for students interested in becoming licensed psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners: A BSN to DNP, an MSN to DNP, a traditional MSN, and a post-graduate certificate.

The bachelor’s to DNP program is a hybrid curriculum with both online and face-to-face learning components designed for registered nurses who have bachelor’s degrees. The master’s to DNP program has two tracks, one requiring as few as 31 credits and the other up to 49. Both part-time programs require on-campus and online learning.

There’s also the traditional MSN program where students who already have bachelor’s degrees in nursing can choose a thesis track requiring 50 credits, a research/design paper track requiring 47 credits, or a coursework-only track requiring 45 credits. Those who already have a graduate nursing degree can pursue the post-graduate certificate program to add a psychiatric mental health specialization.

Bachelor’s to DNP - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 75
  • Length: Four years
  • Cost: $613.35/credit (in-state, on-campus courses); $609.05/credit (in-state, online courses); $924.10/credit (out-of-state, on-campus courses); $919.80/credit (out-of-state; online courses)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

Master’s to DNP and MSN – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: Three or four years (MSN to DNP); varies (MSN)
  • Cost: $613.35/credit (in-state, on-campus courses); $609.05/credit (in-state, online courses); $924.10/credit (out-of-state, on-campus courses); $919.80/credit (out-of-state; online courses)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

Post-graduate Certificate - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 18
  • Length: Two Years
  • Cost: $613.35/credit (in-state, on-campus courses); $609.05/credit (in-state, online courses); $924.10/credit (out-of-state, on-campus courses); $919.80/credit (out-of-state; online courses)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
53%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
5 University of IowaIowa City, IA Public $$$ 1

The University of Iowa's psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs include the DNP program, which is open to students with BSN or MSN degrees. BSN-prepared students can pick between a three-year or four-year track, while MSN-prepared students can earn their DNP degrees in two to three years. Nursing professionals who don’t want a DNP can complete the post-graduate certificate program in a little over a year.

All programs consist of both online and in-person learning components. In-person portions include on-site didactic courses, orientation, enrichment days, and clinical practicums completed at sites close to students’ locations. These programs boast a 100% passage rate on the ANCC certification exams and a 100% employment rate within three months of graduation.

DNP - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 77
  • Length: Three to four years
  • Cost (Total): $75,078 (resident, 3-year); $139,799 (non-resident; 3-year); $85,690 (resident, 4-year); $160,456 (non-resident; 4-year)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

Post-graduate Certificate - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 22
  • Length: Less than two years (four semesters)
  • Cost (Total): $13,425 (resident and non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

Post-MSN to DNP - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: N/A
  • Length: Two or three years
  • Cost (Total): $34,316 (resident, 3-year); $53,288 (non-resident; 3-year); $34,049 (resident, 2-year); $58,601 (non-resident; 2-year)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
76%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
6 McNeese State UniversityLake Charles, LA Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
42%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
7 Texas Tech University Health Sciences CenterLubbock, TX Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
8 Georgia College & State UniversityMilledgeville, GA Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
10%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
9 University of Missouri-St LouisSaint Louis, MO Public $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
10 University of Southern IndianaEvansville, IN Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
62%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
11 Southeastern Louisiana UniversityHammond, LA Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
56%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
12 Indiana University-Purdue University-IndianapolisIndianapolis, IN Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
13 Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond, KY Public $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
60%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
14 University of St FrancisJoliet, IL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
15 Lewis UniversityRomeoville, IL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
16 Stony Brook UniversityStony Brook, NY Public $$$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
17 Western Kentucky UniversityBowling Green, KY Public $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
46%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
18 Georgia Southern UniversityStatesboro, GA Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
15%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
19 Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuse, NY Public $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
20 University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH Public $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
21 Brandman UniversityIrvine, CA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationWASC Senior College and University Commission
22 Indiana Wesleyan University-National & GlobalMarion, IN Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
23 Cox CollegeSpringfield, MO Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
33%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission

What Makes an Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program Affordable?

A school’s tuition rate certainly matters when choosing a school, but other elements also make a huge difference in the ultimate cost of your online education. The following discusses some of those factors.

How much financial aid you can get for your online psychiatric nurse practitioner program

Financial aid takes many forms. Scholarships and grants are aid that doesn’t have to be paid back. School loans are another viable option with affordable terms such as deferred interest and payments until after graduation when most PMHNP graduates are earning a respectable income.

If the psychiatric NP program has a class schedule that allows you to continue working

Many PMHNP programs are part-time. Since a lot of students are already practicing registered nurses, the ability to work while in school provides the income necessary to pay tuition and other costs.

How expensive application fees are

The application fees for most schools are around $60, so costs add up when applying to several competitive programs. Search for programs with lower fees and prioritize where you’ll apply to make the cost of applying less burdensome.

Whether you live in-state or-out-of-state

Residency is usually important regardless of the type of institution you attend, especially if a program requires you to attend campus for immersive classes or orientation. Depending on how far away you live, these on-campus visits can cost you more than just travel time. Additionally, many schools charge higher tuition for out-of-state residence.

How much of the NP program coursework is offered online

Some programs hold in-person learning or clinicals at approved sites close to where you live or work while others hold at least some classroom learning on campus. For students who commute, having in-person components can significantly impact the cost.

If the psychiatric NP program is offered by a private or public college

Generally speaking, private schools have higher tuition rates than public schools. At the same time, out-of-state tuition rates can rival or exceed the cost of attending a private institution. Keep these in mind when determining the overall cost.

How to Lower the Cost of Your Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Degree

With the more notable factors affecting online PMHNP program cost in mind, take time to consider how to lower the cost of your degree. The advice below provides a great starting point.

  1. Search for scholarships and grants designed specifically for psychiatric NP students.

Scholarships and grants are gift-based assistance that doesn’t need to be paid back, making them the most desirable forms of financial aid and highly competitive. To increase your chances of winning an award, focus on scholarships and grants specifically intended for nurse practitioners looking to work in psychiatric or mental health fields. To get an idea of what’s available, check out our list of scholarships for nurse practitioner students.

  1. Ask about employer tuition reimbursement

Many employers will pay some or all of the tuition cost for employees wanting to further their education. Ask your benefits coordinator for details, keeping in mind that you may need to agree to work for your employer for a set period after you graduate to qualify.

  1. Check for student discounts

Some schools apply discounts directly tied to tuition. This can include discounts for students from states with reciprocity agreements with their school or students with veteran status. Other discounts, such as ones for laptops from computer companies and scrubs from specialty clothing stores, are also available. Discover more discounts by visiting our nursing students discount page.