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Best PMHNP Post Master's Certificate Programs Online

Post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online programs prepare you to specialize and advance your career. Keep reading for a look at top schools, typical classes, and much more.

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A doctor in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck is sitting and writing on a clipboard while discussing Post Master's Certificates with a man in a blue T-shirt who is sitting across from him on a sofa. They appear to be in a modern clinical setting.

Most people have been touched by the mental health crisis, whether they’re facing mental health issues themselves or know someone who is. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults every year. Moreover, the Health Resources and Services Administration reported that, as of March 2024, more than 122 million people live in areas that severely lack mental health care providers. The report also estimates that more than 6,000 mental healthcare practitioners are needed to fill this gap.

If you’re already working as a nurse practitioner (NP) and you want to specialize in psychiatric care, then starting a post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program could help you reach your career goals. You already know there’s a high demand for mental health care providers, and as a nurse practitioner you can play a crucial role in offsetting this critical shortage. In fact, nurse practitioner is among the fastest-growing professions projected through 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Earning your psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) post master’s certificate online can also lead to better-paying jobs — nurse practitioners earn an annual mean wage of $124,680 and PMHNPs earn an average of $134,696 a year.

This guide will help you discover quality programs, explore the advantages of post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online programs, and learn more about common courses and what to expect. Keep reading to take the first step down this exciting new path.

Profiling Popular Online PMHNP Post Master’s Certificates

Deciding on the right online post master’s PMHNP certificate program can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve compiled a list of popular universities that offer notable programs. Be sure to consider factors like accreditation and the availability of student services as you peruse these options and more. Keep reading to find out what these programs entail.

Duquesne University

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Start your post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program and earn your degree in just two-and-a-half years at Duquesne University.

The 35-credit program, which costs $59,465, offers 12 courses you’ll complete entirely online. However, you’ll also need to complete two residency experiences and 550 hours of clinical work.

The program, accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), also prepares you for the PMHNP-BC certification exam. You’ll have the ability to evaluate, diagnose, manage, and treat patients dealing with chronic or acute mental health issues within specialty psychiatric hospitals, private practices, community mental health centers, and in government facilities, among other places.

To apply, you’ll need both a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree from an accredited college or university. You’ll also need to have a current and unencumbered RN license, a resume or curriculum vitae, a professional goal statement, official transcripts, and two references. No GRE is required.

Walden University

Walden University offers a CCNE-accredited post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program. Requiring 43 quarter credits to complete, this program helps prepare you for the national certification exam for PMHNPs. Coursework includes advanced classes in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessment.

You’ll be required to take a three-credit core course, along with 40 credits of specialized courses. You’ll also need to complete 640 practicum hours.

Start dates are offered each quarter, which means you can start at any time. And if you start the program by late May, you may receive a $2,000 grant.

You’ll need to have a current and active RN license and an MSN degree from an accredited school to apply. You’ll pay $34,760 to complete the minimum requirements for the certificate program.

Western Governors University

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If you’re seeking the flexibility that an online program offers while desiring hands-on clinical experience, consider the post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program offered by Western Governors University (WGU).

WGU’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program can be completed in just one-and-a-half years, depending on the number of transferable credits and your pace through the coursework. In total, you’ll need to complete 11 courses, most of which are online. You’ll also need to complete clinical practice experience within your local community. This program can also prepare you for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam, which could lead to state licensure.

Unfortunately, the program isn’t open to students residing in certain states, including Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin. Those who live outside these states will need a permanent and active license to enroll in the program. They’ll also be required to complete an internship within their own state and obtain an initial APRN license.

Instead of paying per credit, tuition is set at $6,625 per six-month term—ultimately giving you control of the total cost. Additionally, start dates are offered at the beginning of every month, meaning you can jump in at any time.

Shortest Post Master’s PMHNP Online Programs

Completing an accelerated post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program can save you time and money and expand your career opportunities, making it an attractive choice for nurses seeking specialization in mental health.

If you already hold an MSN, the accelerated PMHNP program allows you to specialize in mental health without pursuing an additional master’s degree or a doctor of nursing practice. By building on your existing knowledge, you’ll complete the program more quickly, saving valuable time.

While most post master’s certificate programs take two or more years to complete, accelerated programs typically require as few as one to one-and-a-half years. This condensed timeline translates to cost savings, as you avoid the expense of a full-length program. Transferring credits from your previous education can also reduce the time spent fulfilling credit hour requirements.

Some accelerated programs even charge a fixed amount per term, allowing you to take as many credits as possible within that timeframe. This cost-effective approach enables you to maximize your education while minimizing expenses.

However, accelerated programs are, as the name suggests, both fast-paced and rigorous. As a student, you’ll need to concentrate on your studies, which may impact your schedule — especially if you’re balancing work and education. But the payoff is significant: graduating sooner means you can swiftly embark on a rewarding career in mental health.

Cleveland State University

The image shows the logo of Cleveland State University. The logo consists of the letters "CSU" in green and a dark green illustration of a building above the "C". To the right of the logo, the text "Cleveland State University" is written in green, highlighting their commitment to Post Master’s Certificates.

Cleveland State University (CSU) offers a rapid and cost-effective route to a specialized career without the need for an additional full degree program.

You can complete this post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program in 15 months. Coursework focuses on the study of psychiatric mental health assessment, theoretical foundations for psychiatric mental health nursing, neuropsychopharmacology, and more.

To graduate, you’ll need to complete at least 36 credit hours and 780 hours of clinical work. In-state students pay $614.25 per credit, while out-of-state students pay almost the same, $615.25 per credit.

You’ll also receive help in finding clinical placement opportunities within your area. CSU’s clinical placement services coordinate the preceptor details and ensure you meet all your requirements and deadlines.

Eastern Kentucky University

The Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Post MSN Certificate – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program offers accelerated courses in eight-week terms.

Students also receive free textbooks and personalized advising. The EKU Office of Academic and Career Services offers student interviewing tips and coaching, reviews of career-related documents, and help with finding a job upon graduation. Services also include creating or updating resumes and cover letters.

A total of 25 to 34 credits are required to graduate, and courses can be completed entirely online. You may also be able to transfer up to nine credit hours from other accredited institutions. The program costs $689 per credit hour — totaling a minimum of $17,225, depending on the number of credits you need to graduate.

Pros of Post Master’s Psychiatric NP Certificate Programs Online

Still deciding whether you should enroll in an online post master’s PMHNP program? Consider all the benefits you stand to gain. In addition to giving you the chance to provide a much-needed service to those in areas with limited access to mental health care, these programs offer a specialized curriculum and access to unparalleled resources. Read on for a look at a few benefits to starting your post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program.

Access to Advanced Practice Resources

Most (if not all) online PMHNP post master’s certificate programs require students to complete a certain number of clinical hours. This provides a hands-on opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge from your coursework to a real-world setting.

In fact, you may even receive help in finding a place within your local community where you can complete clinical hours and gain that extra experience, which could open doors to new career opportunities and advanced roles in mental health care. Additionally, these certificate programs prepare you for the ANCC Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification. In all, completing a post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program enhances your qualifications and makes you more competitive in the job market.

Adaptability to Changing Healthcare Landscape

Completing your post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program keeps you updated on changes within the medical field. By obtaining a PMHNP certificate, you can enhance your skills and knowledge in psychiatric and mental health nursing, even if you’re not exclusively practicing in this specialty. That extra information elevates the level of patient care you provide.

Convenience for Working Professionals

Whether you’re a nurse on night shifts or have family commitments, enrolling in a post master’s certificate psychiatric nurse practitioner online program is a convenient way to advance in your career.

Online learning provides the flexibility you need, particularly if courses are offered asynchronously. This allows you to log in to your courses at any time without following a set class schedule. It also gives you leeway to complete your assignments when you want, as long as you meet deadlines.

Specialized Curriculum

Online PMHNP post master’s certificate programs are designed for those who already hold an MSN and want to expand to specialize in psychiatric care. Certificate programs provide the knowledge and skills you need to fill critical gaps in mental health care without pursuing another master’s or doctoral degree. You’ll enroll in specialized classes that focus on various mental health conditions, such as personality and psychotic disorders.

Keep reading for a closer look at common courses offered in online PMHNP post master’s certificate programs.

Common Courses in the PMHNP Post Master’s Certificate Curriculum

As you pursue your PMHNP post master’s certificate, you’ll encounter courses that prepare you to help others overcome trauma, manage the stress of daily life, the tragedy of losing a loved one, and everything in between. You’ll explore the biological and environmental factors influencing mental health, delve into psychiatric care history, and learn about legal and ethical aspects of mental health care. Read on for a list of courses you’re likely to encounter and a quick description of what they cover.

Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning

In this course, you’ll acquire the knowledge and skills to assess patients with acute or chronic health issues, regardless of their life stage. As part of clinical practice, you’ll learn to recognize changes in health patterns by interpreting 12-lead EKGs and X-rays, among other methods of examination. Additionally, you’ll explore preventative measures by assessing an individual’s health risks.

Individual, Group, and Family Therapies Across the Lifespan

Students enrolled in this course explore various topics including psychiatric assessment, application of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic formulation, differential diagnosis, psychopharmacology, and appropriate labs and diagnostics. The focus is on treating common mental health conditions using psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic approaches across various life stages and within legal and ethical boundaries.

Psych/Mental Health Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Practice Nursing

This course guides students through the history of psychiatric care and the cultural components that influence a person’s attitude and behavior. During this course, you’ll explore conceptual models and practice theories that form the foundation for understanding the development of psychopathology and applying effective therapeutic strategies. This course also covers advanced practice issues, legal and ethical components, and practice barriers that a mental health psychiatric nurse practitioner may confront.

Psychotherapy with Multiple Modalities

In this course, students explore diverse therapeutic techniques employed during psychotherapy sessions, whether with individuals, families, or in group settings. The emphasis is on evidence-based applications of various therapeutic approaches to address a wide spectrum of psychiatric issues. The ultimate objective is to equip aspiring PMHNPs with evidence-based therapeutic strategies.