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Best Psych NP Programs Online in Texas

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Author: Jenna Tidd
Editor: Kari Scare

Use this guide to explore the top PMHNP online programs Texas has to offer. Learn about degree options and discover salary potential throughout the state.

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A panoramic view of downtown Austin, Texas during sunset. The skyline features modern skyscrapers and buildings. The Colorado River flows through the foreground with trees along its banks, and several small boats are visible on the water. The sky is partly cloudy.

If you’re an experienced nurse and want a fulfilling and lucrative career, becoming a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner is a great option. The quality PMHNP online programs Texas offers provide a well-rounded education with the flexibility and specialization you need to hone your skills in the mental health field. With this degree/certification, you can work as a provider or consultant in your own practice, hospitals, mental health clinics, correctional facilities, or community mental health centers. You also gain a greater degree of autonomy, along with the ability to diagnose, write prescriptions, and create treatment plans for many mental health conditions — in addition to earning a substantially higher salary even as a new NP.

Becoming a nurse practitioner requires a high-quality education, so it’s imperative to know what features to look for when searching for the best PMHNP online programs Texas offers. In this comprehensive guide, we highlight three top schools, explore various degree options, and look at the projected job outlook and earning potential for psychiatric nurse practitioners. We also answer some of the most frequently asked questions from prospective students. Keep reading to discover important information on the PMHNP online programs Texas offers.

Whether you’re about to begin your search or already have a list of the top PMHNP online programs Texas offers,the programs below give you a solid place to start. You can use any of them as a model for what is needed to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman’s University offers a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program focused on medication management and psychotherapeutic interventions. It consists of 100% online classwork and weekly supervised clinicals in a variety of settings for a total of 45 semester credit hours. Courses include pharmacology, advanced nursing practice, pathophysiology, and evidence-based practice.

Prospective students need a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited school and a minimum 3.0 GPA and must meet additional requirements related to reference letters, interviews, essays, standardized test scores, and evidence of scholarly activities. Tuition for each semester (9 credit hours) is $5,196 for Texas residents. Out-of-state students pay an additional $7,362. To offset educational costs, the school offers merit scholarships worth $1,000 or more to master’s and doctoral students.

The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the PMHNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The University of Texas at Arlington

UTA logo with large blue capital letters "UTA". The "A" features an orange star embedded in its right side, signifying the University's branding. The background is transparent.

The University of Texas at Arlington’s fully online Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner MSN equips students to do comprehensive assessments, use evidence-based practice, and coordinate care with other members of the healthcare team. Psychopharmacology and psychotherapy are key parts of the curriculum. Because each credit hour generally requires five hours of study time, the school recommends that students work 20 hours or less per week during the semester. The entire program totals 46 credit hours and 720 clinical hours.

To qualify for this program, students need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a 3.0 GPA, and two years of clinical experience as a registered nurse (RN). Probationary admission may be given to those who don’t quite meet all the requirements. The university also offers an RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, and a post-master’s certificate.

Tuition costs $494-$654 per credit hour, making this one of the most affordable psychiatric nurse practitioner programs. The school doesn’t offer any scholarships to graduate students.

The University of Texas at Tyler

Logo of The University of Texas at Tyler. Features a shield icon with an open book, laurel branches, and a star on the left. The text "UT Tyler" in orange and blue is on the right, with "The University of Texas at Tyler" written below in smaller blue text.

For those in need of part-time enrollment, the University of Texas at Tyler offers a part-time option for its MSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program that takes three years to complete. The full-time program is two years long, as is the post-MSN certificate option. Students must complete 49 credit hours of online coursework and one to two on-site clinicals each semester. Smaller course sizes allow for in-depth communication between students and faculty. A full-time enrollment of nine credits per semester costs about $4,618 each semester for Texas residents and $9,100 for out-of-state residents.

To enroll, students must first apply to the University of Tyler before submitting the required documentation – that includes a statement of purpose, official transcripts, resume, a copy of a current RN license in Texas, and proof of a completed statistics course with a 3.0 GPA – for this MSN program. They must also have at least a year of clinical experience as an RN.

Qualities of a Top Online Psychiatric NP Program in Texas

Due to the state’s vast size, the quality PMHNP online programs Texas offers should include topics specific to treating rural populations and practicing telemental health to prepare you for effective practice. Below is a closer look at these areas and their importance to your future career as a Texas practitioner.

Focus on Rural and Underserved Populations

Texas has large rural areas where residents may not have or want access to regular mental health care. This results in untreated conditions leading to emergency situations. A quality PMHNP program addresses these issues by educating you on the cultural backgrounds and beliefs that influence people’s decisions when it comes to mental health services. You gain a deeper understanding of cultural diversity to provide sensitive care that helps create sustainable solutions for underserved areas.

Integration of Telemental Health

Telemental health (or telepsychiatry) is especially important for Texas residents who may have difficulty attending in-person appointments. It provides greater accessibility for those in remote locations, flexibility for people with busy schedules, and continuity of care for people who may not be able to attend follow-up appointments for reasons such as chronic mental health conditions or mobility issues. Telemental health also provides a more discreet way for people to seek mental help.

Degree Paths to Becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Your previous education and career goals can determine what degree you need to become a nurse practitioner. We explore the various degree and certificate options in greater detail below. Learning the requirements of each and where they’re available can help you determine which psychiatric nurse practitioner program is right for you.

Master’s

Many nurse practitioner courses involve earning an MSN with a chosen specialty, such as psychiatric mental health. It usually takes two to three years to complete with full-time enrollment. Courses cover psychopharmacology, pathophysiology, and psychiatric mental health assessment and diagnosis. Application requirements usually state that a prospective student must have a BSN, hold a current nursing license within the state, and submit a resume, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. Students with only an associate degree can earn a master’s through an RN to MSN program.

Advanced Certificate

A BSN to DNP program may be a good route if the goal is a terminal nursing degree with a specialty in psychiatric mental health. Students typically complete this type of program in three to four years of full-time enrollment. In addition to advanced coursework, DNP programs require students to do a project focused on a specific psychiatric nursing issue using evidence-based practice. Applicants need a BSN degree and an active RN license in the state of Texas. They must also have completed prerequisite courses with a 3.0 GPA and submit a resume, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

Post-BS to DNP

A BSN to DNP program with a concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner is for those who want a terminal nursing degree. Accomplishing this requires three to four years of full-time study. Students must complete advanced coursework as well as a project addressing a specific clinical or practice issue in psychiatric nursing to demonstrate their ability to apply evidence-based practice. To enroll, students need a BSN, a current RN license, a 3.0 GPA, completed prerequisite courses, recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Some schools also ask for GRE scores.

A Closer Look at Texas PMHNP Career & Earning Potential

You may have already found an affordable nurse practitioner program and perhaps even secured scholarships or other opportunities to help you through your program, but you may still be wondering what kind of job market you’ll face after getting out of school. What salary can you expect? What part of the state offers the best pay and opportunity?

As of 2020, nurse practitioners in Texas accounted for almost 7% of the total nurse practitioners in the U.S. The projected job growth rate for the state is an amazing 66%, much higher than the country’s average rate of 52.2%. Over 2,000 nurse practitioner jobs are expected to open up every year through 2030. Although this statistic is for nurse practitioners in general, it still shows tremendous possibility for psychiatric nurse practitioners in Texas and across the nation.

When considering potential earnings, salaries range from a 10th percentile low of $64,000 in Longview to over $205,000 in Houston at the top end of the 90th percentile category. As a new PMHNP, your pay will most likely be in the lower range until you gain additional experience.

Location dramatically affects your possible salary with larger cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston being the most profitable spots. Wichita Falls, Corpus Christi, and Victoria are also competitive places with starting wages at around $100,000 each. Wichita Falls tops the median salary category with an annual pay of $133,440, and Houston comes in at just over $127,000. Victoria also beats Houston in the 10th percentile with a salary of almost $102,000.

AreaOccupationEmployment
(2020)
New Jobs
(2020-2030)
Job Growth RateAvg. Annual Openings
(’20-’30)
United StatesNurse Practitioners220,300114,90052.2%26,000
TexasNurse Practitioners14,8209,78066%2,010

Source: Projections Central

AreaOccupation10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
U.S.Nurse Practitioners$87,340$121,610$165,240
TexasNurse Practitioners$95,140$121,270$160,740
Abilene, TXNurse Practitioners$83,760$103,150$171,630
Amarillo, TXNurse Practitioners$79,780$101,660$156,250
Austin-Round Rock, TXNurse Practitioners$97,590$118,330$160,430
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TXNurse Practitioners$88,830$122,540$162,000
Brownsville-Harlingen, TXNurse Practitioners$83,140$129,370$143,930
College Station-Bryan, TXNurse Practitioners$94,840$120,660$131,660
Corpus Christi, TXNurse Practitioners$99,020$123,000$147,930
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TXNurse Practitioners$95,140$122,030$156,720
El Paso, TXNurse Practitioners$82,110$118,350$165,360
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TXNurse Practitioners$99,840$127,190$205,180
Killeen-Temple, TXNurse Practitioners$98,720$116,680$135,210
Laredo, TXNurse Practitioners$87,460$114,220$155,670
Longview, TXNurse Practitioners$64,040$120,440$145,600
Lubbock, TXNurse Practitioners$83,340$113,100$141,470
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TXNurse Practitioners$94,750$110,640$195,240
Midland, TXNurse Practitioners$68,880$125,120$163,100
Odessa, TXNurse Practitioners$91,900$105,260$178,520
San Angelo, TXNurse Practitioners$94,460$109,010$138,880
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TXNurse Practitioners$93,540$120,600$153,310
Sherman-Denison, TXNurse Practitioners$78,980$105,500$149,790
Texarkana, TX-ARNurse Practitioners$81,790$108,410$155,240
Tyler, TXNurse Practitioners$95,460$124,860$162,360
Victoria, TXNurse Practitioners$101,850$128,240$160,680
Waco, TXNurse Practitioners$93,890$112,280$152,900
Wichita Falls, TXNurse Practitioners$97,660$133,440$168,110

Answering Your Questions About Online Psych NP Programs in Texas

Still have questions about the PMHNP online programs Texas offers? Your situation and goals are unique and require detailed information tailored to your needs. Below are answers to some of the top questions prospective students have when pursuing a psychiatric nurse practitioner degree.

Are there accelerated psychiatric nurse practitioner programs?

If you’re looking for an accelerated nurse practitioner’s program, an advanced certificate program can be completed in as little as one year. For those who need an MSN, an alternative-entry program (or a direct-entry program), such as the AE to MSN program at the University of Texas in Austin, allows non-nurses with bachelor’s degrees to earn their master’s and become nurse practitioners.

How do I become a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Texas?

The Texas Board of Nursing states that to apply for an APRN license, you must fill out the application, pay the fee ($100 for licensure and $150 for licensure with prescriptive authority), and complete an accredited APRN course within the past 24 months. You must also have an RN license, clinical experience, and pass the certification exam.

Is it possible to become a PMHNP without a bachelor’s degree?

If you have an associate degree in nursing, you can go straight to a master’s degree through an RN to MSN program like the one at the University of Texas in Arlington. With this approach, you can fast-track your education and become an NP in as little as 36 months of full-time study.

What is the shortest PMHNP program in Texas?

The shortest programs are typically advanced certificate programs like the post-master’s certificate program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley which can be completed in just 12 months. This program is 100% online, and clinicals take place locally with approved preceptors for added convenience. The curriculum focuses on the specific courses needed for the psychiatric mental health field.

Who accredits online PMHNP programs in Texas?

The CCNE and ACEN are the two main accrediting bodies for nursing programs across the country. They verify that the curriculum follows nursing standards and meets minimum quality requirements. Even though the university may already be accredited, these two organizations accredit individual programs.