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Top RN to Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

10 Min Read Published November 3, 2023
Best RN to PMHNP programs 2023 |

A psychiatric nurse practitioner, also known as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), is an advanced nursing role that requires a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.  

Most RN to PMHNP programs require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to enroll. However, some mental health nurse practitioner programs also have a track for Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN)-trained nurses.

If you are a registered nurse who wants to advance your career with advanced-level learning, work with psychiatric patients, and earn more money, an RN to psych NP program may be an excellent pathway for you!

Fast Facts About Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners earn a median income of $125,900 annually. 

Program length

2-5 years, depending on the program and how fast the student completes their coursework.


  • An ADN or BSN

  • An unencumbered nursing license

  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 

  • Completion of prerequisite courses for admission

  • At least 1-2 years of clinical experience

  • Letters of recommendation

  • A letter of intent

Top 10 RN to Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

Choosing a nurse practitioner program is a huge decision that requires careful consideration. Fortunately, we compiled the best RN to psychiatric NP programs, including hybrid or online PMHNP program options.

Our ranking system considers essential factors, such as accreditation, graduation rates, and student-faculty ratios.

>> Related: Top Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

According to U.S. News and World Report, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is ranked as the #2 psychiatric-mental health program in the country. The university is also home to one of the country’s first psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner specialties.

Vanderbilt’s psychiatric NP program graduates earn a doctorate in nursing (DNP). Students have low faculty-to-student ratios, mentoring, and personalized attention during their program. Graduates score well above the national average on certification exams. 

  • Application Deadline: October 15th

  • Tuition: $1,939/credit hour

  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

  • Contact Phone Number: 615-322-3800

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: modified distance learning

2. University of California, San Fransisco, CA

The University of California, San Francisco's program offers BSN-trained nurses an opportunity to earn an MSN and practice as a PMHNP. In addition, the university provides PMHNP pathways for those with a non-nursing bachelor's degree, an MSN without an NP foundation, and other advanced-practice RNs who wish to earn state certification in psychiatric mental health.

The university also recently partnered with UC Davis and UCLA School of Nursing to launch new remote-access training to help prepare 300 psychiatric mental health NPs over five years. 

  • Application Deadline: February 1st

  • Tuition: $12,264 per academic year

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 415-476-1381

  • Program Contact: Michele Keating

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: Hybrid online with in-person components

 3. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

The University of Pennsylvania's psychiatric-mental health NP program aims to provide RNs with an advanced practice nursing degree to provide mental health treatment to a wide spectrum of patients across the lifespan.

This MSN program is flexible; full-time students can typically complete coursework in 14 months. Part-time students may take from two to five years, depending on how quickly they complete their studies. Program cost depends on how many course units you take each semester.

  • Application Deadline: November 1st (summer or fall start)

  • Tuition: $54,008 per academic year (full-time)

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 215-898-4271

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: No

4. New York University, New York City

New York University’s psychiatric-mental health NP program graduates earn an MSN degree.  All practicums are arranged by faculty, and licensed clinicians supervise students at various diverse practicum sites. 

  • Application Deadline: 

    • November 1st (spring start)

    • February 15th (summer start)

    • June 15th (fall start)

  • Tuition: $1,983 per credit

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 212-998-5317

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: No

5. University of Washington, Seattle

The RN to PMHNP program at the University of Washington specializes in ongoing psychiatric and mental health care across the lifespan. Graduates earn a DNP. This three-year program offers a hybrid learning format in year one and clinical placements in years two and three.

  • Application Deadline: January 15th (fall start)

  • Tuition: In-state - $10,212 per quarter; Non-resident - $14,565 per quarter

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 206-543-8736

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: No

6. The Ohio State University, Columbus

The Ohio State University offers two RN to PMHNP programs for BSN-trained nurses to earn an MSN or a DNP.

The university also offers distance learning and on-campus program options.

  • Application Deadline: Oct 31st (fall start)

  • Tuition: In-state - $9,682 per semester; Non-resident - $22,982 per semester

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 614-292-8900

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: Yes

7. Duke University, Durham, NC

Duke University offers an MSN track for nurses interested in RN to PMHNP programs.  The university website reports that their program focuses on delivering psychiatric mental health and advanced practice nursing to all ages, especially those in underserved and rural areas. 

  • Application Deadline:

    • Fall priority: December 1st

    • Spring priority: May 1st

    • Post-priority deadline applications reviewed on a space-available basis

  • Tuition: $13,488 per semester

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 919-684-3786

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available:  No

8. University of Cincinnati, OH*

The University of Cincinnati offers an online DNP track for students who want to become PMHNPs.  It is one of a few fully online PMHNP programs available.

Before starting, applicants must have at least one year of working as an RN and excellent assessment skills. The university also offers a part-time option for nurses who want to continue developing their skills and working during their program.

  • Application Deadline: June 1st (fall start)

  • Tuition: In-state - $7,451 per semester; Non-resident - $7,601 per semester

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 513-558-3600

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: Yes

9. University of Maryland, Baltimore

The University of Maryland School of Nursing’s psychiatric nursing program began in 1955.  The PMHNP program is blended with face-to-face and online coursework and offers flexible scheduling with 3-, 4-, and 5-year study plans. Graduates earn a DNP.

  • Application Deadline: December 1st (fall start)

  • Tuition: In-state - $856 per credit; Non-resident - $1,519 per credit

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 410-706-0501

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: Hybrid

10. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina offers a BSN-DNP for nurses who want to become PMHNPs. The program takes about three years to complete if attending full-time. The university encourages students to complete clinical hours in their communities depending on their learning objectives and interests.

  • Application Deadline: November 21st (fall start)

  • Tuition: In-state - $9,667 per semester; Non-resident - $18,530 per semester

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Contact Phone Number: 919-966-4260

  • Email Information:

  • Online Options Available: Hybrid

FAQs About RN to Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs


  • What is the difference between a nurse practitioner and a psychiatric nurse practitioner?

    • A psychiatric nurse practitioner is a specific type of nurse practitioner who works with patients across the lifespan to help them with psychiatric and mental health issues. Nurses who want to practice as nurse practitioners must return to school and earn an MSN or DNP.
  • Is becoming a psychiatric NP worth it?

    • If you want to advance your nursing practice, work autonomously in the mental health field, and earn significantly more money than you do as a registered nurse, then becoming a psych NP is worth it. 
  • Who makes more money, FNP or PMHNP?

    • PMHNPs are one of the highest-paying nurse practitioner specialties. According to Indeed, the average psychiatric nurse practitioner earns $122,262 annually. FNPs make a little more than that, around $156,971 each year. However, your actual income will differ based on years of experience, location, and the type of facility you work for. 
  • Where do PMHNPs get paid the most?

    • According to Indeed, New York is the highest-paying state for psych NPs, where they earn a median annual income of $135,964.
  • Is the PMHNP market oversaturated?

    • Psych NP oversaturation occurs in some areas, as do shortages in other places. Whether the PMHNP market is oversaturated depends on where you live and the type of healthcare facilities there. If your local market is oversaturated, you may have better chances of employment if you're willing to move or commute for a PMHNP job. 


Psychiatric NP Career Overview >> Psychiatric NP Salary Guide >> Top Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs >>

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Sarah Jividen
Sarah Jividen Contributor

Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a trained neuro/trauma and emergency room nurse turned freelance healthcare writer/editor. As a journalism major, she combined her love for writing with her passion for high-level patient care. Sarah is the creator of Health Writing Solutions, LLC, specializing in writing about healthcare topics, including health journalism, education, and evidence-based health and wellness trends. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two children. 

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