2024 Shortest Online PMHNP Certificate Programs

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The shortest online PMHNP certificate programs can help you launch the next step in your nursing career. Through a certificate program, you can become an expert in mental health and psychiatric care.

Shortest Online PMHNP Certificate Programs

You could prepare for board certification as a healthcare provider who can assess, diagnose, and treat mental health conditions.

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If this sounds like the right career move for you, then read on to take a look at the benefits of quick online study in preparation for PMHNP certification.

Shortest Online PMHNP Certificate Programs

Man taking an online PMHNP Certificate

Today, many advanced nurses are choosing to pursue training to become psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP).

The fastest online PMHNP certificate programs are post-master’s programs. They are designed for people who are already nurse practitioners (NPs). If you already hold a graduate degree in nursing, you may be able to earn your PMHNP in about 12 months.

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In a previous NP program, you may have focused on healthcare for the body. A mental health NP program will focus on the health and well-being of the mind. You can learn to become a practitioner who provides support to patients with psychiatric and mental health conditions.

The program may cover:

  • Behavioral health therapy
  • Counseling techniques
  • Diagnosis and assessment
  • Mental health disorders
  • Neurobiology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Substance abuse

In addition to coursework, you can expect to have in-person experiences at a local healthcare facility. The number of clinical hours required for graduation varies between programs.

After completing your studies, you may be ready to take a national credentialing exam to become a practicing psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. If you choose a program designed for licensure preparation, you may also qualify to become a licensed advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) in your state. Many students enrolling in PMHNP programs, though, have already earned that title.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners work in many settings, including hospitals, mental health clinics, and residential psychiatric facilities. Some are employed by correctional facilities, addiction treatment centers, and public health departments.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Careers & Salaries

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Careers & Salaries

After completing PMHNP certificate programs online, most graduates pursue their PMHNP credentials and then apply for jobs in various settings.

PMHNPs often work in hospitals and psychiatric facilities, whether inpatient or outpatient. Others find employment in physicians’ practices or counseling centers. A PMHNP can work in a specialized setting. For example, one job idea is to offer psychiatric healthcare in prisons or other correctional facilities. Other areas to consider include working in schools, drug treatment centers, veterans’ homes, and nursing homes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare practitioners have a median annual salary of $77,760.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Psychiatrists $226,880
Nurse Practitioners $121,610
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,830
Registered Nurses $81,220
Postsecondary Nursing Instructors and Teachers $78,580
Social and Community Service Managers $74,240
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $59,860
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $49,710
Psychiatric Technicians $37,380
Psychiatric Aides $37,160

The above list shows a variety of careers related to being a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

While many are suitable for those holding this type of certification, some, such as becoming a psychiatrist, would require additional schooling. There are others, such as working as a psychiatric technician or a registered nurse, for which you might be overqualified.

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Some PMHNP graduates take on leadership roles. They may work as nursing directors, medical services managers, or social services coordinators. In some settings, a master’s degree may be sufficient for teaching college classes for training nursing students.

PMHNP Certificate Curriculum & Courses

students pursuing PMHNP Certificate

In 100% online post master’s PMHNP programs, you may have just a few general NP classes. The rest of the curriculum will focus on topics in the mental health specialty.

Here are some course examples:

  • Adult Psychiatric Care: As you learn how to provide mental health care and support for adults, you may particularly focus on working with elderly patients.
  • Assessment in Advanced Practice Nursing: You’ll study how to evaluate patients and make decisions about their conditions and care plans.
  • Counseling Strategies: You can learn techniques for counseling patients and practice those skills in controlled, supervised settings.
  • Decision-Making in the Mental Health Field: You’ll put your assessment skills into practice as you work through sample scenarios related to diagnosis and treatment for patients with mental health conditions.
  • Differential Diagnosis in Psychiatric Care: Studying differential diagnosis can prepare you to compare mental health conditions with similar symptoms and provide accurate diagnoses.
  • Lifespan Mental Healthcare: This class will cover both chronic and acute mental health disorders and will discuss working with psychiatric patients of all ages.
  • Neurobiology: You can study the relationship between the body and the brain and explore how the interplay affects a person’s mental well-being.
  • Pathophysiology: There might be a core class that covers the systems of the body—including the brain—and the conditions and diseases that can affect them.
  • Pediatric Psychiatric Care: The purpose of this class is to prepare for the unique role of working with child and adolescent patients in psychiatric healthcare settings.
  • Psychopharmacology: In addition to a general course in pharmacology, you may have a class that specifically covers medications used for mental and behavioral health treatment.

The classroom curriculum is only a portion of what’s required to earn your PMHNP certification. You’re required to complete clinical hours as well.

How to Choose the Shortest Online PMHNP Certificate Program

Friends checking the shortest PMHNP Certificate programs

In order to choose the NP program that’s right for you, it’s helpful to look over the following considerations:

  • Accreditation. A school that is regionally accredited and approved by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is sure to provide thorough job preparation.
  • Clinical placement. Some programs help you find an internship in your local area.
  • Cost. Tuition amounts are usually based on the cost per credit hour. Public universities are often less expensive than private ones.
  • Financial aid. You can check out what scholarships or other financial resources a school offers.
  • Schedule flexibility. If you plan to work while going to school, you’ll likely want to choose a program that can accommodate your schedule.
  • Length. These types of certificate programs often last between 12 and 20 months. The shorter ones may require fewer courses or a lower number of clinical hours.

Just like when you started checking on how to become an RN fast, current or recent students may be able to provide feedback on their experiences.

Shortest PMHNP Program Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for PMHNP program

If you want to enroll in a 1 year PMHNP program, just like with a 1 year LPN to RN program,  it’s beneficial to submit a strong application that highlights your strengths.

The admissions requirements for fast online degrees may include:

  • Example of your writing abilities
  • GRE score (not required by all online nursing schools)
  • Proof of your RN and APRN license
  • Reference letters from professional or academic supervisors
  • Transcripts from all previous colleges

Some colleges require additional documentation as well, such as proof of your first aid and CPR certification.

Online Psych NP Programs Accreditation

University offering online Psych NP programs

Working as a nurse practitioner is a job that requires certification and licensure. To qualify for those, it’s necessary to complete an approved training program. Typically, that means that you’ll be required to attend a regionally accredited college or university.

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Regional accreditation applies to the school as a whole. It attests to the institution’s ability to educate students well and prepare them for the workforce. Regional accreditation is respected by employers, certification and licensure boards, and other colleges.

CCNE Accreditation

Because this is a profession that requires specialized certification from a national board, it’s important to seek programmatic accreditation as well as regional accreditation.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits graduate nursing programs, including PMHNP programs. When you choose a CCNE accredited program, you can trust that your education will align with industry standards. You’ll likely be qualified and well prepared for the national credentialing exam. Employers can have confidence in your preparation as well.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PMHNP Certificate Financial Aid

You may be able to get financial support to help with your PMHNP education. Graduate students often receive loans. If you qualify, both federal and state programs may be available to you. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get started.

Grants aren’t too common at the graduate level, but you may qualify for select grant programs. Scholarships from your school, a nursing association, or another organization may reduce your tuition bill as well. An application process is often required. If you already work in healthcare, your employer may also cover a portion of your schooling costs.

What Can You Do with an Online PMHNP Certificate?

Nurse with mental health specialty, evaluating a patient

Earning an online PMHNP certificate from an accredited school can qualify you for national certification and state licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse with a psychiatric and mental health specialty.

In that role, you could work in a hospital, a mental health practice, a correctional center, or a residential treatment facility. Some graduates head up programs in a social service organization or organize other psychiatric nurses as a nursing director.

In most settings, you are likely to work closely with psychiatrists, psychiatric aides, and other medical and mental health professionals.

What Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Do?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner observing patient's behavior

PMHNPs are healthcare providers who work with patients who have psychiatric conditions or other mental health issues.

Conducting assessments is one of nurse practitioners’ most common duties. After evaluating a patient, they can then make a diagnosis. They can also develop treatment plans for their patients. Treatment plans may include medication, behavioral interventions, or therapy. Some PMHNPs lead individual or group therapy sessions.

Mental health nurse practitioners may provide one-on-one care for patients and also offer support and education for the whole family. Some NPs specialize in mental healthcare for certain populations, such as children, senior citizens, or people in prison.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner talking with a patient

There are multiple paths to becoming a psychiatric NP. The following list shows one possible timeline:

  • Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) — about 4 years
  • Take the NCLEX — at least 45 days after graduation
  • Gain work experience — around 2 years
  • Earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) — 1.5 to 2 years
  • Take a nurse practitioner certification exam — within a few months of graduation
  • Complete a PMHNP certificate program — 12 to 20 months
  • Pass the PMNHP-BC exam — soon after completing your certificate program

Some people save time by earning their original MSN in psychiatric nursing.

Is an Online Post Master’s PMHNP Certificate Worth It?

Woman taking online Post Master's PMHNP Certificate

Yes, an online post master’s PMHNP certificate is worth it for many students. This nursing subfield is exploding in popularity, and job opportunities are growing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 45% growth rate for nurse practitioner positions over the next ten years. Although challenging at times, working in the field of psychiatry and mental healthcare can also be fulfilling.

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Your efforts may help people find greater satisfaction and balance in their lives. You may be able to support patients in working through their mental health challenges so that they can become thriving, successful members of their communities.

Universities Offering Online Shortest PMHNP Post Masters Certificate Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

D’Youville University

DYouville University campus

D’Youville University offers a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate. Coursework is fully online, but 540 hours of clinical experience is also required. The curriculum consists of 13 courses for a total of 30 credit hours. The program can typically be completed in 1 to 2 years.

D’Youville is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Hawaii Pacific University

Hawaii Pacific University campus

Hawaii Pacific University offers a PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate. All coursework is fully online, and HPU staff helps students find local clinical placements. The program requires the completion of 27 credit hours and can potentially be finished in 14 months. Courses follow a semester schedule, with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.

Hawaii Pacific University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

Johns Hopkins University offers a PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate. Coursework is fully online, and clinical hours may be completed locally. The program is offered in an accelerated format and can potentially be completed in 3 semesters. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the ANCC exam.

Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University campus

New Mexico State University’s Global Campus offers a PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate. All coursework can be completed online, but at least 500 clinical hours must also be completed. The program can potentially be finished in 12 months. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam.

NMSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Ohio University

Ohio University campus

Ohio University offers a PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate. All coursework is online, but 500 clinical hours and brief on-campus intensives and workshops are required. Courses follow a semester schedule. The program requires the completion of 20 credits and can potentially be finished in 3 semesters.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Regis College

Regis College campus

Regis College offers a PMHNP Certificate. The school offers two tracks, one for students holding an MSN and one for NPs. All coursework is fully online. Courses follow a semester schedule, and there are fall, spring, and summer start dates. The program may be finished in 12 months.

Regis College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of California – Davis

University of California Davis campus

The University of California – Davis offers a PMHNP Postgraduate Certificate. The program is offered in a hybrid format. Most coursework is online, but clinical hours and three immersion sessions are required. Courses follow a quarter-semester schedule, and the program can potentially be finished in 4 quarters.

UC Davis is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of California – Los Angeles

University of California Los Angeles campus

The University of California – Los Angeles offers a PMHNP Postgraduate Certificate. The program is offered in a hybrid format, with online courses and on-campus immersion experiences and clinical hours in California. Courses are 10 weeks long, and students may be able to finish in as few as 12 months.

UCLA is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of Miami

University of Miami campus

The University of Miami offers a PMHNP Post-Graduate Certificate. Courses are fully online and follow a semester schedule. Students begin the program during the spring semester and can potentially complete it in 3 semesters. The program also requires the completion of 500 clinical hours divided among the semesters. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for licensure and certification exams.

The University of Miami is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.

University of Virginia

University of Virginia campus

The University of Virginia offers a PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate. Most courses are presented online, but some courses must be completed on campus. The completion of clinical hours is also required. The program can potentially be completed in 12 months. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the ANCC exam.

The University of Virginia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your PMHNP Post Master’s Certificate Online

Man getting his PMHNP Post Master's Certificate online

If you’re looking for a new challenge in your career as a nurse practitioner, you might consider becoming a psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner.

You won’t need to get an additional degree to pursue this fulfilling job. Rather, you can get started by completing a post-MSN certificate program. The shortest post master’s PMHNP online programs take about 1 year to complete. Some are a few months longer. But, whether your program takes 12 months or 16 months to finish, you can soon launch a new line of work in psychiatric healthcare.

Check out accelerated nursing online programs from accredited universities today!

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Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.