25 Best BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP Online Programs For 2023

Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree? Have you considered going back to school? Maybe a Doctor of Nursing Practice is something you have thought about pursuing but are not sure how to get started. Does the way the human mind works and how emotional and mental health impact other aspects of health intrigue you? If this sounds like you, this article could be a great resource of information to help you get started with available online BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs. As you continue reading, you will find information about how the best BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP online programs for 2023 offer opportunities for baccalaureate-prepared nurses to earn a Doctorate in Nursing and specialize as Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners.

What Exactly Is A BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program?

A BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program is a nursing program that offers baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses the opportunity to earn a terminal degree, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, with a specialization as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. These programs prepare students to provide culturally sensitive, clinically competent care to clients. Graduates of Psychiatric Mental health Nurse Practitioner programs assess, manage, and facilitate the mental health and psychiatric healthcare needs of clients, families, groups, and communities in diverse multidisciplinary settings.

5 Big Reasons Why You Should Pursue BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs

If you are considering earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice and becoming a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, this could be an exciting time for you. Even amid the excitement, it is understandable for you to question if you have made the right decision or to wonder what the benefits of this career choice include. There are many benefits associated with becoming a PMHNP and achieving your DNP. The following list consists of five reasons why pursuing a BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program may be a good option.

1. Specialize in something you are passionate about.

DNP students can focus their studies on areas of nursing that are important to them. The best BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP online programs create opportunities for nurses who are passionate about mental health care to earn a terminal nursing degree and specialize in the area of psychiatric mental health.

2. You can become your own boss.

One of the most significant changes in the healthcare industry is the autonomy with which DNPs can practice. Many states allow DNP/NPs to open their own clinics. Enrolling in a BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program can provide you with the academic and clinical experiences and skills to help you become an effective mental health care provider and create opportunities for you to become your own boss.

3. There is a need for psychiatric mental health providers.

The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis projects by 2025, there will be a shortage of full-time employed mental health practitioners of more than 10,000. Graduates of online BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner programs can bridge the gap between mental health nurses and psychiatrists.

4. Experience increased job security.

Although a DNP is not currently required for entry-level nurse practitioners, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties stated it had “made the commitment to move all entry-level nurse practitioner education to the DNP degree by 2025." By taking the initiative to go directly from a BSN to a DNP, you can help create increased job security by having achieved a doctorate in nursing before it is a required standard.

5. You can earn a significant income.

Graduates of BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse practitioner online programs earn over $113,000 annually, nearly eight times the annual income of minimum wage earners. Some factors, as mentioned later in this article, can contribute to higher earning potential.

How Long Are BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP Online Programs?

Although there are factors that may determine the amount of time individual students take to complete online BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs, most students graduate within three to six years. Students who choose to go to school part-time take longer, and anyone who needs to repeat a course or semester or take off for any reason may also experience prolonged time until graduation.

The following are examples of some of the best BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs online featured in this article with information about how long each program typically lasts.

At the

University of Illinois at Chicago

, students entering with a BSN complete the program in three to five years.

The BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner online program at the

University of Maryland School of Nursing

offers flexible scheduling, including three-, four-, and five-year study plans. Students complete core DNP courses exclusively online, and specialty courses are conducted in person.


University of Wisconsin

integrates a blend of online and classroom learning for its BSN-to-DNP PMHNP program. Students complete a minimum of seventy-one credits of coursework and 1,000 clinical hours. Three-year and four-year program plans are available for students.

How Much Do BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP Online Programs Cost?

BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner online programs can cost from $25,000 to over $125,000. Although the price can be expensive, the long-term benefits, including income earning potential, are worth the investment. If you would like to enroll in one of these programs but are unsure if you can financially manage the expense, don't give up on the thought yet. There are several options to help prospective students pursue their dream of becoming a DNP-PMHNP. Federally funded grants and loans, employer-sponsored education programs, private loans, or loans from family are options that you can consider.

Below are examples of the cost of some of the BSN-to-DNP online PMHNP programs featured in this article.

Students at

Rush University’s

online BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program are prepared for roles as leaders in advanced nursing practice and function as highly developed clinicians as providers of psychiatric-mental health care. To meet graduation criteria, students must complete at least sixty-eight credit hours. With a per-credit-hour rate of $1,224, tuition averages approximately $83,232.


University of Texas

offers another of our featured accredited BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs online. Students can graduate in nine to twelve semesters, depending on enrollment status. The program requires seventy-nine credit hours, at least 1,000 clinical hours. The estimated total cost is $30,957.

Washington State University

offers part-time and full-time study options supporting schedule flexibility working nurses need. The university calculates tuition on a per-credit basis, and students are charged according to whether they are residents of Washington state or non-residents. Tuition is $630 per credit hour for state residents and $1,353 per credit hour for non-residents. Students complete seventy-four credit hours, which includes 1,180 clinical practice hours. The estimated cost of tuition for the program ranges from $46,620 to $100,122, depending on the student’s residency status.


The coursework used to create a curriculum for the best BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP online programs may differ somewhat, depending on the school’s criteria. However, because of accreditation policies, although programs may have different course names, content is typically consistent among schools.

The list below includes examples of standard classes found in BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner programs online, on-campus, or hybrid.

◦ Implementation and Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices:

This course provides students instruction on evidence-based implementation and evaluation of methods used to develop planning, implementing, and evaluating methodologies necessary for sustainable practice changes, emphasizing safety and quality principles.

Organizational Leadership and Systems Change:

Provides a foundation for applying core leadership principles to promote organizational change within complex healthcare systems. Students learn competencies in the application of multi-level leadership to address service delivery challenges with a particular focus on quality improvement and initiatives for patient safety.

Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psychopharmacology Across the Lifespan:

Provides concepts related to evidence-based psychopharmacological management of clients across the lifespan; Subjects include psychiatric diagnosis and treatments, decision-making for the advanced practice nurse, neurobiological concepts, and discontinuation of psychotropic medications in the treatment of substance abuse and psychiatric disorders.

Pathophysiology for Advanced Nursing Practice:

Explores the physiological functions as they occur throughout the lifespan; integrates pathophysiological concepts with an emphasis on advanced practice nursing.

Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Nursing Practice:

Examines the principles of pharmacotherapeutic decision-making in advanced nursing practice as it relates to the clinical management of common health problems across the lifespan.

A few examples of coursework that students in BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner online programs may take include the following.

All BSN-to DNP-PMHNP students at the

University of North Carolina

participate in three years of full-time study and complete sixty-six to seventy-five credit hours of coursework. In addition, the curriculum plan includes 1,000 clinical practice hours, required advanced practice coursework, leadership and practice-based inquiry, and completion of a DNP Project.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Applied Data Analytics
◦ Nursing Informatics for Safe and Effective Healthcare
◦ Biopsychosocial Care I: Psychiatric-Mental Health Interventions Across the Lifespan
◦ Biopsychosocial Care II: Psychiatric-Mental Health Interventions with Children
◦ Biopsychosocial Care III: Psychiatric-Mental Health Intervention in the Context of Relationships
◦ Biopsychosocial Care IV: Management of Complex Psychiatric Mental Health Problems Across the Lifespan

Ohio State University:

Home to another of the best BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP online programs, Ohio State University, prepares students for professional roles as Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse practitioners. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the Primary Mental Health NP certification examination administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Assessment and Management of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Issues
◦ Neuroscience Principles and concepts
◦ Advanced Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing I, II, and III
◦ Psychopharmacology Across the Lifespan
◦ Advanced Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

The University of Washington:

The BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program offered by the University of Washington is presented as a full-time study track only. The program prepares students to care for patients from various backgrounds and ages with diverse psychiatric and mental health disorders.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Wellness, Health Promotion, & Disease Prevention
◦ Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Practice Nursing
◦ Interpersonal Therapeutics: Current Perspectives
◦ Neuroscience Basis of Advanced Practice Psychiatric/Mental Health
◦ Biological Interventions in Advanced Practice Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing
◦ Management of Psychiatric Disorders: Adults and Adolescents

Clinical Training

According to the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice Nursing (page 109), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommends that all doctoral nursing programs should provide at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical hours for all students. Schools that offer DNP programs, like the BSN-to-DNP PMHNP programs listed later in this article, can designate the number of clinical hours their students must complete. However, it is rare to find a program that allows students to graduate with less than 1,000 post-BSN clinical hours.

The following are examples of a few of our featured programs and the number of clinical hours each requires.


University of Minnesota

offers one of the best BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs online designed to be completed in three years of full-time study. Beginning the second year of the program, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner students must attend one to two day on-campus incentives up to five times per semester. Additionally, students will complete at least 1,000 clinical hours, which the school arranges.


University of Arizona

offers students a wide range of educational preparation in advanced psychiatric mental healthcare, nursing theories, quality improvement methods, and evidence-based practices. Students complete a minimum of 1,000 clinical practice immersion hours, including extensive clinical time and a faculty-mentored DNP Scholarly Project.

At the

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

, clinical experiences are an essential component of the online BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program. Program faculty make clinical placement assignments in collaboration with preceptors and students and with the support of the DNP Clinical Coordinator. Clinical assignments usually require minimal travel from the student's home. All DNP students must complete at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours to meet DNP competencies.

Arizona State University’s

curriculum exceeds the American Nurses Credentialing Center recommendation of at least 1,000 post-BSN clinical hours. All students in the BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner online program participate in 1,125 clinical practicum hours.

Admission Requirements

The admission criteria for online accredited BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs are determined by the school through which the program is offered. Although requirements may have some differences, it is not uncommon to find that general admission requirements are quite similar from school to school. For example, minimum admission criteria for programs like those shared in this article include the following.

◦ Applicant must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from an accredited School of Nursing.
◦ Possess a current, unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse
◦ Provide official copies of transcripts from all post-secondary educational programs
◦ Pass a criminal background check
◦ Submit to and pass a drug test
◦ Provide letters of professional reference
◦ Submit resume and/or curriculum vitae

Below is a list of some of this article's featured online BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs and some of the admission criteria.

Duke University:

RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree may apply for the accredited BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program online at Duke University. Upon graduation from the program, students are awarded both MSN and DNP degrees.

Duke University School of Nursing looks for DNP candidates who have a history of excellent academic grade point averages, have strong leadership roles, and are dedicated to making a strong impact on nursing practice.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited CCNE or ACEN School of Nursing
◦ Have an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
◦ Complete an undergraduate statistics course
◦ Participate in a telephone or in-person interview, if asked
◦ Submit three letters of professional reference, including statements about academic ability, professional competency, and personal character

The University of Alabama at Birmingham:

Registered nurses who wish to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice but may need to continue working may find programs like the Post-BSN to DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of the best-suited programs for them. The program, which is offered in a part-time format, combines the DNP core curriculum with advanced practice core and specialty courses.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Complete a BSN program from a regionally accredited institution
◦ Possess an active, unrestricted license to practice nursing in the state where coursework and clinicals will be completed.
◦ Show proof of an undergraduate grade-point average of at least a 3.0 cumulatively or on the last sixty semester credit hours. (Applicants with a GPA less than 3.2 will be required to complete and submit scores for the GRE, MAT, or GMAT.)
◦ Provide resume or curriculum vitae
◦ If admitted to the DNP program, the student must show proof of completing a descriptive statistics course before the program begins.

The University of Kentucky:

At the University of Kentucky, students enrolled full-time in the BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health NP program can graduate in three years. The university also offers four- and five-year part-time study plans. Applicants who are accepted and complete the program will be educationally prepared to apply and sit for the Primary Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification exam administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Baccalaureate degree in nursing from an NLN or CCNE accredited program
◦ Have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
◦ Must have clinical nursing experience before beginning the first DNP clinical course
◦ Submit a Goal Statement that discusses the reason for seeking doctoral study, long- and short-term professional goals, why the applicant has chosen the PMHNP specialty, and identify/discuss a health or system problem that the applicant wishes to study as a DNP project
◦ Provide a sample of scholarly written work, completed within two years of the date of application, related to nursing (Examples could be a formal research paper written for the BSN program, a published article on a nursing issue, or a paper written on a nursing issue.)


1. Duke University - Durham, NC

2. University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

3. The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

4. University of Maryland - Baltimore, MD

5. University of Washington - Seattle, WA

6. University of Iowa - Iowa City, IA

7. University of Florida - Gainesville, FL

8. Rush University Medical Center - Chicago, IL

9. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Chapel Hill, NC

10. University of Tennessee Health Science Center - Memphis, TN

11. University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago, IL

12. University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

13. University of Utah - Salt Lake City, UT

14. University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, MN

15. Florida International University - Miami, FL

16. University of Rochester - Rochester, NY

17. Washington State University - Spokane, WA

18. University at Buffalo - Buffalo, NY

19. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center - Lubbock, TX

20. University of Kentucky - Lexington, KY

21. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston - Houston, TX

22. University of Wisconsin-Madison - Madison, WI

23. Arizona State University - Phoenix, AZ

24. Wayne State University - Detroit, MI

25. University of Nebraska Medical Center - Omaha, NE


Career Opportunities After Graduating with This Degree

After completing your education from one of the accredited online BSN-to-DNP-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner programs, graduates find employment opportunities in various settings among diverse populations of clients. A few places a DNP-PMHNP may work include the following.

◦ Community Mental Health Clinic
◦ Substance Abuse Programs
◦ Inpatient Addiction Rehabilitation Centers
◦ Veteran’s Hospitals or Nursing Homes
◦ Family Counseling Centers
◦ School Counseling Centers
◦ Correctional Facilities

Earning Potential for Graduates of This Degree

According to data from ZipRecruiter, after graduating with a BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP online degree, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-DNPs earn approximately $123,607 yearly. Though this reflects the average income, the same source indicates the top income earners who are Primary Mental Health Nurse Practitioners can make from $140,000 to $166,000 annually. If you negotiate a benefits package, including insurance, retirement plans, or paid vacation and sick time, that could be worth thousands of additional dollars more each year.

Hourly $59.43
Monthly $10,300
Annual $123,607
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)

Job Outlook for Graduates of This Degree

In December of 2020, there were more than 290,000 nurse practitioners licensed in the United States. Among those licensed, only 1.8 percent, approximately 23,200, are certified as Psychiatric-Mental Health NPs. According to a report by Mental Health America, about 47 million Americans, an average of 14.24 percent, are currently experiencing some type of mental illness. The U.S. population in January of 2021 was over 330 million people. That is a population growth of more than 1.6 million people yearly. Given the previously mentioned statistics, there is a strong indication that over 227,000 people will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year. The disproportionate number of licensed psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners compared to the number of people who have been or will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder gives a strong indication that the job outlook for graduates of accredited BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP online programs is quite favorable.


If you are interested in achieving a terminal nursing degree and love the idea of providing mental health care to clients, the best BSN-to-DNP-PMHNP online programs for 2023 shared in this article are excellent resources to help you reach that goal. In addition, there are many options for career opportunities with a promising outlook for long-term employment for graduates, which makes this an excellent career choice.


How are online BSN-to-DNP PMHNP programs different from on-campus programs?

Online programs, like the BSN-to-DNP PMHNP online programs featured in the above article, have become popular as they offer students greater flexibility with learning. Online learning can be accommodating to a student's lifestyle and learning style. To successfully graduate from one of these programs, you must be disciplined and self-motivated. The coursework involves significant reading and discussion requirements among students, and good computer skills are a must.

Is it common for most students in online BSN-to-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner programs to continue working while in school?

Some students do continue working while enrolled in a doctoral nursing program. No two student's circumstances will be the same. It's essential to consider your personal situation carefully when deciding whether to continue working or if a change in your work schedule may be appropriate while enrolled in an online BSN-to-DNP PMHNP program. Talk with an academic advisor, your employer, and your spouse or other family members to determine what each expects of you and how you may be able to juggle the responsibilities of work and school.

Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.