25 Best FNP to PMHNP Programs Online For 2024

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you a family nurse practitioner who is considering changing specialties or who would like to have another advanced practice certification? Does the study of the human mind and mental health interest you? Are you concerned that going to school for another certification may not fit in well with your current schedule? If so, you may be interested to know that there are many FNP to PMHNP programs online. Knowing what to look for in a school can help you choose the program that is best suited for you. If you are considering transitioning from an FNP to a PMHNP, continue reading this article, as we will share some of the best online FNP to PMHNP programs for 2024.

What Exactly Is The Purpose Of A Post Master’s Certificate FNP to PMHNP Program?

The purpose of post master's FNP to PMHNP programs is to increase the scope of practice of licensed family nurse practitioners. These programs are designed to prepare family nurse practitioners to provide psychiatric mental health services as an extension to the services they already offer as family nurse practitioners.

Why Go From An FNP to PMHNP?

Health care initiatives have begun to emphasize the importance of providing care to patients that incorporates both psychiatric care and medical care as part of an overall effort to promote health and wellness. Choosing to go from a family nurse practitioner to a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner can give you the advantage of having the knowledge and skills needed to create care plans that outline the type of care that contributes to both physical and mental wellness for your patients. Moreover, by enrolling in one of the FNP to PMHNP programs online, you can pursue your post-master's certificate in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner on your own terms.

How Long Are Online FNP to PMHNP Programs?

FNP to PMHNP programs online typically take from one to two years to complete. However, every college or university determines its required curriculum for programs. Therefore, some programs may last a bit longer. Additionally, students who choose to enroll in part-time study may take at least one additional year to complete the program. Below is a list of some FNP to PMHNP online programs we found and how long each program usually takes a student to complete.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst requires FNP to PMHNP students to complete 25-30 credit hours, depending on the transfer of course credits from other schools. The curriculum here also includes 560 clinical hours. The entire course can be completed in as little as eighteen months.
Drexel University offers a 34 credit post-master's PMHNP program that can be completed in two years of part-time study.
The George Washington University School of Nursing’s FNP to PMHNP program is an online, part-time program with admissions in the fall. Students typically complete the program in eighteen months. The course involves 22 credit hours of coursework and 600 clinical hours.
Eastern Kentucky University offers a 100% online FNP to post-master's psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program that students can complete in four to six semesters, depending on whether they transfer any credits. The university allows the transfer of up to 9 credits, with faculty approval.
Students in the FNP to PMHNP program at Liberty University take eight-week courses totaling seventeen credit hours, and most students complete the program in one year.

How Much Do Online FNP to PMHNP Programs Cost?

One of the main concerns of prospective students is how much it will cost to earn a new or higher degree. Tuition and fees vary among schools. Following are some examples of tuition costs for some of the best FNP to PMHNP programs online. Keep in mind, students enrolled in any FNP-to-PMHNP course may have additional fees that are not calculated into the estimated tuition costs. Program fees, clinical insurance fees, and technology fees are a few examples that students may be required to pay. A financial advisor at your school of choice will be able to give you a breakdown of tuition and fee expenses. The following are a few examples of tuition at colleges that offer FNP to PMHNP programs online.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s post-master's certificate PMHNP program can cost a student between $8,888.00 for in-state students and $$16,250.00 for out-of-state attendees. The University of Cincinnati costs approximately $8,045.00 per semester for Ohio residents and $8,195.00 for non-residents. Tuition in the FNP-to-FMHNP program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is $933 per credit hour. The program requires students to complete thirty-four credit hours, which brings tuition to approximately $31,722. Liberty University is a nonprofit college and has some of the lowest tuition rates among the best online universities. Full-time students in the FNP to PMHNP program pay $565 per credit hour, and part-time students pay $615 per credit hour, which means the average cost of the online post-master's FNP to PMHNP program here is $10,030.


The coursework that is required for the FNP to PMHNP programs online may vary someone from school to school. However, there are general courses that most schools require of students enrolled in this program. Generally, schools require students to complete classes such as Psychopharmacology, Mental Health Across the Lifespan, and Psychotherapy for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, to name a few. Below are some examples of a few of the best FNP to PMHNP programs and some coursework that each requires.

• The University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler School of Nursing) offers a post-master's PMHNP program that requires students to complete thirty-four credit hours. Credit for previous coursework is evaluated on an individual basis. The curriculum is designed to be completed in two years of full-time enrollment Coursework at UT includes courses such as:

o Neurobiology
o Differential Diagnosis of Mental Illness and Disease
o Psychopharmacology
o Psychiatric Theory and Modalities

Students must also complete at least five hundred supervised clinical practicum hours in various psychiatric care settings.

Duquesne University’s online PMHNP post-master's certificate program involves twelve courses with a total of thirty-five credit hours and a minimum of five hundred fifty clinical hours. Most students complete the program in two and a half years. Students take classes including the following:

o Biologic Therapies for Neuropsychiatric Dysregulations
o Psychiatric-Mental Health Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Practice Nursing
o Serious Mental Illnesses/Substance Use Disorders Across the Lifespan
o Individual, Group, and Family Therapies Across the Lifespan

Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA offers one of the best FNP to PMHNP online programs that can be completed in as little as four semesters. Coursework for students enrolled in this program requires twenty-one hours, including:

o Psychotherapy for the Advanced Practice Nurse
o Advanced Practice Nursing: Psychiatric/Mental Health I, II, and III
o Diagnostic Considerations and Psychopharmacology for Psychiatric Disorders

Didactic courses are offered online. Practicum courses involve both a didactic component plus clinical experience components which include between 120 and 240 hours in each. During these courses, students work with a school-approved advanced practice preceptor. The program's required six hundred preceptor-supervised clinical hours must be completed in the state of Louisiana.

• At the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, students can pursue a post-master's certificate in psychiatric mental health. For successful completion of the program, students must complete eighteen credit hours of coursework by passing the following courses.

o Theoretical Diagnostics for Mental and Substance Use Disorders
o Clinical Diagnostics for Mental and Substance Use Disorders
o PMHNP I and II: Diagnosis and Management Across the Lifespan Theory
o PMHNP III: clinical Therapeutics/Preceptorship

Also, students must complete at least five hundred twenty-two hours of clinical practice. The clinical hours cannot be completed at your current place of employment and must be precepted by a Board-Certified Psychiatrist or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who is ANCC certified.

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for online FNP to PMHNP programs may vary somewhat from school to school. However, there are some requirements that are typically expected at all schools that offer this program. For example, most colleges or universities that offer FNP to PMHNP programs online require applicants to have successfully completed an MSN or DNP program from a regionally accredited school, possess national FNP certification, and have at least two years of direct care clinical practice experience as an FNP. Below are some examples of admission requirements from some of the best online FNP to PMHNP programs.

The family nurse practitioner to PMHNP program at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing requires that applicants have an MSN or DNP from an accredited university or college, evidence of at least 500 clinical hours in the nurse practitioner population and role, and one year of NP experience by the time the program starts.
The University of Iowa requests proof of APRN certification along with a copy of the APRN certification card. Additionally, applicants must have completed either an MSN or DNP program with a minimum cumulative 3.0-grade point average at a regionally accredited institution, as well as possess an active, unencumbered license to practice.
Western University of Health Sciences admission requirements include MSN or DNP from a nationally accredited program, have an active, unencumbered license to practice in the state where you will complete precepted clinical hours, and completion of a statistic course work at least three-semester units with a "C" or higher. The statistics course must be completed through a regionally accredited U.S. institution.
The University of Texas at Tyler requires a one-page essay or video describing why you want to pursue any available online FNP to PMHNP programs and what your plans are for your future career. While only one of these is required, applicants who submit both are viewed more favorably. Additionally, prospective students should possess a minimum MSN from an accredited college and submit three academic or professional letters of reference.
Eastern Kentucky University reports that admission to its post-master's PMHNP program is competitive and that admissions advisors give careful consideration to transcripts, the applicant's professional statement, and to the three required academic/professional references. Additionally, an admission interview may be required along with other general admission criteria.

6 Tips You Must Follow To Get Into One Of The Top FNP to PMHNP Programs

Transitioning your career from a family nurse practitioner to a psychiatric nurse practitioner is an important step in your professional life. Knowing what tips to follow before formally applying to any FNP to PMHNP programs online can help improve your chances of acceptance. Consider the following if you want to be accepted into one of the best FNP to PMHNP programs online.

1. Previous grade point averages DO matter! If your master’s or pre-master’s GPA is not high, consider re-taking courses that you scored low in. Also, you may want to think of taking master’s level courses that will help improve your cumulative GPA before applying for admission to the FNP to PMHNP program.
2. One thing admissions counselors and faculty look for is an applicant who has made professional progress in his or her nursing career. Join professional nursing organizations and take advantage of additional training that your employer may offer.
3. Do your best to build a good rapport with enrollment counselors and any faculty you meet or have communication with at the school you would like to attend.
4. Make sure your personal statement/admissions essay is compelling. Include statements that describe your passion for providing quality mental health services to clients. Also, be sure you have someone else proofread and critique your statement before you submit it.
5. Protect your professional identity by making sure you remain in good standing with an active, unencumbered license to practice nursing and by keeping any certifications you have current.
6. Make yourself familiar with the role of a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and be ready to answer questions about it during your admissions interview. If you know a PMHNP that you can shadow for a while or if you can, make arrangements with a local mental health clinic to volunteer, that is a great idea. You can take that time to observe a psychiatric nurse practitioner in their daily role which will help give you a better understanding of what you will do after completing the program. Then, when you are asked questions about the PMHNP role, you will be able to answer with confidence.


(These FNP to PMHNP Post Master’s Certificate Programs are ideal for family nurse practitioners who wish to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.)

1. Duke University - Durham, NC

2. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD

3. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN

4. University of California-San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

5. University of Iowa - Iowa City, IA

6. The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

7. The George Washington University - Washington, DC

8. University of Nevada-Las Vegas - Las Vegas, NV

9. The University of Texas at Tyler - Tyler, TX

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

11. Florida Atlantic University - Boca Raton, FL

12. Stony Brook University - Stony Brook, NY

13. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PA

14. University of Cincinnati - Cincinnati, OH

15. Eastern Kentucky University - Richmond, KY

16. Duquesne University - Pittsburgh, PA

17. Samford University - Birmingham, AL

18. Drexel University - Philadelphia, Pa

19. Maryville University - St. Louis, MO

20. University of Massachusetts Amherst - Amherst, MA

21. Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA

22. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley - Edinburg, TX

23. Southeastern Louisiana University - Hammond, LA

24. University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

25. Western University of Health Sciences - Pomona, CA


What Kind of Career Opportunities Exist for Graduates of This Program?

After graduating from any available FNP to PMHNP programs online, there are a variety of places that offer potential career opportunities. Your preference of clinical setting for practice will usually determine for which positions you apply. Some examples of possible jobs after graduation include the following.

• Veteran's hospitals or Veteran’s Administration psychiatric facilities
• Inpatient psychiatric facilities
• Outpatient psychiatric facilities
• Community mental health centers
• Substance abuse rehabilitation centers
• Domestic violence shelters
• Psychopharmacology clinics
• Hospitals
• Correctional facilities
• Home health agencies
• Hospice

PMHNP VS. FNP: How Much More Will I Earn As A PMHNP?

As you are considering the best online FNP to PMHNP programs, one question you may have is whether there is a difference in earning potential. According to Payscale.com, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners make a little over fourteen percent more than family nurse practitioners. While FNPs earn an average annual salary of almost $96,000, PMHNPs earn over $109,000. While fourteen percent may not seem like a significant amount to some people, it averages out to a difference of $6.46 per hour, $1,120 monthly, or $13,449 annually.

Keep in mind, the chart below is reflective of average earnings. Some factors, such as years of work experience and practice settings, geographical location, and the current need for services, may give both FNPs and PMHNPs an advantage when negotiating salary with a potential employer.

Another essential factor to consider is that, while you may or may not negotiate a higher salary, many employers offer benefits and incentives for their employees, which make taking a job appealing. For instance, some benefits that employers provide include health, vision, and dental insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, childcare assistance, and reimbursement for continuing education.

Type PMHNP FNP Difference
Number %
Hourly $52.55 $46.09 $6.46 14.02%
Monthly $9,110 $7,990 $1,120 14.02%
Annual $109,308 $95,859 $13,449 14.02%

Job Market

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not give an independent projection of the outlook concerning the job market of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, it does report that nurse practitioner jobs should see an increase of at least twenty-six percent by 2028. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports that there are more than 290,000 licensed nurse practitioners in the United States and that only 1.8 percent of them are certified as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. This means that there are approximately 5,220 licensed and certified PMHNP practicing today. With increased awareness of mental health issues and the availability of health care provisions, such as the mandatory funding for mental health care outlined in the Affordable Care Act, the potential for increased job availability is naturally expected to occur.


The decision to go from an FNP to a psychiatric nurse practitioner can significantly impact your career. In addition to providing general family care, a post-master's certificate as a PMHNP will allow you the opportunity to expand your practice realm and provide mental health care to clients of varying ages across the lifespan. The best online FNP to PMHNP programs for 2024 listed in this article are a great place to start researching this specialty degree as you begin your journey to a post-master's certificate.


Can I go to school full-time and work full-time while enrolled in an FNP to PMHNP program online?

While it is not impossible, working full-time while attending an FNP to PMHNP program full-time can be challenging. Many academic advisors recommend that students either change their work schedules to part-time or attend school part-time so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. Some students in these programs who have successfully maintained full-time employment while enrolled full-time did so by using accumulated compensatory work time or by changing their schedules to work shifts that are accommodating to their class and study schedule.

What questions will I be asked at the post-master's PMHNP admission interview?

Perhaps the one thing that makes most applicants to any professional program anxious is the idea of going through an admissions interview. Admissions advisors and counselors for an FNP to PMHNP program may ask a few situational or example-type questions. For example, “Tell me about a time when you witnessed a co-worker acting in an unethical manner” or “Why do you think you would be a good candidate for placement in our program?” However, they are mostly interested in what led you to make the decision to transition from FNP to PMHNP. You will likely be asked “What interests you most about becoming a PMHNP,” “Why have you decided to expand your nurse practitioner expertise to include mental health as a focus,” or “Have you experienced anything in your life personally that made you feel like you would be a good fit as a psychiatric nurse practitioner?” Keep in mind, the admissions counselor/advisor(s) who interview you are not "out to get you." They want to get to know you and see if you may be a good fit for their program. Just relax and take a deep breath. Be honest and be yourself. That is who they are looking for..... You!

How do students in online FNP to PMHNP programs meet clinical requirements?

Typically, students enrolled in online nursing programs such as an FNP to PMHNP program are responsible for planning for their own clinical sites and preceptors. This does not mean you can do anything you please. Instead, most schools require that students choose clinical sites that meet specific guidelines aligned with the program's specialty and find a willing preceptor at each of those sites. The school will then have to approve both the sites and the preceptors for a student to be given credit for clinical hours. For this reason, it is vital that online students become familiar with their school's clinical site and preceptor requirements and begin making arrangements early in the program.

Can online FNP to PMHNP students use their place of employment as a clinical site?

Each college or university approves clinical sites and preceptors for students. However, it is unlikely that students in this program will be able to fulfill their clinical requirements at their current place of employment. Family nurse practitioners work in settings that provide care for acute and chronic illnesses and diseases that are considered primary care services. To fulfill the clinical component of an FNP to PMHNP program, students must have preceptor-supervised clinical hours in settings that are devoted to mental health and wellness specifically.

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).