An advanced practice role that promotes health while also detecting and treating acute, episodic, and chronic mental illness across the lifespan

US-News-PMH-NP-icon Overview:

  • Full- and part-time options available
  • Two years (full-time) or three years (part-time) to complete
  • Graduates are eligible for the PMHNP certification exam administered by ANCC
  • Application deadline: December 1 for entry the following fall

The psychiatric-mental health nursing track emphasizes the preparation of advanced practice nurses to promote and maintain health and to prevent, detect and treat acute and chronic mental illness. Addressing the needs of underserved, rural populations is highlighted throughout the program.

What's it like to be a psych-mental health NP?

Who should apply?

The PMHNP track offers baccalaureate-educated nurses with at least one year of full-time RN experience the opportunity to advance their practice at the .

The PMHNP is offered at the MSN, , and levels.

Our Approach

  • Intimate—classes are small, dynamic and filled with like-minded learners
  • Mentorship—access to world-class nursing faculty, exceptional mentors, cutting-edge research and top-of-the-line clinical facilities
  • Hands-on experience—more than 600 hours of clinical experience
  • Flexibility—full- and part-time options available

Plans of study

Building on the theoretical knowledge and clinical experience of the BSN-prepared nurse, the PMHNP seminars focus on assessment and management of serious mental illness. Particular emphasis is placed on the integration of neurobiologic, psychosocial and psychiatric nursing knowledge in delivery of care to individuals experiencing a wide range of psychiatric, mental health disorders.

Class Schedule

Full-time students begin study in the fall, and complete the post-master's certificate in two years, including summer session in year 1. In the first year, the full-time student has didactic classes which are generally offered 1-2 days on Grounds weekly (in the fall and spring). In the second year, the didactic component is on Thursday, and clinical practica can occur Monday through Friday with occasional weekend opportunities offered from some practice preceptors.


Students complete 500+ clinical hours in the PMHNP track, most in two semester-long preceptorships in the final two semesters of enrollment. Clinical placement sites are chosen based upon optimal learning experiences, students' requests, and availability.

All clinical/practicum activities are generally conducted within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Clinical/practice activities may be conducted outside Virginia if the University is authorized to place students in that state and pending faculty approval.

Technology requirements

All graduate nursing students are required to have a laptop; Information about these requirements will be sent to enrolling students before classes begin.

The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record is the official repository for academic program requirements.