Three DNP students in white coats.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
An advanced practice nurse specializing in comprehensive mental health care, including diagnosis, treatment, medication management, and psychotherapy.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Page Menu

DNP Program Track Options

What is an PMHNP?

A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in providing mental health care to individuals of all ages. PMHNPs are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of psychiatric and mental health disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, and substance use disorders. They are highly skilled in conducting comprehensive psychiatric assessments, developing treatment plans, prescribing medications, and offering psychotherapy and counseling services.

PMHNPs play a crucial role in the mental healthcare system by providing care, support, and treatment to individuals who may be struggling with mental health challenges. They work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, community mental health centers, and schools. PMHNPs also often collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counselors, to ensure comprehensive and integrated care for their patients.

Application Deadlines

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Applications Open: August 15
Priority Deadline: November 15
Final Deadline: January 15

Applying by the priority deadline ensures that a decision will be awarded to applicants within 2 months.
Additional spots and decisions are possible after the final deadline.

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Admission Requirements

Education Requirements

  • Post-baccalaureate DNP applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • Post-master’s DNP applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or another field AND:
    • A master’s degree in nursing from a program accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission

    • A graduate nurse anesthesia degree from a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

    • A graduate nurse-midwifery degree from a program accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in a bachelor’s, and if applicable, master’s program
  • Official transcripts from all previous college work

Practice & Professional Requirements

  • 1 year of full-time nursing practice preferred
    • International students are strongly encouraged to have working experience in the field of nursing in the US
  • Students must hold a current, unencumbered RN license in each state or United States territory where practice or clinical experiences occur.
  • Vancouver DNP Students: Every effort is made to place you in a location which is convenient to you with a schedule that works with your current schedule; however, travel and adjustments to your schedule are often necessary. If you live in the greater Vancouver/Portland area, it is highly recommended that you hold a current and active license in both Oregon and Washington to open placement opportunities.
  • Oregon placements for DNP PMHNP students: We can do Oregon placements with the caveat that your first clinical course placement will likely need to be in Washington. The reason for this is that all placements in Oregon need to be approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN). For NP programs, the only acceptable preceptors are NPs and MDs. For your first clinical course, your preceptor will likely be a master’s prepared therapist, rather than an NP or MD because of the course requirement. The OSBN will not approve this specific preceptor, so we generally place in WA for this course. After the first course, you are free to be placed in Oregon.

International Students

International students are eligible to apply if they are eligible to obtain a current, unencumbered RN license in each state or United States territory where practice or clinical experiences occur. International applicants must meet the Application Requirements for International Students.

Required Documentation & Interview

  • Your NursingCAS application will require the following documents by uploading them into the application:
    • Updated professional CV/Resume
    • Copy of RN License (optional)
    • Applicants who have attended a previous graduate nursing school or another health-related profession school must have a letter submitted from that school that includes a statement regarding the student’s standing at the previous school. Applicants who have been previously dismissed from a program or who are not in good standing will not be considered for admission. Admission will not be considered for anyone who earned a “NC”, or ”C” in any two graduate nursing courses or a “D”, “F”, “WD” or “WF” in any graduate nursing course.
  • Note that a virtual interview through Kira Talent will be done online as part of the application process.

You will also be asked for additional items, so we encourage you to assemble these in advance:

  • Determine three references willing to provide a recommendation for you
    • The reference will discuss your leadership, academic standards, and skills as they pertain to your primary interest area.
    • You will need to provide names and emails of your references on your application. We recommend (but do not require) your references include a current or past faculty member in a nursing program you attended and two professionals from a work setting (head nurse, provider, NP/PA etc.).
    • Your references will be contacted directly by CAS via email after you have saved their information to your application. Each reference will receive instructions for submitting their recommendation online. CAS requires you to add a Due Date for the reference, please make this due date within one week of adding them your application.
  • Prepare a document responding to the prompt of: In 500 words or less, describe a situation and reflect on how it changed your understanding of the social determinants of health, and influenced your practice. Include a minimum of 2 scholarly citations in APA format to support your response. You will upload this document into the interview system if you are offered an interview..

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Program Requirements

Technical Standards

Nursing education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills and professional attitudes and behaviors.

Graduate Clinical Passport Requirements

The College of Nursing calls the combination of proof of licensure, immunizations, required trainings (e.g. CPNW Modules), and certifications (e.g., CPR) the “Clinical Passport.”

Required Courses

Select a plan below based on the program you’re interested in to see an example of how the program might look for you.

ProgramPlan 1 (shorter)Plan 2 (longer)
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – Post BaccalaureatePMHNP – 3yr SamplePMHNP – 4yr Sample
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – Post Master’sPM-PMHNP – 3yr SamplePM-PMHNP – 4yr Sample

View DNP Curriculum Sample Plan Archive

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Program Outcomes

The Mission of the DNP program is to prepare nurse leaders who are experts in evidence-based practice to provide the highest quality health care for patients, families, communities, and populations.

General DNP Outcomes

At the conclusion of the program, the DNP graduate will be able to:

  1. Apply biophysical, psychosocial, behavioral, sociopolitical, cultural, economic, and nursing science to improve health care practice and delivery systems.  (DNP Essentials I, V,  and VIII)
  2. Analyze organizational structure, functions and resources to improve the delivery of care. (DNP Essential II)
  3. Translate evidence-based research into practice to improve health care delivery and outcomes for all. (DNP Essential III)
  4. Use information systems/technology to support and improve patient care and health care systems.  (DNP Essential IV)
  5. Advocate for the nursing profession through the development, implementation and evaluation of health care policy. (DNP Essential V)
  6. Collaborate with other health professionals to improve health care access and health outcomes for individuals and populations. (DNP Essential VI)
  7. Advocate for ethical policies and practice that prevent illness, promote health and social justice, and reduce disparities for patient populations in urban, rural, and global settings. (DNP Essential V, VII)
  8. Apply advanced knowledge and skills within an area of specialized nursing practice. (DNP Essential VIII)

Students who are adding a specialty will also meet the outcomes of their specialty track:

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  1. Demonstrate competence in the use of theoretical approaches in individual, group and family therapy.
  2. Apply best practices in the selection and implementation of specific psychotherapeutic, pharmacologic, and preventative interventions.
  3. Differentiate mental health problems from psychiatric illness.
  4. Practice within the scope of legal, professional, and ethical standards of advanced psychiatric/mental health nursing.
  5. Develop and sustain therapeutic collaborative relationships with individuals, families, groups and other professionals.

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Paying for the Program

What does it cost to attend the program?
Visit the WSU Student Financial Services website for information on tuition and expenses at the program and campus level.

How much does it cost to apply?
Nursing CAS itself will cost approximately $55. Applicants who are invited to the final step of an interview will be charged approximately $15 in Kira Talent fees.

What support can I get with financial aid?
Please see our Financial Aid page for information on scholarships.

What is the Border Bill as it relates to WSU?
The State of Washington’s Border Bill is a program that allows Oregon residents who live in specified counties to attend WSU Vancouver and/or WSU Tri-Cities part-time (8 credits or less per semester) and pay resident tuition rates for the courses taken through these 2 WSU campuses ONLY.

What is the WRGP program as it relates to WSU?

The DNP program is now part of the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) which allows students living in a 16-state region to utilize in-state tuition. There are some criteria to be aware of for utilizing the WRGP:

  • The College of Nursing credit requirement for the WRGP is 9+ for Spring and Fall semesters and 5+ credits for summer. 
  • The College of Nursing automatically enrolls qualifying students in WRGP.

For further information about the Border Bill or WRGP, contact a graduate advisor.

Item*AmountExpense OccursAdditional Details
(Service & Activities Fee included in tuition with slight campus variation)
Academic Year 2024-2025: $1,180 per credit. The PMHNP program is approximately 74 credits, putting the total at approximately $87,320.Beginning of each semester
Note that some campuses may have additional fees as well on top of tuition.
Books$2,000 over the course of your degree Throughout program
Book costs for the whole program are approximately $2,000

Course and Program Fees
$6,000 over the course of your degree
Throughout program
Fee costs for the whole program are approximately $6,000. Course registration will provide details on which courses have fees and what that amount is. Course fees pay for contract processes for clinical placement, technologies, simulation materials, skills technologies, and membership in WIN
Immunization and Onboarding requirements$15: liability insurance
$140: CastleBranch Account
Varies: Immunizations
Required prior to first semesterSome immunizations are also required annually, and pricing will vary depending on individual health plan.
Health Fee (Spokane and Yakima students)$100Beginning of each semesterCharged to students enrolled for seven or more credit hours in Fall and Spring, and 1 or more in Summer. Tri-Cities & Vancouver students are not charged this campus fee.
Personal budgetingComputer needsIf you do not already have a computer, one option is this agreement between WSU and Dell.
*Please note costs listed on this page are estimates for budgeting purposes only. This is not a bill. For additional budgeting information, refer to the Financial Services figures. Washington State University reserves the right to increase or modify tuition and fees without prior notice, upon approval by the State of Washington and Washington State University Board of Regents and to make such modifications applicable to students enrolled at WSU at the time as well as to incoming students. In addition, all tuition and mandatory fees are subject to change at any time for correction of errors. 

AACN Fee Waivers

AACN offers fee waivers to qualifying students applying for nursing programs through NursingCAS. These fee waivers have very specific qualification requirements, some of which include:
  • The applicant can only qualify based on either income or service.
  • The applicant is only able to apply for one fee waiver per application cycle.
  • The waiver counts only for the applicant’s first application, if the applicant completes applications for additional schools and/or programs, they must pay the fees associated with those applications.
  • The fee waiver form must be completed before the application is fully submitted.
  • The fee waiver form can take up to 10 days to process, so the applicant must keep this timeframe in mind when applying. The application may not be fully submitted until a fee waiver decision has been made. If the decision falls outside the application deadline, the applicant will not be able to submit their application.
  • If the waiver is approved, the application must be submitted within 30 days of approval or the waiver will be void.

For more information, including additional qualification requirements and how to apply, please visit the NursingCAS Applicant Help Center Fees and Fee Waiver page.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which WSU College of Nursing campus sites offer the DNP program?

The DNP program is offered at WSU Spokane, WSU Tri-Cities, WSU Vancouver, and Yakima. If you live outside of these locations and are interested in the DNP program, contact the graduate program coordinator for more information.

Is the PHMNP program offered online?

The program is considered “hybrid” with most of the instruction offered online. Most DNP courses have 5 synchronous Zoom class sessions per semester that can be attended from the student’s home – a reliable internet connection and a non-distracting environment are essential.  

Some Nurse Practitioner courses will meet in-person on the campus of registration: 

  • NURS 562 will meet 5 times per semester on campus for lab experiences

Class sessions typically are block-scheduled in a 1-2 day block (for example one of the class sessions might be scheduled Monday/Tuesday.) These blocked days may vary each semester.*

*Some nurse practitioner courses require labs or intensives that are scheduled separately from typical block scheduling.

How are classes delivered?

Class sessions are delivered by two-way, fully interactive videoconferencing, allowing for maximum interaction with the instructor and students from all participating campus sites.

Can I complete my clinical hours where I work?

Clinical/practicum hours in the workplace follow strict requirements. You may complete clinical hours within the organization where you’re employed but not within the same unit or the same supervisory area, and no reimbursement may be given for practicum hours.

What is the difference between “direct-care” and “non-direct care” practicum hours?

Direct-care practicum hours are clinical experiences where nurse practitioner students are working directly with individual patients to provide health care in a clinical setting.  Non-direct care practicum hours are leadership experiences or DNP project work that may involve healthcare organizations, community members, or patient populations but the student is not providing direct patient care.  DNP students must have 1,000 hours of practicum experiences.  For nurse practitioner students, these will be divided between direct-care and non-direct care practicum hours per our national guidelines for advanced practice nursing certification and the DNP degree.  For non-nurse practitioner DNP tracks, these will be composed of non-direct care practicum hours.

Where can I complete my clinical/practicum hours?

Practicum hours must be completed in the vicinity of the campus of registration.  WSU has clinical placement coordinators who place nurse practitioner students for direct-care practicum experiences, but DNP students must establish their own sites and preceptors for non-direct care practicum experiences. This gives students the opportunity to maximize their networking skills and existing professional connections to find a DNP project that aligns with their professional goals.

What is a DNP Project?

A hallmark of the DNP-prepared nurse is the ability to utilize the concept of practice inquiry to translate meaningful health research into practice. Students learn this process through the completion of a DNP project. Students investigate an area of nursing practice, the health care delivery system, or a health care policy issue to develop a project meaningful to the organization as well as one that meets the scope of doctoral level work. DNP projects may take the form of quality improvement, evidence-based practice, program evaluation, or policy change projects.

View examples of DNP student projects.

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More about the
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Track

In many states, PMHNPs have the legal authority to operate independently, allowing them to diagnose and treat mental health conditions, prescribe medications, and provide psychotherapy without the direct supervision of a physician. This autonomy enables them to meet the growing demand for mental health services and improve access to care, particularly in underserved areas.

Overall, PMHNPs are dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being, reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, and helping individuals achieve better mental health outcomes through evidence-based care and compassionate support.

Graduate Program Advisors

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CCNE Accredited Logo

The Washington State University College of Nursing BSN, MN and DNP programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), 655 K. Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.