Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (DNP) Program Details

The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program is available to both bachelor’s and master’s-prepared nurses wishing to attain a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Local PMHNP students can attend full time or part time. We highly recommend that you either already work in a clinical psychiatric setting or plan to begin working in one when you start the program. Preference is given to applicants working in a clinical psychiatric setting or those who will begin working in one by the start of the program.

Most students work while in the PMHNP program, and they find it more manageable with part-time study. You may find it difficult to work full-time once you start the clinical practicum, which is two days a week for your entire last year. The last year of the program must be taken as full-time study.

Before deciding to pursue a graduate education, you need to evaluate your own time management skills, personal commitments and family responsibilities. We will discuss your work and time commitments as part of the interview process.

Study Format

All of the core and specialty PMHNP classes are offered online. Some classes are offered both online and on campus and you can choose that option for particular classes.

Typical programs may be completed as follows:
BSN to DNP Students:

  • Full-time BSN to DNP option can be completed in three years. Part-time BSN to DNP students finish in three and a half years.

MSN to DNP Students:

  • Master’s education varies significantly and a gap analysis of prerequisite coursework is performed to determine program of study
  • The MSN to DNP option can be completed in three years. The full-time option may not be available if you are a distance student or MSN to DNP. If you have an APRN in another specialty the program length is shortened depending on the coursework that is transferred in.

Sample Plan of Study

Campus Visits

There is a one day on-campus orientation (usually September) that is highly recommended, but not required.

The Health Assessment and Mental Health Assessment courses each have a required trip to campus for one or two days each. These on campus days are usually scheduled together in Summer, during the term before your year-long clinical practicum begins.

During your final Summer term, all students present their DNP projects. This may be done online or on campus. You will be expected to attend all of your classmates’ presentations.

Clinical Experiences

You need to obtain a minimum of 500 clinical hours to sit for the certification exam. Our program offers 630 precepted clinical hours and 135 online clinical supervision by Rush faculty. You will have a total of 1,000 clinical hours after completing your DNP project.

The PMHNP program offers clinical experiences in a wide variety of settings:

  • Outpatient community mental health centers
  • Inpatient Psychiatric Units
  • Intensive Outpatient programs

A Rush faculty member will assist you in identifying a clinical placement and preceptor. We make all contractual arrangements with preceptors and clinical sites. If you know of a clinician with whom you would like to work, we will investigate their appropriateness and availability to be your preceptor. A preceptor can be a psychiatrist, or an NP certified and practicing as an advanced practice nurse in psychiatric mental health.

You will start your specialty course work with the psychiatric assessment course (NRS 57735A) in Summer, the term prior to your last year. Your specialty management course work continues through your last full year of the program. You will take Management II and III (NRS 577B and 57735C) online. An online clinical supervision course is built in as part of your clinical practicum. You will have course work and supervised practice in individual and group therapy with your chosen population.  

We do not allow students earning a degree to do their practicum or residency on the unit where they work. However, you can do your clinical and residency at your place of employment on a different unit as long as you receive adequate supervision for the role in which you are preparing.  


The program prepares you to sit for the national examination to be certified as a lifespan PMHNP by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Program graduates have an exceptional first time pass rate on the national examination. Once certified, you are eligible to apply for state APN licensure where available.

Common Applicant Questions for all Nursing Programs
Upcoming Application Deadlines
Fall 2024
Application: Open
Deadline: October 2, 2023
Term Starts: September 3, 2024
Admissions Contact
Elizabeth Miranda
Admissions Specialist
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Attend an information session

Learn more about the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (DNP) program at an online information session.