Psychiatric-Mental Health

The Psychiatric–Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) specialty prepares students for advanced practice in the provision of psychiatric–mental health services to individuals across the lifespan and their family members in a variety of settings.

Students are prepared to care for individuals with psychiatric needs ranging from health promotion and risk reduction to complex and persistent mental illness.  Application of classic theories, research evidence, and a holistic bio-psycho-social-spiritual-cultural approach provides a comprehensive framework to developing knowledge and skills for clinical management. Courses and clinical experiences in the curriculum meet psychiatric-mental health population competencies required by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). The PMHNP program meets the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing.  There is great need for PMHNP’s in the health care system and graduates typically are in demand as they enter the job market.

The Academic Experience

Yale School of Nursing attracts students nationally and internationally who have worked in a variety of fields and have unique backgrounds and experiences.  Students in the PMHNP program often have experience in clinical psychiatry and mental health settings which enriches their classroom experiences, offering a rich background and preparation for graduate study of the advanced practice psychiatric nursing role.  

Courses are offered on campus allowing for students to work closely together as a group and with faculty in learning to critically think about the complexity of caring for individuals with mental health needs and the advanced practice role in psychiatric-mental health nursing.  

The Program of Study

Courses include content in mental health assessment, neurobiology, psychopathology, developmental and personality theory, individual, group and family psychotherapy, and psychopharmacology. The PMHNP curriculum is embedded with core courses taken by all advanced practice nursing students at YSN including advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, health promotion, and evidence-based practice. Students can enter as a full time student in the Graduate Entry Pre-specialty in Nursing (GEPN) program or as an RN, where part time programs of study are also available.  

(Please see Related Links on the left for PDFs)

The Clinical Experience

The program has a lifespan approach which requires that students work with populations across all age groups. Clinical practice experiences take place in a variety of health care settings and systems and may include acute emergency psychiatric services, community mental health centers, office-based and private practice, integrated psychiatric and primary care, and acute and long-term care settings.  Faculty provide opportunities for student reflection, skill and leadership development on site and in weekly seminars.  Clinical preceptors and sites assigned are carefully vetted by program faculty to assure that there is balance of experience across population and settings.


“Precepting students allows me to see patients through fresh, enthusiastic eyes. I love seeing patients I have been treating for 15+ years and having a student ask me a question about them I haven’t thought about recently. It instills new life and hope in my practice and my outlook on the nursing profession.” – Anonymous (AY 2019-2020)

Who Should Apply?

Prospective students must have demonstrated interest in the field of psychiatric-mental health nursing.  Successful candidates ideally have experience working in psychiatric settings or with individuals with mental health needs.  Having prior science course work is helpful for students, particularly to manage both the accelerated GEPN program and the concurrent core course work that is required in the PMHNP portion of the program. 


Certification & Licensure

The psychiatric–mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) program curriculum prepares students to apply for Lifespan PMHNP Certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).  Graduates also apply for state licensure as an advanced practice nurse (where available).


The master’s degree program in nursing at Yale School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

PMHNP Faculty Practice

PMHNP program faculty are in active clinical practice in a variety of settings across the lifespan including federally qualified health centers, community mental health centers, and private practice.