Psychiatric Mental Health – Doctor of Nursing Practice Online Program

We’re fighting America’s mental healthcare crisis, using evidenced-based therapies that are centered around patients’ needs.


  • Online

Program Duration

  • 3 years (9 Semesters)

Upcoming Deadlines



Advance Mental Health Care for Individuals, Families, and Groups

As a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Doctor Nurse Practitioner scholar, you’ll be on the frontlines responding to a national and global mental healthcare emergency. Our nurses are educated to offer evidence-based psychotherapy and psychopharmacology—merging the roles of psychiatrist and psychologist—with patients’ best interest at heart. 

You’ll learn to function autonomously in a variety of clinical settings and develop knowledge, skills and expertise in health promotion, prevention, and treatment of psychiatric disorders within individuals, families, and groups.

As an advanced-practice nurse, you’ll learn the organizational, economic, and leadership skills necessary to critique literature, implement evidence-based practices and design programs of care delivery that are functional, economically feasible and significantly improve healthcare outcomes.

Designed as an online course for working nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing degree, PMHNP scholars will complete approximately three years of coursework. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the PMHNP national certification exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

What Sets Us Apart

  • Student teacher ratio 12:1
  • 100% of faculty have doctorates
  • 100% of PMHNP faculty are nationally board-certified clinical practitioners
  • All students are assigned a faculty mentor and a senior student mentor
  • We pride ourselves on our supportive student experience


Applications for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner - Doctor of Nursing Practice program are accepted using the Central Application Service for Nursing Schools (NursingCAS).



To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • BSN or MSN degree from a CCNE accredited program
  • BSN degree GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (as listed on BSN transcript.)
  • Active, unencumbered California RN license
  • One year of full-time RN experience at the time of application
  • Psychiatric nursing experience is preferred but not required
  • Two letters of reference from individuals who can attest to your clinical expertise and preparedness for graduate level study

Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the program, and a cost estimator for the entire program.

Tuition Calculator

Your nursing education at SMU is an important and valuable investment in your future. SMU graduates have a loan default rate of less than 1%.  This means that students who borrowed to attend the University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

SMU is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships, work study, and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SMU offers scholarships and an assortment of resources for funding opportunities outside of the program. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. A limited number are awarded for academic merit. Scholarships for nurses include:

Sharon Clark Diaz
Employee Campaign
Marshall Steele, Jr.
Hitchcock Heydman
Henry & Bernice Bigge
Faculty Scholarship
Alumni Scholarship
Elks of the Year
William Breslin

In addition to the cost of tuition and books and fees, financial aid can cover other indirect educational costs, including:

Books and Supplies
Room and Board
Personal Expenses
Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs. Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost, and application processes are available through the Office of Financial Aid.

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming. We are here to help. Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards, and understanding the process. The SMU staff is committed to each prospective student and enrolled student. We have an open-door policy and are available via phone or email. or 510.879.9200

PLO1: Integrate nursing science with biomedical knowledge and evidence-based interprofessional best practices for the highest level of nursing practice. (ILO1, ILO4, ILO5)

PLO2: Provide leadership for the organization, delivery, quality, safety, sustainability, accountability, responsiveness, and continuous improvement in healthcare. (ILO2, ILO5, ILO6)

PLO3: Translate evidence into practice, evaluate practice, improve outcomes of care, and participate in collaborative research. (ILO4, ILO5, ILO7)

PLO4: Identify, appraise, implement, and evaluate information technology and systems to provide and improve care. (ILO1, ILO5, ILO6, ILO7)

PLO5: Design, advocate, and implement health care policy to support equitable and inclusive health care access, financing, regulation, safety, quality, and efficacy. (ILO1, ILO2, ILO4, ILO5, ILO6)

PLO6: Provide leadership to facilitate collaborative team functioning and interprofessional practice to improve healthcare outcomes. (ILO3, ILO5)

PLO7: Analyze health risks within the biological, environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic determinants of health to develop, implement, and evaluate clinical prevention measures to improve population health. (ILO3, ILO4, ILO6, ILO7, ILO8)

PLO8: Practice in a specialty role using advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, accountability, and innovation to design, deliver, and evaluate evidence-based care to improve healthcare outcomes. (ILO1, ILO2, ILO3, ILO4, ILO5, ILO6, ILO7, ILO8)

Enter practice, enter residency education, or practice in the enhanced role for which they have been prepared.

Ethics, Professionalism, Compassion—
Embody their ethical and professional responsibilities to effectively serve individuals from diverse backgrounds, their profession, and society with compassion, caring, and humility.

Communicate and collaborate effectively as members of interprofessional teams.

Structural and Social Determinants of Health—
Integrate an understanding of structural and social determinants of health into professional practice.

Clinical Reasoning—
Provide person-centered care using sound clinical reasoning informed by evidence from research and practice.

Advocate, as agents of change, to improve health and healthcare, especially for structurally vulnerable populations.

Effectively use data, information, and technology to support decision-making in complex systems.

Engage in self-care practices for personal health and wellness.

SMU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; 510.748.9001.

The doctor of nursing practice program at is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001.

DNP Accreditation

Initial Accreditation Date: September 24, 2012
Most Recent Accreditation Date: September 25, 2017
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2028
Last On-Site Evaluation: September 2017
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2027

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