Psychiatric Mental Health NP Certificate Program

Make an impact in one of the most critical areas of healthcare and help your patients thrive. 


  • Online

Program Duration

  • 5 Semesters

Upcoming Deadlines

Fall Application

Advocate For Patients' Mental Needs

As a PMHNP, you will be able to assess, diagnose, and care for simple and complex psychiatric medical issues, ensuring that patients and their families receive the sensitive and trauma-informed medical attention they require. As an independent member of the health care team, the PMHNP provides a variety of evidence-based services and therapies, as well as the possibility to influence policymaking to improve quality and safety in mental healthcare. You will be prepared to manage psychiatric mental health disorders, organic brain disorders, substance abuse problems, and complex co-occurring diseases, with a caring patient-centered approach.

This certificate program is designed for nurses with a non-clinical master's or nurses with a different specialty looking to move forward in their mental healthcare careers. The program is built to adapt to the students’ needs and schedules, so you can study as you work. Graduates of this Certificate Program are eligible to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner competency-based examination.

Requirements & Program Info

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:

  • MSN degree from a CCNE accredited program
  • 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; at least one letter must be from a supervisor or instructor and should be on an official letterhead


Samuel Merritt University Alumni students are invited to apply using the Alumni Application Academic Year 2024-2025. If you have questions regarding this application, contact Rudy Torres, Assistant Dean of Admissions, at

Alumni Application


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 Cost
For applicants who are already nurse practitioners tuition is $51,543, $1,909/unit all in (including fees; NOT inclusive of student health insurance). For applicants who are graduate-prepared nurses who are not nurse practitioners tuition is $66,815, $1,909/unit all in (including fees; NOT inclusive of student health insurance).

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 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 2020
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2030


Nila Hollis

Assistant Professor

SMU Perspectives