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School of Nursing

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Certificate of Advanced Study for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner [PMHNP]

What you need to know:

1.     What is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)?

A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) is a registered nurse with standardized procedures who possesses additional preparation and skills to assess, diagnose, and treat the mental health needs of the client(s) across the lifespan (children, adolescents, adults, geriatric population) in a variety of practice settings. 

2.     Why PMHNP from Fresno State?

Are you a nurse practitioner finding your self- perplexed at times when taking care of individuals with mental health issues? If so, Fresno State's School of Nursing has a formally constructed postgraduate PMHNP certification program designed especially for you. The Fresno State program is designed to assist in your professional competence, providing access to specialized mental health knowledge to provide a full range of psychiatric services in a diverse population throughout the life cycle. Expand your scope of practice and become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

3.     Is the Fresno State PMHNP program currently nationally accredited by CCNE? 

Yes, our post-master’s PMHNP program is accredited by The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). 

4.     What are some career opportunities for PMHNP?

As a PMHNP across the Lifespan, you will be managing clients with acute and chronic mental health conditions, offering psychotherapies (individual, group, family psychotherapy) and psychopharmacological interventions in various settings such as:  

  • Out-patient Psychiatric Clinics
  • In-patient Psychiatric Facilities
  • Telemedicine Settings
  • Hospitals
  • Emergency Department
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Substance Use Rehab Facilities
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Case Management and Consultation
  • Domestic Violence Shelters
  • School or College Campuses
  • Veterans Administration Psychiatric Facilities
  • Room and Boarding Care 
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Skilled Nursing and Long-Term Care Facilities 
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospice Centers and Patients’ Homes 

5.     What are the requirements for the PMHNP program?

Applicant must meet all of the following seven (7) requirements at the time of application is submitted: 

  1.  Either a Master of Science in Nursing or a higher degree [ DNP or Ph.D.] from an accredited college. 
  2. Valid Active California Nurse Practitioner license and Furnishing Number.
  3. A minimum of two (2) years of clinical experience as an NP is required at the time of application is submitted. Previous mental health experience is preferred (not required). 
  4. Currently practicing as a primary care nurse practitioner, i.e. Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner, or Geriatric Nurse Practitioner.
  5. Current Drug Enforcement Administration authorization for Schedule II medications.
  6. Valid Active California Registered Nurse (RN) licensure.
  7. Three (3) letters of recommendation.

6. How long does it take to complete the PMHNP program?

Our PMHNP is a one-year online program.  It starts in Spring (January) and ends in Fall (December) each year. 

7.     How many units do I take?

You will take a total of 19 Units in one year (divided into three semesters). All students are expected to move through the coursework as a cohort.

8.     How much does the PMHNP program cost?

The program cost at this time is $600.00 per unit for 19 units [$11,400 in total]. There will be additional costs for additional resources (Textbooks, Typhon, Livescans, clinical requirements, etc.). Financial aid is NOT available for this program. Please note that the cost is subject to change.

9.     How many theory courses do I take throughout the program?

There are four (4) theory courses divided into three semesters. 

10. How many practicum courses do I take throughout the program?

There are three (3) practicum courses divided into three semesters. 

11. What are the clinical requirements for this specialty?

  • Adult/Geriatric = 310 Hours
  • Pediatric/Adolescent = 120 hours
  • Psychotherapy (45 individual + 45 Group) = 90 hours 
  • Total = 520 clinical hours required.

12. Who can be my preceptor?

Out of 520 clinical hours, up to 430 hours must be completed with either: 

  • A Board-Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)
  • A Board-Certified Psychiatric (DO, or MD)
  • The remaining 90 hours can be completed with either: 
  • A Clinical Psychologist (Psych D)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)

13. Where do I complete my practicum hours?

The clinical hours can be completed at outpatient psychiatric clinics, inpatient psychiatric facilities, drug rehab centers, telehealth settings, correctional facilities, crisis centers, substance Use Rehab Facilities, etc. The clinical placement site and the preceptor must be approved and have a contract with Fresno State. 

14. Am I responsible for finding my preceptors?

It is the program's responsibility to place students in clinical preceptorships. However, we strongly recommend students identify a clinical site where they would like to do clinical hours. Finding clinical placements can be very challenging. If you have a specific provider who is willing to precept you, notify the PMHNP Coordinator as soon as possible to avoid delay in starting clinical hours. 

15. Do I have to travel for the clinical?

Perhaps yes, we try our best to match the clinical site based on the students in their geographical area. However, sometimes students might have to travel out of town.  

16. Can I do clinicals outside California? 

No, the clinical site, preceptor, the student, and the faculty must be licensed in California. 

17. Can I do all of my clinical hours as a Telehealth?

Yes, there is no limit on the telehealth hours; however, the clinic and the preceptor must be based in California. 

18. Can I work full-time and complete clinicals on the weekends?

We strongly recommend that students do not attempt full-time work. Your practicum days will depend on the availability of your preceptor (usually need two-weekday clinics each week).  Most likely you will have to change your work schedule to accommodate clinical rotations. 

19. How many hours a week I should study for this program?

It is usually expected that students will spend approximately 2 hours of study time outside of class for every one hour in class. For example, if you take a 3-unit class, you should expect to study an average of 6 hours outside of class each week. Multiply this by the number of units each semester. In general, students should expect to devote 2-3 days per week to coursework. This does not include time spent on the clinical hours.

20. How many times do I need to visit the campus?

All new PMHNP students are required to attend one (1) on-site session termed an “Intensive”.  This is usually scheduled on the 3rd Saturday of January. This will be an 8-hour day and we will be covering a variety of topics such as discussing the overall requirements of the program, reviewing basic principles of psychiatry, the concept of neurobiology, psychopharmacology, mental status exams, practicum requirements, etc, using different modalities such as didactic lectures, discussion, in-class activities, case study. You will also meet with your faculty. This is the only face-to-face session requirement. 

However, we will have a total of three (3) Zoom sessions in each semester: 

Zoom Session   Semester   Date
1st semester      Spring        Third Saturday of April.
2nd semester     Summer    Third Saturday of July.
3rd semester      Fall             Third Saturday of November. 
*The rest of the program is completely asynchronous online.  

21. What is the PMHNP Curriculum Plan?

Semester 1 [ SPRING] 7 UNITS, 108 Clinical Hours 

Semester 2 [ SUMMER] 6 UNITS, 206 Clinical Hours 

Semester 3 [ FALL] 6 UNITS, 206 Clinical Hours 


NURS 243: Management of Psychiatric Disorders and Mental Health Problems Across the Life Span

Major theories and models of psychiatric disorders and mental health problems.  Symptoms, underlying causes, and management of common mental disorders seen in primary care settings such as eating disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, and depression discussed.  Ethical issues. Focus on patient as individual. UNITS: 2

NURS 244: Advanced Psychopharmacology Across the Life Span

Current scientific knowledge of psychotropic regimens and application to psychiatric disorders and mental health problems. Advanced concepts in neuroscience, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and clinical management. UNITS: 3

NURS 245: Management of Common Psychiatric Conditions Across the Life Span Practicum

Assessment, diagnosis, and management of common mental health disorders in primary care. Critical analysis of clinical strategies and interventions in health promotion and maintenance and prevention of common psychiatric problems in primary care. Role of PMHNP in community mental health. (108-hour practicum) UNITS: 2

NURS 246: Methods of Psychotherapy

Types and principles of family, adult, and child psychotherapeutic interventions.  Group psychotherapeutic processes and methods of facilitation.  Models of crisis intervention, cognitive behavioral and motivational interventions.  Focus on families and groups. UNITS: 2

NURS 247: Management and Care of Patients with Acute and Chronic Psychiatric Conditions Practicum

Assessment, diagnosis, and psychopharmacologic and psychotherapeutic management of common mental disorders, including psychotic conditions, uncommon presentations, acute exacerbations, and crises. (206-hour practicum, of which 45 hours are to be in psychotherapy). UNITS: 4

NURS 248: Psychiatric Disorders and Mental Health Problems in Special Populations

Assessment, diagnosis, and management of common psychiatric conditions in elderly, children, adolescents, and diverse populations. Effect of culture on expression of illness, help-seeking behaviors, and treatment.  Disparities in mental health care, legal and ethical issues.  Focus on community. UNITS: 2

NURS 249: Management and Mental Health Care of Special Populations Practicum

Assessment, diagnosis, and psychopharmacologic and psychotherapeutic management of common mental disorders, with an emphasis on care of the elder adults, children, adolescents, and diverse populations. (206-hour practicum, of which 45 hours are to be in psychotherapy). UNITS: 4

Total: 19 Units, 520 Clinical Hours  

 22. What Pedagogy is utilized to meet course objectives? 

Multiple student-centered learning pedagogies are used including but not limited to the following:

  • Student-centered learning
  • Recorded Lectures
  • Chapter Readings
  • Article Reviews 
  • Discussion Questions 
  • Directed and self-directed readings 
  • Preceptor-supervised clinical practice 

23. What Evaluation methods are used to assess course objectives?

Multiple evaluation methods are used including but not limited to the following:

  • Weekly case studies/ Discussion Boards 
  • Grand Round Paper and Presentation 
  • Weekly Quizzes
  • Midterm and Final Exams
  • Client encounter logging into Typhon- an internet patient logging system used to document their daily experiences and total hours.
  • Objective Student Comprehensive Evaluation [OSCE] 
  • Student Evaluation by the Clinical Site Preceptor 

24. Will I be able to contact my faculty anytime throughout the program?

Absolutely yes. Even though this is an online program, you will be able to arrange a meeting (either in person or via Zoom) with your faculty anytime during the program. Students' feedback is highly encouraged throughout the program. We encourage open communication.

25. What kind of resources are available to the students?

Students' success and satisfaction are very important to us. As such, we offer multiple resources to the students such as weekly lectures will be recorded online for students who can view them when convenient. Handout materials or lecture outlines will be available for each lecture in CANVAS and students can contact the instructor via email or phone with any questions throughout the program. 

Graduate Students also have access to the Graduate Student Success Center which includes the Graduate Writing Studio & Graduate Statistics Studio

Other resources to consider include:

  • Fresno State Henry Madden Library
  • Technology Services
  • Faculty Advisors
  • Student Health Center
  • Financial Aid Center
  • Nursing Office
  • Nursing Resource Center (NRC)
  • Simulation Lab
  • Division of Research and Graduate Studies (DRGS)
  • Graduate Writing Studio
  • Graduate Statistics Studio

26. When is the application due?

Applications for admission are accepted from August 1 through October 15 of each year. We recommend applying as soon as the application period opens. A decision may be made on a first-come, first-served basis, and the application may close before the deadline if all seats have been filled.

27. I am meeting all the requirements, and I am excited! How do I apply for the program? 

Great to hear that! Admission to the program is a three-step process:

Step 1:

Apply for admission to the university. The university application form can be found online at

Step 2:

Apply for admission to the PMHNP program. The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program application can be found online at*

Step 3: 

Submit Transcripts

Electronic- transcripts sent electronically or as a PDF attachment MUST come directly from the issuing institution. Transcripts emailed by the applicant will not be accepted for admission review. 

Have your institution email transcripts to:
Fresno State Admissions OR Fresno State Division of Graduate Studies at*

Hardcopy- transcripts must remain in their original, sealed envelope. 

Transcripts should be mailed to:
Graduate Admissions Office
California State University, Fresno
5150 N. Maple Ave M/S JA57
Fresno, CA 93740-8026

*This is a secure email for transcript submission ONLY. Contact the Program Coordinator with any questions about your application.

28. How are admissions decisions made?

The Division of Continuing and Global Education (CGE) and Graduate Studies will review all submitted applications to ensure they are complete for all the required information, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. Once the application meets the University and CGE requirements, the PMHNP program coordinator will carefully review the application and determine whether to make an admission offer, place the applicant on a waitlist, or make a decision of non-admission. 

29. Will I be interviewed by the program coordinator?

The Program Coordinator may contact an applicant to perform a phone interview if they need to clarify something. 

30. How many students are accepted each year?

The number of students offered admission may vary each year based on many factors. Typically, we admit approximately 16 students. Many factors such as NP experience, mental health background, etc are considered while making admission decisions. Since this is an online program, candidates must be computer literate and have reliable internet access.

31. I just applied, what is the next step?

Thank you for applying. Your application will be carefully reviewed. If needed, the PMHNP coordinator may contact you over the phone for a brief interview. 

Please check your email regularly and you will be officially notified via email by October 31st (either to make an admission offer, to place the applicant on a waitlist, or to make a decision of non-admission of acceptance). 

If admission is offered, you will be required to sign the confirmation letter of intent to either accept or decline the offer of admission. The form must be returned to the program coordinator via email attachment no later than November 15. 

Please check your emails regularly, you will also receive additional information such as course registration, agenda for orientation, intensive, etc. 

Here is a recap of the timeline: 

1.      Application opens: August 1

2.      Application closes: October 15

3.      Decisions Notification: October 31

4.      Student letter of acceptance: November 15

5.      Orientation/Intensive: 3rd Saturday of January

6.      Graduation: 3rd week of December 

32. After completing the program, what will my credentials and certifications be?

After completing the PMHNP program, you will be eligible to sit for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) (Across the Lifespan) national board certification examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). 

Once you complete the eligibility requirements to take the certification examination and successfully pass the exam, you will be awarded the credential: PMHNP-BC (Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified).

33. I still have more questions regarding the program, who do I contact?

No worries, please feel free to contact the PMHNP Program Coordinator and you will receive a response within 2-3 business days. We look forward to hearing from you and we wish you all the best!

    Photo of Dr. Harkirat Bal Program Coordinator: Harkirat Bal, email:

Admission criteria and application instructions:

Deadline to apply is October 15 of each year