Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

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The PMHNP diagnoses and manages acute episodic and chronic mental illnesses, with an emphasis on health promotion/disease prevention, teaching, and coaching.

The DeSales PMHNP program assures a broad range of clinical experiences that prepare students to work in diverse healthcare settings including hospitals, skilled-care facilities, clinics, and other outpatient treatment centers. The PMHNP may follow patients from hospital to outpatient settings to ensure successful transitional care.

Christian moral and ethical principles serve as the guide for care-giving, communication, collaboration, and decision-making as a PMHNP.

Graduates are eligible to take the Psychiatric-Mental Health (Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner Certification Examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The required 60-hour advanced pharmacology course, coupled with the 30-hour Psychopharmacology course, exceeds the minimum required for prescriptive authority in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Full-time or part-time class schedules

  • Full-time students can complete the program in two calendar years
  • Part-time students can complete the program in three calendar years

Online, hybrid and in-class courses

  • Complete core courses completely online or in a hybrid format
  • Advanced core and specialty/clinical courses are in a hybrid format

Clinical Placements coordinated by the University

Student placements are arranged by the Clinical Liaison and Clinical Faculty in nationally-ranked clinical facilities throughout the Lehigh Valley and beyond

Program Summary

Courses: 14 courses + Capstone Portfolio
Total Credit Hours: 52
Clinical Laboratory Hours: 75
Clinical Practicum Hours: 675

Sample Part-time Plan*

Fall Winter Spring Summer
Year 1

NU 536 (Population Health)

3 credits

NU 522 (Policy)

3 credits



NU 626 (Pathophysiology)

3 credits



NU 628 (Pharmacology)

4 credits



NU 530 (Research)

3 credits



Year 2

NU 622 (Assessment)

4 credits / 75 lab hours

NU 633 (Behavioral Neuroscience)

2 credits



NU 538 (Informatics)

3 credits

NU 740- (Foundations in Psychopathology)

2 credits



NU 741 (Psychotherapy with Individuals and Groups)

4 credits



NU 635 (Psychopharmacology)

2 credits



Year 3

NU 742 (Assessment and Diagnosis in Psychiatry)

6 credits / 225 clinical hours



NU 743 (Evaluation & Treatment in Psychiatry)

6 credits / 225 clinical hours



NU 744 (Role Development with Special Populations in Psychiatry)

6 credits / 225 clinical hours

NU 799 (Portfolio)

1 credit




*This is a sample only. Upon full acceptance to the program, students will consult with their assigned advisor to determine a plan based on seat availability, semester start and individual needs. Full-time options also available.

See Graduate Catalog for course descriptions »

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program Description

The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program (PMHNP) Program prepares graduates as collaborative care providers who practice within the expanded scope of advanced nursing practice.

Students acquire the clinical and experiential knowledge and competencies that serve as the foundation for evidence-based provision of care to populations across the lifespan requiring inpatient and/or outpatient services for psychiatric and mental health needs. Students acquire skills to promote mental health and reduce disability through study of individual, group, and family psychotherapies; management of mental health concerns using holistic treatment and lifestyle management; and pharmacological interventions, complementary and alternative therapies. Graduates are prepared to meet the healthcare needs of individuals with psychiatric disorders who may have co-morbidities/dual diagnoses in the form of substance use problems or medical conditions.


The PMHNP program structure is grounded in established standards and curriculum guidelines set forth by regulatory and governing agencies. It is based upon the foundation of established core courses and advanced practice core courses, followed by a four-course sequence of specialty courses. 

The PMHNP program is also offered as a post-Master's certificate program; depending on the nature of transferrable courses, the post-Master's certificate program can be completed in one to two years of part-time study. Graduates are eligible to take the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. 

Program Outcomes

At completion of the PMHNP Program, students will:

  • Integrate Christian humanism in advanced nursing practice that values and facilitates full human development via partnerships with patients and families facing mental health problems.

  • Initiate resolutions to ethical dilemmas arising from system or organizational conflict.

  • Manage, integrate and coordinate patient care services across the mental health care continuum.

  • Analyze new knowledge and evidence based principles to deliver competent, high quality health care, initiate policy change, and improve health care delivery practices for mentally ill patients across the lifespan.

  • Demonstrate advancement of clinical practice that contributes to quality, safety, and improved health outcomes in mentally ill patients across the lifespan.

  • Apply advanced concepts of leadership and advocacy to influence policy, health systems, and consumerism in order to effect population health service improvement.

  • Facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and consultation to meet the mental health needs of patients across the lifespan.

  • Synthesize seminal theoretical, ethical, and legal concepts into the provision of mental health care delivery practices across the lifespan.

  • Demonstrate proficiency in the application and evaluation of communication and information technologies to meet the complex demands of health care.

  • Integrate cultural sensitivity through an awareness of global health concerns to decrease health disparities.

  • Design comprehensive, outcome-oriented care for patients with mental health needs utilizing innovative, evidence based methods that emphasize the teaching/coaching/ collaboration role of the PMHNP.

  • Exemplify qualities required to assume leadership positions within the health care system, political arena, academic centers, and professional organizations.

  • Contextualize a personal philosophy and plan for lifelong learning to support advanced nursing practice.

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