Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

Academically rigorous, the UW–Madison online Certificate in Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing prepares you to address the serious need for psychiatric mental health services, particularly in rural and underserved populations.


Is this program right for you?

As a practicing nurse, you may already work with patients needing psychiatric mental health services and respond to the challenges of their care. A Capstone Certificate in Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing from the UW–Madison School of Nursing provides you with the skills and knowledge to be an expert mental health practitioner in your community, no matter where your career takes you. Psychiatric advanced practice nurses are in high demand, and this program prepares students to step into those roles.

As a student in our certificate program, you will complete four semesters of foundation content and clinical application, with time spent working online, in your community, and on the UW–Madison campus. As part of a very small cohort of nurses, you will get to know your peers and our faculty very well. With their support, you will improve your ability to deliver complex diagnoses, expand your knowledge and understanding of psychiatric nursing methods, and improve the care of psychiatric patients in underserved populations.

Taught by board-certified faculty from the UW–Madison School of Nursing, our certificate in Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing gives you the benefits of studying at home, learning in your community, and collaborating on our campus. This blended approach provides access to our program even if you live several hours from Madison. You complete readings and discussions online. Then, you join us for classes, twice each month, on the UW–Madison campus, where you, your fellow students, and your professors will collaborate to improve your health care proficiencies.

You will also work two full days per week in clinical practice. Our faculty will actively seek to secure a clinical placement for you that provides you with a balance of skills and breadth of professional experience across the full lifespan of patients, while doing their best to accommodate your family and professional responsibilities.

You will complete your Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing Capstone Certificate in just 18 months. During that period, you’ll contribute a great deal of hard work and a significant expenditure of time for your clinical training and coursework. The rewards make it all worthwhile.

Is this program right for you?

As a practicing nurse, you may already work with patients needing psychiatric mental health services and respond to the challenges of their care. A Capstone Certificate in Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing from the UW–Madison School of Nursing provides you with the skills and knowledge to be an expert mental health practitioner in your community, no matter where your career takes you. Psychiatric advanced practice nurses are in high demand, and this program prepares students to step into those roles.

As a student in our certificate program, you will complete four semesters of foundation content and clinical application, with time spent working online, in your community, and on the UW–Madison campus. As part of a very small cohort of nurses, you will get to know your peers and our faculty very well. With their support, you will improve your ability to deliver complex diagnoses, expand your knowledge and understanding of psychiatric nursing methods, and improve the care of psychiatric patients in underserved populations.

Taught by board-certified faculty from the UW–Madison School of Nursing, our certificate in Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing gives you the benefits of studying at home, learning in your community, and collaborating on our campus. This blended approach provides access to our program even if you live several hours from Madison. You complete readings and discussions online. Then, you join us for classes, twice each month, on the UW–Madison campus, where you, your fellow students, and your professors will collaborate to improve your health care proficiencies.

You will also work two full days per week in clinical practice. Our faculty will actively seek to secure a clinical placement for you that provides you with a balance of skills and breadth of professional experience across the full lifespan of patients, while doing their best to accommodate your family and professional responsibilities.

You will complete your Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing Capstone Certificate in just 18 months. During that period, you’ll contribute a great deal of hard work and a significant expenditure of time for your clinical training and coursework. The rewards make it all worthwhile.

Admissions Requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing program.
  • Have a master’s degree from an accredited nursing program.
  • Have an RN license.
  • Be certified as an advanced practice nurse or be eligible (meet all requirements) to apply for certification as an advanced practice nurse.
  • Have completed prerequisite courses in advanced assessment across the lifespan, pathophysiology, and pharmacotherapeutics prior to starting the certificate.
  • All applicants are advised to determine whether this program meets requirements for licensure in the state where they live. See the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website for contact information for state licensing boards.

To apply:

  • Online application to UW–Madison as a University Special Student.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Postgraduate Education Statement.
  • CV/Resume.
  • Official transcripts.
  • Photocopy of nursing license from current state of residence.
  • Photocopy of advanced practice certification if you are an APN.

Applications accepted for summer enrollment.

Program Highlights

  • Our program offers the best of both worlds: the convenience of online coursework combined with the benefits of classroom learning. You attend classes on campus only twice each month.
  • You work two or three full days per week in clinical practice, fostering industry connections and experiencing the real-life work environment.
  • Our program is taught by board certified UW–Madison nursing faculty. You will be taught by experienced professors with a wide variety of professional backgrounds, from nursing to mental health care.

How You'll Learn

  • Each semester, take one foundation course online (including readings, case studies, etc.) and one clinical course (totaling 170 clinical practice hours).
  • Twice each month, come to the UW–Madison campus for classes.
  • Each week, spend 20-25 hours at a clinical site and working on course assignments.

Sample Curriculum

Year 1

  • Psychopharmacology (must be taken the summer before starting the program)
  • Advanced Practice Clinical Application and Role Development I and II
  • Foundations of APN Clinical Practice I and II

Year 2

  • Clinical Leadership III
  • Foundations of APN Clinical Practice III
  • Pediatric Assessment for Mental Health APNs (optional)

Job Outlook

Market Salary
$111K in 2018

Projected Job Growth
36.1% for Nurse Practitioners (2016-2026)

Job Postings
831 in 2018

Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight. 2019.
Burning Glass Technologies’ Market Salary is an estimated expected salary. Market Salary uses machine learning algorithms to account for experience, skill, and education among other factors that may impact individual salaries.

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