Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


The Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse.
Advanced practice psychiatric nurses provide primary mental health care to patients seeking mental health services in a wide range of settings. This includes the assessment, diagnosis, and management of mental health problems and psychiatric disorders. The program allows for a primary focus on either children or adults.

Advanced practice psychiatric nurses work in a variety of settings, including inpatient, emergency and community-based mental health services. They also provide services in settings such as primary care clinics, forensic settings, schools, substance abuse centers and recovery programs.


Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) provide a full range of primary mental health care services including biopsychosocial assessment and diagnosis of patients with mental illness. Treatment modalities include both medication and psychotherapeutic management.

Note: the Clinical Nurse Specialist option is no longer offered in this MS Specialty Area.

Program Focus

The advanced practice psychiatric nursing program prepares students to respond to the mental health needs of persons across the lifespan. Students may select to complete their clinical residency with a specific age group, such as children and youth, or clinical population.

Coursework includes foundational coursework for all advanced practice roles, including comprehensive health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology and health promotion. Psychiatric nursing coursework includes psychiatric assessment and symptom management; psychopharmacology; individual, group and family therapy; and human development.

Post-Master's Study

There are also opportunities for post-master's study leading to Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification for those who are already graduate-prepared nurses.

Preparing for certification will generally require four to six quarters of study depending on the applicant's background.

Credentialing & Licensure

Graduates may apply for American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) national certification as a Family (i.e., lifespan) Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, which will be the sole option for national certification in advanced practice psychiatric nursing as of 2014. For information about ANCC PMHNP certification, see the web site for details.

For licensure in the State of California as a Nurse Practitioner, details are available online at the, the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) web site.


UCSF Nursing Student Affairs Office
2 Koret Way, Room N-319X
University of California, Box 0602
San Francisco, CA 94143-0602

Telephone:   (415) 476-1435
Fax:   (415) 476-9707