UC Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program: A Collaborative Effort of the UC Schools of Nursing

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With California facing an urgent and growing shortage of mental health professionals, the four UC Schools of Nursing — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA and UCSF — collaborated to launch a new online program to prepare new psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) in California.

This multicampus PMHNP postgraduate certificate program is the first of its kind in California. Its training will increase the mental health providers workforce at a time when the shortfall continues to grow across California. Over 50% of people with mental illness in the state are not receiving psychiatric care, and many communities, especially those located within rural and inland areas, have only half as many psychiatrists as other parts of the state.

The UC PMHNP postgraduate certificate is a 12-month hybrid program that combines online education with three in-person sessions and regional clinical training across California. Often, students remain in their communities to complete their clinical training.

Upon completion of this training, students will be eligible to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Across the Lifespan) Board Certification (PMHNP-BC) to become a board-certified PMHNP.

Schedule and Application Deadline

For the first three UC PMHNP classes, from 2021 to 2023, program admissions were led by the UCSF School of Nursing. Beginning with the cohort enrolling in June 2024, students will apply through the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, pending all UC and California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) approvals. Applications for June 2024 entry are expected to open in late 2023, pending approvals.

Admissions Requirements

We anticipate the admissions requirements and other details to be similar to what is currently required, as listed below.

Who Can Apply

The UC PMHNP postgraduate certificate program is geared toward Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) looking to further their education and training to serve the psychiatric patient populations in their local communities. These include:

  • Nurse practitioners (NPs)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs)
  • Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs)

Required Qualifications

  • Current unencumbered APRN licensure in California. Nursing license must be recognized as valid for practice within the state of California during the complete course of study.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions, including any programs in which you are currently enrolled. Review our detailed guidance on official transcripts.
  • Goal statement
  • Minimum of 3 letters of recommendation
  • Resume or CV
  • English proficiency for non-native speakers (minimum TOEFL score of 92, minimum ILTS score of 7)

Required Prerequisite Coursework

Prior coursework in the following areas is required by the American Nurses Credentialing Center to be eligible for the PMHNP certification exam. Please visit the ANCC website for more information.

Three separate, comprehensive graduate-level courses in: 

  • Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology, including general principles that apply across the life span 
  • Advanced Physical/Health Assessment, which includes assessment of all human systems, advanced assessment techniques, concepts and approaches
  • Advanced Pharmacology, which includes pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics and pharmacotherapeutics of all broad categories of agents 

In addition, applicants must have completed content in:

  • Health Promotion/Disease Prevention
  • Differential Diagnosis/Disease Management

PLEASE NOTE: Students whose previous graduate programs did not include the courses specified above must complete them before applying to sit for PMHNP board certification.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more details about the certificate program and admissions, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.


The current Multi-Campus PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate curriculum is competency based and aligned with the National Organization for Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) core and population specific competencies which include: scientific foundations, leadership, quality, practice inquiry, technology and information literacy, policy, health delivery system and ethics. The curriculum is built upon a framework which supports trainee knowledge, skills, and attitude for development of the PMHNP role. This is supported through didactic content and a workplace-based clinical internship. The curricular framework and descriptions are:

  • PMHNP role development: To build excellence in practice as a PMHNP
  • Interprofessional collaboration: To support communication and collaboration across professions
  • Structural competency: To create healthcare citizens who understand the effect of social inequity, racism and limited access to mental health care on individuals and communities
  • Self-reflective practice: To gain awareness of self, other and situation in the context of professional identity and role development

Request Information

Still have questions? For additional assistance, please email the Admissions and Student Services team at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis at: [email protected]. And be sure to sign up to receive updates about how and when to apply.