MSN: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The MSN: Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program option offers registered nurses the opportunity to expand their scope of practice to include the care of individuals, families and groups with psychiatric and mental health needs.

Our lifespan curriculum is a synthesis of knowledge derived from nursing science, neuroscience, behavioral change theories, motivational theories, learning theories and other psychotherapeutic frameworks to provide a holistic perspective from which to assess, diagnose, treat, manage and evaluate acute and chronic mental illnesses.

You will learn about neuropsychopharmacology, interprofessional collaborative practice, crisis intervention, trauma-informed care, health policy, family systems theory, psychotherapy, group therapy, care of vulnerable populations, promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness, substance use and co-occurring disorders, and other mental illnesses across the lifespan.

Ranked #4 for Best Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, US News and World Report 2020 Rankings


  • Develop and foster therapeutic relationships as a basis for the provision of holistic and compassionate care to individuals, families, and populations across the lifespan who are at risk of developing and/or have a psychiatric disorder or mental health problem.
  • Provide holistic, compassionate, and recovery-oriented care consistent with current legal, ethical and evidence-based standards of advanced practice psychiatric/mental health nursing to individuals, families, and populations across the lifespan.
  • Demonstrate cultural competence through the delivery of mental health care which recognizes and acknowledges the influence of culture and spiritual beliefs on health outcomes.
  • Engage in professional leadership skills to manage, integrate, and coordinate client care services across the continuum of care.
  • Collaborate and consult with other members of the interprofessional team to support improved health and enhanced quality of life for individuals, families, and populations across the lifespan experiencing psychiatric/mental health needs.
  • Implement strategies to promote health policies that improve mental health, prevent disease, reduce stigma, and improve access to care for individuals, families, and populations across the lifespan experiencing mental health needs.
  • Apply information technology and knowledge-based resources to manage data that informs clinical practice.
  • Synthesize theoretical, scientific, and clinical knowledge to promote health, prevent disease, and manage mental illnesses with pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for individuals, families, and populations across the lifespan.

Who Should Apply

If you’re already working as a nurse and are interested in advancing your education to expand your scope of practice to include the care of individuals, families and select client populations with psychiatric and mental health needs, you should consider our MSN: Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.



Spring 2022 Applications
Priority: 08/15/2021
Final: 11/15/2021
Fall 2022 Applications
Priority: 02/01/2022
Final: 05/01/2022



The MSN: Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program consists of 50 credit hours and 600 clinical hours. Questions about program requirements should be directed to the program director, Rhonda Schwindt.

Program of Study


For full listing of courses and descriptions, please visit the University Bulletin.

On-Campus Requirements

You must complete an on-campus component, for which you will be responsible for all travel-related expenses.

Campus Learning and Skills Intensive (CLASI)

You will come to campus during the semester you are enrolled in NURS 6222: Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning to participate in CLASI, which prepares you to perform a complete history and physical examination.

Technology Requirements

Beginning fall 2018, each student admitted to the MSN program is expected to own and have ready access to a laptop or tablet with basic productivity software for classroom use. View Policy.

Complete applications that are submitted by the priority deadline will be reviewed first. Applications do not have to be verified by the priority deadline, only completed and submitted. Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at [email protected]

A completed application includes the following components:

  • Bachelor's degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Preferred scholastic GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Official transcripts (from all post-secondary schools)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Current resume/CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Active and unencumbered nursing licensure


  1. GW Nursing is subject to state authorization requirements in order to offer an approved nursing curriculum. View available states.


At the conclusion of this MSN program, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate leadership based upon advanced knowledge.

  2. Promote and improve quality in the workplace through quality improvement practices.

  3. Synthesize knowledge of nursing practice, theory and research as a foundation for advanced nursing practice.

  4. Demonstrate continued professional development through ongoing education.

  5. Build an interdisciplinary professional network that includes collaboration and teamwork.

  6. Promote positive changes in health care delivery and nursing practice.

  7. Engage in caring and collaborative relationships with patients/clients for shared decision-making.

You must record a minimum of 600 hours of clinical experience with an approved preceptor. You are encouraged to find your own preceptor, but we can provide information on local clinical sites if needed.  A clinical site visit will be conducted, usually during your second or final clinical course, by a faculty member.

The following clinical courses are required


  • NURS 6244 (75 clinical hours) – Family and Group Psychotherapy
  • NURS 6246 (75 clinical hours) – Individuals across the lifespan living with acute and chronic Mental Illness


  • NURS 6247 (150 clinical hours) – Population-based Psychiatric/Mental Health


  • NURS 6248 (150 clinical hours) – Integrated Application of Psychiatric/Mental Health

Required Documentation

  • Current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate
  • Immunization records including vaccination or immunity to hepatitis B; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); varicella; diphtheria; polio and tetanus
  • Documentation of negative test results for tuberculosis (purified protein derivative (PPD) and/or chest x-ray)

Questions about clinical placement requirements should be directed to [email protected].

3 Great Reasons to Choose GW Nursing

Online Learning
These specialties are delivered in a hybrid format with online courses and some on-campus experiences for testing and training.
Flexible Format
Some specialties require you to complete a set number of clinical hours to complete the curriculum.
Exceptional Faculty
Our faculty members are nationally recognized leaders in nursing who actively engage and inspire students to improve global health care for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

On-campus requirements vary by program and specialty. Students enrolled in our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program spend the duration of the program on our Virginia Science and Technology Campus (VSTC) in Ashburn, Virginia.

Most graduate programs are delivered in a distance format with online courses and some on-campus experiences for testing and training, which typically take place in our state-of-the-art simulation facilities at VSTC. For example, nurse practitioner students are required to come to campus for Campus Learning and Skills Intensive (CLASI) when enrolled in NURS 6222 and for Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) during their second clinical course. For specific on-campus requirements for graduate programs, please visit the webpage for your respective specialty area of interest.

All nurse practitioner students are also required to complete an end of program skills assessment. During this final on-campus simulation-based learning event, students have an opportunity to showcase their assessment, diagnostic reasoning, and patient management skills.

Students enrolled in our Accelerated or Veteran Bachelor of Science in Nursing program may only attend the program on a full-time basis due to its accelerated format.

Students enrolled in our RN to BSN or RN to MSN programs may only enroll on a part-time basis.

Students enrolled in a graduate program have the ability to enroll in most tracks on a part-time basis. To review your program of study options, visit the MSN, DNP or certificate webpage in the specialty area of your choice. PhD applicants should contact the program director directly.

Our clinical placement model provides students with faculty and staff support to ensure clinical sites align with clinical course objectives and nurse practitioner (NP) competencies. Our approach includes a clinical placement team dedicated to processing legal documentation required to clear students for clinical placement. Although we offer as much support as possible to students who are unable to locate a preceptor, our process is driven by student submission of a request for placement. We are dedicated to ensuring adequate and robust clinical experiences, however, GW Nursing is not required to locate clinical sites and preceptors for our NP students. 

Students wishing to apply for a student visa in the United States will need to seek sponsorship from George Washington University. At this time, the only program available to students seeking an F-1 or J-1 visa is our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program taught in person in Ashburn, Virginia. For further questions about eligibility, please contact [email protected].