Masters in Mental Health Nursing


A master’s degree in mental health or as commonly known as psychiatry is the specialized field of nursing that enables registered nurses to become mental health specialist nurses. In this capacity, a nurse works as a nurse practitioner and has the roles of conducting therapy, administering psychotic medications and offering counseling to psychiatry patients.

Requirements for Admission into Masters of Mental Health Nursing degree Programs

Like all nurse specialist training programs, mental health nurses must be holders of a bachelor degree in Nursing. In addition, the nurse must have an active registered nurse license most of which must be unrevoked. For additional admission eligibility, some schools ask for GPA scores of 3.0 or higher.

It is also possible for non-nurse students to enroll into the masters in mental health nursing programs. For such students, the evidence of having completed a bachelor degree from an accredited university is a prerequisite for admission. The normal career shifters into mental health nursing are observed from social or community related degrees. For these students, they follow masters in mental health nursing known as direct entry MSN.

Students from other non-nursing degrees wishing to become Psychiatric/Mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) are advised to have competitive science scores in prerequisites courses. However, those who do not meet this requirement from their previous degrees can bridge this by taking post baccalaureate pre-nursing courses.

Directory for Masters in Psychiatric Nurse Programs

The curriculum for masters of psychiatric nurse programs is different for the two classes of students. While the non-nurses take three years to complete the degree program, the Registered nurses take the usual two years for masters programs. The following expansion can give the bigger picture for better clarity:

  • The Direct entry MSN-Mental Health Nursing

This program, designed for non-nurse students enables them to earn a degree to practice as advanced practice nurses. Students being enrolled for this program have their common bachelors’ degree recognized and hence get some credits exempted from the curriculum. The study mode for these students takes an accelerated master in nursing study mode and save the student from taking a bachelors of Science in nursing degree.

Students utilize the first year of the masters program getting acquainted with core nursing units similar to those trained during ASN or BSN programs. In the second year, the non-nurse students are able to take advanced practice nurse credits, common to all masters of nursing programs.

To wrap-up the degree program, the third year is utilized on intense training on units specific to mental health nursing. These specialty courses cover all the aspects of psychiatric nursing and they range from patient counseling, psychology, psychiatric medications and other relevant therapies. Students spend the best part of this year learning psychotherapies, spiritual therapies, mental health pharmacology, population and lifespan based psychiatry among other courses. As usual, supervised clinical round to psychiatric patients is mandatory for program completion.

  • BSN to Masters in Mental Health Nursing (MMHN)

This program is specially designed for Bachelor of Science in nursing degree holders. Students in this category are already RNs and only take a MMHN to become advanced practice RNs. They are able to choose the mental health specialty courses similar to those taken by the direct entry students at 3rd year. As opposed to the former, the BSN to MSN students only take two years to complete their courses in addition to the mandatory clinical practical sessions.

  • RN to Masters in Psychiatric  Nursing

To avoid ambiguity, the RN to MSN refers to the degree program designed for RNs who only have diplomas or associate degrees for licensure as RNs. It should not be confused with RNs who have BSNs and want to take the same masters degree. The RN to masters of health nursing enables ASN degree holders to become PMHNPs or mental nurse specialists without having to go through a BSN program.

It is also a form of an accelerated master’s n nursing degree as students are able to complete their curriculum in about three years. The best candidates for this program are fresh or recent ASN graduates. In some instances, taking a master in mental health nursing through this path enables ASN-RNs to be awarded a BSN in tandem with the MSN degree. However, this option is only offered by some and not all nursing schools.

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