ELM-MSN: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Specialty

APU’s Entry-Level Master’s in Nursing (ELM) program is designed for students who hold baccalaureate or higher degrees in other disciplines but want to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.

This specialty master’s program prepares students for roles as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners for clients with psychiatric and mental health problems across the lifespan. Students learn to work respectfully and collaboratively with clients/consumers who are experiencing severe or chronic mental illnesses to determine biopsychosocial healthcare needs within a complex and changing environment. Theory and clinical coursework focuses on assessment; differential diagnosis and disease management; intervention planning; individual, family, and group psychotherapy; health promotion; and disease prevention. Mental-health-related policy, and the application of research and evidence-based practice, informs the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.                                                                                           

The inherent equality and worthiness of those who are vulnerable and disenfranchised; the role of spirituality; the value of diversity; and the ability to engender hope, empowerment, self-responsibility, and a meaningful role in life are threaded throughout the program. Graduates are eligible to apply to the California Board of Registered Nursing for certification as a nurse practitioner, and may apply for national PMHNP certification through examination. 

Contact the School of Nursing for specific program availability and locations. Prelicensure coursework must be completed prior to beginning advanced practice nursing coursework.


Academic Core Courses10
GNRS 506Spiritual Concept Analysis in Health Care3
GNRS and/or GSPH XXX Electives7
Academic and Advanced Practice Core Courses14
GNRS 510Family Theory in Health Care2
GNRS 513Advanced Nursing Practice Role2
GNRS 610Advanced Pathophysiology3
GNRS 611Advanced Pharmacology3
GNRS 612Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning 14 (3/1)
Advanced Practice Specialty Courses29
GNRS 533Psychiatric Theories across the Life Span2
GNRS 534Integrated Psychiatric and Health Assessment across the Life Span2
GNRS 535Psychiatric Interventions and Health Promotion across the Life Span6 (3/3)
GNRS 536Psychiatric Mental Health Care with Adults and Older Adults6 (3/3)
GNRS 537Psychiatric Mental Health Care with Children and Adolescents6 (3/3)
GNRS 538Psychiatric Mental Health Care with Selected Populations5 (2/3)
GNRS 539Psychopharmacology2
Concluding Course(s)1-3
GNRS 597Comprehensive Examination Directed Study1
- or -
GNRS 598
GNRS 514
and Research Proposal Writing
Total Units54-56

Units in parentheses are classroom/clinical units.


University graduate admission and program-specific requirements must be met before an application is complete (see Admission to the University). Program-specific application requirements are available online.

International students should contact Graduate and Professional Admissions for application procedures.