How can I find an online PMHNP program that will accept me?

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I've tried to research this and find the right path to take but I simply get overwhelmed and give up. I have my Associates degree in nursing and have 18 years experience in my field.

I want to become a PMHNP but I CAN NOT find my way. I live in Mississippi. As I said earlier, I have my Associates degree but can't find a suitable online program that fits my life. Most programs require chemistry and/or statistics and I have neither. It's been 20 years since I've been in school, in a classroom and I can't imagine stepping back in a classroom. I am attempting to find a program that doesn't require either of these but I realize I may have to take them.

Another huge hurdle, my GPA while in school was 2.69. I found one college that was perfect, completely online but my GPA was just too low. I currently work full time at a Crisis Intervention Center and have been there 12 years. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know. Thank you all so much.

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Pursuing a PMHNP (Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner) can be challenging, especially with specific requirements and constraints. Here are some suggestions that might help you navigate your path.

List of PMHNP Programs

You can find more comprehensive lists of PMHNP programs, including state-by-state breakdowns and specific program details, from sources like the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA).

Here are some articles for you to read:

Use the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) NP Program Search tool for a broader perspective on NP programs. This online search platform provides data from the AACN and allows you to select programs based on different criteria, including various NP specialties.

Remember, the right PMHNP program for you will align with your educational background, career goals, financial situation, and personal commitments. With careful research and consideration, you can find a program that sets you on the path to a fulfilling career in psychiatric mental health care.

  • Look into online PMHNP programs that might be flexible and accommodate your work schedule. Some universities offer asynchronous online courses, allowing you to study at your own pace.
  • Consider consulting with academic advisors or admissions offices for personalized guidance based on your situation.
  • Talk to real people as much as you can. If you are facing any issues regarding the prerequisites of a university, it is recommended that you directly contact the university officials to discuss your situation and check if they can provide any flexibility regarding prerequisites. It is important to remember that the decisions are made by real people and not computers, so it is necessary to communicate with college admissions professionals and be your own best advocate in person.
  • Consider bridge programs designed for individuals with an Associate's degree in nursing. These programs may help you transition to a Master's or Doctorate level without requiring additional coursework like chemistry or statistics.


  • Highlight your extensive work experience in the mental health field in your personal statement. Some programs may consider your practical experience valuable, especially if you've worked in crisis intervention for over a decade.
  • Obtain strong letters of recommendation from colleagues or supervisors who can attest to your clinical skills and commitment to mental health care.

GPA Enhancement/Pre-reqs

Less than a 3.0 GPA can be a hard stop.

You can improve your application by taking additional coursework to boost your GPA. Contact prospective schools to learn about GPA enhancement options. 

Consider retaking courses in which you performed poorly. This shows admissions committees that you are serious about your education and have taken steps to improve your academic record. 

You could check to see if your local community college or online learning platforms offer specific courses in chemistry and statistics. I understand that you may prefer not to attend a traditional classroom for your studies, but it might be necessary to do so.

I recommend starting with an easy class before moving on to a more challenging laboratory or intensive study course. Completing these courses may help improve your application.

Alternate Route

Lastly, consider obtaining your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before applying to a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. Having a BSN significantly enhances your application and eliminates the need to search for an accelerated program. The course would be less rigorous.


  • When selecting a PMHNP program, consider factors such as the program's reputation, certification exam pass rate, tuition, acceptance rate, learning format (online or in-person), and clinical experience requirements.
  •  You may also want to consider the program's duration and the commitments involved, especially if you plan to work while studying.
  • Accreditation is an essential aspect when choosing a PMHNP program. Look for programs accredited by  CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) or  ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing). Upon completion of an accredited program, graduates are eligible to apply and sit for the PMHNP certification exam given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).


Connect with professionals in the mental health field, especially those who have pursued PMHNP. Attend a local chapter meeting of APNA or AANP if possible. They can offer guidance, advice, or insights into suitable programs.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Look into financial aid options, scholarships, or grants available to support your education.

Stay Persistent

Don't be discouraged by initial setbacks. Persistence is key. Keep researching and reaching out to different programs until you find one that aligns with your goals and circumstances.

Remember, every educational journey is unique, and programs might be willing to work with you to help you achieve your goals.

Good luck with your pursuit of becoming a PMHNP!