Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


For more information about the DNP program please visit the DNP section of our website.

UTK College of Nursing Elevates Advanced Practice Registered Nursing to the Clinical Doctorate

In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommended moving all Advanced Practice Registered Nursing (APRN) programs to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) level. Today’s health care environment requires APRNs who can deliver high-quality, safe, and effective care to individuals, families and communities. As the state’s flagship institution, we are committed to educating the best prepared APRNs at the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to lead changes in health delivery systems, explore and implement ways to cut health care costs, measure outcomes of groups of patients, populations and communities and provide evidenced-based care.

These principles guided our decision to elevate all APRN concentrations (except nurse anesthesia) to the DNP-degree level. Students seeking admission in fall 2018 to APRN clinical specialties will apply to the BSN-to-DNP program as we will not be accepting MSN applicants. We will continue to offer the post-masters certificates programs in each of the specialty areas.

As the healthcare system continues to evolve, APRNs will assume greater authority and independence for providing a broader range of clinical care than ever before. The UTK College of Nursing’s move to the DNP as entry into advanced practice is congruent with the national trend to empower nurses and advance the profession.

For more information about the DNP program please visit the DNP section of our website.

The psychiatric mental health nursing concentration prepares students to become advanced practice nurses in the psychiatric mental health field.

Classroom lectures and clinical conferences focus on theories related to the etiology, presentation, assessment, and nursing care of persons with both acute and chronic mental health problems. In addition, students examine theories related to the trajectory of illness, psychological development, family dynamics, and primary prevention. In clinical practica, students work with preceptors to develop clinical reasoning, patient assessment, and patient management skills.

The concentration courses (N519, N560, and N561) build on the core curriculum for advanced practice. The use of current research from mental health nursing and allied disciplines supports and promotes evidence-based practice. Both somatic and nonsomatic treatment modalities are taught including collaborative psychopharmacological management; individual, group and family level interventions; and crisis and time-limited therapies as well as consultative and case management roles.

Clinical practica are individualized to meet the needs and clinical interests of the student. Sites may include, but are not limited to, community mental health centers, inpatient psychiatric facilities, special education settings, home health agencies, private practices, drug and alcohol treatment facilities or agencies, and community residential facilities.

Upon completion of the program, graduates may seek national certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and be designated a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). In most states, including Tennessee, certified PMHNPs can apply for prescriptive privileges.

Changes in the health care environment have made advanced practice psychiatric mental health nurses quite marketable. Graduates practice in a wide variety of settings caring for clients who range across the life-span. The flexibility of the skills encompassed in this curriculum allow graduates to take advantage of new and emerging roles in the provision of services to persons with mental illness.

The psychiatric mental health nursing concentration is a blended curriculum. Specifically, classes include both on-campus and online activities. Online courses may be offered through a hybrid of traditional online learning and video conferencing. Psychiatric mental health nursing courses are mostly online, with one or two on-site sessions per semester.

The concentration is provided as a full-time program (involving four consecutive semesters). Student curriculum plans of study are individualized and carefully determined under the guidance of the concentration coordinator. A part-time program of study is not available.

Students work closely with their concentration coordinator and faculty to find appropriate clinical placements that meet the individual academic needs of the student (500 total clinical hours). While students may help identify potential clinical sites, they are not guaranteed any particular site placement. Travel to and from clinical sites is part of the concentration requirement.

Visit Recovery-Based Interprofessional Distance Education (RIDE) for more information.

Applications are no longer accepted for this program, please see our DNP program.

The psychiatric mental health concentration is part of the College of Nursing MSN graduate program and follows the standard admission process and cycle.


Applicants must meet the following admission requirements:

  • Meet all admission requirements of the Graduate School and the College of Nursing.
  • Submit an online application to UT Graduate Admissions.
  • Achieve a TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper test or 80 on the internet-based test if native language is not English.
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) from a regionally accredited program.
  • Hold or be eligible for licensure to practice nursing in the state (or a compact state as applicable) for which the student will be earning clinical credit as an advanced practice nursing student.
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4-point scale, or a GPA of 3.3 or higher for courses in the undergraduate major.
  • Have completed an undergraduate-level health assessment course.
  • Have completed 3 hours of graduate-level statistics. This requirement may be completed during the summer once admitted—see the statistics requirement chart for additional information. Any statistics course taken at another college must be preapproved by the College of Nursing after admission. Submit a copy of the course syllabus to for review.

GRE: The GRE is not required for admission to the MSN program unless an applicant has an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 or lower.

Credit transfer: A maximum of 9 graduate hours taken before acceptance into the master’s program may be applied toward the degree (does not include statistics course prerequisite); none may be clinical. Transferred courses must have been completed within the six-year period prior to receipt of the degree.

You may find additional information on acceptance details, tuition and fee estimates, scholarships, thesis vs. nonthesis options, and comprehensive exams on the Acceptance and Program Information section of our website.

Fall I (12 hours) Hours
504 Advanced Health Assessment 3
505 Advance Pharmacology 3
510 Theoretical Foundations of Nursing 3
515 Advanced Pathophysiology 3
Spring I (12 hours)
501 Nursing Research 3
507 Leadership and Change in Dynamic Systems 3
560 Advanced Practice of Mental Health Nursing I 6
Summer I (3 hours)
519 Psychopharmacology in Advanced Practice 3
Fall II (11 hours)
500/582 3
561 Advanced Practice of Mental Health Nursing II 7
512 Practice Issues: Nurse Practitioner 1

For Course Descriptions, please see the Graduate Catalog.

In addition to the core classes, the Psychiatric Mental Health concentration includes the following:

NURS 519 Psychopharmacology in Advanced Practice—3 credit hours                            

Examination of neurobiologic basis and psychiatric illness; application of psychopharmalogic agents to modify symptoms and outcomes. Discussion of ethical and legal issues including consent.

Credit Restriction: Graduate credit only. (DE) Prerequisite(s): 505. Comment(s): Prior knowledge may satisfy prerequisite with consent of instructor. Registration Restriction(s): Minimum student level—graduate

NURS 560 Advanced Practice of Mental Health Nursing I—6 credit hours

Etiologies of mental health, dysregulation, and person-centered recovery including evidence-based treatments. Skills in therapeutic relationship development, advanced holistic assessment, diagnostic reasoning, and therapeutic modalities are emphasized.

Contact Hour Distribution: 2 didactic and 4 practicum. Credit Restriction: Graduate credit only. (RE) Prerequisite(s): 504, 505 and 515. (RE) Corequisite(s): 507 and 510. Registration Restriction(s): Master of Science in Nursing—nursing major.

NURS 561 Advanced Practice of Mental Health Nursing II—7 Credit Hours

Advanced practice nursing in community settings for families and groups with actual and potential mental health problems.

Contact Hour Distribution: 2 didactic and 5 practicum. Credit Restriction: Graduate credit only. (RE) Prerequisite(s): 504 and 505 and 515. (RE) Corequisite(s): 507 and 510. Registration Restriction(s): Master of Science in Nursing—nursing major.


Get in touch with PMHNP Coordinator Lora Beebe.

Lora Beebe
Lora Humphrey Beebe