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RN-to-MSN - Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing

Nursing professionals who wish to prepare for advanced careers in areas of mental health diagnoses and treatments could start with Walden University's Registered Nurse (RN)-to-Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing program. Learn more here.

Official Program Name:

Registered Nurse (RN)-to-Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

School Offering Program:

Walden University

Degree Level:


Program Prerequisites:

Prior to enrollment, aspiring students should hold current RN licensure. They must also have a hospital diploma, associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing. Strong leadership skills and a desire to work with patients with patients with psychiatric disorders would also be beneficial. All applicants to Walden University should have a high school diploma or equivalent; some programs have additional requirements.

Program Description:

Which therapeutic methods are best for individuals? What methods are better suited in group settings? How are medications used in psychotherapy? These are among the topics discussed in Walden University's RN-to-MSN program with a specialization in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. Students also participate in a two-part practicum in which they focus on psychotherapeutic approaches, diagnostic practices, and assessment processes for children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. Other topics covered in specialization and core courses include disease processes, effects and safety of drug therapies, health delivery systems, health legislation and regulations, and organizational leadership.

Learning Format:


Program Length:

89 quarter credits (plus general education requirements).

Financial Aid Available:

Eligible students could be able to receive financial aid in the forms of grants, loans, and scholarships. Contact Walden University's financial aid office for more information.

Tuition, Financial Aid & Start Dates

Since every student is different, there isn't a "one size fits all" for school information. Start dates and tuition often vary between selected programs, and financial aid opportunities are unique to each student's circumstances. Complete the form to the right to get the most up-to-date and accurate information based on your selected program and circumstances.

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Required Courses for a RN-to-MSN with a specialization in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing:

Of the 89 total credits needed to earn this MSN degree, 40 are taken in the mental health specialization. The core curriculum accounts for 20 credits, with the remaining 29 credits taken in foundation coursework. RN-to-MSN students will also be required to fulfill general education requirements prior to beginning their foundation and core courses for the MSN. General Education courses are available at Walden for those students who have not completed the minimum undergraduate credits of general education courses required for admission to the master's program.

Degree program and course requirements are subject to change. Contact Walden University to confirm the most accurate information before enrolling in a program.

General Education Courses (50 credits)

Students who have not previously completed the required general education courses required for admission to the master's program may complete the following general education courses:

  • English Composition
  • Professional Writing for Successful Communication
  • Modern Popular Culture
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Additional Science courses, if needed:
    • Introduction to Biology
    • Nutritional Science
  • Statistical Methods and Applications
  • Indigenous Peoples in the Modern World

Foundation Courses (29 credits)

  • Issues and Trends in Nursing
  • Foundations of Nursing Research
  • Role of the Nurse Leader in Population Health
  • Topics in Clinical Nursing
  • Leadership Competencies in Nursing and Healthcare
  • Transition to Graduate Study for Nursing

Core Courses (20 credits)

  • Policy and Advocacy for Improving Population Health
  • Transforming Nursing and Healthcare Through Technology
  • Essentials of Evidence-Based Practice
  • Interprofessional Organizational and Systems Leadership

Specialization Courses: Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing (40 credits)

  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning
  • Psychopharmacologic Approaches to Treatment of Psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy With Individuals
  • Psychotherapy With Groups and Families
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Role I: Child and Adolescent
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Role II: Adults and Older Adults

Post-Graduation Opportunities

Furthering Your Education:

Graduates of the RN-to-MSN - Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing program could be prepared to fill clinical or administrative roles in mental health evaluation, diagnosis, and treatments. However, those with an interest in academics or nursing research would typically need to hold a doctorate. Graduates with these aspirations could choose to pursue the following:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice with a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing specialization
  • PhD in Nursing

Career Paths:

Completing the RN-to-MSN with a specialization in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing program could lead graduates to apply analytical and assessment skills and knowledge of various therapeutic methods as mental health nurse practitioners. For this profession, graduates will need to obtain necessary licensure; licensing requirement vary from state to state.

Possible clinical settings in which graduates could work include:

  • Mental health clinics
  • Correctional facilities
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Outpatient psychiatric facilities
  • Community mental health centers

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