The UW–Madison School of Nursing offers this online/hybrid Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing Capstone Certificate.  It provides the opportunity for nurses who already hold a masters or doctoral degree to gain skills and knowledge to be an expert mental health practitioner.

The certificate program requires a minimum of 18 credits. It begins in summer and takes a year and a half to complete. Students spend the first summer taking a three credit psychopharmacology course. During the fall/spring/fall semesters, students take one foundation course and one application course, which brings together classroom and online learning with clinical experiences. Students spend a full day on campus every other week for class meetings and spend two to three days per week in clinical placements. This blended approach provides access to courses even for those who live outside of Madison, with readings and discussions online.

Students work two full days per week in clinical practice. Faculty will actively seek to secure a clinical placement that provides a balance of skills and breadth of professional experience across the full lifespan of patients, while doing their best to accommodate the student's family and professional responsibilities.

The Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nursing Capstone Certificate will be completed in just 16 months.

Further detail, including current tuition and costs, is available at the program's website or by contacting the School of Nursing.

UW–Madison School of Nursing
Signe Skott Cooper Hall
701 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
Phone: 608-263-5200

Applicant requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing program
  • Master’s degree from an accredited nursing program
  • RN license
  • Certification as an advanced practice nurse or eligible to apply for certification as an advanced practice nurse
  • Completion of prerequisite courses in advanced assessment across the lifespan, pathophysiology, and pharmacotherapeutics prior to starting the certificat

The School of Nursing conducts a holistic review of all application materials. Regardless of experience level, ideal candidates possess a desire to improve their ability to deliver complex care and expand their knowledge and understanding of the specialty. The program seeks candidates who are committed to providing care to underserved populations in need of services. Since the program requires a significant time expenditure for clinical training and coursework, candidates must understand these demands and indicate they are prepared to make time in their schedules accordingly.

Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS) is the admitting office for all University Special students. However, the School of Nursing which offers the capstone certificate program makes the final admission decision upon review of all applicant materials.

Application steps

A complete application includes the following information:

  1. An online application for admission as a University Special student, selecting UNCS Capstone Certificate and the program: Post Graduate Psychiatric Nursing. This application is received and processed by ACSSS with final decision held for approval from the specific Capstone Certificate coordinator. Seek three (3) letters of recommendation
  2. An application and required materials to the School of Nursing at the address below:

Submit All Materials to:

PMHC Coordinator/Graduate Admissions
UW–Madison School of Nursing
Suite 1100 Cooper Hall
701 Highland Avenue
Madison WI 53705


Admitted students receive a formal letter of admission to UW–Madison from Adult Career and Special Student Services along with general enrollment information.  Additional detail is provided on the ACSSS enrollment page

The Psychiatric Nursing Certificate Program  will send an email to admitted students with specific information pertaining to enrollment in and completion of the capstone program. 

  • Must have a minimum GPA of 3.000
Foundation Courses
NURSING 726 Foundations for APN Clinical Practice I3
NURSING 727 Foundations for APN Clinical Practice II3
NURSING 826 Foundations for APN Clinical Practice III3
Psychopharmacology Seminar
NURSING 657 Clinical Psychopharmacology3
Clinical Practicum Experience
Select 6 credits from the following:6
Advanced Practice Clinical Application and Role Development I
Advanced Practice Clinical Application and Role Development II
Clinical Leadership III
Total Credits18

Students learn to

  • Apply concepts of psychopharmacology to assess, monitor, evaluate, and educate patients across their lifespan
  • Make clinical decisions that connect concepts of health promotion, illness prevention, and common health conditions, with a population focus; includes complex and chronic health conditions and coordination of complex care across systems and settings
  • Apply advanced mental health assessment skills
  • Collaborate with faculty and a clinical preceptor to build clinical leadership skills