Delivery Method: Combined delivery (online theory and in-person labs and clinicals)
Duration: 120 weeks
Start: March & September
Wages: $36.23-$57.38/hour (BCNU April 2021)
Regulated By: British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM)
Credit Transfer (Articulation): Graduates of Stenberg College’s 120-week Psychiatric Nursing diploma program are eligible for advanced entry to Thompson Rivers University’s Bachelor of Health Science degree. They are also eligible for advanced entry to Athabasca University’s Bachelor of Science Post Diploma with a major in Math, Human Science or Computing Information Systems. Douglas College’s Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing (BSPN) also grants advanced entry (PLAR) to Psychiatric Nursing graduates.
Access for LPNs: Experienced LPNs are encouraged to apply and may be eligible for advanced standing in the program through Stenberg’s Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition Process (PLAR).

About the Career

A Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN) directly cares for those with mental illness, physical and developmental disabilities, and addictions. RPNs also promote optimal mental health across community and health care settings. RPNs work in challenging clinical and treatment environments and in interdisciplinary team settings. 

RPNs possess specialized skills in providing psychiatric patient assessments, determining patient needs, offering therapeutic support and expert counselling, and implementing treatment plans. They must possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills to be effective as primary nurses, and capable of extending compassion, empathy and diplomacy.

RPNs are employed in a broad range of settings that provide challenging and exciting opportunities. As a Registered Psychiatric Nurse, you could find work in:

  • Health authorities – hospitals and community agencies
  • Mental health and addiction/recovery programs
  • Forensic service departments
  • Prisons and penitentiaries
  • Inpatient and community services
  • Group homes and clubhouses
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Nursing education programs
  • Schools

About the Program

In response to an overwhelming demand for Psychiatric Nurses throughout British Columbia, particularly outside the large urban centres, Stenberg College has offered its online-based Psychiatric Nursing diploma program since 2006. The only program of its kind in Canada, this innovative program allows students to do the majority of their coursework as well as their clinical placements and practicum in their local communities. 

Theory is instructor-led in a guided online learning platform. Online learning combined with regional clinical placements allow you to pursue your education in your home community. 

You will be taught by working Nurse Educators who are committed to your success. This program is recognized by the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM), and the curriculum focuses on the competencies that are required to successfully complete the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada Examination (RPNCE). Nursing abilities are based in seven categories: 1. therapeutic relationships and therapeutic use of self, 2. evidence-informed knowledge, 3. collaborative practice, 4. Advocacy, 5. quality care and client safety, 6. health promotion, and 7. ethical, professional, and legal and responsibilities​. The client is the person central to all nursing practice.​​

To learn more about the entry-level competencies of RPNs, click here.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the Psychiatric Nursing program must first complete the following:

  1. Attend an information session via teleconference
  2. Submit an application form
  3. Successfully complete the online entrance essay assignment/assessment
  4. Provide an up-to-date resume
  5. Provide 2 professional references (must be signed and dated with contact info)

*If English is a Second Language, you will be required to pass one of Stenberg College’s recognized Language Proficiency Assessments (IELTS or CELBAN).


  • Grade 12 English (minimum grade B)*
  • Grade 12 Biology (minimum grade C)
  • Grade 11 Math (Principles, Foundations or Pre-calculus) (minimum grade C)
  • Acceptable Criminal Record Review with Vulnerable Sector Check by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

Additional Pre-requisites (under 19 years):

  • Graduation from grade 12 with a C+ average
  • Grade 10 Science (minimum grade C)

For LPN Access to the Psychiatric Nursing program:

  • Copy of current licensing as a Practical Nurse
  • Proof of the equivalent of 2 years full-time (3,600 hrs) work experience as an LPN
  • Official, sealed copy of LPN program transcripts

*Entrance requirements can be met with evidence of alternate assessments such as Challenge Exams, or acceptable standardized English equivalency tests as per the Stenberg College Language Proficiency chart. Evidence of Post-Secondary studies at an equivalent level where English was the first language is acceptable.

As there are limited seats available in each region, admission is given to the most qualified candidates, with preference given to those with work or volunteer experience in a health-related field. You must submit written proof with confirmation of hours completed from the volunteer organization or employer. Students with post-secondary education in any field are also encouraged to submit original transcripts of the highest credential completed. These must be original transcripts sent directly from the educational institute to us. All documents should be submitted with the rest of the application package. Upon submission, applicants may require an individual interview.

Program Courses

Credit Transfer to Thompson Rivers University (TRU)

Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing Diploma Program

120 weeks

Thompson Rivers University Bachelor of Health Science

36+ credits (12 courses)

Brandon University Master of Psychiatric Nursing (MPN)

2+ years

Graduates of Stenberg College’s 120-week Psychiatric Nursing diploma program are eligible for admission toward the Bachelor of Health Science degree at Thompson Rivers University. Successful applicants receive up to 84 PLAR credits, leaving 36 credits remaining to be completed at TRU (21 Lower-level; 15 Upper-level). All courses for Thompson Rivers Bachelor of Health Science degree done entirely online from anywhere in Canada.

Articulation to Brandon University

Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) with a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from TRU meet the admission requirements for Brandon University’s Master of Psychiatric Nursing (MPN) program. All MPN students are required to attend an annual 2-3 day on-campus session each year in order to meet residency requirements but the rest of the coursework is delivered entirely online and practicums can be in a student’s home community. The MPN program can be completed in as little as two years but students have up to six years to complete the program.

Articulation to Athabasca University

Stenberg College Psychiatric Nursing graduates are eligible for advanced entry to Athabasca University’s Bachelor of Science Post Diploma with a major in Math, Human Science or Computing Information Systems.

Articulation to Douglas College

Douglas College’s Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing (BSPN) grants advanced entry (PLAR) to Psychiatric Nursing graduates.

Our Faculty

Accreditation and Recognition

Stenberg College is designated by the BC government’s Ministry of Advanced Education through the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB). PTIB is responsible for setting standards of quality and ensuring consumer protection. Stenberg College has also received the BC government’s Education Quality Assurance (EQA) designation, which is BC’s brand or “seal” of quality post-secondary education for public and private institutions. This program is also approved by the Registrar.

British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives Recognition

Stenberg’s Psychiatric Nursing Diploma Program is recognized by the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM). This full-time, 120-week combined-delivery program is designed to prepare students, upon graduation, to register to write the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada Examination (RPNCE).

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