The Top 10 Online Master’s Degrees in Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling

Best Counseling Degrees - Top Online Programs 2016
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By BCD Staff
March 2016

The accredited online programs listed here will allow students interested in careers in the field of substance abuse and addictions counseling to gain the educational experience necessary to work towards professional licensure following graduation. These programs will provide students with a solid understanding of the issues facing individuals, couples, and families, struggling with the disease of addiction. Graduates will be prepared to provide effective assessment, diagnosis, and treatment to clients battling addiction. This ranking is part of our series on Online Degrees in Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling.

For information about how this ranking was developed, see the methodology statement at the bottom of the article.

10. Governors State University

University Park, IL

Master of Health Science in Addictions Studies Program

Governors State University offers a Master of Health Science in Addictions Studies Program. This program is available fully online. Additionally, students who are interested may choose to complete the program in the classroom or in a hybrid format with their time split between the classroom and online courses. This program emphasizes the importance of a multicultural perspective when working with individuals, families, and communities on the issue of addiction and recovery. This program is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC). Graduates of this program will be prepared to utilize the best evidence-based practices and be leaders in the field of addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Courses include: psychopharmacology; planning, managing, and evaluating substance abuse programs; substance abuse prevention; etiology and epidemiology of substance abuse; substance abuse counseling; group techniques; clinical models of addiction; and treating co-existing disorders.

  • Credits Required: Not Listed
  • Cost: $631 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more information on Governors State University 

9. Post University

Waterbury, CT

Master of Science in Human Services / Alcohol and Drug Counseling

Post University offers an online Master of Science in Human Services with a concentration in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. Post University designed this accelerated degree program for working professionals in order to enable students to both maintain and advance their career. Graduates of this program will have a strong understanding of addiction and the impact of addiction on individuals, families, and society. Graduates will have the ability to consider multicultural and ethical issues in the delivery of treatment services. Courses are offered in eight-week sessions six times a year. As always, individuals interested in the program are encouraged to consult their home state licensing board to determine professional licensure eligibility following graduation.

Courses include: human services ethics and diversity; human development through the life cycle; applied research methods in human services; biology of addiction; theories of alcohol and drug counseling; psychopathology of addiction; and group and family treatment in addictions.

  • Credits Required: 37
  • Cost: $570 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges

For more on Post University

8. Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, IN

Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling. This program is offered on campus and is also available fully online. This program emphasises training graduates to bring a Christian worldview to the field of counseling, while training graduates to provide clinical services to individuals struggling with addiction in a variety of mental health settings. Indiana Wesleyan University is approved by the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) and the Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling degree is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC). Graduates of this program will be prepared to apply for state licensure and national certification.

Courses include: multicultural counseling; theory and techniques in the helping relationship; theory and techniques in group counseling; appraisal of individuals and families; legal, ethical, and professional issues; integration of the theory and practice of Christian counseling; issues in addiction recovery; psychopharmacology; psychopathology; theories and treatment of addiction; and counseling addicted families.

  • Credits Required: 48
  • Cost: $507 Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more on Indiana Wesleyan University

7. Capella University

Minneapolis, MN

Master of Science in Addiction Studies

Capella University offers an online Master of Science in Addiction Studies. Courses in this program are structured in 10 week units and students typically take one to two courses at a time. Capella University offers students the opportunity to gain valuable clinical skills such as assessment, diagnosis, and crisis counseling through their residency experience. The required residency is seven days long (including travel) and offers the students the chance to develop clinical skills, build relationships with peers and faculty, and to enhance their educational experience. Additionally, students will gain clinical skills through the required supervised internship and practicum fieldwork. Capella University offers students and graduates of the program support in navigating the licensure process to enhance their career opportunities following graduation.

Courses include: survey of research in human development for addiction professionals; assessment of addiction; principles of integrated addiction and mental health treatment; ethical and legal issues in addiction treatment; group therapy in addiction treatment; theories and models for addiction treatment; interventions in addiction treatment; and implications of addiction treatment with diverse populations.

  • Credits Required: Not Listed
  • Cost: $503 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more on Capella University

6. Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, AZ

Master of Science in Addiction Counseling

The College of Humanities and Social Issues at Grand Canyon University offers a Master of Science in Addiction Counseling available online. The program is designed to be flexible to meet students individual needs and is set up to be completed within 32 months. Courses are generally eight weeks long. Over 80% of students that completed the program in 2014-2015 did so within 32 months. Students will gain clinical skills through supervised internship and practicum experiences. Graduates of this program will be prepared to apply for state licensure or certification and go on to provide clinical services to individuals, families, and groups, in a variety of settings from private practice to hospital settings.

Courses include: introduction to graduate studies in the health sciences; introduction to addictions and substance use disorders; professional counseling orientation and ethics; counseling theories; group counseling theory and practice; social and cultural diversity issues in counseling; psychopharmacology and addictions; co-occurring disorders; family issues and addictive disorders; diagnostics, assessment, and treatment; and counseling chemical dependency adolescents.

  • Credits Required: 36
  • Cost: $500 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more on Grand Canyon University

5. Washburn University

Topeka, KS

Master of Arts in Human Services: Addiction Counseling

Washburn University offers a Master of Arts in Human Services with an emphasis available in Addiction Counseling. This program is designed to be a good fit for students with a variety of professional interests; from students interested in entering the field to professionals looking to enhance their knowledge base and skill set to students hoping to continue their graduate study or teach in higher education. While students are expected to be continuously enrolled in the program they can choose to enroll in this fully online program on a part-time or full-time schedule.

Courses include: integrative human services; advanced methods of individual counseling; advanced methods of group counseling; professional ethics and practice; diagnosis of substance use disorders; integrative approaches to dual disorders; addiction and recovery services; and lifespan development.

  • Credits Required: 30
  • Cost: $455 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more on Washburn University

4. Walden University

Minneapolis, MN

Master of Science in Addiction Counseling

Walden University offers a Master of Science in Addiction Counseling. Walden University offers students the opportunity to choose from six specializations in their Master of Science Addiction Counseling program. The specializations are: addictions and public health; child and adolescent counseling; family studies and interventions; forensic counseling; military and culture; and trauma and crisis counseling. As a result of having a broad variety of specializations to choose from, graduates of this program will find themselves prepared to build their careers around their specific area of interest within the field of addiction. Graduates may choose to work with individuals and families who have been impacted by addiction in a variety of ways from substance abuse to other addictive behaviors such as hoarding and gambling. This program aims to prepare graduates to take certification and licensure exams and for careers as addiction counselors.Walden University offers valuable direct service training through the required completion of two six-day residencies.

Courses include: foundations for graduate study in counseling; introduction to addiction; ethics and legal issues in counseling; techniques in counseling; counseling addictive disorders; multicultural counseling; diagnosis and assessment; theories, treatment, and case management of addiction; assessment in counseling and addiction; and prevention, intervention, and consultation.

  • Credits Required: 90
  • Cost: $440 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more on Walden University

3. University of South Dakota

Vermillion, SD

Master of Arts in Addiction Studies

The online Master of Arts in Addictions Studies at the University of South Dakota prepares graduates for professional careers in the field of addictions counseling. Students in this program have the opportunity to build on their previous academic and professional experience and choose from two degree track options; the advanced track (requiring the completion of 33 credit hours), and the standard track (requiring the completion of 45 credit hours). This program provides a variety of courses covering addiction, preparing graduates to be experts in the field of addiction and recovery. This degree prepares graduates for licensure in South Dakota, as always students should consult with their home state licensing and certification board to determine if programing meets their state requirements for practice.

Courses include: comprehensive alcohol and drug education; psychopharmacology of alcohol and drugs; alcohol and drug counseling theories; advanced legal/ ethical issues and the addiction profession; addictions studies research; case management and assessment of co-occurring disorders; working with families on alcohol and drug issues; alcohol and drug use in diverse populations; foundations of alcohol and drug prevention; addiction counseling; and relapse prevention.

  • Credits Required: 33-45
  • Cost: $431.25 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more on University of South Dakota

2. Union College

Barbourville, KY

Master of Arts in Psychology

Union College offers an online Master of Arts in Psychology with a certification in chemical dependency. This degree would be a good fit for students that hope to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology. The program emphasises research in the field of psychology and students have the opportunity to utilize the skills they develop in the program with a research based thesis. Additionally, this program offers graduate students in the psychology program the opportunity to pursue a certification in chemical dependency along with their degree. Graduates who elect to focus on chemical dependency will be prepared to counsel individuals struggling with drug and alcohol dependence. All students are always welcome to visit campus but will not be required to do so.

Courses include: introduction to psychology graduate studies; advanced developmental psychology; statistics for mental health professionals; quantitative and qualitative research methods; advanced psychopathology; theories of personality; advanced behavioral neuroscience; emotion, motivation, and cognition; health psychology; multicultural and diversity issues; ethics and professional practice; foundations of chemical dependency treatment; psychology of addiction; recovery and relapse; and biological systems of chemical dependency.

  • Credits Required: 36
  • Cost: $395 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

1. Kaplan University

Multiple Locations

Master of Science in Psychology, Addictions Specialization

Kaplan University offers an online Master of Science in Psychology with a specialization in addictions. Other areas of specialization are available as well. Additionally, students in this program have the opportunity to choose between a thesis track (75 credits) or a comprehensive exam track (70 credits). Kaplan University aims to meet the individual needs of students by offering multiple start dates, the program can be completed in two years. Kaplan University has chosen to show support for service members, their spouses, and veterans through reduced tuition rates and fees. Service Members, spouses, and veterans are encouraged to explore the website on these generous reductions in tuition and fees as well as scholarships for dependent children.

Courses include: chemical and psychological dependency counseling; psychopharmacology; group counseling; advanced addiction counseling; and co-occurring disorders and treatments.

  • Credits Required: 75
  • Cost: $385 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

For more on Kaplan University

Methodology: For the Top 10 Online Masters Degrees in Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling, a list of schools was gathered from College Navigator. Schools were selected that had programs in “substance abuse/addiction counseling” and offered the programs as distance education. These programs were then checked for regional accreditation by the Council for Higher Education, only those that were regionally accredited were retained on the list. Next each school’s website was searched for master degree programs offered in an online format. Finally, schools were ranked by tuition (per credit hour) as listed on the program’s web site for online / distance education degrees.

Note: Required residencies (if any) are listed when stated by program.

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