The Top Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Addiction Counseling

The Top Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Addiction Counseling

| Staff Writers

The Top Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Addiction Counseling
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Addiction counselors help people with substance abuse issues. Aspiring professionals in this field can specialize their master’s degree in substance abuse counseling, eating disorders, or chronic gambling, among other harmful behaviors.

Most state licensure boards require each addiction counselor to hold a master’s degree. A master’s in addiction counseling prepares graduates to become licensed substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors through classwork and clinical experience. The programs listed in our rankings offer affordable online learning that delivers the same educational quality as on-campus programs.

An online addiction counseling degree provides learning options that can accommodate students’ work and family obligations and learning styles. Distant learners can study the foundations of addiction counseling on their own schedules through an asynchronous format, while synchronous classes require virtual attendance at specific times.

Programs may combine both course methods and offer a hybrid delivery of online and in-person classes. Clinical practicums and internships typically require on-site attendance.

View our ranking methodology here.

Top 7 Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Addiction Counseling

Rank School Location
1 Washburn University of Topeka Topeka, KS
2 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
3 Wright State University Dayton, OH
4 Prescott College Prescott, AZ
5 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
6 Ottawa University Ottawa, KS
7 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY

Career and Salary Outlook for Addiction Counselors

Addiction counselors received a projected employment growth rate of 22% in 2018-28 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicating an increasing demand for trained professionals. These counselors earned a median annual wage of $46,240 in 2019. Government employees bring in the most at $52,720, while counselors in hospitals, individual and family services, and outpatient centers earn salaries around $40,000. Residential facility counselors earn $39,690.

Utah tops the 50 states for highest annual pay at $67,410, followed by Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, and New Jersey, which also boast salaries above $60,000. Addiction counselors in Lewiston, Idaho, get paid the most compared to their metropolitan-area peers, earning a mean annual wage of $81,600, followed by Salt Lake City and Reno at $76,710 and $75,920, respectively.

Top Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Addiction Counseling

  1. Washburn University of Topeka
    Location

    Topeka, KS

    Based out of Topeka, Kansas, WU offers a master's in addiction counseling that requires only four semesters of coursework. This NAADAC-approved program takes a holistic approach to learning, integrating theory and research while underscoring the practical application of theoretical knowledge.

    In this 36-credit program, coursework covers advanced methods of individual counseling, advanced pharmacology and substance use disorders, and addiction and recovery services. As the degree culminates, students engage in two semesters of practicum work, gaining the practical experience necessary for providing effective counseling services. After completing the degree, graduates can apply for state licensure.

    Each candidate must complete an online application and submit official transcripts from their undergraduate institutions. Providing WU with an initial unofficial transcript may help expedite the application process. An applicant must also submit three letters of recommendation and provide a personal statement detailing their academic and career goals.

  2. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Consistently ranked as one of the top online options for those seeking a master's in addiction counseling, Liberty maintains a robust distance learning footprint with ample academic resources. The university provides learners with the academic tools and practical training required for obtaining the licensure or certification needed. In addition to offering an evidence-based approach, Liberty's curriculum, ethics, and ethos align with Christian principles.

    Coursework includes topics, such as acute stress, grief and trauma, biological aspects of addiction and recovery, and treatment and the recovery process. Students seeking licensure must also complete practicum work as a prerequisite for graduation and licensure. This master's program comprises 48-credits and typically requires two years of study.

    A candidate must complete an online application and provide undergraduate transcripts within 60 days of acceptance. Enrolled students can transfer up to 50% of the required credits for graduation.

  3. Wright State University
    Location

    Dayton, OH

    Offered as an entirely online addiction counseling degree, Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, prides itself on a curriculum dedicated to the rigorous study of addictions, treatment, and counseling theory, along with practicum and internship experience.

    Upon completing this degree, Wright State graduates qualify to earn counseling licensure in Ohio by passing the national licensing exam. As licensure requirements differ from state to state, enrollees should be mindful of their state's specific licensure stipulations.

    Online coursework for this master's in rehabilitation counseling covers counseling theory and practice, advanced personality theory and psychopathology, and diagnosis and clinical counseling practice. In addition to a semester-long practicum, each degree-seeker must complete an internship within a professional counseling setting.

    Applicants must provide GRE or MAT scores for GPAs lower than 3.3. Each candidate must also supply the university with official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

  4. Prescott College
    Location

    Prescott, AZ

    Prescott College's master's in addiction counseling hosts online coursework and in-person workshops. Requiring 60 credits, students tackle three educational components before graduation: theory-based coursework, practicum and internship, and an exit exam. Graduates can seek Arizona licensure -- the school encourages out-of-state students to make sure Prescott's curriculum meets their state's licensure guidelines.

    Core addiction-focused coursework explores modern treatments and available community resources. Prescott's signature counseling courses include social justice in counseling, mindfulness in clinical practice, and human sexuality in counseling. Degree-seekers can also earn post-graduate certificates in ecotherapy, expressive art therapy, and equine-assisted mental health.

    Each applicant must complete an online application and submit two letters of recommendation, a current resume, and official transcripts. The school also requires a personal essay laying out academic and career objectives.

  5. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    With a philosophy of cultivating Christian leadership to change the world and based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent offers an online master's in addiction counseling through its MA in human services. This program trains students to engage both faith-based ministry and professional recovery techniques to a host of addictions. This online program uses asynchronous methods and real-time interactions with professors and fellow students.

    Regent provides the academic foundation for degree-seekers pursuing careers in pastoral counseling, clinical case management, or substance abuse counseling. Coursework explores advanced counseling skills and techniques, addiction behaviors and substance abuse, and addiction intervention.

    A prospective student must hold a BA or BS from a regionally accredited college or university, preferably in a related field, such as psychology or counseling, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Each candidate must submit an online application and supply official undergraduate transcripts. Regent may also request phone/video interviews.

  6. Ottawa University
    Location

    Ottawa, KS

    Dedicated to synthesizing theory, research, and practice, Ottawa University's online master's in addiction counseling prepares learners for careers in settings like private practice or substance abuse clinics. Ottawa's addiction counseling degree can also lay the foundation for further academic work in the field. This online program meets the academic standards for licensure in Arizona and most other states.

    Coursework for this MS in addiction counseling covers methods and models of research in addictions counseling, psychopharmacology, and multicultural concerns in addictions counseling. Along with traditional coursework, a degree-seeker engages in 300 hours of practicum work before graduation.

    Each applicant must possess an undergraduate degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 from an accredited institution. A prospective student must also supply a personal statement, resume laying out professional work experience, and three letters of recommendation.

  7. University of the Cumberlands
    Location

    Williamsburg, KY

    Based in Williamsburg, Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands operates as a private university offering an online master's in addiction counseling. By providing an education rooted in evidence-based practice, research, and professional integrity, the school prepares client-focused professionals with an eye towards social change, diversity, and community engagement.

    Core counseling courses include etiology and diagnosis of mental disorders, counseling during grief and crisis, and legal and ethical issues in counseling. Addiction-focused courses include psychopharmacology and addictions, family therapy in addiction treatment, and spirituality and values in counseling. In addition to theory-based coursework, an enrollee must accrue 100 hours of practicum work and 600 hours of internship experience.

    Each prospective student must complete an online application and include official transcripts for all undergraduate coursework. Along with two letters of recommendation, an applicant must also submit a writing sample based on a prompt provided by the admissions office.

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