Most Affordable Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling Degrees 2021

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Master’s in addiction counseling programs prepare graduates to provide direct therapeutic services to clients with substance use and behavior issues. Addiction counseling emphasizes compassion, understanding, acceptance, and accountability. Counselors often provide referrals and collaborate with medical professionals and social workers in designing treatment plans.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn a median annual salary of $46,240. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 25% between 2019-2029. Graduates with a master’s in addiction counseling degree can also pursue roles like social worker and social and community service manager.

This guide ranks the most affordable online master’s in addiction counseling degrees. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as common courses and scholarship opportunities for addiction counseling students.

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FAQ's Surrounding Master's in Addiction Counseling

  • What can I do with a master's in addiction counseling?

    Graduates with a master’s degree in addiction counseling can pursue careers in areas like mental health, behavioral health, human services, and counseling psychology.

  • How much does a substance abuse counselor make with a master's degree?

    According to PayScale data from February 2021, addiction counselors make an average of $39,900 annually, while MS in addiction counseling graduates earn an average of $44,574 annually.

  • What degree do you need for addiction counseling?

    According to the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to practice.

  • How long does it take to get a degree in addiction counseling?

    Master’s programs typically take about two years of full-time study to complete. However, some programs offer accelerated timelines.

Why Get a Degree in Addiction Counseling?

A master’s in addiction counseling offers many professional and personal benefits, including new skills, job satisfaction, and career advancement.

New Skills
Addiction counseling master’s students typically acquire advanced listening, communication, and research skills.
Job Satisfaction
Addiction counseling professionals help people overcome difficult challenges, making it a rewarding and satisfying career.
Career Advancement
A master’s degree in addiction counseling can help graduates qualify for leadership roles in the field.
Professional Networking
Master’s in addiction counseling students often benefit from professional networking opportunities with classmates, professors, and professionals.
Diverse Work Contexts
Graduates with a master’s in addiction counseling can work in diverse settings, including community health centers, treatment facilities, hospitals, and juvenile detention centers.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

Courses in Addiction Counseling

Master’s in addiction counseling programs cover topics like ethics, clinical skills, pharmacology, and addiction theory. Learners also take courses on assessment and case management. Many master’s programs require a thesis or capstone project that cultivates advanced research, analysis, and writing skills.

Some master’s programs offer specializations in areas such as adolescent addiction, mental health/dual diagnosis, and clinical addiction counseling. Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several courses commonly found in master’s in addiction counseling programs.

Psychopharmacology courses examine neurobiology and evidence-based treatment approaches for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Learners also survey the various behavioral and social effects of substance abuse and behavioral addictions.

Adolescent addiction coursework focuses on the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders among adolescents. Enrollees learn common symptoms, patterns, screening methods, and counseling techniques relevant to young people with addictions.

This course surveys addiction theories and treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational interviewing, and 12-step programs. Learners may also study rational emotive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and drug classifications.

This course covers legal and ethical guidelines for addiction treatment. Participants reflect on their personal beliefs and biases, and how these influence their treatment approaches. Enrollees also learn about legal and ethical issues related to specific client groups, such as children, couples, and families.

Addiction counseling master’s degrees often include a supervised practicum, usually toward the end of the program. Participants may spend 150-600 hours working at approved sites. This professional experience hones clinical skills and helps fulfill licensure requirements.

Certifications and Licensure for Addiction Counseling

Addiction counselors often need certification or licensure to practice. Common counseling credentials include licensed professional counselor (LPC) and national certified counselor (NCC). Addiction-specific certifications include national certified addictions counselor (NCAC), national certified adolescent addictions counselor (NCAAC), and master addictions counselor (MAC).

Licensed Professional Counselor

LPC licensure requirements vary by state. Aspiring counselors should look up their state’s licensure board for details. Master’s degrees in addiction counseling typically meet the education requirements for licensure. Candidates may also need to meet professional experience requirements and pass the National Counselor Examination.

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National Certified Addictions Counselor

The National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors certifies NCACs at two levels. Master’s in addiction counseling graduates with five years of related professional experience usually qualify for level two certification. Eligible applicants must also pass the Certified Addiction Counselor Examination. NCACs often work as substance abuse counselors, mental health counselors, and social service managers.

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National Certified Adolescent Addictions Counselor

This NAADAC certification can qualify professionals for counseling jobs in schools, juvenile detention centers, and various community youth agencies. NCAAC candidates need a bachelor’s degree, 270 addiction-related education and training contact hours, five years of relevant professional experience, and passing scores on the certification examination.

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Scholarships for Addiction Counseling Students

Master’s in addiction counseling students can take advantage of scholarships to help offset the cost of a degree. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for master’s in addiction counseling students.

  • Franklin D. Boyce Health Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship serves students pursuing health-related degrees. Eligible candidates must demonstrate financial need and a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit recommendation letters, essays, extracurricular-activity records, and official transcripts.
    Amount: $2,500


  • Stephanie Nicole Ross Graduate Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports graduate students enrolled in psychology-related programs at accredited Florida schools. Applicants submit short-answer essays and a resume.
    Amount: $1,500


  • Nancy Howell Award

    Who Can Apply: Master’s in addiction counseling students can apply for this annual scholarship. Applicants must submit professional references and a description of their involvement in professional advocacy.
    Amount: Varies


Most Affordable Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling Programs 2021

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