Online Addiction Degree Guide

Earning an addiction counseling degree can lead to a rewarding career helping others. Here, we outline the top programs available.

March 2, 2022 , Modified on June 9, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Addiction Degree Guide

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Accredited Online Colleges for Drug and Alcohol Counseling

Students pursue online addiction counseling degrees to work with individuals with substance use disorders. Addiction counseling careers include substance misuse and mental health counselors, community health workers, and community service managers.

Online addiction counseling degrees instruct students in counseling as it specifically relates to addiction. However, students also learn broader counseling techniques and ethics. Most online counseling degrees cover prevention tactics, human development, and trauma in families.

Institutions offer online addiction counseling degrees at several levels, but most commonly at the bachelor's and master's levels. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent for a bachelor's program, or a bachelor's degree for a master's program.

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Questions About Online Addiction Counseling

Can I complete an addiction counseling degree online?

Yes, many schools offer online addiction counseling degrees. Schools offer these programs at several levels, such as a bachelor's or master's degree.

Do addiction counselors need to be certified?

Addiction counselors need licensure in their state. Each state sets its own requirements for the level of education counselors need and any tests they must take

Are addiction counselors in demand?

Yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors to grow 23% in 2020-2030. The projection exceeds that of many other fields and the 8% growth projection for all occupations.

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Why Get a Degree in Addiction Counseling Online?

Students who want to help others living with addiction may benefit from earning a degree in addiction counseling. An addiction counseling degree lets students enter different addiction counseling careers, or other careers in counseling and social services. Online counseling degree-holders may specifically focus on addiction counseling, or become general mental health counselors.

Many schools offer addiction counseling degrees online. Online programs benefit students who need a flexible school schedule. They also do not require relocation, which can cost a lot and disrupt learners' lives.

How Much Does an Addiction Counseling Degree Cost?

Addiction counseling degree costs depend on the type of degree a student pursues. A bachelor's degree averages $35,331 per year according to the Education Data Initiative. However, in-state public institutions cost less on an average than private institutions.

The Education Data Initiative reports that a master's degree averages $66,340 total. Most master's degrees in addiction counseling take at least two years of study to complete. Part-time students require more time for their degree, since they take less credits per semester than full-time students.

Learners can pursue an addiction counseling degree online or in person. Depending on the degree level, students may need to complete an in-person clinical part of their program.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online degrees can offer more flexibility and affordability than in-person degrees. However, applicants should consider additional fees that come with earning an addiction counseling degree online. Extra fees include the cost of technology, such as a reliable computer and stable internet connection. Online counseling degree-seekers may also need to pay for tech support if anything goes wrong.

Some programs require enrollees to visit campus sometimes, or to complete a clinical internship. Learners should consider the cost of transportation for these visits, as well as any missed wages they may incur.

Other potential expenses include any necessary books, supplies, and software. Some schools charge fees for graduation or transcripts. Lastly, graduates may need to pay to apply for certifications or licenses in their field.

Addiction Counseling Majors Salary

With an online addiction counseling degree, students pursue careers in counseling and social services. Addiction counseling careers include substance misuse counselor, mental health counselor, community health worker, and clinical supervisor.

Counselors and community health workers earn a median $47,660 and $42,000 per year, respectively.

Some jobs with more responsibility and education requirements pay more. For example, social and community service managers earn a median $69,600 per year. Clinical supervisors, often requiring additional work experience, earn a $60,310 average annual salary according to February 2022 Payscale data.

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Courses in Addiction Counseling

Addiction counseling degree-seekers take courses in subjects including counseling, addiction, and treatment planning. This interdisciplinary degree teaches a broad understanding of counseling techniques for individuals with addiction in different settings.

Some schools offer specialized elective classes for students to explore their interests. These include courses in theory of personality, drug policies in the United States, and community resources in mental health.

See below for a few courses students may take earning their addiction counseling degree online. Learners may not find these exact classes at every school. Rather, the selected descriptions represent a sample curriculum.

How to Become an Addiction Counselor

Most addiction counseling careers require a bachelor's degree in psychology, counseling, or addiction counseling. Criteria vary by state, but most require counselors in private practice to hold a master's degree. Counselors working in public institutions, such as schools and prisons, may not need a master's or bachelor's degree.

Addiction counselors work in different settings, including private practices, schools, and prisons. They help individuals understand their addictions and implement recovery programs. Some counselors work with specific populations, such as teenagers or people with disabilities. Others work with individuals to help them get their careers back on track or work specifically in crisis intervention.

Licensure for Addiction Counseling

To work in private practice, addiction counselors must receive licensure from their state. Exact criteria vary, but every state requires a bachelor's or master's degree and 2,000-4,000 clinical experience hours. Find your state's requirements with this list.

For example, the Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification, Inc. offers different levels of certification with different education requirements. Options include certified peer recovery coach, advanced certified alcohol/drug counselor, and substance use disorder associate. The applications for these certifications cost $50-$80 and the tests cost $145-$235.

Graduates working outside private practice may experience more leeway when it comes to licensure. Students should check their state's requirements.

Besides licensure, addiction counselors may pursue certification from the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals. While they do not count as licensure on their own, the certifications set a national standard for addiction counselors' knowledge and skills. Earning the credential may set potential employees apart or help employees get a promotion.

Online Addiction Counseling Degrees

  1. Jamestown Community College
    Location

    Jamestown, NY

    Tuition

    $8,255

    Part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, JCC offers an 81% online, four-semester AS in addictions counseling for students interested in substance abuse counseling careers.

    Learners complete general education courses in mathematics and composition, plus core courses in human services and psychology. Addiction courses cover topics like alcohol chemical dependency, abnormal behavior, and ethics and issues in addiction services. Students also complete a 135-hour supervised field experience that helps develop core skills in assessment, counseling, case management, and treatment planning.

    Graduates can use their degree to qualify for New York State's credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor (CASAC-TR) credential. The AS in addictions counseling program fulfills the 350-hour CASAC-TR education requirement.

    JCC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  2. Clarks Summit University
    Location

    South Abington Township, PA

    A private, nonprofit Christian university in South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, CSU offers a 61-credit, 100% online AA in addictions counseling degree that emphasizes mentorship and community.

    Addictions counseling students complete Bible and theology core courses, arts and sciences core courses, and addictions counseling electives. Addictions coursework includes abnormal psychology, crisis counseling, behavioral addictions, and substance addictions.

    Graduates can seamlessly transfer to the school's bachelor's in addictions counseling program. Online learners, Christian workers, and military personnel receive tuition discounts. CSU offers several eight-week terms and six start dates annually.

    CSU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  3. Virginia Commonwealth University
    Location

    Richmond, VA

    Tuition

    $20,897

    A public university in Richmond, Virginia, VCU runs an International Program in Addiction Studies that emphasizes leadership and cross-cultural perspectives. Students can complete the 36-credit, fully online MS in addiction studies in one year. In collaboration with Australia's University of Adelaide and England's King's College London, the program explores international and national addictions research, prevention, treatment, and policy.

    Addiction studies enrollees explore key issues in addiction science and learn how to create and analyze addiction science experiments. The eight-course curriculum covers the biological basis of addiction, pharmacotherapeutic treatments, and psychosocial interventions. Participants also complete a research course, an addiction policy course, a public health course, and a six-credit research project.

    Eligible applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. They must also submit standardized test scores, three recommendation letters, official transcripts, and a statement of intent.

    VCU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. Central Texas College
    Location

    Killeen, TX

    Tuition

    $5,258

    A public college in Killeen, Texas, CTC offers a 60-credit chemical dependency AAS for working adults seeking substance abuse counseling jobs. The program offers blended and completely online formats. The interdisciplinary curriculum requires just five general education courses. The rest of the curriculum focuses on psychology, counseling, and addiction.

    This online addiction counseling degree begins with courses on topics like addictive disorders, addiction pharmacology, and health psychology. During their second semester, enrollees complete a practicum and learn about crisis intervention, addictions assessment, and child and adolescent problems.

    During their final year, learners study topics like family intervention, counseling, abnormal psychology, and behavior management and modification. Students also complete a second practicum during their last semester. The 300-hour practicum experience helps learners satisfy experience requirements for the Texas chemical dependency counseling certification.

    CTC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    Tuition

    $10,448

    A public university in Natchitoches, Louisiana, NSU provides a BS in addiction studies that prepares graduates for careers in communications, human resources, and counseling. Enrollees learn about addictive behavior and addiction counseling principles and practices. Learners also study research, issues, and advances in the addiction counseling field.

    This online addiction counseling degree includes 36 general education credits, 33 addiction studies credits, 27 psychology credits, 18 free elective credits, and 12-15 concentration credits. Addiction studies course topics include co-occurring disorders, family dynamics, pharmacology, and special populations. Concentrations include substance abuse counselor, prevention specialist, and industrial organizational psychology.

    Freshman applicants must submit standardized test scores and official transcripts. NSU seeks students with a minimum 2.35 GPA and at least a 940 on the SAT. NSU accepts equivalent ACT or Accuplacer scores. All fully online students receive in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency.

    NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Iowa Lakes Community College
    Location

    Estherville, IA

    Tuition

    $10,101

    Iowa Lakes offers a two-year, 68-credit AAS in substance abuse counseling that helps qualify graduates for Iowa's certified alcohol and drug counselor professional certification. This addiction counseling degree online focuses on mentorship and on-the-job training. Graduates often pursue careers as counselors, social workers, and human services professionals.

    This mostly online addiction counseling degree comprises four terms of coursework and one term of practicum work. Students take courses on topics like case management, counseling techniques, substance abuse and treatment planning, and social problems. AAS learners also complete general education courses in composition, nutrition, and communications.

    Iowa Lakes is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Kansas City Kansas Community College
    Location

    Kansas City, KS

    Tuition

    $12,490

    Integrating theory and practice, KCKCC's addiction counselor AAS program prepares enrollees for behavioral health careers. Many graduates use their degree to transfer to bachelor's programs and pursue licensed counselor careers in Kansas.

    The National Association of Addiction Professionals recognizes KCKCC's addiction counseling program as an approved education provider. All distance learners pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live. Seniors, military personnel, and veterans also enjoy tuition discounts.

    The online addiction counseling degree includes general education courses in composition, biology, algebra, and public speaking. Major courses cover topics such as problem gambling, group dynamics and addictions, abnormal psychology, and counseling and services coordination. Students also complete two, three-credit addiction counseling practicum experiences at approved sites.

    KCKCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $20,085

    UC's online substance abuse prevention certificate program serves aspiring criminal justice, human services, mental health, and education professionals. This one-year, 18-credit program aligns with both national and Ohio certification requirements for substance abuse prevention specialists.

    Students take online courses taught by substance abuse prevention adjunct and full-time faculty through UC's School of Human Services. The curriculum includes

    courses on topics like substance abuse prevention, drugs and behavior, and personal health. Enrollees also learn how to plan, implement, and evaluate health-education programs. Some certificate credits count toward master's degrees in public health.

    UC offers open admissions, but enrollees must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to advance to upper-level courses.

    UC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. Northcentral Technical College
    Location

    Wausau, WI

    Tuition

    $9,073

    Based in Wausau, Wisconsin, NTC offers a fully online, 62-credit associate degree in substance use disorder counseling. Graduates can pursue Wisconsin licensure as substance abuse counselors-in-training.

    The four-semester program includes general education coursework in composition, mathematics, and communication. However, most of the curriculum focuses on courses from human services, counseling, and psychology disciplines. Participants learn about boundaries and ethics, behavior assessment, group counseling, and casework methods. They can also study human sexuality, crisis intervention and stress management, and psychology of human relations.

    NTC maintains articulation agreements with dozens of other colleges and universities to facilitate seamless transfers.

    NTC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  10. Western New Mexico University
    Location

    Silver City, NM

    Tuition

    $12,773

    A public university in Silver City, WNMU boasts New Mexico's only chemical dependency counseling bachelor's degrees. Students can choose from a BA or BS in chemical dependency counseling. Both degrees meet the internship and education requirements for New Mexico's alcohol and drug counselor license. Offering seven core courses at the graduate level, this addiction counseling degree online prepares graduates to earn advanced degrees in related fields.

    The core curriculum includes 43 chemical dependency counseling credits, 16 psychology credits, 12 sociology credits, and three statistics credits. Enrollees take courses on topics like dual diagnosis, trauma and addiction, substance abuse and crime, and the addictive process. Students also learn about codependency, special populations, and group dynamics.

    WNMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Counseling Programs

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