Online Master's Degrees in Addiction & Substance Abuse Counseling
In a world where addictive substances are produced and abused on a daily basis, there is a great need for specialists in substance abuse counseling. Teenagers fall prey to substance abuse due to peer pressure, while many adults are also susceptible to it owing to the stresses in their work and personal life. Counselors help individuals win the battle against drugs and other addictive substances and live a holistic life. A master’s degree in substance abuse counseling helps students facilitate positive changes in their patients.
A number of universities offer online master’s programs in substance abuse counseling. Students are introduced to topics such as techniques in group counseling, multicultural counseling, addiction recovery, and evaluation methods. They learn how to conduct rehabilitation programs, deliver counseling, and facilitate opportunities for growth.
At the end of these programs, students can work in rehabilitation centers, disability-related agencies, community agencies, mental health centers, clinics, and employment departments.
The following guide details seven online master’s programs in substance abuse counseling, as well as three notable faculty members teaching them.
Featured MS Programs in Substance Abuse Counseling
Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online master of arts (MA) with a major in clinical addictions counseling. The program provides students with hands-on experience that can help them succeed as a counseling professional.
Admission requirements for the program include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher, six credit-hours in psychology, six credit-hours in Bible studies, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores (if GPA is below 3.25), and three letters of recommendation.
The 48-credit curriculum includes courses such as 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; issues in addiction recovery; and psychopharmacology. Students are prepared to tackle addictive activities such as eating, gambling, and sexual activity, as well as fight chemical addictions.
The program encourages students to promote the Christian worldview in their counseling. At the end of the program, students can opt for a wide range of opportunities in psychology and counseling.
- Location: Marion, Indiana
- Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 60 months
- Estimated Tuition: $560 per credit-hour
West Virginia University offers an online master of science (MS) in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. While the program is delivered online, it includes two compulsory intensive one-week sessions on campus. The program trains students to deal with a wide range of developmental disabilities and age-related health conditions.
In order to apply, students must have a bachelor's degree with coursework in appropriate areas, a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 2.8, and GRE (or Miller's Analogy Test) scores with a writing sample.
The 63-credit program prepares students to help clients battle emotional and physical disabilities. Some of the courses included in the program are medical aspects of rehabilitation, disability across the lifespan, rehabilitation client services, cultural issues, and addictions counseling. Students learn about the effects of disability on a person and how to deal with it during rehabilitation, commonly used methods of rehabilitation, and multidimensional issues of healthcare.
Graduates of the program can work in clinical rehabilitation counseling and clinical mental health counseling. They can find opportunities in allied health settings, disability-related agencies or rehabilitation hospitals, employment and vocational rehabilitation departments, as well as in addiction treatment centers and community recovery programs.
- Location: Morgantown, WV
- Accreditation: Council for Accreditation for Counseling and Related Education Programs
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
- Estimated Tuition: $603 per credit-hour
Liberty University offers a 100 percent online master of arts (MA) in addiction counseling degree. The program allows students to obtain certification as a ‘Certified Substance Abuse Counselor’ (CSAC). Students who wish to pursue a career as an addiction counselor can opt for the program.
Admission requirements for the program include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or a university, cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, a completed admission application, official college transcripts, three credit-hours in statistics, and proof of English proficiency.
The program comprises 48 credit-hours. The curriculum includes courses such as the ethical and legal issues in counseling, multicultural counseling, assessment techniques in counseling, theories of family systems, techniques in addiction counseling, and psychopathology and counseling.
Students learn fundamental skills such as assessment techniques and information and the recovery process from addiction and substance abuse. By the end of the program, students are well-equipped to work in the field of addiction counseling and substance abuse. They can take up roles such as an addiction counselor, managed care specialist, clinical case manager, substance abuse counselor, and rehabilitation counselor.
- Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
- Estimated Tuition: $565 per credit-hour
The University at Buffalo offers an online master of science (MS) in rehabilitation counseling program. The program trains students to become effective rehabilitation counselors who can instill a sense of independence and autonomy in people with disabilities.
Applicants to the program must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field; two letters of recommendation; unofficial transcripts from all colleges attended; statement of intent; TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores for international students; and an official bank statement.
The program consists of 48 credit-hours. The coursework includes topics such as rehabilitation foundations, foundations of counseling theory, understanding statistical research, medical and psychosocial aspects of disability, fieldwork and counseling techniques, legal and ethical issues in counseling, and vocational placement process. Students learn how to provide vocational and psychological rehabilitation to people with mental, cognitive or sensory disabilities at various stages in their lives.
Graduates of the program can pursue opportunities in rehabilitation counseling settings such as health insurance companies or private rehabilitation companies, government agencies, vocational rehabilitation programs, alcohol and drug abuse recovery programs, veterans administration and its hospitals, and penal and correctional institutions.
- Location: Buffalo, New York
- Accreditation: New York State Education Department and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
- Expected Time to Completion: 36 months
- Estimated Tuition: $555 per credit-hour
The University of South Dakota offers an online master of arts (MA) in addiction studies. There are two tracks available in the program: the advanced track and the standard track. The standard track is for individuals not carrying a Level II or III Chemical Dependency Certification nor any academic credit toward this credential. The advanced track is for professionals carrying Level II or Level III Chemical Dependency Certification and who are licensed addiction counselors (and/or individuals who have successfully completed an addiction studies bachelor's degree).
While applying for the program, students must submit official transcripts from all universities attended, as well as have one year professional experience, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a copy of one’s ID, a resume, and TOEFL scores for international students.
The standard track is made up of 45 credit-hours, while the advanced track is made up of 33 credit-hours. Courses in the standard track include comprehensive substance use and addiction education, psychopharmacology of addiction, addiction studies research, and addiction professional supervision. Students pursuing the advanced track study courses such as advanced legal/ethical issues and the addiction profession, addiction counseling, public policy and addiction, and relapse prevention.
The coursework introduces students to addiction and recovery issues specific to each age group and how to apply their knowledge to clients; they learn how to make ethical decisions, use basic addiction research methods, and get an overview of relapse prevention models. At the end of the program, graduates can work in rehabilitation counseling settings.
- Location: Vermillion, South Dakota
- Accreditation: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC)
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months
- Estimated Tuition: $465.80 per credit-hour
The University of Oklahoma offers an online master of prevention science degree. One of the perks of the program is that students will be assigned an advisor who will create an individualized graduation plan to help them identify the courses they should take for their degree.
Admission requirements for the program include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a grade point average of 3.0, a current resume, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.
The program is made up of 33 credit-hours. The courses include foundations in prevention science, prevention across the lifespan, qualitative research methods in interdisciplinary studies, and interdisciplinary foundations. Students learn how to plan, design, implement, and evaluate substance abuse prevention programs.
At the end of the program, graduates can take up careers in prevention consulting, program direction and evaluation, substance abuse counseling, public health administration, behavioral health, and alcohol and drug abuse prevention.
- Location: Norman, Oklahoma
- Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
- Expected Time to Completion: Two years
- Estimated Tuition: $824.10 per credit-hour
The University of North Texas offers an online master of science in rehabilitation counseling program. Notably, the program ranks fifteenth in the nation among best graduate rehabilitation counseling programs in Texas (U.S. News & World Report). It is designed for individuals working in rehabilitation counseling settings or related agencies.
Admission requirements for the program include official transcripts from each college or university, a current resume, and two letters of recommendation, among other requirements.
The 48 credit-hours program consists of basic preparatory studies in disability, educational and occupational information, counseling and case management, and the vocational rehabilitation process. Some of the courses included in the program are an introduction to rehabilitation, rehabilitation in a multicultural society, disability issues in human development, rehabilitation counseling theories, rehabilitation counseling application, rehabilitation assessment, and case management and rehabilitation services.
Students get an overview of the best practices for rehabilitation counseling and learn how to provide good quality services to individuals with disabilities. Graduates of the program can pursue opportunities in behavioral health, rehabilitation, and healthcare settings, such as insurance companies, universities and schools, community programs, non-profit agencies, independent living centers, and many more.
- Location: Denton, Texas
- Accreditation: Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE)
- Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months
- Estimated Tuition: $1,424.45 per three-hour course
Professors to Know in Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling Programs
Chandra Carey, PhD University of North Texas
Dr. Chandra Carey is an interim chair and an associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services at the University of North Texas. She teaches courses such as principles and practices of psychiatric rehabilitation, medical and psychosocial aspects of disability, an introduction to psychiatric rehabilitation, and counseling applications.
Before she joined the University of North Texas, she taught at Michigan State University and the University of Memphis. Her research efforts are focused on mental illnesses affecting women of color and their recovery. Her research has appeared in prominent journals such as American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, the Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, and the Journal of Rehabilitation Administration. She has won various awards such as the Vernon Wilson Leadership Award and Joyce Keener Meritorious Service Award. Dr. Carey earned her PhD from Michigan State University, her MS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her BA from Wittenberg University.
Margaret K. Glenn, EdD West Virginia University
Dr. Margaret K. Glenn is a professor and coordinator of the mental health counseling and clinical rehabilitation program at West Virginia University. Some of the courses she teaches include addictions counseling, theories and techniques of group counseling, counseling theory and techniques, and medical aspects of rehabilitation.
Dr. Glenn is a member of esteemed professional organizations such as the Alliance for Addiction Solutions, the American Counseling Association, and the National Council on Rehabilitation Education. Notably, she has published her research in influential journals such as the Journal of Rehabilitation, the Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, and the Journal of Rehabilitation Administration. She also has received numerous awards such as Outstanding Researcher of the Year Award and National Council of Rehabilitation Educators President’s Award. She earned her EdD from the George Washington University, her MS from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her BA from Bridgewater College.
Timothy P. Janikowski, PhD University at Buffalo
Dr. Timothy Janikowski is an associate professor in the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology and the director of the counselor education doctoral program. He teaches courses on counseling theories, legal and ethical issues in counseling, the counseling practicum and internship, and substance abuse and addiction. He has published over 30 articles in prominent journals and co-authored a textbook on substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. Presently, his research efforts are focused on the treatment of substance abuse in people with co-existing disabilities, counselor education, and counseling effectiveness. He has published his research in prominent journals such as The Family Journal and the Journal of Child and Family Studies. He completed his PhD at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, his MS at St. Cloud State University, and his BA at Winona State University.