By BCR Staff
For those establishing a future in counseling, addiction studies are proving to be an increasingly popular specialization. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a steadily increasing need for qualified addiction counselors who can make a difference. Addiction counselors can be found in numerous settings, some of which include inpatient clinics, outpatient clinics, halfway houses, prisons, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, among others.
The following ranking represents the top 20 online master’s degrees in addiction studies; these schools were selected through a systematic research process, focusing on the essential features of this course of study.
For more general information regarding distance learning, visit our ranking of the top online colleges.
In determining the order of this ranking, we awarded points based on:
- Range of academic offerings in multiple topics of addiction studies (1-3 points)
- Addiction studies instructor faculty program faculty in addiction (1-3 points)
- Recognition from respected academics publications (1-3 points)
- Flexibility offered within the online degree process (1-4 points)
- Immersive counseling practicum opportunities in addiction studies (1-3 points)
- An additional point was awarded for noteworthy features that made it a top college for an online addiction studies master’s student (1-3 points)
In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower tuition rate appears higher in the ranking
Tuition data was sourced from College Navigator or the college’s official website.
The following list of ranked colleges represents the top 20 online master’s degrees in addiction studies.
#20 – Lewis University
Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Program Tuition: $14,000
A comprehensive Catholic-affiliated school, Lewis University is considered a top-tier institution in the Midwest. Lewis’s online component includes a well-established psychology department; students can pursue an online master’s in addiction studies as part of their clinical mental health counseling degree. The addiction studies specialization covers important areas including special populations in addictions, introduction to addictions, and a real-world internship experience that best prepares graduates for their transition to the professional world. Lewis University has small class sizes both on its campus and online; the average student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1.
#19 – Mid-America Christian University
Online MS in Substance Abuse Counseling
Program Tuition: $640 per-credit-hour
Based in Oklahoma, Mid-American Christian University is a small, faith-based academic community. MACU has earned accolades for its academic programs both online and on campus. For students seeking an online degree in addiction studies, this school has a 63-credit master of science in counseling, addiction, and substance abuse counseling. This graduate program covers key field topics including psychopathology, family systems, theories of counseling, ethics and professional studies, assessment techniques, and much more. The online MS in addiction counseling leads to an internship that integrates the completed curriculum.
#18 – Grand Canyon University
Online MS in Addiction Counseling
Program Tuition: $500 per-credit-hour
A private Christian school, Grand Canyon University is a popular choice for both traditional and non-traditional students. GCU ‘s 36-credit master of science in addiction counseling is a promising opportunity for career-driven treatment professionals. Graduate students enrolled in the online MS in addiction studies learn the origins of addiction treatment, a diverse range of counseling skills, effective treatment techniques, psychopharmacology theories of drug abuse, ethics, multicultural perspectives, and more. GCU’s online students complete their addiction counseling degree with a field pre-practicum and practicum. Grand Canyon has earned accolades for its accessibility and service to military members.
#17 – Nova Southeastern University
MS Degree Program in Substance Abuse Counseling Online
Program Tuition: $730 per-credit-hour
A school known for small class sizes and diverse community, Nova Southeastern University is a leading research institution in Florida. Among Nova’s revered graduate degree programs is an online master of science in counseling; this program includes a concentration in substance abuse counseling, a solid choice for students looking for an online degree in addiction studies. The substance abuse counseling concentration is a 48-credit track, covering a range of courses in counseling theories, a three-part substance abuse practicum series, prevention programming, couples and family counseling, diagnosis and treatment, ethics, and much more. Nova Southeastern gives its students the option of full- or part-time online enrollment.
#16 – Aspen University
Online Master’s Degree in Addiction Counseling
Program Tuition: $15,600 (total tuition and fees)
An excellent education at a low tuition-rate, Aspen University is student-centered degree opportunity. Aspen’s online master’s in psychology and addiction counseling incorporates the latest in theories, substance abuse topics, and curriculum that leads to a bright future in treatment capacities. Aspen University is an approved education provider with The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), indicating high standards of graduate-level coursework. Online master’s students in addiction studies have the option of concluding their degree with either a capstone project or hands-on practicum hours.
#15 – Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies
Master of Science in Addiction Studies Online
Program Tuition: $750 per-credit-hour
One of the most recognized names in addiction treatment, the Hazelden Betty Ford center has established a graduate school, especially for budding treatment specialists. The online master’s in addiction studies is a program focused on integrated recovery for co-occurring disorders; this comprehensive program gives graduate students sufficient knowledge in all of the pertinent areas of promoting recovery. In co-occurring disorders studies, the curriculum addresses patients who live with medical problems in addition to their substance addiction. Hazelden Betty Ford’s online graduate program is 60-credits with both full- and part-time options available for completion.
#14 – Capella University
Online MS Degree in Addiction Counseling
Program Tuition: $531 per-credit-hour
A highly popular online school, Capella University offers flexible options in degree programs. Capella’s online master’s in addiction studies is part of the college’s school of counseling and human services; this program is designed to prepare graduates to adapt to numerous field areas in counseling. Capella provides addiction studies curriculum that covers practices in treating addiction, multicultural perspectives in counseling, developing treatment plans, and the analysis of research and program models. Capella’s online masters in addiction studies align with credentialing standards of the Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (AADC) certification.
#13 – Carlow University
Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling Online
Program Tuition: $825 per-credit-hour
One of Money Magazine’s “Best Colleges,” Carlow University is a high-value education at affordable tuition rates. Carlow’s 60-credit online M.S. in professional counseling includes opportunities for multiple concentrations; among these concentrations is addictions, a degree track designed for counseling in mental health and correctional settings. Carlow’s online master’s in addiction counseling explores curriculum in substance abuse theories and interventions, biological factors, and co-occurring disorders; graduates of this program gain the needed credits to become both a licensed professional counselor and a certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC). Carlow’s online master’s in counseling programs do not require a GRE or GMAT, and students may enroll in fall, spring, or summer.
#12 – Ottawa University Online
Online MA in Clinical Counseling
Program Tuition: $635 per-credit-hour
Founded in 1865, Ottawa University has numerous residential campuses in addition to its distance-learning academics. OU considers itself a Christ-focused community, encouraging its students to lead a life that honors God. Ottawa’s online master of arts in addiction counseling balances curriculum in theory, research, and practice; among the addiction counseling courses include clinical and addictions foundations, law, and ethics in addictions counseling, co-occurring disorders, psychopharmacology, and much more. Online graduate students in counseling partake in two 150 practicum hours in contact with patients.
#11 – California Southern University
Master’s Degree in Addiction Studies Online
Program Tuition: $495 per-credit-hour
A high-value, low-cost education, California Southern University is a regionally accredited institution with numerous degree opportunities. CalSouthern’s distance-learning uses the latest in virtual classroom technology, and students are free to build their degree around their schedules. In the school of behavioral studies, students can earn an online master’s in psychology with a concentration in alcoholism and chemical dependency; this online MS in addiction studies is a great match for those who want a well-rounded background in chemical dependency, drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and much more. CalSouthern’s faculty is made up of seasoned clinicians and educators in the field.
#10 – Post University
Online Master of Science in Addiction Studies
Program Tuition: $7,040 (total tuition and fees)
An expansive academic community, Post University has been a leading name education since 1890. Post established its online learning program twenty years ago and has since built a flexible series of degrees for a wide range of academic interests. Post’s master of science in counseling and human service includes a concentration in alcohol and drug counseling; this program is a strong fit for those in pursuit of an addiction studies online degree with a challenging curriculum. The online MS in alcohol and drug counseling offers a blend of biological, sociological and psychological factors in a life of substance abuse. Graduates of Post’s online MS in counseling and human services are prepared to make an impact in multiple mental healthcare settings; among these settings include hospitals, child and family service centers, correctional facilities, geriatric care settings, and more.
#9 – Cambridge College
Online Master of Arts in Addiction
Program Tuition: $533 per-credit-hour
Cambridge College is a widely renowned institution, known for its ethnic diversity, high achievements of its graduates, and military friendly distance learning practices. This top college’s online graduate degrees include a 9-credit master’s concentration in addiction counseling; students completing this online MA in addiction studies will be prepared to attain their CADAC and/or LADC certification. Cambridge’s masters in addiction counseling includes relevant topic areas in the field; among the curriculum offered includes addiction disorders, family treatment of substance abuse and psychopharmacology in mental health counseling. Cambridge College graduates in addiction counseling find promising careers in public health counseling, residential treatment programs, outpatient substance abuse programs, and many other settings.
#8 – West Virginia University
Program Tuition: $450 per-credit-hour
A large academic community of over 31,000 worldwide, West Virginia University welcomes diversity in its student body, faculty, and curriculum. WVU online is home to an online master’s in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling; this addiction studies degree online spans relevant curriculum such as addictions counseling, ethical issues, treatment planning, family therapy, and more. This online MS is ideal for professional counselors who want to expand their resources in patient care. West Virginia’s instructor faculty is comprised of doctorate-level educators. In addition to the online MS in mental health counseling, WVU has options including an MA in counseling and a doctor of philosophy in counseling psychology.
#7 – Indiana Wesleyan University
Program Tuition: $533 per-credit-hour
Among the most popular Christian schools, Indiana Wesleyan University has continuously evolved in its 90-year history. Among IWU’s 90+ online degrees includes an M.A. in clinical addiction counseling; this addiction studies degree online has much to offer future counselors, in particular, those who want to work with chemical addictions, eating disorders, sexual compulsions, and other addictive behaviors. As this is a Christian-based course curriculum, students are regularly encouraged to find ways to integrate their faith in treatment. To assist in tuition affordability, IWU has a fellowship program for qualifying minority students.
#6 – Virginia Commonwealth University
Online MS Program in Addiction Studies
Program Tuition: $26,162 (annual tuition and fees)
An expansive school with over 31,000 students, Virginia Commonwealth University is an innovative, resourceful top college. VCU online is rich with student services and learning tools, making it easy to attain the same top-notch education as campus students. Within VCU’s school of medicine is the online master of science in addiction studies; this progressive degree aims to provide a cross-cultural perspective to prevention and addiction treatment. The online addiction studies masters is in collaboration with King’s College London and the University of Adelaide in Australia. VCU’s online addiction studies degree is reflective of the school’s expertise and focuses on research; some of the curriculum related to the degree is to prepare graduates to function in addiction research and policy.
#5 – Governors State University
Online Master of Health Science in Addiction Studies
Program Tuition: $706 per-credit-hour (non-resident rate)
A flexible, affordable education, Governors State University has top-notch academics and instructor faculty. GSU’s distance-learning division provides the same challenging curriculum, and graduate students will find numerous programs suited to their career interests. Governor State’s graduate degrees include an online master of health science in addiction studies; this degree is an evidence-based program, including the necessary skills and resources needed to meet multiple addiction client needs. GSU’s online addiction studies students are given coursework in pharmacology, counseling, group therapy, prevention, and much more. Throughout the MHS program, graduates complete an internship that aligns with their professional goals.
#4 – University of the Cumberlands
Online Master’s in Clinical Therapy
Program Tuition: $25,000.00 (total tuition and fees)
Established over 125 years ago in Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands is a Christian-based school with a dedicated personalized approach. Although a relatively small school, Cumberlands has an extensive range of academic offerings, both on undergraduate and graduate levels. The online master’s in addiction counseling is the only program in the nation accredited by the accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); this provides the opportunity to become dually licensed as a professional counselor and addiction specialist. Students enrolled in the online addiction studies degree learn important field areas that include psychopharmacology, family therapy in addiction treatment, spirituality in counseling, and much more.
#3 – The University of Oklahoma
Program Tuition: $824 per-credit-hour (non-resident rate)
Counted among the top schools both online and on-campus, the University of Oklahoma holds high academic standards. OU’s extended campus is home to a school of professional and continuing studies; this school is where graduate students will find an online master of prevention science. The master of prevention science is a fitting choice for online addiction studies students; this 33-credit graduate degree that leads to careers in alcohol and drug abuse prevention studies, behavioral health, public health administration, substance abuse counseling, and more. Graduates of Oklahoma’s master of prevention science have the versatility needed for a longterm career in the field. Although there is a considerable tuition gap between Oklahoma residents and non-residents, this college still offers graduate degrees at average to below-average tuition rates.
#2 – University of South Dakota
Program Tuition: $600 per-credit-hour (non-resident rate)
The state’s flagship school, the University of South Dakota is a popular choice for career-driven students. USD is repeatedly named a “Best National University” by U.S. News and World Report, and publications including Princeton and Forbes have recognized their campus and online academics. USD has an online master of arts in addiction studies, a program that, depending on your background, can be completed in either 33 (standard track) or 45 (advanced track) credits. Graduate students enrolled in the addiction studies MS complete key coursework in the field, some of which includes the history and culture of addiction, trauma, and addiction, relapse prevention, research, public policy, and more. Each semester, students complete an internship related to their addiction counseling coursework.
#1 – Monmouth University
Program Tuition: $1,100 per-credit-hour
Based in New Jersey, Monmouth University’s academics receive consecutive accolades from the Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report. MU attracts diverse, distinguished faculty members holding terminal degrees in their respective fields. Monmouth’s distance learning offers an online master of arts in addiction studies; this 33-credit graduate program is designed for aspiring licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor (LDDC). The M.A. in addiction studies has a comprehensive series of curriculum topics, some of which include psychopathology, substance awareness in schools, psychopharmacology, and group counseling. Graduates of the addiction studies master’s program find careers in settings such as criminal justice programs, halfway houses, intensive outpatient programs, inpatient settings, and more. Monmouth University has fully online and online/classroom hybrid options for its graduate students.
The preceding list represents the top 20 online master’s degrees in addiction studies.