The 25 Best Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online for 2019

By BCR Staff
September 2018

An online degree in substance abuse counseling can be earned at all degree levels, from associate to doctoral, and will help to prepare students to work with clients facing acute behavioral crises. Also known as addiction and behavioral disorder counselors, substance abuse counselors help people overcome issues such as alcoholism, drug use, gambling addictions, or eating disorders.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, almost a quarter of a trillion dollars of the United State's yearly healthcare costs in 2011 were attributable to substance abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, with an opioid crisis taking center stage across the country, that number may only continue to rise. Consequently, communities around the nation are in dire need of professionals with an in-depth knowledge of both the complex underpinnings of addiction – psychological, biological, cultural, etc. – as well as thorough training in counseling and care.

Featured Online Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling Degree Programs

In this ranking, our editors examine our picks of the top 20 Online Master's for Substance Abuse Counselling programs. For more generalized information regarding distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.

 

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Tuition Points:

  • Under $45,000—1 point
  • Under $40,000—2 points
  • Under $35,000—3 points
  • Under $30,000—4 points
  • Under $25,000—5 points
  • Under $20,000—6 points
  • Under $15,000—7 points
  • Under $10,000—8 points
  • Under $5,000—9 points

US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online School for Master's in Engineering Programs

  • Top 5— 5 points
  • Top 10— 4 points
  • Top 25 —3 points
  • Top 50 —2 points
  • Top 75 —1 point

Customization Options

  • Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
  • Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)

Wow Factor

  • 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that "wowed" us

 

Our editor started with a list of 35 colleges and then used our customized ranking methodology to shortlist the TOP 25. We were able to narrow these initial findings by applying a few factors such as affordability (average net price is capped at $35,000), program customization, return-on-investment, and career prospects. Finally, we used information from U.S. News & World Report as well as from each school's website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower tuition receives the higher ranking.

Check them out below!

 

#25 – Cambridge College

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 6

Website

Cambridge College

Addiction Counseling students in Cambridge College online have three different graduate programs opportunities through which to focus their degree, depending on their academic and career goals: Counseling Psychology, Mental Health Counseling, and School Adjustment Counseling. In any department, students receive a broadly thorough education in counseling addicts.

Graduates from Cambridge College's online Master of Addictions Counseling will have opportunities to work in many different fields and environments in which honest, compassionate counselors are needed, such as public health agencies, youth services, residential treatment programs, hospitals, outpatient substance abuse programs, and homeless shelters.

Tuition Fee: $500 per credit hour

 

#24 – Monmouth University

Online MAaa in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 6

Website

Monmouth University offers an MA in Psychological Counseling with an Addiction Studies track that consists of 33 credits. Core requirements include Mental Health Counseling, Psychopathology, Counseling Theory & Technique, Treatment of Drug/Alcohol Abuse, Advanced Alcohol/Drug Counseling, and Substance Awareness in the Schools, among others. Students must also complete a practicum in order to gain valuable hands-on experience. Interested students can also complete the coursework necessary for licensure eligibility by taking the Addiction Studies Concentration as part of the 60-credit Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program.

The school also offers a graduate certificate in Professional Counseling. Monmouth's program is unique in that is accredited by two bodies, the International Coalition of Addiction Studies Educators and the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission, so employers can be assured that the curriculum is rigorous, comprehensive, and vetted. For students' maximum flexibility, the school offers full- and part-time tracks to accommodate busy schedules.

Tuition Fee: $1047 per credit hour

 

#23 – Governor's State University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 6

Website

The Master of Health Science in Addictions Studies program at Governors State University offers fully online and hybrid options in addition to traditional on-campus coursework. This program covers all elements of addiction, including the biological and pharmacological roots of addiction as well as counseling and prevention techniques. It also looks at the roles community and culture can take in preventing and treating substance abuse. This program holds accreditation from the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission, which deals exclusively with addiction and substance abuse-centric education.

The master's degree program requires 32 hours of courses, including 6000, 7000, and 8000-level coursework. Some courses cover biology-heavy topics like psychopharmacology and clinical models of addiction, while others look at public health and counseling skills like group therapy techniques and treating coexisting disorders. All students must complete an internship, which counts as four hours, as well as a comprehensive exam which counts as one hour.

Tuition Fee: In-state – $412 per credit hour | Out-of-state – $719 per credit hour

 

#22 – California Southern University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 7

Website

The California Southern University master's degree program in psychology offers a concentration in advanced addiction studies, which covers chemical and alcohol addictions as well as compulsive disorders like gambling and sexual addiction. The program prepares students with both individualized treatment methods and family therapy solutions for spouses, children, and other affected individuals. This program can help those already working in the mental health world take their careers forward, or prepare them for a doctoral degree and eventual research work.

This program requires 42 credits, 27 of which come from the overall Master of Science in Psychology program. The remaining 15 credits look at the specific needs of addiction treatment counselors, such as the psychology of substance abuse, dual diagnosis, case management, personal and professional wellness, and physiological roots of addiction. Professors come from a clinical background, and can help students develop practical as well as theoretical skills.

Tuition Fee: $425 per credit hour

 

#21 – Mid-America Christian University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 7

Website

The two-and-a-half-year program in counseling with a concentration in addiction and substance abuse counseling at Mid-America Christian University prepares students to work as licensed counselors. The program is the only fully-online program in Oklahoma that specifically and exclusively tackles addiction and substance abuse issues, and students from the program have a 79% pass rate on the state's licensure test. Students have gone on to both secular and ministry positions in substance abuse counseling.

This university offers flexibility in both the delivery format and scheduling of courses. Mid-America Christian University lets students begin their program in most months of the year, and program participants can choose to attend classes on campus in Oklahoma one night per week or complete the program entirely online.

This program requires 60 credit hours for completion, at a rate of $639 per credit hour. While anyone can apply, the program best serves working adults who need flexibility in scheduling their studies.

Tuition Fee: $582 per credit hour

 

#20 – Post University

Online MS in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 7

Website

Post University provides an online Master of Science in Human Services degree program, with an option for concentration in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. Designed for professionals already working in rehabilitative counseling or similar fields, the program helps students advance their careers through advancing their education.

Students enhance their ability to make effective, long-term impact in the lives of the people they serve and assist, through expanding their knowledge of prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and prevention in an interdisciplinary curriculum.

The online MS in Human Services program requires 37 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Human Services Ethics and Diversity
  • Human Development Through the Lifecycle
  • Human Services Policy
  • Human Service Management
  • Applied Research Methods in Human Services

Tuition Fee: $570 per credit hour

 

#19 – Grand Canyon University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 8

Website

Grand Canyon University Top Online Bachelor's in Finance

Grand Canyon University's online Master of Science in Addiction Counseling degree program prepares students for careers in the field of addiction counseling, including private practice, clinical work, group practice, and owning their own practice. Students enhance their ability to diagnose, assess, and treat clients, with a curriculum which addresses practical and theoretical knowledge, as well as cultural and diversity issues in counseling, and well as adolescent addiction treatment.

The online MS in Addiction Counseling program requires 36 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Introduction to Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences
  • Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethics
  • Counseling Theories
  • Introduction to Addictions and Substance Use Disorders
  • Group Counseling Theory and Practice
  • Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling

Tuition Fee: $670 per credit hour

 

#18 – North Texas University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 8

Website

The University of North Texas offers a rehabilitation counseling master's degree program that equips students to work with people with various disabilities, including physical disabilities as well as substance abuse. The program requires 60 credit hours of coursework and practical experience, and offers both thesis and non-thesis options. Students who graduate from this program can pursue national certification as a rehabilitation counselor, as well as Texas licensure in professional counseling.

Both the online and face-to-face versions of this program include a service learning component. In addition to coursework, the program includes research and practice through the Wellness and Employment Learning Laboratory (UNT WELL). At UNT WELL, students assist with wellness and rehabilitation research.

For admission to the program, students must have a resume showing at least one year of full-time employment. They must also include reference letters from both a former instructor and a former employer, and submit a personal statement regarding their goals with the program.

Tuition Fee: 872.83 per credit hour

 

#17 – Nova Southeastern University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 8

Website

Nova Southeastern University offers an innovative academic program designed for the working professional actively involved in or entering the field of counseling. The master's degree in Counseling with a Substance Abuse Counseling concentration (48 credit hours) or Substance Abuse Counseling and Education concentration (60 credit hours) is an innovative academic program designed for the working professional actively involved in or entering the field of Substance Abuse Counseling or related fields. The online format is particularly designed to serve the training needs of administrators and practitioners who seek advanced training, but who cannot access quality training without the interruption of ongoing work responsibilities.

Sample courses include Research and Evaluation for Counselors, Diagnosis and Treatment of Adult Psychopathology, Career and Lifestyle Assessment, Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling, and Psychopharmacology of Illicit and Licit Drugs.

Tuition Fee: $670 per credit hour

 

#16 – Washburn University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 8

Website

Washburn University offers an online Master of Arts in Human Services/Addiction Counseling degree program which provides a holistic, integrative approach to the work of addiction counseling. Students enhance their ability to apply theory and research in the field toward serving their clients, assessing, diagnosing, and treating their clients so as to promote positive change and healing.

The program prepares students to pursue and advance careers in a variety of settings in the addiction counseling field.

The Master in Human Services/Addiction Counseling online degree program requires 36 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Integrative Human Services
  • Advanced Methods of Individual Counseling
  • Professional Ethics and Practice
  • Advanced Methods of Group Counseling
  • Advanced Pharmacology and Substance Use Disorders
  • Diagnosis of Substance Use Disorders

Tuition Fee: $513 per credit hour

 

#15 – Assumption College

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counselling

POINTS – 9

Website

The online graduate program in Rehabilitation Counseling is a 20-course, 60-credit program that can be completed over 8 semesters in less than 3 years. Upon completion, students will be awarded a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling and will be eligible to sit for the CRC exam. This program has courses like Effective Use of Technology
In Rehabilitation, Private Sector & Forensic Rehabilitation, Intro to Counseling Theory & Practice and Rehabilitation Research & Program Evaluation.

Highlights:

  • Multiple learning modalities: online, experiential, practice, team
  • Outcomes-based learning: practical application of knowledge and career preparation
  • Curriculum designed to national standards with input from professionals in the field
  • IT dedicated support is available and responsive to student needs.
  • The faculty has interest, investment, and experience in teaching online courses.
  • The program is primarily asynchronous and allows students to learn at their own convenience each week.

Tuition Fee: $691.00 per credit hour

 

#14 – Virginia Commonwealth University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 9

Website

Virginia Commonwealth University offers a master's degree in rehabilitation and mental health counseling, as well as a post-master's professional certificate. Students with both a master's degree and this professional certificate meet educational requirements for positions like Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in Virginia, and may meet these requirements in other states as well.

The master's degree program offers students clinical training environments that will give them a taste of the demands of counseling professions. It also cultivates a sense of cultural sensitivity and ethical practice for counseling. Students learn about the moral underpinnings of various counseling professions, such as the value of all people as well as the specific barriers people with disabilities face.

The professional counseling certificate, meanwhile, deals with narrower issues. Students learn about specific counseling roles and licenses. Topics like confidentiality and advanced interviewing skills take center stage in the certificate program, as do specific course choices targeting students' professional and research interests.

Tuition Fee: $456 per credit hour

 

#13 – University of Cumberlands

MA in Substance Abuse Counseling Online

POINTS – 9

Website

University_of_the_Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online Master of Arts in Professional Counseling degree program, with the option to pursue an Addiction Counseling Track. The program teaches students how to apply contemporary theories of intervention and prevention practices for effective addiction counseling, for individuals and groups. Students enhance their ability to assess, diagnose, and develop a treatment plan for their clients. The program prepares students to pursue a career in professional addiction counseling in a variety of settings.

The online MA in Professional Counseling program requires 60 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Introduction to Professional Counseling
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling
  • Psychological Assessment in Clinical Practice
  • Human Grown and Development
  • Counseling Theories
  • Theories and Practice of Multicultural Counseling

Tuition Fee: $400 per credit hour

 

#12 – Ottawa University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 10

Website

Ottawa University offers an online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling degree program designed to prepare students for a career in the field of addiction counseling. Integrating theory, research, and practice, the program prepares students to work in a variety of settings, assessing and treating the individual needs of clients struggling with addiction.

In this Addiction Counseling program, you will study the factors that influence the delivery of addiction counseling and substance use disorder services. The program is designed to help you develop critical-thinking skills and strategies to help people achieve long-term recovery.

The online MA in Addiction Counseling program includes the following core courses:

  • Multicultural Concerns in Addictions Counseling
  • Law and Ethics in Addictions Counseling
  • Theories and Practices of Groups in Addictions Counseling
  • Methods and Models of Research in Addictions Counseling
  • Psychopharmacology and Addictions Counseling

Tuition Fee: $635 per credit hour

 

#11 – Liberty University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 10

Website

Liberty University's Master's in Addiction Counseling degree online provides you with the education and training required for certification or licensure as an addiction counselor or substance abuse counselor. Our addiction counseling degree is designed to fulfill or exceed the requirements for many national and state board organizations. You will be provided with counseling tools and skills to work with individuals as they move towards recovery organically.

Earning an Addiction Counseling degree provides students with the ability and knowledge to become an addiction counselor or start a career in other substance abuse related fields. Students pursuing our graduate program in substance abuse counseling will have access to knowledgeable professors who have years of experience in the areas of substance abuse and addiction counseling. Graduates will have a mastery of knowledge of critical concepts in the substance abuse and addiction counseling fields, such as counseling techniques, treatment, and the recovery process.

This program requires 48 credits and takes up to 2 years to complete.

Tuition Fee: $540 per credit hour

 

#10 – West Virginia University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 10

Website

The clinical rehabilitation and mental health counselor education online program in the College of Education and Human Services offers a curriculum at the master's degree level. All students complete coursework related to disability, mental health, addiction, and rehabilitation issues as well as coursework in counseling and resource management. The clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling program is available for both full- and part-time students in an e-campus delivery modality. It is offered through WVU Online and starts in the fall of each year.

The objectives of the program are linked to the intent to provide: educational experiences for every student that facilitates the development of knowledge, skills, and beliefs necessary to practice as a qualified rehabilitation and mental health counselor; learning opportunities to support students' ability to implement culturally responsive and ethically sound counseling practices, and clinical training environments that are focused on real-world expectations. Graduates work in vocational rehabilitation agencies and companies, and mental health and substance abuse service agencies.

Tuition Fee: In-state – $406 per credit hour | Out-of-state – $1160 per credit hour

 

#9 – University of South Dakota

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 11

Website

University of South Dakota

The university designed the online Master of Arts in Addiction Studies degree program for professionals already working in the field of addiction counseling, looking to advance their careers. Toward this goal, the program comes in two varieties: a standard track, and an advanced track, for professionals already Certified or Licensed as an Addiction Counselor, or who have successfully completed an addiction studies bachelor's degree.

The online Master in Addiction Studies program enables students to advance their careers in the field of addiction and substance abuse counseling through advancing their education and qualifications. Students develop a strong foundation in ethical practices and contemporary clinical theories and approaches, enhancing their ability to serve their clients through private, group, and family counseling sessions, in a variety of treatment settings.

This Master's degree in Addiction Counseling online degree program requires 45 credit hours for the Standard track, 33 credit hours for the advanced track.

Tuition Fee: $450.90 per credit hour

 

#8 – Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 11

Website

Indiana Wesleyan University considers helping to ease the burden of addiction to be a moral duty, and to this end, operates a master's degree program in clinical addictions counseling. Under the supervision of PhD holders in multiple counseling-related fields, students learn about evidence-based clinical practice in addiction counseling as well as behavioral and social science theory. The Indiana Wesleyan program holds approval or accreditation from both the National Association for Addiction Professionals and the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission.

Indiana Wesleyan's master's degree program takes a multi-faceted approach to addiction, including both chemical addictions, such as drugs and alcohol, and behavioral addictions like gambling and sex addiction. Students learn about the Christian worldview regarding addiction as well, and are encouraged to integrate their faith into their practice.

All faculty members in the program hold both doctorates and professional licenses in their area of expertise. They continue to be active in the counseling world as well as the Christian faith.

Tuition Fee: $533 per credit hour

 

#7 – Emporia State University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 11

Website

Emporia State University offers an online Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling online degree program which cultivates professional knowledge, ethical principles, and social responsibility.

Students graduate prepared for careers in the field in a variety of settings and enhance their ability to effectively assess and meet the individual needs of their clients, to manage their cases, and offer other rehabilitation services to help the clients make a positive change in their lives.

The online MS in Rehabilitation Counseling program requires 48 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Psychosocial Development and Disability
  • Foundations of Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Counseling Theories
  • Employment Issues in Rehabilitation

Tuition Fee: $480.82 per credit hour

 

#6 – Removed by Editor

 

#5 – Aspen University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 12

Website

The Master of Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling online is a degree designed to prepare students to advance in the field of addiction counseling. This program is structured around courses that address primary theories of individual and family counseling as well as addiction-specific topics related to the treatment and prevention of substance abuse.

Aspen University's online Master of Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling degree will increase the students' understanding of addiction, including its psychological and neurological aspects and appropriate treatments, as well as theories of substance abuse prevention and approaches to counseling both individuals and families.

The program has 16 courses and 48 credits. The sample courses include Substance Abuse Prevention, Neurobiology of Addiction, Advanced Counselling Skills, Drug Enforcement, Clinical Supervision, etc.

Tuition Fee: $325 per credit hour

 

#4 – University of Massachusetts – Boston

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 12

Website

The University of Massachusetts, Boston offers an online Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling degree program which emphasizes adaptation as a tool of progress and accomplishment and respect for the culturally diverse backgrounds of all people.

Students enhance their ability to serve clients and meet their individual needs by advancing educational access, and economic and social participation.

The program prepares students to work in a variety of settings, serving people of many different backgrounds.

The online Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling requires 60 credit hours and includes the following core courses: Research and Evaluation, Abnormal Psychology, and Principles of Vocational, Educational, and Psychological Assessment and Group Counseling and Group Dynamics. Students must also complete a practicum and internship.

Tuition Fee: In-state – $760.60 per credit hour | Out-of-state: $1470 per credit hour

 

#3 – University of Buffalo

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 13

Website

The University at Buffalo offers an online Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling degree program designed to prepare students for a variety of careers in rehabilitation counseling, including addiction and substance abuse counseling at all levels. The program provides a rehabilitation counseling curriculum with a commitment to respecting and incorporating diversity and promoting personal integrity and professional ethics.

Students in the program enhance their ability to assess and treat the individual needs of their clients, break down physical and attitudinal barriers which affect them and help their clients establish control and positive change in their lives.

Students in the online MS in Rehabilitation Counseling program must also complete a practicum, an internship, and comprehensive exam or research project. Students may focus their studies directly on substance abuse and addiction counseling through elective coursework, and through pursuing their practicum and internship at relevant facilities.

Tuition Fee: $555 per credit hour

 

#2 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling

POINTS – 13

Website

The University of Oklahoma (OU) Extended Campus seeks to address modern issues of addiction worldwide through its Master of Prevention Science program. It seeks to address the strain substance abuse places on society at the mental health level, before it reaches healthcare organizations and healthcare facilities.

Each course in the program lasts 16 weeks, with most students taking two courses during the spring and fall terms and one course during summer term. Program advisors help students find an appropriate amount of coursework for their schedule, creating an individualized graduation plan that can be adjusted as circumstances dictate. Students complete a total of 33 credit hours of coursework, graduating in about two years.

18 credit hours of this non-thesis program are specific, mandatory courses, introducing students to graduate-level interdisciplinary work, the basics of prevention science, program development, and research methods. The remaining 15 credit hours are electives, which look at culture, ethics, and strategy issues, and can also include an internship.

Tuition Fee: In-state – $408.14 per credit hour | Out-of-state – $1018.94 per credit hour

 

#1 – Capella University

Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counselling

POINTS – 14

Website

Capella University offers an online master's degree in addiction studies that meets state standards for the Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor credential, allowing students to work as treatment professionals after graduation. This program requires the completion of 48 quarter credits, with each course lasting 10 weeks rather than the 16 typical of college terms. These shorter courses and rolling admissions provide greater flexibility during the degree program.

While coursework can be completed online, this program also has residency and internship requirements. The residency consists of a six-week hybrid course, one week of which is spent on campus participating in presentations, discussions, and group work. The internship requirement, meanwhile, sees students working in the field for 300 hours, under the supervision of both professionals and faculty.

By graduation, students develop a comprehensive understanding of mental health treatment. Courses in the program cover addiction assessment, integrated mental health treatment, ethical issues, and specific treatment methods and frameworks.

Tuition Fee: $545 per credit hour

 

This concludes our ranking of the Top Online Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling. Thanks for checking us out!

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