Online Substance Abuse Counselor Graduate Programs & Schools

Graduate Addiction Studies Online Programs are designed to help busy or working students prepare for top roles helping others overcome substance abuse. Like campus-based programs, they help students develop the skills and knowledge they may need to help patients and families struggling with addiction, with an additional element of flexibility to suit your schedule and lifestyle.

Online Addiction Counseling Degrees

Online substance abuse counseling degree programs may offer insight into the challenges of addiction recovery, while exploring best techniques to support individuals and families battling with substance abuse and related issues.

Ready to get started? Below, you’ll find helpful info on the ins and outs of online substance abuse graduate programs, plus sponsored listings for programs that may suit your goals. Let’s dive in.Why Earn a Graduate Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling - addiction studies online programs

Benefits of Attending Addiction Studies Online Programs

Once you’ve decided to pursue a graduate degree in substance abuse counseling, you’ll still need to decide on the program’s format. Attending a graduate addiction studies program online may have a few potential benefits, both for your education and your personal life. Here are a few reasons some people might choose to attend online schools for drug and alcohol counseling.

  • Flexibility. If you’re already working in the counseling field or another professional area, pursuing your substance abuse counselor degree online just might be perfect. You could potentially pursue some or all of your studies at the time of day that works best for you! (Hint: online programs may be great for busy parents, too!)
  • Accessibility. Don’t live close to a college or university that offers substance abuse graduate programs? Online learning can potentially close the distance! Of course, you’ll have to make sure you are able to participate in any potential counseling practicums or internships, but choosing to pursue some or all of your courses online may save you a lot of commuting time or even a move.
  • Community. Just because you choose to study online doesn’t mean you can’t also feel like part of a larger community! Online substance abuse counselor programs may offer a range of professional development opportunities, such as counseling clinics or community service. Plus, online students could engage in group projects, partner work, and many other opportunities for interaction. * That may be good news for those hoping to practice the speaking, listening, and interpersonal skills required for a counseling career track.

Remember, the specific experience you have earning a degree or certificate in substance abuse counseling online may vary, depending on which program you choose to attend. Contact your school of choice for additional details.

Types of Online Substance Abuse Counseling & Addiction Counseling Graduate Programs

Masters degree in addiction counseling online – You may encounter several types of masters degree programs with a focus on addiction counseling, from an M.S. in Counseling - Addictions to a Master of Arts in Human Services – Addictions and Recovery. While each type of program may cover slightly different curriculum and areas of focus, they may also have overlapping subjects and goals. Here’s just a sampling of potential courses you could pursue in an online addiction counseling degree at the masters level:

  • Group counseling
  • Addiction recovery
  • Psychopathology
  • Counseling addicted families
  • Biological aspects of addiction
  • Interpersonal communication

However, the specific online drug and alcohol classes offered in your program may vary. Browse our directory of masters in addiction counseling online programs to learn more about your potential options.

Online Graduate certificate in substance abuse counseling – Another potential alternative is to pursue a non-degree certificate program. While pursuing substance abuse counseling certificate online won’t automatically earn you a license, it may be a step toward pursuing or maintaining this credential. Some certificate programs may be specifically designed to offer the coursework required by your state; so, it’s a good thing to be familiar with your state’s counselor licensing criteria! If you’re new to the area of addiction counseling, the shorter graduate certificate format may be the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet and explore your interests.

A few courses you could pursue are:

  • Chemical dependency counseling
  • Alcohol and drug studies
  • Addiction counseling theories
  • Clinical supervision of addiction services
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • And more!

Check out individual graduate certificate in drug counseling programs to learn more.

Online doctorate degree in substance abuse counseling– While not an official requirement for pursuing a counseling career path, earning an online doctorate degree in counseling may be a goal worth considering.i Pursuing an online doctorate in counseling may be an opportunity for intensive study of addictive behaviors and treatments. You could also conduct and analyze research related to substance abuse, co-occurring behaviors, and more. And if you hope to teach substance abuse counseling at the college level, earning a PhD or other doctoral degree may be in order. 65% of social work professors said earning a doctorate was required for their current role[iv], as did 38% of psychology professors.[v]

There could be various types of doctorate programs worth considering, depending on your goals. For instance, you may be interested in earning a PhD in Psychology – Addictions or a D.S.W. (Doctor of Social Work) with a focus on addictions. Explore some of your potential options here.

Certification & Licensure - Addiction Counseling Degree Online Programs

Depending on your career goals, you may be required to pursue at least a masters in addiction counseling or a related degree program. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors who wish to work in a private practice must earn state licensure. Requirements for licensure include:

  • Earning a masters in substance abuse counseling or a related degree
  • Completing 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience
  • Passing an exam issued by your state
  • Completing ongoing education each year
  • Other possible requirements, which vary by state

Even if you don’t plan to work in a private practice, you be interested in substance abuse or addiction studies online programs. Counselors with more education may have the freedom to offer additional services to patients, like private counseling. They may also be able to work under less supervision and better serve their patients with enhanced skills and techniques. In fact, 30% of counselors earn a masters degree, and another 19% earn a professional degree[i]. Well over half of mental health and substance abuse social workers earn a masters degree, as well. [iii] Why not join them?

Search for Graduate Addiction Studies Online Programs

It’s time to check out online substance abuse graduate programs that could suit your goals! Below, you’ll find sponsored listings for online programs that may interest you. You can also use the menu to filter by degree level: masters in substance abuse counseling, doctorate program, or certificate. See a program that appeals to you? Click the link to learn more or contact the school directly. Before long, you could be on the path to making a positive difference in the lives of those struggling from substance abuse and addiction. Congratulations on taking this first important step!


Sources: [i] | [ii] | [iii] | [iv] | [v]

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