Best Online Addiction Counseling Programs of 2022

Many online substance abuse counseling programs offer an asynchronous course structure. This can allow you to pursue a degree while gaining clinical experience. Here are our 10 favorite programs.

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Published on January 14, 2022 · Updated on April 22, 2022

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Addiction and behavioral disorder counselors support clients struggling with issues like alcoholism, drug misuse, and gambling.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all 50 states require full licensure for counselors in private practice, including substance misuse and behavioral disorder specialists. Requirements for addiction counselors outside of private practice vary by state. Some states require a college degree and/or a passing score on an addiction counselor certification or licensing exam.

An online addiction counseling degree helps students develop the foundational knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce. The best online programs also prepare prospective counselors to tackle licensure requirements in their state, including the exam. The online format is ideal for students who must balance schoolwork with other commitments, such as employment or childcare.

Learn about what to expect and what you can do with a bachelor's degree in addiction counseling online with this comprehensive guide.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Program?

During online bachelor's in addiction counseling programs, students gain foundational knowledge in addiction treatments, case management, and psychopharmacology. They also develop soft skills like listening, communication, and empathy.

Most bachelor's in addiction and substance use disorder counseling programs require students to complete around 120 credits. Learners can graduate in four years of full-time study. However, online students can take longer if they enroll part time. Most programs blend core coursework with research and internship opportunities to gain experience in the field.

Most bachelor's in addiction programs are concentrations within broader programs in fields like counseling, sociology, or psychology. As such, these programs usually do not offer further specialization options.

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Popular Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Program?

Case Management

In this course, students learn about collaboration in managing patient cases using assessments, planning, and monitoring to determine treatment options. Coursework prepares learners for entry-level roles as case managers.

Foundations of Addictions

Covered topics in this course include defining addictions, chemical dependency, medical and psychiatric complications, and effects on the family. Students also delve into evaluation and diagnosis, intervention, treatment approaches, and ethical issues in addiction counseling.

Behavioral Disorders

In this course, students examine behavioral disorders from psychological, cultural, and sociological perspectives. Degree-seekers often take this course during one of their first semesters.

Dynamics of Group Counseling

During this course, students delve into the principles underlying the process of group counseling, including communication techniques and trauma-informed care.

Psychopharmacology

Psychopharmacology is the study of the use of medications to treat psychological disorders. In this course, students learn about pharmacodynamics, or what both prescription and recreational drugs do to the body, and pharmacokinetics, or what the body does to drugs.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Program?

Acceptance rates for online and in-person bachelor's in addiction counseling programs are often the same. We delve into common admission requirements below.

Application

The admissions process requires students to submit their personal information along with information about their prior education and job experience. Some bachelor's programs require the student to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the same time to qualify for financial aid.

Test Scores

While the COVID-19 pandemic saw many colleges waive requirements for ACT and SAT scores, some schools still require prospective students to submit standardized test scores to demonstrate mathematical, verbal, analytical, and writing skills. Admissions departments use these tests to evaluate applicants and to determine course placement.

Letters of Recommendation

Many colleges also require 1-3 letters of recommendation. Students might ask teachers, school counselors, or even pastors and community leaders for these letters. Make sure to ask your recommenders at least a few months in advance so that they have enough time to write.

Essays

While not all colleges require an essay, their purpose is usually twofold: to get to know more about you and to evaluate your writing ability. Make sure to stick to all parameters, including word count.

Official Transcripts

Most colleges require official transcripts from all prior schools attended, including colleges. If you are transferring from community college, your new school will use these documents to determine how many transfer credits they should award you.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Degree?

Career Outlook

As a whole, the nation is more aware than ever before of the importance of mental health and counseling. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 23% job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. This rate nearly triples the average projected job growth for all occupations (8%). These professionals earned a median annual salary of $47,660 as of May 2020.

See where a bachelor's in addiction counseling can take you. Learn more about counseling careers.

Career Paths

Substance Use Disorder Counselor

Substance use disorder counselors play key roles in providing treatment and advice to people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, or other substance misuse issues. They work in a variety of environments, including mental and community health centers, correctional facilities, and private institutions.

Many states require substance use disorder counselors to be licensed or to work under another counselor who is licensed.

Median Annual Salary: $47,660

Social Services Coordinator

Social service coordinators manage and supervise programs and organizations that support public well-being. They usually work for nonprofits, private companies, and sometimes government agencies. In some cases, they may work directly with individuals and groups in a counseling setting.

Median Annual Salary: $69,600

Health Counselor

A health counselor often talks about substance misuse to educate clients and groups about overall health and wellness. They provide one-on-one and group counseling, typically working full time for a nonprofit, government organization, or private medical or health group.

Median Annual Salary: $47,660

Correctional Treatment Specialist

Correctional treatment specialists often work in prisons or other law enforcement settings, assisting criminal offenders in overcoming substance misuse, mental illness, and other factors that may have influenced or instigated criminal behavior.

Most positions require licensure, and depending on their role, treatment specialists may need to pass a background check and complete law enforcement training.

Median Annual Salary: $55,690

Addiction Counseling Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

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Continuing Education

Many states require a certain amount of continuing education credits for an addiction counselor to maintain licensure. Most counselors who wish to move into administration or management roles must pursue at least a master's degree.

Before pursuing additional education, prospective students should explore the best substance misuse counseling programs to choose the option that best fits their needs.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Program?

Cost

Before choosing a school, students should consider true program costs beyond tuition, including books, housing, and cost of living. Distance learners may be able to save money on their education by avoiding some campus-based fees and transportation expenses. Students can often find the most savings by attending in-state, public universities rather than out-of-state, private schools.

Program Format

Distance learners should consider whether they want to take courses synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous programs require students to attend live, scheduled online sessions. Asynchronous programs provide additional flexibility by allowing students to meet deadlines around their schedules.

Location

Students often struggle with the decision of taking online courses vs. in-person courses. There are pros and cons to each. For example, if they enroll at a local college and take online courses, students can arrange their schedule to take certain key courses in person. Furthermore, some online programs include required on-campus elements.

Second, some counseling programs require internships. It is often easier to arrange internship placements if you live close to campus.

Accreditation

Accreditation provides students and future employers with the assurance that they meet professional educational standards. While there are over 40,000 colleges in the United States, not all of them are accredited. You should only enroll in schools that hold regional accreditation, as you cannot receive federal financial aid at unaccredited universities.

Student Support

Student support makes a big difference in terms of student success and outcomes, especially for distance learners. Many programs offer internship opportunities and additional student services like career counseling.

Distance learners may also be able to access online tutoring and online mentoring through student services at their school.

2022 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Programs

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#1 Online College in Pennsylvania

Clarks Summit University

School Information
Location South Abington Township, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $880
Out of State | $880

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No

Clarks Summit University offers an online bachelor of science in addictions counseling. Students explore counseling theories and techniques from a biblical worldview and receive training to work in addiction treatment facilities and as lay counselors. Degree-seekers study behavioral addictions, substance addictions, and crisis counseling.

All students take a course on the dynamics of discipleship. Students use 21 elective credits to tailor their bachelor's in substance abuse counseling degree. Admission requirements include SAT or ACT scores and a minimum 2.0 high school GPA.

#2 Online College in Pennsylvania

Alvernia University

School Information
Location Reading, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 63%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $515
Out of State | $515

Credits to Graduate
123

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No

Alvernia offers one of the nation's oldest bachelor's in substance abuse counseling through a 31-55-credit liberal arts core Students can complete the bachelor of arts in addictions and mental health treatment online in 2-4 years. The degree prepares learners for certified alcohol and drug counselor certification. 

The major teaches how to identify and manage crisis situations with counseling techniques. Specialized courses explore issues, such as case management and treatment planning. Students complete a practicum that involves 400 on-site agency hours. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED scores and a minimum 2.0 GPA.

#3 Online College in Indiana

Purdue University Global

School Information
Location West Lafayette, Indiana
Graduation Rate 27%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $371/credit
Out of State | $371/credit

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission

The bachelor of science in psychology in addictions provides a nationally accredited curriculum. Students complete 120 semester credits entirely online in four years. Enrollees explore addiction, prevention, and the recovery process. The degree fulfills the educational requirements to sit for the National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I and II exams. 

Purdue Global offers a generous credit transfer policy. Multiple start dates provide enrollment flexibility. Admission to the bachelor's in substance abuse counseling requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

#4 Online College in Kansas

Ottawa University-Online

School Information
Location Ottawa, Kansas
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $399
Out of State | $399

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No

Located in Kansas, OU administers a fully online bachelor of science in addiction counseling. Enrollees explore addiction research and theories. Aspiring counselors learn how to screen and assess clients, plan their treatment, and deliver substance use disorder services. The curriculum explores crisis intervention and group counseling in addiction.

An internship component provides hands-on experience. Students use eight-week terms to complete the degree faster. Admission to the bachelor's in substance abuse counseling requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

#5 Online College in Massachusetts

Springfield College

School Information
Location Springfield, Massachusetts
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 86% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $500
Out of State | $500

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No

Springfield's bachelor of science in human services features an addiction studies concentration. Enrollees complete 120 credits entirely online or in hybrid format. The major explores social and political issues in addiction and addictions counseling. Students use elective credit to learn crisis intervention and case management skills.

An elective course explores public health policies for obesity and food addiction. Students can transfer up to 75 credits into this bachelor's in substance abuse counseling. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate and school transcripts.

#6 Online College in Minnesota

Crown College

School Information
Location Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota
Admission Rate 50%
Graduation Rate 50%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $425
Out of State | $425

Credits to Graduate
125

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

Crown's bachelor of science in alcohol and drug counseling can lead to drug counselor licensure. The fully online curriculum requires a Christian studies and general education core. The major explores topics in abnormal psychology and psychopharmacology. Students learn counseling methods, case management, and assessment and treatment planning skills. 

Participants complete 880 hours of internship experience in a clinical setting. The degree meets requirements for the licensed alcohol and drug counselor credential in Minnesota and other states. Students can transfer credits into the bachelor's in substance abuse counseling. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate and a minimum 2.0 GPA.

#7 Online College in Indiana

Indiana Wesleyan University

School Information
Location Marion, Indiana
Graduation Rate 38%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $392
Out of State | $392

Credits to Graduate
120 

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes 

The bachelor of science in addictions counseling at IWU is a degree completion program. Students complete 48 credits online in 22 months. They examine addictions theory, theories of personality, and explore the relationship between substance abuse and family life.

Students develop addictions counseling skills and learn how to practice with groups. Participants complete 350 practicum hours at an approved organization. Admission to the bachelor's in substance abuse counseling requires at least 60 credits and all college transcripts.

#8 Online College in New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University

School Information
Location Manchester, New Hampshire
Admission Rate 88%
Graduation Rate 44%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $350
Out of State | $350

Credits to Graduate
120 credits

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No

SNHU offers a bachelor of arts in psychology with an addiction concentration. The 120-credit program gives students a strong foundation in psychology. Students study concepts, such as lifespan development and abnormal psychology. An embedded data literacy in psychology certificate shows students how to synthesize and disseminate data and theory.

The 12-credit concentration explores contemporary issues in addictions. Participants learn about the counseling process and techniques. Students can transfer up to 90 credits into this online bachelor's in substance abuse counseling. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

#9 Online College in New York

SUNY Empire State College

School Information
Location Saratoga Springs, New York
Graduation Rate 25%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $295
Out of State | $353

Credits to Graduate
124

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No

At SUNY Empire State College, students can pursue the bachelor of science in addiction studies. Students complete 124 credits entirely online or in a blended format. The curriculum helps meet the requirements for New York state's Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor exam.

Students explore crisis intervention and case management. All students learn helping and counseling skills. They explore the use of substance abuse interventions. Admission to the online bachelor's in substance abuse counseling requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

#10 Online College in Ohio

University of Cincinnati

School Information
Location Cincinnati, Ohio
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $455
Out of State | $455

Credits to Graduate
60-120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes 

The bachelor of science in substance abuse counseling at UC enrolls both first-year and transfer students. The fully online curriculum incorporates the latest research and proven practices. The degree prepares students for Ohio's Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II and III credentialing.

Students can graduate in two years if they transfer 60 credits. The bachelor's in substance abuse counseling offers full- and part-time enrollment. Admission requires a minimum 2.7 high school GPA and a minimum 2.0 GPA for transfer students.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Programs

Is a bachelor's in addiction counseling worth it?

Yes. A bachelor's degree in addiction counseling provides graduates with job opportunities in high demand fields. Across the U.S., people are more aware than ever about the importance of mental health and the dangers of substance misuse. Graduates can fill a big need.

What can I do with a bachelor's in addiction counseling?

After earning licensure, graduates can pursue careers as addiction and substance use disorder counselors. They can also seek out work as social service coordinators and correctional treatment specialists.

Are addiction counseling majors in high demand?

Yes. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 23% job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. This translates to more than 75,000 new positions in the field during that period. For context, the average projected growth rate for all occupations during that period is 8%.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in addiction counseling?

According to the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median annual salary of $47,660 as of May 2020. Those working for the government earned the highest median annual wage at $54,070.

Salary potential depends on location, title, employer, and experience. The top 10% of earners in the field made a median annual salary of more than $78,700 as of May 2020, while the bottom 10% earned less than $30,590.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in addiction counseling?

Graduates who can advance to the role of social and community service manager can earn the highest salaries. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $69,600 as of May 2020. Keep in mind that these positions require significant work experience in addition to a relevant bachelor's degree.

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A professional addiction counselor describes her business and discusses life in the field. If you're confused about how to choose a college major and feel like picking a major is causing a lot of stress, this guide can help. Online education is gaining traction, but many students still have questions. Our BestColleges survey sheds light on online students' biggest pieces of advice.

BestColleges.com 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.

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