Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees for 2024

The United States is grappling with an opioid crisis. By earning an online addiction counseling degree, you can help people affected by drug addiction.
By
portrait of Meg Embry
Meg Embry
Read Full Bio

Writer

Meg Embry is a writer at BestColleges covering all things career and education related. An award-winning journalist and editor, she has lived and worked in Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States....
Updated on January 17, 2024
Edited by
portrait of Rebecca Munday
Rebecca Munday
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Rebecca Munday joins our team after serving as editor-in-chief for The George-Anne Inkwell at Georgia Southern University. She's never met a type of writing she didn't enjoy, and is especially passionate about making healthcare understandable for all...
Reviewed by
portrait of Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.
Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.
Read Full Bio

Reviewer & Writer

Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical and sport psychologist in private practice. She has also served as the training director for an APA-accredited internship program and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology. She special...
Learn more about our editorial process

www.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.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Addiction Counseling

Over 40 million Americans were diagnosed with a substance use disorder, according to a 2020 National Survey on Drug Use. If you want to offer support to people with addictions and provide life-saving help, an online bachelor's in addiction counseling is a good place to start.

Popular Online Counseling Programs

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

Online Addiction Counseling Degrees Rankings Summary

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 Springfield College-Regional, Online, and Continuing Education
Springfield, MA
$18,000 $18,000 Not provided
#2 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Cincinnati, OH
$10,099 $25,433 85%
#3 Alvernia University
Reading, PA
$37,780 $37,780 58%
#4 University of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD
$7,773 $11,283 87%
#5 Crown College
Saint Bonifacius, MN
$27,270 $27,270 65%

The Best Online Addiction and Substance Misuse Counseling Programs of 2024

We use datasets from sources like the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. 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. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

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.

  • Browse programs
  • Discover matches
  • Request info
#1 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees for 2024

Springfield College-Regional, Online, and Continuing Education

  • Springfield, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $532

Out-of-State | $532

Credits to Graduate: 120 

The bachelor of science in human services with a concentration in addiction studies at Springfield College offers a fully online program with flexible synchronous and asynchronous options. The multidisciplinary program emphasizes mental health, counseling, prevention, and community engagement.

First-year applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and submit a personal essay and at least one letter of recommendation. SAT/ACT scores are optional. Transfer students need to take a minimum of 45 credits through Springfield College to earn their degree.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$18,000
Out-of-state
$18,000
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$18,360
Out-of-state
$18,360
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
529
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
86% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#2 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees for 2024

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

  • Cincinnati, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Cost per Semester:

In-State | $6,785

Out-of-State | $6,965

Credits to Graduate: 120

UCO’s bachelor of science substance counselor degree integrates research with practical skills to prepare graduates for clinical practice. The fully online program accommodates traditional students and working professionals through full-time and part-time study. The transfer-friendly program features rolling admission with spring, summer, and fall start dates.

Graduates can meet the academic requirements for addictions counseling licensure in many states. The program fulfills the requirements for the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professional guidelines for licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III (LCDC III).

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,099
Out-of-state
$25,433
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,224
Out-of-state
$24,966
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
40,329
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#3 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees for 2024

Alvernia University

  • Reading, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $640

Out-of-State | $640

Credits to Graduate: 123

Alvernia University’s bachelor of arts in addictions and mental health treatment is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the U.S. Students may complete this degree fully online, including the liberal arts core requirements. Alvernia's rolling admissions policy allows applications at any time, with start times scheduled throughout the year.

Graduates meet the eligibility requirements for certification and recertification of addiction counselors by the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB).

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$37,780
Out-of-state
$37,780
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$15,660
Out-of-state
$15,660
Retention Rate
73%
Acceptance Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
2,536
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#4 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees for 2024

University of South Dakota

  • Vermillion, SD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $355

Out-of-State | $355

Credits to Graduate: 120

The University of South Dakota’s bachelor of science in addiction counseling and prevention offers an online option with specializations in treatment and prevention. In addition to required courses, students may select nine electives in Native Americans, Substance Use and Addiction; Gambling and Process Addiction; and Rural Telehealth.

Graduates of this degree meet the academic requirements for addiction/prevention licensure through the South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,773
Out-of-state
$11,283
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,123
Out-of-state
$11,773
Retention Rate
77%
Acceptance Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
9,464
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees for 2024

Crown College

  • Saint Bonifacius, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $530

Out-of-State | $530

Credits to Graduate: 125

Crown College’s bachelor of science in alcohol and drug counseling degree incorporates the Christian faith with career preparation. Coursework examines the effects of substance use with special attention to the spiritual consequences of addiction, along with emotional, cognitive, cultural, professional, and financial costs.

The fully online alcohol and drug counseling degree allows students to complete requirements at their own pace with 24-hour access to the Canvas learning management system. The eight-week module format allows students to take 1-2 classes in each module.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$27,270
Out-of-state
$27,270
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,350
Out-of-state
$10,350
Retention Rate
73%
Acceptance Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
1,476
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
71% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

How We Rank Schools

To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

Ranking Methodology Summary

Chevron Down

To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

Bachelor's in Addictions and Recovery Counseling

A bachelor's in addictions and recovery counseling blends psychology, counseling, and mental health. Courses cover the foundations of addiction and substance use disorders, process addictions, and psychopharmacology. You may also complete practicum hours that let you work with industry experts.

With this degree, you can pursue various addiction and recovery careers, including becoming a correctional treatment specialist or social and community service manager. While these careers come with challenges, these roles help individuals and families in crisis.

This degree may not meet state requirements to get licensed as a mental health counselor or substance use counselor. However, an online addiction counseling degree serves as a stepping stone to a master's degree in counseling.

Bachelor's in Behavioral Psychology

This bachelor's program prepares you to work with children and adults with developmental or behavioral conditions. You can also pursue a concentration in addictions and substance use, childhood development, or criminal justice. Many programs also offer internships to provide in-person experience.

A bachelor's in behavioral psychology prepares you for jobs in various behavioral health careers, including mental health counselor and social worker. You can launch careers as a probation officer or market research analyst.

Bachelor's in Child and Adolescent Psychology

A bachelor's in child and adolescent psychology opens the door to careers in academia, public policy, and business. You can land an entry-level job as a childcare worker, social or human service assistant, or preschool teacher.

You'll study child and adolescent development, the psychology of individual differences and special needs, and childhood and adolescent conditions. Industry experts mentor you during internships, if offered.

You'll need a master's degree, if not a doctoral degree, and a state license to become a school counselor, substance use counselor, behavioral counselor, or child and adolescent psychologist.

Bachelor's in Counseling

You can help people achieve their goals and improve their lives with a bachelor's in counseling. You'll learn to compare psychological theories, solve problems, analyze psychological research, and understand human behaviors.

This degree is the first step toward a counseling career. Generally, you'll need a master's degree to become a mental health counselor, behavioral counselor, or school and career counselor. Most states also require clinical experience to get licensed.

Bachelor's in Mental Health Counseling

If you want to help people with emotional and mental health conditions, consider a career as a mental health counselor. Mental health counselors work in state and local hospitals, individual and family services, and outpatient mental health centers.

A bachelor's in mental health fulfills the prerequisites for a master's in mental health counseling degree. Besides graduate school, a bachelor's degree can put you on track to pursue careers as a case manager or mental health therapy assistant.

A bachelor's program teaches you about cognitive thinking processes, mental health therapy and assessment, psychology methods and analysis, human development, and social influences. After graduation, you'll be eligible for entry into a master's program.

Bachelor's in Psychology

If you have your sights set on a career in counseling, academics, or social work, a bachelor's in psychology serves as a stepping stone to a graduate degree in psychology.

This undergraduate degree provides an in-depth understanding of the human mind and behavior that you can apply to teaching, human resources, marketing, or the nonprofit sector.

You'll take courses on research methods, statistics, and social psychology and complete psychology internships in community centers helping children or seniors. You'll work on teams, strengthening your communication, research, and organizational skills.

How Much Does an Online Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Cost?

Average Annual Tuition Cost of a Bachelor's Degree | 2021-22

Public Institution

$9,596

Private Institution

$34,041


Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Total Average Net Cost of Four Years of College

Public Institution

$58,840

Private Institution (Nonprofit)

$113,680


Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Ways to Fund my Online Degree

All students should apply for federal financial aid by submitting the FAFSA. Your financial information determines your eligibility for loans and grants. Scholarships and grants can make college more affordable and require no repayment.

You can also reduce your college costs by:

Career Options With an Addiction Counseling Degree

The opioid crisis is predicted to fuel much of the demand for addictions and substance use counselors.

Projected growth for substance misuse counselors*, 2021-2031

+18%

*Projected growth for all other occupations is 5%

Projected new jobs* each year, 2021-2031

+71,500 Jobs

*For substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors


Source: BLS

How Much Money Do Addiction and Substance Use Counselors Make?

Salary Range for Addiction Counselors

Bottom 10% Lowest-Paid

$34,580

Median Salary

$49,710

Top 10% Highest-Paid

$82,710


Source: BLS

Addiction and substance use counselors take home salaries based on a variety of factors. The BLS data shows the bottom 10% of addiction counselors make $34,580, while the top 10% earn $82,710.

Wages also vary by your work setting, region, and educational achievement. For example, religious organizations pay addiction and substance use counselors an annual mean wage of $86,480, while outpatient care centers pay an annual mean salary of $54,220.

One way to boost your salary prospects is to get a master's degree while working as an addiction counselor. With a master's degree, you can qualify for clinical or directorial positions that have much higher pay.

You can also qualify for the liability insurance required to start your own private practice — which means setting your own hours and rates.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Bachelor's Degree in Addiction and Substance Use Counseling?

It takes at least a master's degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field to become an addiction counselor. Additionally, states require supervised clinical experience and passing exam scores to get licensed as a counselor.

If you enter the workforce after earning a bachelor's in addiction counseling, you can find entry-level careers that provide work experience and paychecks ranging from $35,330 to $74,240.

Many students need the paycheck that comes from working after graduation, but even if you can afford to attend graduate school directly after you earn your bachelor’s degree, getting a job can provide work experience sometimes required for graduate school.

Addiction and Substance Use Counseling Careers
Job Title 2022 Median Annual Pay
Preschool Teacher $35,330
Social and Human Services Assistant $38,520
Market Research Analysts $68,230
Correctional Treatment Specialist $59,860
Social and Community Service Manager $74,240
Source: BLS

What Are the Highest Paying Jobs I Can Get As an Addiction Counselor?

The industry you work in as an addiction or substance use counselor also has a huge impact on pay. Here are some of the highest-paying industries:

Highest-Paying Industries for Addiction Counselors
Industry Annual mean wage
Religious Organizations $86,480
Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations $80,680
Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities $77,710
Insurance Carriers $76,200
Junior Colleges $68,290
Source: BLS

Location also makes a difference. Some of the top-paying states for substance use counselors include Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, New Jersey, and Nevada, according to the BLS.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's Addiction and Substance Use Counseling Program?

There are five important things you need to figure out before choosing an online college program:

  1. 1

    True Program Cost

    Beyond tuition and fees, you must also weigh the cost of your books, housing, and transportation. You can also consider any potential lost income during school vs. your salary potential after graduation.
  2. 2

    Format

    What suits you best, synchronous or asynchronous courses?
  3. 3

    Location

    Does your online program require any on-campus learning?
  4. 4

    Accreditation

    Is the program accredited? Because it absolutely should be — especially if you want to get your license, receive financial aid, or get a graduate degree in your field.
  5. 5

    Support

    How does your program support online students? Will you have access to online tutoring, online mentoring, mental health services, and career counseling? What about internship placements?

Everything Else You Need to Know About Starting Your Career in Addiction Counseling

What Are the Admission Requirements for Addiction Counseling Programs?

Chevron Down

When you submit your application to online addiction counseling programs, you'll likely also need to have:

  • Minimum GPA (usually between 2.5 and 3.0)
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • SAT or ACT scores (not all programs will require these)
  • Application fees

What skills do you need to be an addictions counselor?

Chevron Down

There are a few must-have characteristics and skills to be a good addiction counselor.

  • Empathy: This job requires you to understand what your patient is experiencing without bias or judgment.
  • Communication skills: You will need to be a deep listener who can find a way to connect with people in the hardest moments of their lives.
  • Research skills: The science of mental health and substance use is always progressing. To provide the best care, you must know how to find and incorporate the best theories and data into your practice.
  • Boundary-setting: Your work will be hard: You will work with folks experiencing great difficulty. Some of your clients may relapse. Some of them may die. The best addiction counselors intentionally manage their stress and protect their boundaries to avoid burning out.

Is a bachelor's in addiction counseling worth it?

Chevron Down

It can be worth it if you enjoy helping others overcome their addictions and improve their lives. Substance use counselors are also in high demand, especially to assist the large number of people experiencing opioid addiction and dependence.

Those who used their degrees to become addiction counselors say they wouldn't want to do anything else:

"The clients are the best part. They are human, they are optimistic, they want to build the strength, and they look to you to help. That's a huge task, but we do it together - as a team. And that's the best."
Dr. Holly Sawyer

Dr. Holly Sawyer, LPC, CAADC

If you want to be instrumental in the fight against our country's addiction crisis, to help people get their lives back, and to know each night when you drift off to sleep that you are spending your own life doing something that really matters -- then yes, an addiction counseling degree will probably be worth it.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges.com. Page last reviewed on November 16, 2023.

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.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.