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Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also called addiction counselors, support clients struggling with alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, and other addictions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all 50 states require full licensure for counselors in private practice, including substance abuse and behavioral disorder specialists. The requirements for substance abuse 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.

What Are the Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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Rank School Location
1 Clarks Summit University South Abington Township, PA
2 Iowa Lakes Community College Estherville, IA
3 Jamestown Community College Jamestown, NY
4 Central Texas College Killeen, TX
5 Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
6 Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City, OK
7 University of Providence Great Falls, MT
8 Mohave Community College Kingman, AZ
9 Dawson Community College Glendive, MT
10 Rio Salado College Tempe, AZ
How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

An online substance abuse 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 the licensure requirements in their state, including the licensing exam. The web-based 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.

2021 Best Accredited Online Substance Abuse Counseling Programs

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Rank School Location Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Clarks Summit University

South Abington Township, PA Graduation Rate: 57%

By attaching a biblical studies major to its online associate of arts in addictions counseling program, Clarks Summit University gives its students a spiritually grounded and career-ready education. This university uses a whole-life philosophy to prepare graduates for further educational and professional pursuits.

The program features courses such as crisis counseling, general and abnormal psychology, writing across disciplines, and world religions. Participants who complete the program have the ability to work in various settings, including addiction treatment centers, churches, and community health centers. Graduates can also transfer into the school's BS in addictions counseling program.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Arts in Addictions Counseling
School Status: Private
Tuition: $800 per credit
Credit Requirements: 61 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum GPA
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

2

Iowa Lakes Community College

Estherville, IA Graduation Rate: 57%

Iowa Lakes Community College's AAS in substance abuse counseling program delivers high-level knowledge and skills to students working to become Iowa state-certified alcohol and drug counselors.

As part of the curriculum, students complete a supervised, hands-on experience in an alcohol and drug treatment center. A combination of on-the-job training, faculty mentorship, and academic study form a strong foundation for a future career in substance abuse counseling. Students can complete about three-quarters of degree requirements online.

Learners take courses such as developmental psychology, substance abuse and treatment planning, interpersonal communications. They also complete a substance abuse practicum. After earning their substance abuse degree, students have enough academic and work-related experience to sit for the Iowa Board of Substance Abuse certification exam. Graduates can also transfer into a four-year degree program.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Substance Abuse Counseling
School Status: Public
Tuition: $195 per credit
Credit Requirements: 68 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Hybrid (75% online)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program

3

Jamestown Community College

Jamestown, NY Graduation Rate: 57%

The mostly online associate of science in addiction counseling program at Jamestown Community College prepares students to sit for the Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-TR) exam. With CASAC-TR certification, graduates can work as an addiction counselor in hospitals, clinics, agencies, and other treatment centers.

This curriculum of this substance abuse counseling degree satisfies the 350-hour educational requirement established by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Required courses cover topics like interpersonal group dynamics, generalist practice skills, abnormal behavior, and family systems.

To increase accessibility, JCC has an open-door admissions policy.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Science in Addiction Counseling
School Status: Public
Tuition: $217 per credit (in-state); $433 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Hybrid (81% online)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

4

Central Texas College

Killeen, TX Graduation Rate: 57%

Central Texas College students pursuing an online associate of applied sciences in chemical dependency prepare to become licensed chemical dependency counselors (LCDCs). LCDCs make a living by helping people conquer drug and alcohol addictions.

This online substance abuse degree program features courses such as principles of behavior management and modification, crisis intervention, and counseling theories. One of this program's main purposes is to make students eligible for counselor intern (CI) status in the state of Texas. Once graduates obtain CI eligibility, they can start the final stage of the licensure process by beginning 4,000 hours of approved, supervised work experience with substance abuse patients.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Applied Science With a Specialization in Chemical Dependency
School Status: Public
Tuition: $95 per credit (in-state, in-district); $119 per credit (in-state, out-of-district); $248 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

5

Northcentral Technical College

Wausau, WI Graduation Rate: 57%

Located in Wausau, Wisconsin, Northcentral Technical College oversees a substance use disorder counseling (SUDC) associate degree program that serves as a gateway into the SUDC profession. Graduates can also transfer into a four-year program.

This program prepares students to earn a license as a substance abuse counselor in training in Wisconsin. With this license, graduates can work as trainees in correctional facilities, social service agencies, and personnel assistance.

While enrolled, participants complete classes like understanding addiction, boundaries and ethics in the helping professions, methods of social casework, and crisis intervention and stress management.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate in Substance Use Disorder Counseling
School Status: Public
Tuition: $149 per credit (in-state); $218 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 62 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

6

Kansas City Kansas Community College

Kansas City, OK Graduation Rate: 57%

Through its AAS in addiction counseling program, Kansas City Kansas Community College helps students develop into professional counselors in the substance use disorder field. This program combines theoretical and experimental learning. Participants take classes such as family therapy, individual counseling methods, and group dynamics and addictions. The program features some in-person components, and participants must complete a 300-hour field experience.

Upon completion of the program, many graduates opt to further their education and pursue a bachelor's. In Kansas, students can become licensed addiction counselors by earning a four-year degree that emphasizes addiction counseling coursework. To aid in this process, KCKCC has transfer agreements with several four-year institutions.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Addiction Counselor - Associate of Applied Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $88 per credit
Credit Requirements: 61 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Hybrid (50-99% online)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

7

University of Providence

Great Falls, MT Graduation Rate: 46%

Based in Great Falls, Montana, the University of Providence offers an online associate of arts in addiction counseling that prepares graduates to help individuals with chemical dependencies. Participants develop the knowledge and skill base needed to be professional and compassionate deliverers of substance abuse treatment and intervention.

The curriculum stresses various aspects of problem-solving through courses such as assessment and appraisal, theories of helping, co-occurring disorders in addiction counseling, and abnormal psychology. Graduates of this program who complete 1,000 hours of supervised internship experience can meet licensure requirements in Montana, California, Texas, Washington, and Oregon.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Arts in Addiction Counseling
School Status: Private
Tuition: $862 per credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.7 minimum required
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT recommended

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

8

Mohave Community College

Kingman, AZ Graduation Rate: 46%

At Mohave Community College, students can complete an associate of arts in substance abuse counseling at their own pace. When learners demonstrate comprehension of course material, they can move on to the next class. This competency-based system makes it possible for motivated students to move through coursework rapidly. Graduates can gain employment in the substance abuse or mental health field more quickly than their peers in a traditional program.

In addition to general education requirements, participants complete 24 credits of classes related to substance abuse counseling. Courses cover topics like clinical assessment, psychopharmacology, and ethics in substance abuse treatment.

The Mohave Community College Substance Abuse Online School holds accreditation from the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission — one of only 29 schools to hold this recognition.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling
School Status: Public
Tuition: $81 per credit (in-state); $284 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 62-67 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

9

Dawson Community College

Glendive, MT Graduation Rate: 46%

Based in Glendive, Montana, Dawson Community College offers an online associate of arts in chemical dependency counseling. After completing required coursework at DCC, students can qualify to sit for the Montana Licensed Addiction Counselor's exam by completing 1,000 hours of supervised work experience in a substance abuse program that has been licensed by the state.

The curriculum of this program helps prepare students for entry-level chemical dependency counselor positions by covering topics like pharmacology in addictions, principles of living systems, introduction to statistics, and introduction to interpersonal communications. Learners also develop the academic foundation needed to transfer to a four-year institution.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Arts in Chemical Dependency Counseling
School Status: Public
Tuition: $133 per credit (in-state, in-district); $186 per credit (in-state, out-of-district); $274 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60-67 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required (ACT preferred)

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

10

Rio Salado College

Tempe, AZ Graduation Rate: 46%

Tempe-based Rio Salado College gives students the chance to earn an associate of applied science in addictions and substance use disorders. The program features certificates of completion in addictions and substance disorders levels I and II, as well as professional addictions counseling. Graduates of this program can pursue career opportunities in health education, social and human services, and substance abuse.

The curriculum of this online substance abuse counseling program stresses theories and techniques that are essential for navigating the complex counselor-patient dynamic. Students learn how to identify, analyze, and treat addiction by taking courses such as foundations of addictions and substance use disorders, communication skills in treating addiction, and principles of self-help groups. This program's curriculum meets the standards necessary to pursue a substance abuse technician license in Arizona.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Addictions and Substance Use Disorders
School Status: Public
Tuition: $85 per credit (in-state); $250 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 61-64 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Choosing a Program

Will an Online Substance Abuse Counseling Program Provide Me With the Skills I Need to Advance My Career?

A bachelor’s degree is the first step toward a successful career in substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling. Students learn about the psychological impulses behind addiction, as well as different techniques for administering client therapy. Most colleges and universities tailor online bachelor’s programs to state licensure requirements, and many programs include internships to help students meet state clinical requirements. According to the BLS, state clinical requirements range between 2,000 and 4,000 supervised hours.

Will an Online Substance Abuse Counseling Program Work With My Schedule?

Online bachelor’s programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, on-campus education. Most programs offer asynchronous coursework, allowing students to submit assignments and take exams at their convenience. Technology also enables students to study anywhere that has Wi-Fi capabilities. Substance abuse counseling programs usually allow online students to coordinate clinical internships and practicum courses at sites near their residence.

What Jobs Can I Get With My Substance Abuse Counseling Degree?

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling and a state-issued license can provide services in private practice. These candidates are also prepared for positions in outpatient centers, addiction rehabilitation facilities, and other healthcare establishments. Many substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors eventually pursue a master’s degree to expand employment opportunities.

What are the Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Programs?

Below, we ranked the top bachelor’s in substance abuse counseling programs in the country. If you are considering an online bachelor’s in substance abuse counseling, be sure to review these top schools.

Resources For Your Substance Abuse Counseling Degree

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