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 Substance Abuse Counseling programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

  1. City Vision University - Kansas City, MO
  2. Bethel University - Saint Paul, MN
  3. Great Basin College - Elko, NV
  4. University of Cincinnati - Cincinnati, OH
  5. Misericordia University - Dallas, PA
  6. Utah Valley University - Orem, UT
  7. Assumption College - Worcester, MA
  8. Central Texas College - Killeen, TX
  9. Albright College - Reading, PA
  10. National University - La Jolla, CA

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.

2020 Top Online Addictions Counseling Certificates and Associate Degrees

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

City Vision University

Kansas City, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 100%

Founded in 1998, City Vision University is a private Christian school in Kansas City, Missouri. The school offers a fully online certificate in addiction counseling that most learners complete in one year. City Vision holds accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Distance students complete at least 10 courses, which last eight weeks each. Popular courses for remote pupils include professional counseling practices, chaplaincy, counseling alcoholics, group counseling practices, and sexual issues in addiction.

Incoming students may transfer up to 75% of their required credits from previous coursework. Alternatively, students can earn 25% of their total credits through prior learning assessments. Learners in the substance abuse counseling program develop the necessary skills to sit for state licensure exams. City Vision specifically prepares learners for the certified addiction counselor or peer support specialist certification.


Program Overview

Program Name: Christian Certificate Program in Addiction Counseling

School Status: Private

Tuition: $7,500/year; $750/course

Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Program Length: 1 year

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: No

Contact

Phone: (816) 960-2008

Email: newstudents@cityvision.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

Bethel University

Saint Paul, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

With approximately 4,500 students, Bethel University is the largest school in the 13-member Christian College. This private nonprofit school holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and features a lakeside campus outside of St. Paul, Minnesota. Prospective learners must possess at least 60 semester credits at a regionally accredited institution to apply.

Remote students in Bethel's substance abuse counseling program enjoy fully remote access to six-week online courses. Full-time learners can finish the certificate in as few as eight months. Required courses include counseling micro skills, introduction to addictions counseling, pharmacology of addictions, and assessment and treatment of co-occurring disorders.

This program best serves current students or recent graduates in areas such as human services, Christian Ministries, social work, counseling psychology, or related fields. Bethel reports that approximately 81% of its alumni obtain leadership positions within ten years of completing the certificate.


Program Overview

Program Name: Addiction Studies Certificate

School Status: Private

Tuition: $430/credit in-state; $430/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 18 credits

Program Length: 8 months or more

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Work Experience: 2 years

Contact

Phone: (651) 638-6400

Email: caps@bethel.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Great Basin College

Elko, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Established in 1967, Great Basin College holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and is located in Elko, Nevada. GBC offers a certificate of achievement in substance abuse counselor training program for distance learners.

Remote students enjoy fully online access to this one-year substance abuse counseling program with no on-campus obligations. Certificate graduation requirements include general education courses in computing skills, English, and mathematics. Distance learners also take major courses such as substance abuse fundamentals, introduction to human services, substance abuse counseling methods, and general psychology.

In total, certificate-seekers need 30.5 credits to finish the program. Learners must complete at least 15 credit hours of courses at GBC. Training program students need at least a 2.0 GPA to remain in good standing and finish the program.


Program Overview

Program Name: Certificate of Achievement in Substance Abuse Counselor Training Program

School Status: Public

Tuition: $173/credit in-state; $258/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 30.5 credits

Program Length: 2 semesters

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (775) 753-2000

Email: oscar.sida@gbcnv.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

A public university in Cincinnati, Ohio, the University of Cincinnati was founded in 1819 and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. UC offers a fully online undergraduate certificate in substance abuse counseling taught by the faculty in the school of human services.

In most cases, certificate-seekers need approximately 9-12 months to complete this 24-credit program. Required courses include assessment and diagnosis in substance abuse counseling, fundamental substance abuse counseling skills, case management and treatment planning in substance abuse counseling, and basic pharmacology.

UC graduates go on to enjoy careers as licensed professional counselors, mental health professionals, social workers, guidance counselors, probation officers, and more. This substance abuse counseling program maintains an open admission policy for applicants who possess at least a high school diploma or GED.


Program Overview

Program Name: Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling

School Status: Public

Tuition: $724/credit in-state; $739/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 24 semester credits

Program Length: 9-12 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (513) 556-2336

Email: cechrecruit@uc.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

Misericordia University

Dallas, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Misericordia University is a public institution located in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Established in 1924, The school is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and holds a religious affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. The school offers an undergraduate certificate in addictions counseling for online students.

Remote students in this substance abuse counseling program choose between fully online and hybrid course delivery options and complete 16 credits of coursework. Required classes include professional ethics, drugs and behavior, substance abuse and the aged, substance abuse and criminality, and chemical addictions dependency. Certificate-seekers must also complete a three-credit cooperative internship at an approved location.

Interested learners must possess a bachelor's degree for consideration. Out-of-state and in-state learners in this online substance abuse counseling program pay the same tuition rates.


Program Overview

Program Name: Certificate in Addictions Counseling

School Status: Private

Tuition: $430/credit in-state; $430/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 16 credits

Program Length: 1 year

Delivery

Format: 100% online (except for internship) or hybrid

Instruction Style: Synchronous

Contact

Phone: (570) 674-6791

Email: admissmu@misericordia.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Utah Valley University

Orem, UT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 35%

Located in Orem, Utah Valley University is a public university with regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The school offers an online certificate of proficiency in advanced substance use disorder counseling.

In total, distance students need 32 credits to finish this substance abuse counseling program. In addition to nine credits of general education courses, certificate-seekers complete discipline core courses in areas such as dynamics of addiction and advanced professional development. Students also complete a six-credit internship.

Students must earn a C- or higher grade to receive credit and must maintain a 2.0 or higher GPA to remain in good standing. At least eight credit hours must come from courses completed at UVU. The school offers open admission to learners with a high school diploma or GED.


Program Overview

Program Name: Advanced Substance Use Disorder Counseling Certificate of Proficiency

School Status: Public

Tuition: $437/credit in-state; $1,214/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 32 credits

Program Length: 4 semesters

Delivery

Format: 100% online (except for internship)

Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Contact

Phone: (801) 836-6377

Email: BESC_office@uva.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

Assumption College

Worcester, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 75%

Established in 1904, Assumption College is a private Catholic institution in Worcester, Massachusetts. Remote learners can take advantage of the school's online certificate in substance abuse counseling. Students in this program focus on alcohol and drug studies, counseling techniques, substance abuse services assessment, and professional ethics.

Certificate-seekers in this substance abuse counseling program complete 30 credits. Courses include family aspects of disability, principles of case management, and psychiatric rehabilitation. Additionally, students at Assumption complete a nine-credit internship at an alcohol and substance abuse treatment facility. Upon completion of the certificate, students may sit for the certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor licensure exam.

Prospective students must hold a high school diploma or GED from an accredited secondary school. Assumption expects applicants to possess at least a 2.5 GPA.


Program Overview

Program Name: Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate

School Status: Public

Tuition: $424/credit in-state; $424/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online (except for internship)

Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact

Phone: (508) 767-7364

Email: goplaces@assumption.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Central Texas College

Killeen, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 17%

Located in Killeen, Central Texas College is a public university with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Remote students can choose from more than 60 online certificates and associate degrees, including the substance abuse prevention specialist certificate of completion.

This 36-credit hour program typically takes full-time learners three semesters to complete. Faculty deliver classes in a self-paced, asynchronous format. Required courses include substance abuse prevention, principles of behavior management and modification, pharmacology of addiction, and health psychology. Learners choose from face-to-face, blended, and fully online formats.

Distance students in this substance abuse counseling program can take advantage of a variety of online student services, including a 24/7 online writing lab, one-on-one math tutoring, and distance education study skills training videos.


Program Overview

Program Name: Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Certificate of Completion

School Status: Public

Tuition: $90/credit in-district; $113/credit in-state; $235/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program Length: 3 semesters

Delivery

Format: 100% online or blended

Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (800) 792-3348

Email: eaglesoncall@ctcd.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Albright College

Reading, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 51%

Albright College is a private nonprofit institution located in Reading, Pennsylvania. The school boasts approximately 2,000 students and holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The college offers an online certificate of professional studies in addiction studies.

Faculty deliver courses entirely online, and classes follow an accelerated seven- or five-week schedule. Learners complete a total of five courses for 20 credits. Required courses for this substance abuse counseling program include theories and treatment of addictive behaviors; drugs, addiction, and society; family systems and addiction; and addictive behaviors and special populations.

Students who complete this program fulfill the education requirements to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor or associate addiction counselor in Pennsylvania. Prospective students only need to submit their high school transcripts for consideration, as Albright does not require standardized test scores.


Program Overview

Program Name: Certificate of Professional Studies in Addiction Studies

School Status: Public

Tuition: $1,425/one-year certificate program

Credit Requirements: 20 credits

Program Length: 1 year

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (610) 921-2381

Email: ajenofsky@albright.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

National University

La Jolla, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Located in La Jolla, California, National University is a private institution founded in 1971. This nonprofit university serves approximately 24,000 students and holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

NU offers an undergraduate certificate in alcohol and drug abuse counseling. Available to students online or on campus, this program features four-week accelerated courses that can be completed entirely online. Students complete one course per month in an intensive, asynchronous e-learning environment.

Certificate-seekers need to complete 45 quarter units to finish the program, including a 255-hour practicum experience. Required courses include introduction to substance abuse, physiology of substance abuse, individual counseling, and case management. Learners who finish this substance abuse counseling program meet the educational standards for alcohol and drug counseling certification in California.


Program Overview

Program Name: Undergraduate Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling

School Status: Public

Tuition: $442/quarter unit in-state; $442/quarter unit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 45 quarter units

Program Length: 10 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online (except for field practicum)

Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (855) 355-6288

Email: advisor@nu.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Northcentral Technical College

Wausau, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 31%

Northcentral Technical College is a public institution in Wausau, Wisconsin. With regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, the college serves approximately 5,200 students. Distance learners can choose from a variety of fully online programs, including the substance abuse counselor education technical diploma.

This substance abuse counseling program requires 30 credits to complete. Full-time remote students typically need three semesters to finish their coursework. The program features classes such as pharmacology, introduction to substance abuse, behavior assessment, and introduction to counseling.

Distance learners who finish the technical diploma possess the educational credentials required by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services for substance abuse counselors in the state. Interested learners need to submit their high school transcripts, provide ACT scores, and possess a 2.5 or higher cumulative GPA.


Program Overview

Program Name: Substance Abuse Counselor Education Technical Diploma

School Status: Public

Tuition: $137/credit in-state; $205/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Program Length: 1 year

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum

Standardized Tests: ACT

Contact

Phone: (715) 675-3331

Email: admissions@ntc.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

Kansas City Kansas Community College

Kansas City, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 32%

Kansas City Kansas Community College holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and serves approximately 5,400 students. Remote students can take advantage of the school's online addiction counselor certificate.

This curriculum combines experiential learning and theoretical studies to help learners pursue a variety of careers in substance abuse treatment. Recognized by the National Association of Addiction Professionals, addiction counseling classes at KCKCC include individual counseling methods, abnormal psychology, family therapy, and pharmacology. Certificate-seekers must also finish at least 300 hours of in-person field experience to meet completion requirements.

For admission to the addiction counseling program, applicants must first receive general acceptance to the college. Secondly, prospective students need to possess an associate degree or bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. In-state and out-of-state students in this substance abuse counseling program pay the same online tuition rates.


Program Overview

Program Name: Addiction Counselor Certificate

School Status: Public

Tuition: $88/credit in-state $88/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 34 credits

Program Length: 1 year

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Contact

Phone: (913) 334-1100

Email: adcn@kckcc.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Jamestown Community College

Jamestown, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

Located in Jamestown, New York, Jamestown Community College is a public institution with regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Remote students interested in pursuing careers in substance abuse counseling can benefit from earning the school's online addictions counseling certificate.

Students in this substance abuse counseling program complete more than 75% of the required 35 credits online. Additionally, students complete a 135-credit internship at an approved location. Learners who complete the program satisfy the 350 educational hours required by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

Learners need 26 credits of core major courses, including introduction to family systems, abnormal behavior, and generalist practice skills. While the school does not have specific transfer agreements for the addictions counseling certificate, incoming students may be able to transfer previously earned credits from accredited schools.


Program Overview

Program Name: Addictions Counseling Certificate

School Status: Public

Tuition: $210/credit in-state; $420/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 34 credits

Program Length: 2 semesters

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (77% online)

Instruction Style: Synchronous

Contact

Phone: (716) 338-1001

Email: admissions@mail.sunyjcc.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

Montgomery County Community College

Blue Bell, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 22%

Located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County Community College is a public community college with regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Founded in 1964, the school now offers a variety of programs in several fields, including an online addictions certificate.

Students in this substance abuse counseling program complete 36 credits to earn the certificate. Over the course of two semesters, remote learners take courses such as the drug and alcohol treatment process, assessment and documentation in human services, and introduction to human services and helping profession. Throughout the course of the program, certificate-holders complete a portion of the Pennsylvania Certification Board's education requirements for counselor certification.

Certificate students must complete a 280-hour, six-credit human services practicum that involves hands-on training in a community agency. Prerequisites for the practicum include English composition and professional development in human services.


Program Overview

Program Name: Addictions Certificate

School Status: Public

Tuition: $144/credit in-county; $288/credit in-state; $432/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 34 credits

Program Length: 2 semesters

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Instruction Style: Synchronous

Contact

Phone: (215) 641-6300

Email: admissions@mc3.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

Rio Salado College

Tempe, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 5%

Rio Salado College is a public institution located in Tempe, Arizona. With regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, RSC is part of the Maricopa County Community College District. Established in 1978, the college offers a certificate of completion in professional addictions counseling.

Full-time students in this substance abuse counseling program follow a predetermined program sequence and take 12 credits or more per semester. Certificate-seekers need to complete 11-14 credits and earn a C or higher grade in order to remain in good standing. The program explores topics such as street drugs, group interventions, and family dynamics and addictions.

RSC requires incoming students to possess an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in behavioral health or a related field. Applicants must possess a 2.0 or higher GPA.


Program Overview

Program Name: Certificate of Completion in Professional Addictions Counseling

School Status: Public

Tuition: $85/credit in-state; $250/credit out-of-state

Credit Requirements: 11-14 credits

Program Length: 2 semesters

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (480) 517-8000

Email: admission.info@riosalado.edu

Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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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