Top 25 Best Online Certificates in Addiction Counseling for 2021



Getting your substance abuse counseling certificate online offers you flexibility in your education that you might not otherwise have when attending a physical campus. An online substance abuse counseling certificate program typically allows you to attend classes at your convenience, go through each module at a pace that suits you, gives you the ability to repeatedly review the content, and connect with the teacher to have questions answered and concerns addressed. 

Always make sure that the online substance abuse counseling certificate program is accredited by a recognized accrediting body. Accreditation for a substance abuse certificate program is especially important as it ensures that the education provided meets industry standards. Mental health counselors are held to high standards due to the fact they’re working with vulnerable people. Attending an online substance abuse certification program with accreditation ensures the certification is accepted by employers. 

Methodology: Ranking the Best Addiction Counseling Certificate Online Programs 

For our ranking of the best substance abuse and addiction counseling certificate online programs, Value Colleges editors searched for accredited, trustworthy certificate programs across the US. Programs are ranked by cost, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche. 

1. Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global offers an online substance abuse counseling certificate program that is accredited by NASAC – the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. Purdue University Global’s graduate certificate in addiction counseling online program offers students the option to apply these credits towards a master’s degree offered by Purdue University Global. Students enrolled in Purdue University Global’s addiction counseling certificate online program requires the completion of 40 semester credits and a two-term substance abuse practicum. Note that Purdue University Global is an approved education provider by NAADAC.

Purdue University Global is the distance education learning arm of the Purdue University system. Purdue University Global began with the purchase of the existing for-profit education company known as Kaplan University. Nearly 30,000 students attend classes offered by Purdue University Global. 

Highlight: Purdue University Global offers traditional and nontraditional programs with an open admission policy.

Degree: Graduate Certificate in Addictions

2. UCLA

The University of California, Los Angeles offers an Alcohol  Drug Abuse Counseling certificate that is a great springboard for those students preparing for graduate school or allied health careers. UCLA’s addiction counseling certificate online program meets the requirements as set forth by the California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals. Students enrolled in the University of California’s certificate in addiction counseling online program complete thirteen classes to earn the certificate. Most students complete this online substance abuse counseling certificate program in 18 months if beginning their studies in the fall semester.

UCLA is a public university that was established under the Morrill Land Grant Act in 1919. UCLA is also a space-grant school that serves approximately 45,650 students on its 400+-acre urban property. 

Highlight: The University of California in Los Angeles has represented the United States in every Olympic game for nearly one hundred years.

Degree: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling

3. University of Michigan

The University of Michigan’s Social Work School offers an addiction counseling certificate online program (ACP) that has been specifically developed for direct clinical professionals. The University of Michigan’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program has received approval from the state’s Certification Board for Addiction Professionals. Coursework for this addiction counseling certificate online program includes motivational enhancement, the brain chemistry of addiction, and the 12-step model, among others. On average, students complete this certificate in addiction counseling online program in approximately three months.

The University of Michigan is the flagship campus in the state and was founded in 1817 in Detroit proper. The University of Michigan (UM) is also a sea-grant & space-grant higher learning institution that serves approximately 45,950 students. 

Highlight: The University of Michigan is recognized as the oldest institution of higher learning in the state, having been established two decades before Michigan attained statehood.

Degree: Addictions Certificate

4. University of Florida

The University of Florida offers a graduate certificate in addiction counseling online program that is available 100% online through the university’s distance learning platform. Students enrolled in the University of Florida’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program can be finished in only three terms. This addiction counseling certificate online program from the University of Florida’s Health Division requires the completion of 18 semester credits across six graduate classes and offers three academic tracks – Addictions Treatment Foundational Skills, Addictions Treatment Processes & Clinical Interventions, and Addictions Treatment with Complex & Comorbid Populations.

The University of Florida operates as a public school that was established in 1853 under the Morrill Land Grant Act. As a space-grant and sea-grant school, the University of Florida’s campus in Gainesville serves approximately 56,450 students. 

Highlight: The University of Florida is organized into more than 150 academic-research facilities and sixteen colleges/schools.

Degree: Graduate Certificate in Addiction and Recovery

5. University of California, San Diego

The University of California, San Diego’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program offers an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling certificate program that is approved through the California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals. UC San Diego’s certificate in addiction counseling online program’s curriculum also meets the education requirements for a CADC- 1 certification. This addiction counseling certificate online program from the University of California’s program’s required 33 credit units over eighteen months, on average. It is noted that there is a limited residency requirement for certificate candidates.

The University of California was founded in 1960 as a result of the Morrill Land Grant Act. The University of California’s campus in San Diego is also a sea-grant and space-grant school that is home to approximately 40,350 students. 

Highlight: The San Diego Campus of the University of California is the southernmost member school of the state’s university system.

Degree: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling

6. University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin offers a Substance Use Disorders Counselor Certificate that is approved by the state of Wisconsin. UW’s addiction counseling certificate online program meets the education requirements for becoming a CSAC or SAC counselor in the state. Students enrolled in the University of Wisconsin’s certificate in addiction counseling online program are taught by the same distinguished faculty from the more traditionally delivered program. This online substance abuse counseling certificate program provides students with a deep dive into evidence-based counseling practices, diagnostic assessments, and ethical conduct and standards for addiction counseling professionals.

Founded in 1848, the University of Wisconsin (Wisconsin) is the state’s flagship campus and a land-grant higher learning institution. The school’s college-town campus is home to approximately 44,350 students and is situated near Lake Mendota. 

Highlight: The Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin is the oldest institution of higher education in Wisconsin.

Degree: Substance Use Disorders Counselor Certificate

7. Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an Addiction and Substance-Use Related Disorders Graduate Certificate that can be completed entirely online. This online substance abuse counseling certificate program provided by Arizona State University requires the completion of 21 semester credits across seven distinct classes. Students that complete this certificate in addiction counseling online program will have met the educational requirements of most states. Classes for this addiction counseling certificate online program include comorbidity in substance abuse issues, ethics, and psychopharmacology, to name a few.

Established in 1885, Arizona State University (ASU) is a space-grant, multiple campus higher learning institution that is located throughout the greater Tempe metropolitan area. The student enrollment at Arizona State University is one of the largest of all universities across the nation. 

Highlight: Arizona State University’s faculty exceeds 4,500 scholars, of which six winners Pulitzer Prize winners.

Degree: Online Addiction and Substance-Use Related Disorders Graduate Certificate

8. Villanova University

Villanova University offers a certificate in addiction counseling online program with its Addiction Studies Certificate that allows students to meet the educational requirements of many PCB (Pennsylvania Certification Board) credentials. Villanova University’s addiction counseling certificate online program can be completed entirely through the distance learning delivery system and includes 13 classes. Among the classes included with this online substance abuse counseling certificate program are ethical decision making, group counseling with substance abusers, and cultural competency, to name a few.

Founded in 1842, Villanova University is a private school that is affiliated with the Augustinian Roman Catholic Church. Approximately 10,750 students attend classes offered by Villanova’s campus and through the distance learning extension. 

Highlight: Villanova University’s campus covers more than 250 acres and was once an arboretum that includes about 1,400 trees.

Degree: Addiction Studies Certificate

9. Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Joseph’s University offers an online substance abuse counseling certificate program that requires the completion of 12 semester credits over two semesters. Saint Joseph’s University’s certificate in addiction counseling online program can be combined with the university’s graduate program in clinical mental health counseling. This addiction counseling certificate online program offers students two-yearly start dates (spring and fall). Note, if this program is taken independent of the graduate degree, applicants must hold a graduate degree in counseling to be admitted.

Established as a college in 1851, Saint Joseph’s University is a private institution of higher learning affiliated with the Jesuit Church. The university’s campuses are home to approximately 8,950 students vying for the more than 100 academic degrees offered. 

Highlight: Saint Joseph’s University is organized into academic divisions encompassing the arts, sciences, health, business, and professional studies.

Degree: Addiction Counseling Certificate

10. Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University offers an online substance abuse counseling certificate program in Addiction Counseling Certificate that has been designed to serve those students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in counseling. Students enrolled in this certificate in addiction counseling online program are prepared to sit for the state’s Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board credentialing. Appalachian State University’s addiction counseling certificate online program requires the completion of 12 semester credits in classes that include substance abuse in family systems, and the addictive process, among others.

Established in 1899, Appalachian State University is a public school initially developed to train teachers. Appalachian State University is a member school of the state’s university system with a student enrollment that is home to approximately 19,150 students. 

Highlight: Appalachian State University’s campus in the Blue Ridge Mountains has one of the highest elevations of all institutions of higher education in the nation.

Degree: Addiction Counseling Certificate

11. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s graduate certificate in addiction counseling online program provides students with coursework that covers 180 clock hours and a part of the required practicum experience for NC’s LCA (Licensed Clinical Addictions) specialist credential. Students enrolled in this addiction counseling certificate online program complete a supervised, 600-hour internship, and four classes to meet the certificate’s requirements. Classes for the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program include assessment & diagnosis of chemical dependency, counseling individuals, families and groups, and theories of chemical dependency, among others.

Established as a public college in 1946, the University of North Carolina in Charlotte is recognized as the largest of higher learning institutions in the greater Charlotte area. The University of North Carolina Charlotte operates three campuses that serve approximately 30,050 graduate and undergraduate students. 

Highlight: The University of North Carolina Charlottes main wooded campus is located a few miles from Charlotte’s uptown area.

Degree: Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling

12. Mercer University

Mercer University offers an addiction counseling certificate online program that offers students the education and clinical requirements to apply for the CADC I or CADC II in only six months of coursework across twelve relevant core functions. Students who progress through Mercer University’s certificate in addiction counseling online program finish the coursework in a cohort model, allowing groups to grow together exponentially. Note, however, that this online substance abuse counseling certificate program does not provide college earned credits.  

Founded as a research school in 1833, Mercer University is also a space grant institution of higher education. As a multiple campus university, Mercer serves approximately 8,550 students across its four locations in Georgia. 

Highlight: US News recognizes Mercer University among the top two private higher learning institutions in the Peach State for about a quarter-century.

Degree: Substance Abuse Counseling

13. College of DuPage

The College of DuPage offers an accredited online substance abuse counseling certificate program with its Addictions Counseling Certificate. This addiction counseling certificate online program requires students to complete 40 credit units. Classes for this certificate in addiction counseling online program include behavior change principles, cross-cultural communication, interpersonal dynamics, and psychopharmacology for addictions counselors, to name a few. It is noted that this Addictions Counseling Certificate program is approved by the state’s certification board.

Founded in the late 1960s, the College of DuPage is a community college with a student enrollment that serves approximately 31,450 students. The college of DuPage operates multiple campuses in Naperville, Glen Ellyn, Westmont, Carol Stream, and Addison. 

Highlight: The College of DuPage provides several 3+1 programs that allow students to transfer to partner universities through the state.

Degree: Addictions Counseling Certificate

14. University of Mary

The University of Mary offers one of the state’s certificate in addiction counseling online programs with its Addiction Counseling Graduate Certificate program designed for students who already possess a master’s degree. UMary’s addiction counseling certificate online program has a limited residency requirement and requires the completion of 17 credit units. The University of Mary’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program includes six classes in substance abuse counseling, intervention/prevention strategies, clinical supervision, and ASAM criteria, plus a relevant counseling practicum, among others.

Founded as a private higher learning institution, the University of Mary was established in 1959. The University of Mary operates dual campuses abroad in Peru and Rome and several in the state of North Dakota. 

Highlight: The University of Mary holds the distinction of being the largest of all degree-granting institutions of higher education in the greater Bismarck area.

Degree: Addiction Counseling Graduate Certificate

15. Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University offers an 18-credit online substance abuse counseling certificate program with its Substance Abuse and Addiction Prevention and Treatment Certificate. In addition to the 18 credits, this addiction counseling certificate online program requires one semester of clinical field observation and supervised experience. Students finishing Old Dominion University’s certificate in addiction counseling online program meets the education hours requires to sit for the national Certified Addiction Counselor Level 1 credential as determined by the Virginia Bd. Of Counseling.

Established in 1930 as a division of another college, Old Dominion University is a research school that serves nearly 20,000 students. Old Dominion University offers students more than 160 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

Highlight: Old Dominion University is also home to nearly 800 students that hail from many countries around the world.

Degree: Substance Abuse and Addiction Prevention and Treatment Certificate

16. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers an addiction counseling certificate online program for those working professionals who already hold a graduate degree in counseling. Grand Canyon University’s certificate in addiction counseling online program requires certificate candidates to complete 15 credit units to graduate. Coursework for this online substance abuse counseling certificate program includes family issues in addictive disorders, counseling chemical dependency adolescents, introduction to addictions and substance abuse disorders, specialization in professional counseling, and a co-occurring disorder, to name a few.

Founded as a for-profit higher learning institution, Grand Canyon University was established in 1949. The school has one of the largest online student enrollments, with more than 89,000 attending classes offered by GCU. 

Highlight: Grand Canyon University is recognized as the largest Christian institution of higher education in terms of student enrollment.

Degree: Post-MS in Counseling: Addiction Counseling Certificate

17. Minnesota State University Moorhead

Minnesota State University offers a graduate addiction counseling certificate online program with its CACREP-accredited Addiction Counseling Certificate program. Students enrolled in Minnesota State University’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program will also complete an internship and practicum experience to apply the theoretical knowledge learned online. Certificate candidates typically complete this certificate in addiction counseling online program in about two years, study full-time or up to five years as a part-time student. Students can opt for a dual certificate but are encouraged to investigate the requirements for the dual certificate prior to enrolling.

Established in 1887, Minnesota State University (MSU Moorhead) is a public higher learning institution that is a member school of the state’s system. The university’s suburban campus in Moorhead is home to approximately 7,450 students. 

Highlight: Minnesota State University’s humble beginnings include the state’s legislative body passing legislation to create a teacher’s college.

Degree: Addiction Counseling Certificate

18. Wake Tech Community College

Wake Tech Community College offers one of the state’s top certificate in addiction counseling online programs with its Human Services Technology / Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate program. Wake Tech Community College’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program requires certificate candidates to complete 17 semester credits to meet program requirements. Coursework for Wake Tech Community College’s addiction counseling certificate online program includes intake & assessment, substance abuse counseling, group techniques in therapy, and group process, to name a few.

Established in 1958, Wake Tech Community College is a public college with multiple campuses throughout the region. The university is home to more than 73,550 students attending classes online or one of the campuses. 

Highlight: Wake Tech Community College holds the distinction of being the largest community college in the state of Illinois.

Degree: Human Services Technology / Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate

19. Northeastern Illinois University

Northeastern Illinois University offers an addiction counseling certificate online program with its Addiction Counseling Certificate that meets the education requirements of a CADC credential in addiction counseling.Northeastern Illinois University’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program is a 21-semester hour program that offers training in intervention, prevention, and the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse. Students applying to Northeastern Illinois University’s certificate in addiction counseling online program must already hold a master’s degree to be admitted to this certificate program offered by NEIU.

Founded as a public institution of higher education in 1867, Northeastern Illinois University is a recognized Hispanic-serving school. NEIU operates several campuses in the Chicago area that serve approximately 8,850 students. 

Highlight: Northeastern Illinois University holds the distinction of running the longest free-from radio station in the Chicago area.

Degree: Addiction Counseling Certificate

20. Bethel University

Bethel University offers one of Minnesota’s certificate in addiction counseling online programs with its Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate program. Bethel University’s addiction counseling certificate online program requires candidates to complete 26 credits, all online, to meet program requirements. Bethel’s online substance abuse counseling certificate program can be entirely online, with start dates available every six weeks. Most students complete this addiction counseling certificate program in as little as 20 months. Classes for this degree include counseling micro-skills, pharmacology, families in cross-cultural perspective, plus an internship in addiction counseling, among others.

Established in 1871, Bethel University is a space-grant, Christian evangelical institution of higher education in Arden Hills that is affiliated with the Converge movement. The school’s suburban campus is home to approximately 6,450 students. 

Highlight: Bethel University’s campus sits alongside Lake Valentine in Minnesota.

Degree: Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate

21. Mid-America Christian University

Mid-America Christian University offers an Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate that is one of Oklahoma’s top online substance abuse counseling certificate programs. Mid-America Christian University’s certificate in addiction counseling online program has been developed for those who currently hold a post-baccalaureate degree. The coursework offered by Mid-America Christian University’s addiction counseling certificate online program helps students qualify for the following addictions counseling credentials – a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counseling/ Mental Health or a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor.

Mid-America Christian University was founded in 1853 in Houston, Texas, and is affiliated with the Church of God. The school’s campus in Oklahoma City is home to approximately 2,450 students. Mid-America Christian University is organized into a dozen schools/colleges that offer more than 55-degree programs. 

Highlight: Mid-America Christian University is a yellow-ribbon school and participates in a tuition reduction program for veterans, military members, and their families.

Degree: Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate

22. California Southern University

California Southern University’s Addiction Studies Certificate program is a CCAPP approved online substance abuse counseling certificate program designed for pre-baccalaureate students interested in careers in addiction counseling. This addiction counseling certificate online program requires certificate candidates to complete 27 credit units to meet the program’s graduation requirements. Students enrolled in California Southern University’s certificate in addiction counseling online program is completed, on average in 18 months to two years, when studying full time. Classes for this degree in addiction counseling includes foundations of addiction, ethical & professional issues in addiction counseling, and physiology & pharmacology of substance abuse, to name a few.

Established in 1978, California Southern University is a for-profit higher learning institution that offers degrees from the associate level to the doctoral level. The school is a private university with its most popular programs in the areas of business and psychology. 

Highlight: California Southern University was originally located in Anaheim and moved to its new location in 2007.

Degree: Addiction Studies Certificate

23. Jamestown Community College (SUNY)

Jamestown Community College (SUNY) offers one of New York’s certificate in addiction counseling online program with its Addictions Counseling Certificate option. Students completing this online substance abuse counseling certificate program are eligible to pursue a credential known as CASAC – TR. This addiction counseling certificate program from SUNY Jamestown Community College has a limited residency requirement. Classes for this Jamestown Community College addiction counseling certificate online program include generalist practice skills, studies in alcohol chemical dependency, general psychology, interview and counseling, and intro to family systems, to name a few.

Jamestown Community College (SUNY JCC) was established in 1950 and operates multiple campuses across the southern New York State region. The college’s campus serves approximately 2,350 students on its suburban campus in Jamestown. 

Highlight: Jamestown Community College is a junior member school of the State University of New York system.

Degree: Addictions Counseling (Certificate)

24. Waynesburg University

Waynesburg University offers one of the commonwealth’s addiction counseling certificate online programs with its Certificate in Addictions Counseling option. Waynesburg University’s online substance abuse counseling certificateprogram requires the completion of 12 credits, which can be completed entirely online, across two semesters studying full time. Classes for this certificate in addiction counseling online program include addiction counseling techniques, pharmacology of psychoactive substances, family counseling in addiction, and addiction, stress & trauma. Waynesburg University’s programs have been approved by the state’s certification board and CACREP.

Established in 1850 as a private higher learning institution, Waynesburg University serves approximately 1,750 students from its suburban campus or online. University (WU) offers one of the commonwealth’s addiction counseling certificate online offers students more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. 

Highlight: Students enrolled in Waynesburg University’s programs are offered a variety of study abroad options.

Degree: Certificate in Addictions Counseling

25. Mount Wachsett Community College

Mount Wachusett Community College offers a Substance Abuse Counselor Certification (SACC) that prepares students to become a CADC – a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Students completing the certificate in addiction counseling online program are eligible to sit for the IC & RC international ADC certification. Classes for Mount Wachusett Community College include introduction to human services, issues of chemical dependency in family systems, counseling methods and interviewing techniques, gerontology and addictions counseling, to name a few. Additionally, certificate candidates are required to complete a six credit practicum for substance abuse counseling to meet program requirements.

Established in 1963, Mount Wachusett Community College located in central Massachusetts, near Worcester. The college’s rural campus is home to approximately 12,100 students vying for more than 65 academic degrees. 

Highlight: Mount Wachusett Community College holds the distinction for its innovative renewable approach to using energy on-campus.

Degree: Substance Abuse Counselor Certification

Why Should I Get My Certificate in Addiction or Substance Abuse Counseling Online?

Working professionals who have an existing degree in mental health counseling can benefit from getting their certificate in addiction counseling online. The certificate in addiction counseling is designed to enable a counselor to earn their state’s licensure to legally work as an addiction counselor. Many states require a prospective addiction counselor to complete a set number of hours in order to be eligible for licensure as well as earn their certification. An online substance abuse counseling certificate program enables the working professional to complete their required hours and attend classes at the same time while saving time and money. 

You do have to make sure to complete your work by the deadlines set by the instructor of the program in order to complete the program. However, attending a course for your certificate in addiction counseling online allows you to attend class according to your schedule and in the comfort of your own home. 

What Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Do?

A substance abuse counselor helps people with resolving their addictions through the process of examining the mental and physical aspects of substance use and abuse. Your role as the counselor is to evaluate people at an intake appointment, determine the appropriate setting for treatment (one-on-one, group or both), create a treatment plan and support your patient as they begin their journey to better mental health and quitting their substance abuse. A substance abuse counselor helps their patient learn more about the reasons why they engage in substance abuse, look at underlying factors in their patient’s lives that contribute to the need to use, and evaluate the patient’s progress on a regular basis. 

Jobs for substance abuse counselors are plentiful, and the field is poised for strong growth over the next eight years. The mental health field works closely with the medical care field as patients often start off needing medical care prior to starting substance abuse counseling. You’ll find that many medical facilities have a substance abuse counseling job description that lays out the kind of work required of a substance abuse counselor along with the type of substances their facility treats. A substance abuse counselor can find work in medical settings, community centers, outpatient programs, and any clinical setting where there’s a need for a counselor with substance abuse training. 

Can I Work Part-Time or Online as a Substance Abuse Counselor?

The short answer is: Yes, you can work part-time and online as a substance abuse counselor. In fact, if you search for “substance abuse counseling jobs near me”, you’ll find employers around the country are hiring substance abuse counselors to work online. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed the way people communicate with one another, and it’s been found that substance abuse counseling is just as effective online as it is in-person. What that means for someone with a substance abuse counseling certificate is the opportunity to work with a large pool of patients from across the country and also set one’s own hours when it comes to working part- or full-time. Part-time substance abuse counseling jobs are available in physical and virtual settings such as telehealth services. 

The future of online substance abuse counseling jobs has a good outlook due to the fact that some areas of counseling were moving to telehealth platforms prior to COVID-19. The virus had the effect of accelerating the adoption of online counseling sessions as it was found that patients responded to counseling the same as if they were in-person with an individual counselor or in a group setting. Substance abuse counselors were keeping track of their patients between sessions via phone calls or emails as a matter of course. Now the sessions happen in an online setting with the same or similar outcomes for patients, and counselors can still keep in touch with their patients outside of individual and/or group sessions.

Make sure to set your expectations for the amount of hours you want to work on a weekly basis when looking for part-time substance abuse counseling jobs. It’s easier to find a part-time position with an employer who is in need of substance abuse counselors with part-time availability than one that needs a full-time counselor.

Related Rankings:

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Top 25 Best Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling