A substance abuse counselor helps and advises individuals who are attempting to stop/overcome or recover from an addiction to one of many substances they may be abused. An online substance abuse counseling degree program prepares graduates to work in individual/group settings using tools and techniques to help those with alcohol and drug abuse issues break free from the addictive behavior that is causing havoc in their lives.
Many students find that programs for substance abuse counseling degrees online offer the flexibility and convenience for those students who need to continue to work full-time or have busy parenting responsibilities. Addictions counseling degree online programs require students to complete the same rigorous coursework as those studying in more traditional settings. The distance learning format simply opens up options for those who have limited time to study for an academic degree.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees
To rank the best online addiction and substance abuse counseling degree programs in the US, Value Colleges editors researched accredited online and hybrid programs recognized for their quality and value. Programs are ranked according to IPEDS and Niche data, including cost, potential salary, and student satisfaction.
1. Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global offers an online substance abuse counseling degree that confers a BS in Psychology – Addictions upon students who complete the program. Online addiction counseling degrees prepare students to help individuals in the community with serious psychological issues associated with addiction. Substance use disorders affect the entire community and addiction professionals can improve the quality of life of those struggling with addictions. Students in this baccalaureate program examine how pharmacology, addiction, prevention, and case management integrate. Successful graduates help clients maintain their sobriety in roles as addiction counselors and similar job titles.
Purdue University global offers an innovative and extremely personalized student experience. The university offers first-class education that allows working adults to continue their careers while studying. Successful applicants obtain a degree from an online accredited university with a respected name. Purdue is known for its innovative teaching approach and updated curriculum for a modern skillset.
Highlight: With a 100% acceptance rate the university gives an opportunity to every student who applies.
Degree: BS in Psychology – Addictions
2. Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University offers an online substance abuse counseling degree for students who want to know more about family, community and addiction science. This is one of the best online addiction counseling degrees, as students gain career experience via a 14-week practicum. The university matches students with agencies that match their career goals. For students who want to prepare for a leadership role or go on to obtain an advanced degree, the BS in Addiction studies Provides experience in grant writing, organizational management, and high-level decision-making. Texas Tech graduates go on whole careers as policymakers, government administrators, and agency directors. By building strong relationships with other classmates and faculty, students can use their experience at Texas Tech to establish a strong network of like-minded academics. In both the on-campus and online settings, students interact with professors who are professionals in the community and gain access to addiction sciences professionals who act as mentors.
Texas Tech is a public research university dedicated to furthering the knowledge of its students through creative teaching and research opportunities. Texas Tech prepares students to be leaders in the workforce and to take on advanced degrees in the field.
Highlight: Approximately 71% of students who apply receive letters of acceptance from Texas Tech. Seven out of 10 students believe that professors give a lot of effort to preparing for and teaching their courses.
Degree: BS in Addiction Studies
3. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University also has an online substance abuse counseling degree that is widely recognized as one of the best-accredited programs for a BS in Addictions Counseling. For students comparing online addiction counseling degrees, it’s important to note where the university’s program stands out from the competition. Indiana Wesleyan University offers students a major in Addictions Counseling that can be completed in under two years. Most of the coursework is completed entirely online. However, practicums are attended at sites agreed upon by the students and university representatives.
The program gives students an in-depth education that also takes a Christian worldview. This program is ideal for conservative students who wish to maintain their values and attend a school with like-minded teachers and students. This is important even in the online environment. Indiana Wesleyan University is located in Indiana and other popular majors include nursing, business, humanities and liberal arts.
Highlight: Indiana Wesleyan ranks #15 among Midwest universities, according to US News.
Degree: BS in Addictions Counseling
4. Grand Canyon University
At Grand Canyon University, students learn sensitivity to those suffering from substance use disorders. Whole communities suffer when substance use disorders go untreated. Online addiction counseling degrees help aspiring abuse counselors learn how to make a difference. By enrolling in Grand Canyon’s program, students gain in-depth knowledge of chemical dependency, addiction and substance abuse treatment. The program falls under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and graduates serve families, individuals and communities with compassionate care.
GCU is made up of nine separate colleges offering 200 academic programs, 150 of which are also available online. Over 20,000 undergraduate students attend the university and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this growing university. Experienced leadership continues to develop online education and has already helped more than 75,000 students achieve their online learning goals.
Highlight: This online substance abuse counseling degree teaches students the impacts of addiction on families and relationships.
Degree: BS in Counseling – Addiction
5. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati has an online substance abuse counseling degree that prepares students to become substance abuse counselors. It stands out among other online addiction counseling degrees in Ohio, thanks to its dedicated staff and focus on evidence-based behavior therapy that helps those with substance use disorders achieve full recovery. Graduates of this program go on to work with patients in crisis and also help recovering addicts maintain their sobriety and drug-free living.
The University of Cincinnati offers courses that can be completed 100% online. Students can complete their degrees within two years wall balancing work, home life and school. For students who want to set their own pace, the coursework can be completed part-time over a four-year period. The university also accepts transfer credits for most accredited institutions.
Highlight: 100% of students receive some form of financial aid, making this one of the more affordable programs for those who wish to become addiction counselors.
Degree: BS in Substance Abuse Counseling
6. Washburn University
Washburn University has an online substance abuse counseling degree that features a broad education. it stands out among other online addiction counseling degrees for its breadth of knowledge endowed upon well-rounded graduates. The BAS in Addiction Counseling requires nine credit hours in arts and humanities that students choose from general education courses. Students must also complete three hours in theater, music or art. Students also complete nine hours of coursework in natural science and math. Courses include chemistry, biology, math, and physics. Additionally, students complete nine hours in social sciences.
An above-average public school, Washburn, located in Topeka, KS, is a small university. There are fewer than 4,000 undergraduate students despite the fact that Washburn accepts all students who apply. This offers a wide range of educational opportunities for popular majors such as nursing, liberal arts and humanities, and sonography.
Highlight: Nine out of ten students receive financial aid.
Degree: BAS in Addiction Counseling
7. Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University offers an online substance abuse counseling degree and students can earn a BA or BS in sociology – addiction counseling. Online addiction counseling degrees prepare students to become licensed addiction counselors in Kansas. You will work with groups and individuals in various professional settings to provide recovery and prevention care for those with substance use disorders.
Fort Hays State University has more than 13,000 undergraduate enrollees. This is a public institution with more than a century of experience. The university first opened its doors in 1902 and sits on a beautiful 200-acre campus. The school strives to create a similar online and in-person classroom experience based on a traditional academic calendar.
Highlight: Fort Hays State University has been ranked #112 among the best colleges in the Midwest.
Degree: BA/BS in Sociology – Addiction Counseling
8. University of South Dakota
The University of South Dakota has an online substance abuse counseling degree. As one of the best online addiction counseling degrees in the Midwest, the program results in a BS in Addiction Counseling and Prevention. This flexible online bachelor’s degree program prepare students with a strong academic foundation and offers opportunities for real world experience in prevention and counseling. Courses focus on science-based addiction treatment. Students who successfully complete the program emerge ready to take on state, national and professional certifications.
As a public university, the University of South Dakota offers educational opportunities to a diverse student population. Other popular majors include nursing, health services and physical education. Founded in 1862, South Dakota has more than 7,400 students and uses a semester-based calendar.
Highlight: South Dakota ranks #249 on the list of Best Colleges and National Universities.
Degree: BS in Addiction Counseling and Prevention
9. University of Central Arkansas
The University of Central Arkansas has an online substance abuse counseling degree that offers exciting career opportunities for successful graduates. It stands out among other online addiction counseling degrees thanks to its focus on our country’s major social problems. Students who wish to build a career in addiction counseling may find this program matches their academic goals. The program provides technology, education and clinical training so that students emerge ready to begin working.
The University of Central Arkansas is a midsize university and offers admittance to students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Besides its programs directed towards alcohol and drug counseling certification, the university offers a wide range of majors to online and in-person students.
Highlight: The University of Central Arkansas is ranked #3 among Top Public Universities in Arkansas, according to niche.com.
Degree: BS in Addiction Studies
10. Empire State College (SUNY)
SUNY Empire State College offers an online substance abuse counseling degree that students can complete in 124 credit hours. Online addiction counseling degrees At Empire State College are approved by the New York Board of Education. This program may find interest among students who wish to become skilled professionals and treat individuals who have substance use disorders. Courses in the program address the fundamentals of how to treat addicted individuals and their families and to address community issues that arise from substance abuse.
Empire State College is a public college located in the Albany area of New York. This small school has about 3600 undergraduate students and offers majors such as community organizations and advocacy, business and liberal arts.
Highlight: All students who apply receive acceptance into the college.
Degree: BS in Addiction Studies
11. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University has an online substance abuse counseling degree designed to prepare students to improve the welfare of those with addictions. Online addiction counseling degrees provide a convenient format for students who wish to counsel others on alcohol and drug-related dependencies. The focus of the program includes harm reduction and dual diagnosis of co-occurring drug and mental health issues. Graduates can pursue a meaningful career in substance abuse counseling.
Eastern Kentucky University was founded in 1906 and has nearly 13,000 undergraduate students. Although the campus sits on a beautiful rural setting, students can take courses online in semester-based academic programs.
Highlight: Eastern Kentucky University ranks #51 among the Best Colleges in the South.
Degree: BS in Psychology – Addiction Counseling
12. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Northwestern State University of Louisiana has an online substance abuse counseling degree. Online addiction counseling degrees offer a firm foundation in psychology and addiction studies. Employers are looking for addiction counselors who have great communication skills as well as the ability to interpret and analyze data regarding human behavior. Addiction study graduates often work in communications positions.
Northwestern State Louisiana is a mid-size public institution with more than 6,300 undergrad students. They accept nearly eight out of 10 students who apply. By offering online courses, the school makes it easier for students who need to continue working or who have family obligations that prevent them from attending classes in person. This opens up educational opportunities to a wide array of students who might not otherwise be able to pursue their dream of becoming addiction counselors.
Highlight: Northwestern State University of Louisiana is ranked #6 among Top Public Universities in Louisiana.
Degree: BS in Addiction Studies
13. Alvernia University
Alvernia University has an online substance abuse counseling degree that results in a BA in Addictions and Mental Health Treatment. Online addiction counseling degrees provide the education needed for students to become effective mental health treatment professionals specializing in addiction. Students who want to enter this dynamic field need a firm foundation in the impacts of drug and alcohol addiction on individuals and communities. Graduates emerge with the knowledge needed to pursue their alcohol and drug counselor (CADC) certification.
Alvernia University is steeped in Franciscan values. the school provides liberal arts education to 3000 students from 14 countries. It’s brick-and-mortar location in scenic Pennsylvania offers in-person students close proximity to major metropolitan areas for internships and job opportunities.
Highlight: The school’s history of Franciscan values may appeal to those who won a conservative worldview that supports there personal values.
Degree: BA in Addictions and Mental Health Treatment
14. Bay Path University
Bay Path University has an online substance abuse counseling degree that allows students to complete their educational requirements to become certified alcohol and drug abuse counselors. Upon completion of online coursework and in-person practicum requirements, students can sit for their CADC Licensing Exam. Online addiction counseling degrees such as the one at Bay path include internships to help students develop intervention skills in a supervised environment. The University also offers graduate level coursework to prepare students for national certification exams. This comprehensive approach to substance abuse counseling makes us one of the best schools to attend for those who want to further their education or seek employment directly after graduation.
Bay Path University is located in the Springfield area of Massachusetts and this small institution has around 1,400 undergraduate students. Just six out of 10 applicants receive acceptance letters and Popular majors include psychology, business and health services.
Highlight: With a 60% acceptance rate, the school offers competitive challenges for applicants and a respected degree from an accredited university for graduates.
Degree: BA in Psychology – Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling
15. Liberty University
Liberty University offers a competitive online substance abuse counseling degree. With online addiction counseling degrees, students receive the academic background they need while completing their coursework in an affordable and flexible environment. Liberty hosts a program that students can complete in 3 1/2 years. All coursework can be completed online, which is ideal for students in remote areas or who work full time.
Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia. The college offers students academically challenging coursework and professors present courses in a biblical worldview.
Highlight: Liberty University ranks #6 among the best online colleges in America.
Degree: BS in Psychology – Addictions and Recovery
16. Walden University
Walden University has an online substance abuse counseling degree that produces exceptional addiction counselors. Online addiction counseling degrees enable students to prepare for careers treating those with various addictions, including gambling, pornography, alcohol, shopping, drugs and self-harm. Managing addiction requires a number of specialized skills. Therefore, students learn about external and internal triggers behind disorders that cause self-destructive behavior. By concentrating on addiction, this program introduces theories about the causes behind addictive behavior end how to prevent and treat it. Students study prevention and recovery strategies for those facing a high risk of addiction or relapse.
Walden University offers 100% online programs designed for busy students who work or juggle study time with obligations to children and spouses.
Highlight: Walden University is ranked #24 among the Best Value Colleges in Minnesota.
Degree: BS in Psychology – Addiction Counseling or BS in Human Services – Addictions
17. Western New Mexico University
The online substance abuse counseling degree at Western New Mexico University results in a BS or BA in chemical dependency counseling. Like other online addiction counseling degrees, this program focuses on chemical dependency, prevention, administration, and counseling. Graduates find work in private or public sectors as clinical directors, program directors, researchers, prevention clinicians, and managers of adolescent treatment centers.
Western New Mexico, Located in Silver City, is a small institution with just 1200 undergraduate students. The university accepts all students who apply and other majors include liberal arts, nursing, and welding.
Highlight: With 100% acceptance and 95% student aid, this is a good option for students who don’t do well on standardized tests and require financial assistance with their education.
Degree: BS or BA in Chemical Dependency Counseling
18. Campbellsville University
The online substance abuse counseling degree at Campbellsville University offers a Bachelor of social work in substance abuse. As one of the best online addiction counseling degrees, it helps graduates provide support to groups and individuals requiring counseling. The program includes a solid foundation in social work and teaches students how to approach individuals from a Christian perspective, which espouses understanding and patience. Some students go on to study for their master’s degrees while others specialize in family relationships and crisis management.
With a student-professor ratio of 13 to 1, Campbellsville University provides hands-on teaching an in-person and online classes. Dedicated professors come prepared and ready to answer real-world questions and offer their experience and mentorship to students.
Highlight: The university has an 83% acceptance rate, meaning more than four out of five students who apply are accepted.
Degree: Bachelor of Social Work – Substance Abuse focus
19. Ottawa University
Ottawa University’s online substance abuse counseling degree confers a BS in Addictions Counseling. Online addiction counseling degrees teach students how to improve the welfare of those suffering from substance use disorders. As students complete their online degree, courses range from alcohol, addiction and other drugs to harm reduction and co-occurring disorders. The university’s addiction counseling program teaches students critical skills such as critical thinking, research and analysis of studies and treatment modalities. Students who earn their bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University often go on to begin meaningful careers as counselors for those with various addictions. Some students go on right away to attain advanced degrees in social work.
Ottawa University has just 700 undergraduate students. This Christian University is located in Kansas and accepts most of those who apply. Other popular majors include biology and business. The online format expands course offerings to students in remote locations, living abroad and working full-time jobs.
Highlight: The university has a 78% acceptance rate, giving students a good chance of acceptance.
Degree: BS in Addictions Counseling
20. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University’s online substance abuse counseling degree helps students become counselors for those with substance use disorders. Online addiction counseling degrees Focus on the educational background and clinical skills needed to become effective drug and alcohol counselors. Students who enroll in this program received training on tools needed to help those suffering from substance use disorders. Counselors help those addicted to drugs and alcohol as they struggle to re-establish relationships and new lives.
Southern New Hampshire University has a long history that stretches back nine decades. The University offers over 300 baccalaureate and graduate programs as well as certificate programs. Many of these programs can be taken fully online, providing the flexibility needed for monitoring students who work full-time and have family obligations.
Highlight: Disrespecting University ranks #5 among Best Colleges in New Hampshire. This makes it a natural choice for those who wish to attend is school based in New Hampshire.
Degree: BA in Human Services – Substance Abuse
21. Crown College
Crown College has an online substance abuse counseling degree that teaches students how to help individuals with addictions find a more productive way of expressing their thoughts and feelings. Like other online addiction counseling degrees, the BS in alcohol and drug counseling at Crown College includes classes in cognitive, emotional, professional, cultural, financial and other consequences of substance use disorders. Crown college offers internship opportunities so that students can work towards becoming Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADC).
Crown is a Christian based university that offers smaller size classes and includes biblical references and worldviews in coursework. The school has been educating students since 1916 and has a great reputation for producing effective drug and alcohol counselors among its graduates.
Highlight: Just 55% of applicants are accepted but the school offer financial aid to 97% of students.
Degree: BS in Alcohol and Drug Counseling
22. Ohio Christian University
Ohio Christian University has an online substance abuse counseling degree. Online addiction counseling degrees equip graduates to become addiction recovery therapists. Students emerge ready to become licensed as chemical dependency counselors in Ohio. The requirements in Ohio include completion of academic programs in chemical dependency counseling. The university’s undergraduate degree in Substance Abuse Counseling fulfils the minimum hours needed to obtain their licenses.
Ohio Christian University develops students professionally, intellectually and spiritually. This is a great school for those who want to maintain their Christian values while pursuing the education needed to pursue their passions.
Highlight: The school accepts 100% of those who apply.
Degree: BS in Substance Abuse Counseling
23. Aspen University
The online substance abuse counseling degree at Aspen University confers a BA in psychology in addiction studies to students who successfully complete their program. As with most online addiction counseling degrees, this program focuses on delivering the knowledge needed for students who want to become addiction counselors. Graduates emerge ready to begin entry-level jobs in addiction therapy feels. Coursework includes sociology, psychology and addiction theory so that students can better understand their future patients. There are still additional licensing requirements in each state that require examinations and other criteria.
Aspen has just 400 students in this small university located in the Denver area. Other popular majors include business, childhood education and nursing.
Highlight: Everyone who applies to Aspen University gets an opportunity to pursue their education here.
Degree: BA in Psychology and Addiction Studies
24. Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Chicago School of Professional Psychology has an online substance abuse counseling degree. It stands out from other online addiction counseling degrees because it includes a BA in psychology combined with a concentration in addiction studies. This provides students with a wider psychological background that can help them be better prepared for counseling patients with drug and alcohol addictions. The program focuses on preparing students to become certified alcohol and drug addiction counselors.
This University is a private school located in Los Angeles. The university accepts a handful of undergraduate students and provides a unique educational opportunity.
Highlight: The extremely small size of the school gives students an opportunity for direct interaction with one another and instructors.
Degree: BA in Psychology, Addiction Studies
25. Springfield College
The online substance abuse counseling degree at Springfield College is one of the best online addiction counseling degrees. The college aims to prepare students for careers as addiction counselors with a concentration in substance use disorder counseling. Students gain the competency and skills needed to attain their state credentials. This unique program focuses on the requirements of licensure and certification with coursework applicable to many states.
Since 1885, the college has been producing educated graduates that make a real difference and their communities. Springfield College operates on the concept of Humanics, focusing not just on education but developing the whole person.
Highlight: ‘With a 63% acceptance, Springfield College is fairly hard to get into. However, students who attend receive a robust education steeped in the concepts of humanics.
Degree: Substance Use Disorder Counseling
Why Should I Get My Bachelor’s in Addiction or Substance Abuse Counseling Online?
Most online addiction counseling degrees are provided at the baccalaureate level, although there are many certificates in addictions counseling or master’s level online addictions counseling degree options for those who wish to further their education or specialize in a particular subspecialty of substance abuse counseling.
While most baccalaureate online substance abuse counseling degree programs provide the necessary education, most states also require those who hold an online degree in substance abuse counseling to meet preset licensing criteria set forth by the state’s licensing board officials.
Aspiring counselors enrolled in an on-campus or online addictions counseling degree program are trained to create & then implement treatment plans to help clients overcome an ongoing, out-of-control substance abuse addiction issue.
In addition, those counselors who wish to further their education will find there are online addiction counseling degrees offered at the post-baccalaureate or master’s degree level. Most online degree in substance abuse counseling programs can be completed in two years or less.
How Do I Choose an Online Addiction or Substance Abuse Counseling Program?
The best online rehabilitation counseling programs will be those degree programs that –
- Meet a student’s budget.
- Meet a student’s unique academic and career objectives.
- Is appropriately accredited on a regional or through a specialized accrediting agency.
Addiction counseling accreditation is generally awarded at the specialized level by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Education Programs. While many schools are regionally accredited, the best online schools for addiction counseling will generally have voluntarily chosen to be evaluated by a third-party accreditation agency to determine if the program meets the requirements as noted by sanctioned agencies of program accreditation for substance abuse counseling.
When shopping for the best online colleges for substance abuse counselor training, it is also important to discern if the chosen best online rehabilitation counseling programs will provide you with the relevant substance abuse or addiction counseling training to sit for a number of available and relevant certifications.
For most, the best online rehabilitation counseling programs prepare addiction counseling professionals to meet or exceed the requirements for licensing in the state in which they intend to practice. And for many students, an online program is the perfect solution to the delicate balance of childcare, work, and other family and life commitments.
Once a counseling license has been issued, a substance abuse or addiction counselor can work in private practice, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation facilities, or other healthcare centers or establishments. It is noted that many substance abuse counselors eventually choose to earn a master’s or doctoral degree, which helps expand job opportunities and income possibilities.
Do I Need Certification to Be a Substance Abuse Counselor?
With the growing demand for substance abuse counseling professionals amid an opioid crisis within a pandemic, many counselors seek to refine their skills by enrolling in available online substance abuse counselor certification programs. Remember, earning a substance abuse counselor certification online is in addition to obtaining the license required by the jurisdiction overseeing one’s professional counseling services.
The many substance abuse counselor certification online programs are designed to help the nearly 20 million American adults who are seeking to overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse counselor online certification programs are available from a number of professional organizations.
Earning a substance abuse counselor online certification adds credibility to the existing credentials of the substance abuse counselor. Examples of some online substance abuse counselor certification options include the following –
The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals offers several substance abuse counselor certifications:
- The National Certified Addiction Counselor Level 1 – a voluntary national certification.
- The National Certified Addiction Counselor Level II – a voluntary national certification.
- The Master Addiction Counselor – this voluntary certification seeks to allow professionals to demonstrate specialized addiction counseling skills obtained through graduate work and supervised professional experience.
- The National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist – this credential offered by the NCC AP is to provide an avenue of recognition for those peer recovery specialists.
The National Clinical Supervision Endorsement – this NCC AP endorsement is awarded to those professionals who demonstrate the competencies required of clinical supervision during the process of addiction treatment.