Top 25 Best Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling for 2021



With a master’s in addiction counseling online, graduates emerge ready to take the state license exams and qualify for professional certification in their state. A master’s degree in addiction counseling online focuses on a career path in addiction counseling, and it can also help professionals working in mental health counseling, adolescent counseling, and social services.

For those attending a master’s in substance abuse counseling online, robust coursework leads to mastery of group and individual counseling skills. students focus on the physical and soacial aspects of substance use disorders. Some will specialize in particular addictions such as alcoholism or cocaine use disorders. At the Master’s level, students usually attend a practicum that can help them build experience in the real world. This takes place under the supervision of a licensed counselor and can lead to networking opportunities.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Master’s in Addiction Counseling Online Programs 

For the Value Colleges ranking of the best addiction and substance abuse counseling master’s programs oonline, editors searched for accredited, reputable instutitions offering fully online and hybrid opportunities. Programs are ranked with IPEDS and Niche data, using factors such as tuition, student reviews, and salary potential. 

1. Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University offers a Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling online program with its Master of Arts (MA) in Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Substance Abuse. This program from WFU  has an impressive 95% pass rate for those grads taking the national exam for counselor certification. Wake Forest’s masters in addiction counseling online program is CACREP accredited, nationally recognized, and offers 24/7 tutoring and support services to all online students. Students graduate from Wake Forest University’s graduate degree in substance abuse counseling prepares students to sit for the NCE, or the National Counselor Exam.

Established in 1834, Wake Forest University is a private school that operates nonsectarian but was initially established by the Baptist State Convention. More than 8,340 students attend classes offered by Wake Forest University’s various colleges/schools. 

Highlight: Notable alumni include Arnold Palmer and Maya Angelou.

Degree: Master of Mental Health Counseling – Substance Abuse Counselor

2. University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo’s Dept of Counseling, School & Educational Psychology offers a masters in addiction counseling online program that is accredited by CACREP and NY State Department of Education. Buffalo’s MS in Rehabilitation Counseling can be completed in four to six semesters, requiring 48 semester credits and a minimum of 750 hours of practicum experience in counseling. Classes for this masters in Substance Abuse Counseling online program include foundations of counseling theory, legal/ethical issues in counseling, and statistical research, to name a few.

The University at Buffalo is a SUNY member school with two campuses in upstate New York – Buffalo and Amherst. The University at Buffalo was established in 1846 as a medical school but became a state school 120 years later. The school’s campuses serve more than 32,250 students. 

Highlight: The University at Buffalo holds the distinction of having the largest student body and most research funding of all SUNY member schools in the system.

Degree: MS in Rehabilitation Counseling

3. University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma offers a Master of Prevention Science that offers grads preparation to sit for the preeminent credential International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium’s Certified Prevention Specialist. The University of Oklahoma’s masters in substance abuse counseling online program has been developed for working learners, with 16-week courses that accelerate study time. The masters in addiction counseling online program is recognized by US News among the best baccalaureate programs available online in the nation.

Established in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is the state’s flagship higher learning institution that is also a space-grant school. The university’s suburban campus in Norman is home to approximately 28,350 students vying for more than 300 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. 

Highlight: The University of Oklahoma holds many national championships in football, baseball, gymnastics, and women’s softball, among others.

Degree: Master of Prevention Science

4. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Health Professionals School offers an MS in Addiction Counseling (MSAC) that can be completed entirely online. Texas Tech University’s masters in substance abuse counseling online program has received accreditation from CACREP. Students graduating from Texas Tech University’s masters in addiction counseling online program complete classes in the neurobiology of addiction, multicultural counseling, psychopathology & diagnosis, human growth & development, treatment planning & case management, and foundations of addiction counseling, to name a few.

Texas Tech University (TTU) was founded in 1923 and a member school of the state’s tech school system that is a designated Hispanic serving institution of higher education. The school’s 1,500+ acre campus in Lubbock serves approximately 40,240 students. 

Highlight: Texas Tech University is recognized as the seventh-largest institution of higher learning in the Lone Star state.

Degree: MS in Addiction Counseling

5. West Virginia University

West Virginia University offers an MS in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling that can be finished 100% online. West Virginia University’s masters in addiction counseling online program requires the completion of 63 graduate semester credits to graduate. Coursework for West Virginia University’s masters in substance abuse counseling online program includes rehabilitation client services, addictions counseling, ethical issues in counseling, crisis trauma grief counseling, plus a clinical practicum.

Established in 1878 as an agricultural school, West Virginia University is a land-grant and space-grant school that operates campuses or extensions throughout each of West Virginia’s counties. West Virginia University is the state’s flagship school, with approximately 29,920 students attending classes offered by the university’s fifteen colleges/schools. 

Highlight: Reader’s Digest has recognized the Morgantown campus of West Virginia University as the safest in the nation.

Degree: MS in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling

6. University of Massachusetts – Boston

The University of Massachusetts Boston offers an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling that is available entirely online through the University of Massachusetts Boston’s distance learning platform. The University of Massachusetts’s master’s in substance abuse counseling online program requires degree candidates to complete 60 online graduate semester credits to meet program criteria. UMass Boston’s master’s in addiction counseling online degree program prepares students to seek their certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. This program has received accreditation from the Council on Rehabilitation Education.

The University of Massachusetts’s Boston campus was established as a state college in 1852. The school’s Boston campus covers more than 100 urban acres and is home to approximately 15,950 students. 

Highlight: UMass Boston holds the distinction of being one of the most diverse student bodies across the nation.

Degree: MS in Rehabilitation Counseling

7. University of North Texas

The University of North Texas’s College of Health & Public Service offers an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling that requires degree candidates to complete 60 credit units to graduate. UNT’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program is nationally recognized by US News among the top twelve online degrees for rehabilitation at the graduate level. Students enrolled in the University of North Texas’s masters in substance abuse counseling online program complete classes that offer skills that help graduates help others make positive life changes that endure.

Established in 1890 as a teacher’s college, the University of North Texas is now the state’s flagship campus with a student enrollment that nears 41,000 students. UNT operates campuses in Denton and Frisco, Texas. 

Highlight: The University of North Texas offers its students a student to faculty ratio of 23 to 1.

Degree: MS in Rehabilitation Counseling

8. Auburn University

Auburn University offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, which requires a one-week residency each semester throughout the program. Auburn University’s masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program has a 60-semester credit minimum for degree candidates. Additionally, AU’s master’s in addiction counseling online degree program requires students to complete 100 practicum counseling hours, 600 internship hours, and a written exam issued by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification to meet graduation requirements.

Auburn University (AU) was founded in 1856 as a private all-male college but became a public school when becoming a land-grant school under the Morrill Land Act. The university is a sea-grant and space-grant institution of higher education that serves nearly 31,000 students. 

Highlight: Auburn University is considered one of the largest public higher learning institutions in the southern United States.

Degree: MEd in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling

9. George Washington University

George Washington University offers an MA in Rehabilitation Counseling that requires students to finish 48 graduate credit units to meet program requirements. George Washington University’s masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program includes classes in psychosocial aspects of disabilities, the cultural dimension of counseling, and vocational assessment of individuals with disabilities, among others. Students graduating from this masters in addiction counseling online degree program find rewarding work as case managers, parole officers, rehabilitation counselors, and assistive technology specialists, to name a few.

George Washington University was found as Columbia College in 1821 as a private school. The university’s campus in the nation’s capital is home to approximately 27,100 students studying for degrees offered by the university’s fourteen colleges/schools. 

Highlight: George Washington University’s alumni include more than 25 US senators and 15 US cabinet members.

Degree: MA in Rehabilitation Counseling

10. University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers an MA in Rehabilitation Counseling that is considered among the state’s best masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program. Degree candidates seeking to complete the University of Alabama’s graduate degree in addiction counseling are required to finish 60 graduate semester credits. The University of Alabama’s master’s in addiction counseling online degree program has received accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.

The University of Alabama (‘Bama) was founded in 1820 under the Morrill Act as one of the first schools on the new American western frontier. In addition, the University of Alabama is a space-grant and sea-grant school that serves as the state’s flagship campus. The university campus in Tuscaloosa is home to approximately 38,450 students. 

Highlight: The University of Alabama’s football program is ranked among the top ten programs of all time.

Degree: MA in Rehabilitation Counseling

11. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University offers an MA in Clinical Addictions Counseling that is considered among Indiana’s best masters in substance abuse counseling online degree programs. Students enrolled in Indiana Wesleyan University’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program is an approved program by the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). Classes for this graduate degree program include multicultural counseling, research & evaluation of methods and practice, and legal/ethical issues in the profession, to name a few.

Indiana Wesleyan University was founded by the Wesleyan Church in 1920 as a private evangelical school. Indiana Wesleyan University’s campuses in Marion and Indianapolis (west) is home to approximately 13,750 students studying for the more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

Highlight: Indiana Wesleyan University holds the distinction of being the largest of all private higher learning institutions in the state of Indiana.

Degree: MA in Clinical Addictions Counseling

12. Drexel University

Drexel University offers an MS in Addictions Counseling that can be completed online through Drexel University’s distance learning platform. Drexel University’s masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program prepares students to sit for either the MAC or AADC certification exam. Degree candidates enrolled in Drexel University’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program are required to complete 54.5 semester credits at the graduate level.

Drexel University is a research higher learning institution that was founded as an institute by Anthony Drexel in 1891. The university’s campus in Philadelphia is home to approximately 24,150 students studying for more than 150 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

Highlight: Drexel is world-renown for its cooperative education programs, which offer up to 1.5 years of paid internship in the student’s field of study.

Degree: MS in Addictions Counseling

13. University of Mary

The University of Mary offers an MS in Addictions Counseling that is recognized among the top masters in addiction counseling online degree programs in North Dakota. The University of Mary’s masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program offers working learners a flexible program that is also affordable. Students enrolled in the University of Mary’s can complete the graduate degree program in only twenty months, depending on course load. Students who have enrolled in the U of M’s program are required to meet once per week in downtown Bismarck to meet the graduate degree in addiction counseling’s requirements.

The University of Mary was established in 1959 as a Benedictine higher learning institution.  Additionally, the University of Mary M’s suburban campus in Bismarck is home to approximately 3,750 students. The University of Mary operates additional campuses in Peru and Rome. 

Highlight: The University of Mary is the largest of schools in the greater Bismarck metropolitan area.

Degree: MS in Addiction Counseling

14. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers one of the best masters in addiction counseling online degree programs in Arizona with its Master of Science (MS) in Addictions Counseling degree. Students enrolled in Grand Canyon University’s masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program are required to complete 36 graduate semester credits to graduate. Classes for this degree include co-occurring disorders, professional counseling orientation, and ethics, counseling theories, and chemical dependency in adolescents, plus a pre-practicum and internship in counseling, to name a few.

Grand Canyon University is a nonprofit institution of higher education that was established in 1949 as a nondenominational Christian school. The school’s student enrollment exceeds 110,000, with about 90% attending classes online. 

Highlight: Grand Canyon University became a for-profit school in 2004 when bough by Significant Education, LLC.

Degree: MS in Addiction Counseling

15. University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota offers one of the best masters in substance abuse counseling online degree programs in South Dakota with its Master of Science (MS) in Addictions Counseling & Prevention degree. Students enrolled in the University of South Dakota’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program must complete 120 credit units in classes that include group addiction counseling, ethical and legal issues in addiction, and the study of alcohol use and additional, to name a few.

The University of South Dakota was founded in 1862 and is a public, space-grant school located in Vermillion. The University of South Dakota is recognized as the oldest school in the state and serves approximately 9,850 students.  

Highlight: The University of South Dakota holds the distinction of operating the only medical and law school in the state of South Dakota

Degree: MS in Addiction Counseling and Prevention

16. Monmouth University

Monmouth University offers an MA in Addictions Studies that is considered among the Garden State’s top masters in substance abuse counseling online degree programs. This masters in addiction counseling online degree program allows degree candidates to meet the states licensing requirements for an LCADC license. Students are required to complete 33 graduate semester credits to graduate. This graduate degree in addiction has received accreditation from NASAC and INCASE – International Coalition of Addiction Studies Educators. Coursework for this graduate degree includes crisis intervention, psychopathology, theories of counseling, and introduction to alcohol & drug abuse, plus a counseling practicum, among others.

Monmouth University was established as a junior college in 1933. This private higher learning institution located on the New Jersey Shore serves approximately 6,050 students. 

Highlight: Monmouth University offers students an impressive 14 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Degree: MA in Addiction Studies

17. Wright State University

Wright State University’s Education and Human Services College offers one of the top Ohio, CACREP-accredited masters in substance abuse counseling online degree programs with its Master of Rehabilitation Counseling degree. Wright State University’s master’s in addiction counseling online degree program requires students to complete 69 credit units to meet graduation requirements. Classes for this graduate degree in addiction counseling include medical aspects, psychosocial rehabilitation, clinical pathology, statistics, and research, plus a practicum and internship, to name a few. Students must complete two years of post-graduate supervision to receive a PCC (Professional Clinical Counselors) designation.

Wright State University is a multi-campus higher learning institution that was established in 1967. Wright State University’s campuses serve approximately 12,150 students across the state. WSU is named to honor the aviation pioneer brothers. 

Highlight: Wright State University was originally a branch facility for OSU and Miami U of Ohio.

Degree: Master of Rehabilitation Counseling

18. University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine offers one of the best master’s in substance abuse counseling online degree programs in South Dakota with its Master of Science (MS) in Counseling (MSC) with a concentration in Rehabilitation degree. This masters in addiction counseling online degree program requires low residency visits for its degree candidates and offers working learners a flexible degree option with synchronous and asynchronous coursework. The University of Southern Maine’s graduate degree in addiction counseling has received accreditation from CACREP and meets the counseling criteria as established by CORE – the Council on Rehabilitation Education.

The University of Southern Maine (Southern Maine) was established as a public higher learning institution in 1878. In addition, the University of Southern Maine is a space-grant school that serves approximately 7,750 students from its dual Maine locations. 

Highlight: US The University of Southern Maine M humble beginnings can be traced back to a normal school in Portland.

Degree: MS in Counseling – Rehabilitation

19. Regent University

Regent University offers an MA in Human Services with an academic concentration in Addiction Counseling that is considered among the state’s best masters in substance abuse counseling online degree programs. Students enrolled in Regent University’s masters in addiction counseling onlinedegree program are required to complete 30 graduate semester credits, all online. Classes for this degree in addictions counseling include addiction addictive behaviors & substance abuses, intervention, advanced counseling skills, and process addictions, to name a few.

Regent University is an evangelical institution of higher learning that was established by Pat Robertson in 1977. The school’s Virginia Beach campus and online students total nearly 8,700. Students can earn a degree from the associate through the doctoral level from Regent University. 

Highlight: Regent’s campus covers more than 65 acres and follows neo-Georgian architecture.

Degree: MA in Human Services – Addictions Counseling

20. Union College

Union College’s Department of Psychology offers an MS in Substance Abuse Counseling that is available entirely online through Union College’s distance learning platform. Union College’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program requires students to complete 60 semester units at the graduate level. Students enrolled in Union College’s masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program complete classes in recovery and relapse, biological systems of chemical dependence, family systems theory, ethics in professional practice, health psychology, and theories of counseling and psychotherapy, to name a few.

Union College is a private college that was founded in 1875 by the United Methodist Church. The school’s campus in Barbourville is home to approximately 1,150 students. 

Highlight: Union College’s campus is about 25 miles from the Cumberland Gap – a national historic United State Park.

Degree: MS in Substance Abuse Counseling

21. Liberty University

Liberty University offers an MA in Addiction Counseling that is considered among Virginia’s best masters in substance abuse counseling online degree programs. Degree candidates in Liberty University’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program have the option to transfer up to 50% of required credits, if eligible. This graduate degree from Liberty University is completed, on average, in about 24 months. Classes for the master’s degree in addictions counseling includes acute stress, grief, and trauma, treatment & the recovery process, and biological aspects of addiction & recovery, plus an internship, to name a few.

Liberty University was established by Jerry Falwell, Sr. in 1971 as an evangelical higher learning institution. Liberty University is affiliated with the Baptist Church with a student enrollment that nears 110,000 students – online and on-campus. 

Highlight: It is noted that Liberty University includes a Christian conservative orientation to all coursework offered.

Degree: Master in Addiction Counseling

22. University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands offers a master’s in substance abuse counseling online program with its Master of Science (MS) in Addiction Counseling. Students enrolled in UC’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program take classes in motivation and change, family therapy in addiction, spirituality, and values in counseling, and psychopharmacology, plus an internship, to name a few. UC’s graduate degree in addiction counseling has received accreditation from CACREP. Classes are delivered in a bi-term format, which include 8-week terms rather than 16-week terms.

The University of the Cumberlands (Cumberlands) was established as a Baptist university in 1888. The University’s campus serves approximately 13,100 students and is located about 65 miles from Knoxville and 180 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Highlight: The University of the Cumberlands is organized into four colleges/schools.

Degree: MS in Addiction Counseling

23. Mid-America Christian University

Mid-America Christian University offers one of the best masters in substance abuse counseling online degree programs in Oklahoma with its Master of Science (MS) in Counseling (MSC) with a concentration in Addiction & Substance Abuse counseling degree. Students enrolled in Mid-America Christian University’s masters in addiction counseling online degree graduate and enter the workforce as a professional counselor, drug counselor, or family therapist, to name a few. Classes for this graduate degree includes psychopathology, alcohol & drug addiction, theories of counseling, individual counseling & psychotherapy techniques, and marriage & family systems in treatment, plus a practicum, to name a few.

Mid-America Christian University is a private school that was established as a Bible institute in 1953 in the city of Houston, Texas. Mid-America Christian University is endorsed by the Church of God. The school’s 60-acre campus serves approximately 2,450 students. 

Highlight: Mid-America Christian University offers more than 50 academic degrees and certificates offered through its 12 colleges/schools.

Degree: MS in Counseling – Addiction and Substance Abuse

24. Walden University

Walden University offers an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an academic emphasis in addition that is available entirely online through Walden University’s distance learning platform. Students enrolled in Walden University’s CACREP-accredited masters in addiction counseling online degree program are required to complete 100 – 106 quarter credits, plus an internship of 600 hours and a practicum of 100 hours. Classes for this masters in substance abuse counseling online degree program from Walden University includes theories of counseling, mental health counseling, and foundation for graduate study in counseling, to name a few.

Walden University (Walden) was established in 1970 and operates as an online higher learning institution for profit. The school primarily offers online classes to a student enrollment that nears 50,000. 

Highlight: Walden University is organized into five colleges/schools – education, nursing, management, social/behavioral sciences, and health sciences.

Degree: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling – Addiction

25. Thomas University

Thomas University offers one of Georgia’s top master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs with its Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Master’s degree program. Students enrolled in Thomas University’s masters in addiction counseling online degree program must complete 60 semester credits in classes that include theories of group counseling, medical aspects of disability, psychosocial and multicultural aspects of addiction, and clinical mental health and rehab, plus two 45-hour clinical counseling practicums.

Thomas University is a private institution of higher education that was established in 1950 as a junior college by the Primitive Baptist Church. Portions of the campus were once owned by the US-Japan Ambassador. More than 1,000 students attend classes offered by Thomas University online and on its Thomasville campus. 

Highlight: Thomas University offers early to start education programs for exceptional and non-traditional high school students.

Degree: Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Masters

Why Should I Get My Master’s in Addiction or Substance Abuse Counseling Online?

Most online masters degree in substance abuse counseling programs also help students learn important job search skills. Many also provide counseling on the process to obtain licensing and certification in this day where the student wishes to practice. Professional organizations are another great way to find job opportunities and internships. Upon graduation, students emerge as counselors with the appropriate education to seek state licensure. A masters in addiction counseling online degree can help graduates gain an edge in the marketplace as well.

Prospective students must first choose whether they would like to attend classes online or on campus. This depends on your needs. those who have already obtained their bachelors program may like the on-campus experience. However, working professionals and those with family obligations require a more flexible way to continue their education. For the latter, a masters degree in addiction counseling online provides the flexibility for students to choose their time and place of study. These programs include opportunities for students to finish their practicum locally.

Will a Certification Help My Career?

Getting your substance abuse counseling certification online can help you prepare for state certification and licensing requirements. Human resources personnel and hiring managers look closely at your academic credentials, certification and licensing achievements. An accredited online substance abuse counseling certification helps you prepare for the requirements in your specific state. In general, some states certify and license substance abuse counselors while others use third parties to oversee the certification process.

An online addiction counseling certification holds the same weight as one obtained through in-person coursework. It’s important to review the requirements of your state certification board. There may be one or several organizations accepted by your jurisdiction. Two examples of certification boards include the following:

  • International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC)
  • Association of Substance Abuse Professionals (NAADAC)

Getting an addiction counseling certification online, gives you a lot more flexibility than in-person classes and the process is similar across most states. Although you can complete the academic requirements for substance abuse counseling certification online, You also need experience. Typically, you will receive entry-level credentials until you have enough experience for full certification.

Make sure to choose an online substance abuse counseling certification program that aligns with the exam, character screening and education requirements in your state.

Most jobs you can get with a certificate in substance abuse counseling online require you to document your education. This includes your high school diploma and your addiction counseling certification online. Some lower-level certifications may not require a degree. Make sure you understand the requirements in your field and location.

Will I Make More with a Master’s in Addiction or Substance Abuse Counseling?

In general, a masters in substance abuse counseling salary gives you an edge over job seekers with less education and experience. Below, review the masters in substance abuse counseling salary for low-, mid- and high-range jobs. In the United States, a substance abuse counselor typically needs a master’s degree, although there may be positions available for those with a bachelor’s degree and the right qualifications. On average, substance abuse counselors make about $55,000. At the low end, entry level jobs may start at $48,000 and positions that require more experience and education average $61,000.

Related Rankings:

Top 25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Addiction Counseling

Top 25 Best Online Certificates in Addiction Counseling