Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees and Schools

Learn about the education and state licensure requirements for substance abuse counselors. Find out about classes and degree programs in this field, as well as professional certification options. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

As a substance abuse counselor, you will assess the nature of your patients' addictions and develop a treatment plan. You will counsel patients, and possibly family members of patients, one-on-one or in groups to help them cope with issues that lead them to substance abuse. You can work in a private practice, a government facility or an outreach organization.

Degrees Both undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered
Programs Social work, counseling or psychology, with a concentration in substance abuse counseling
Licensing Counselors are required to be licensed in the state in which they practice

What Kind of Undergraduate Degree Will I Need?

Although you will find associate's degree programs in substance abuse counseling, they may not meet the minimum state licensing requirements. A bachelor's degree program often provides the coursework necessary for state licensing, as well as a practicum or co-op that gives you clinical experience. Some bachelor's degree programs exist in substance abuse counseling, although most students choose a degree in related fields with a focus on substance abuse counseling.

Which Schools Offer Undergraduate Substance Abuse Counseling Programs?

Students can choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in addiction studies, alcohol and substance abuse studies, or alcohol and drug counseling. They could also obtain a bachelor's in social work, psychology or counseling; some of these programs offer an area of concentration in substance abuse counseling. Some programs can be taken online. Schools that offer relevant undergraduate programs include the following, among many others:

  • Purdue University Global
  • Newman University
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Midway University
  • The University of Utah
  • University of Michigan-Flint
  • City Vision University
  • SUNY-The College at Brockport

What Courses Will I Take?

Coursework in a relevant bachelor's degree program include assessment, pharmacology, treatment planning and therapy techniques. Some states offer varying levels of licensure based on your education and experience. Some educational programs offer the coursework but not the clinical portion required for licensing. Courses you can expect to take in a bachelor's degree program in addiction studies, social work, psychology or counseling includes the following:

  • Social psychology
  • Substance abuse theory and treatment
  • Case management
  • Counseling theory and techniques
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Abnormal psychology

What Kind of Graduate Programs Will I Find?

You'll most commonly find a graduate certificate program in substance abuse counseling that meets the education requirements for licensure. You can find programs that have been created or approved by your state licensing board. This type of program is ideal for students who already have clinical experience. Many programs offer online study options. Courses you might take include relapse prevention, treatment planning and the biology of addiction.

You will also find master's-level programs in substance abuse counseling. You could choose to pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW) or a master's degree in counseling or mental health counseling with a focus on addiction or substance abuse counseling. Your program will typically cover counseling theories, counseling methods and assessment techniques. You can expect a thesis and practicum as part of your requirements.

What Kind of License or Certification Will I Need?

While becoming licensed through the state is mandatory, you may also opt for voluntary certification from a professional organization. In some cases, passing a certification exam from a professional organization is part of the requirement for licensure from the state. You'll generally have to meet clinical experience and education requirements as well. Licensure requirements vary from state to state and may not apply to those outside of private practice, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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