Substance Abuse Counseling Graduate Schools

Read about master's degree programs in substance abuse counseling, and explore the typical curriculum for these programs. Get info about certificate programs in this field as well. Review the licensure and certification requirements for counselors. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Substance abuse counselors offer assistance to those suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. By gaining a graduate level education, you can empower yourself with the knowledge and training to help treat addiction and provide support to those it effects. Learn about schools that offer graduate programs and what you can expect to study.

How Can I Become a Substance Abuse Counselor?

In order to become licensed as a substance abuse counselor, you usually need to obtain a master's degree from an accredited school. You can locate an accredited school through the database provided at the website of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The necessary master's degree should be in counseling or a similar subject area, such as psychology, human services or social work. These programs usually require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field. Graduate certificates in substance abuse are available to those currently enrolled as well as those who already hold an appropriate master's degree. In most cases, certificate courses can be applied toward the completion of a master's degree program.

Which Schools Offer Master's Programs in Substance Abuse Counseling?

Master's degrees are available at a wide range of colleges. Below are a few of the schools you might consider for graduate studies in substance abuse counseling:

  • East Carolina University provides a Master of Science in Clinical Counseling through its Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies.
  • Monmouth University has a Master of Arts in Addiction Studies program available.
  • Liberty University offers a Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling that can be completed fully online with the exception of three on-campus intensive courses.

Where Can I Gain a Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling?

A number of schools also offer graduate certificate programs in substance abuse counseling for working professionals and graduate students specializing in a counseling discipline. Here are just a few such schools:

  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte provides a Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling.
  • Western Michigan University offers a graduate certificate program specializing in alcohol and drug abuse.
  • The University of Florida offers a Graduate Certificate in Addiction and Recovery that can be completed fully online.

What Courses Will I Take?

A graduate certificate program about substance abuse is generally an overview of the field and consists of 12 semester-hours of coursework. The curriculum provides you with an introduction to substance abuse, treatment of addiction, prevention of substance abuse and contemporary issues. Because these are all didactic courses, the program is often available entirely online through a school's course management system, such as Blackboard. However, some certificate programs contain an internship component, which you must complete in person.

A master's degree program with a focus on or concentration in substance abuse counseling is more intensive. Typical courses discuss ethical and legal issues in counseling, research methods, theories of personality, addiction prevention techniques, mental health considerations and an overview of disabilities. In addition, there are a number of seminars you must attend in areas such as individual and group counseling, human development and the physiological aspects of addiction.

A master's degree program also traditionally includes a practicum and more than one supervised internship. You may be able to complete some didactic portions of the program online. Some schools offer you the option of either submitting a thesis or completing a final examination to satisfy degree requirements.

Do I Need Certification or Licensure?

National certification, while voluntary, is advisable in order to enhance your employability or chances for advancement. It is also a testament to your competence as a substance abuse counselor. Certification is offered through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

The basic certification is Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). To qualify to sit for the certification examination, you must either be enrolled in or graduates from an accredited master's degree program. Otherwise, you may have two years of counseling experience or a state license to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

The NBCC also offers a Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) certification, which builds upon an existing NCC designation. You must complete at least three years of supervised experience as an addiction counselor along with additional amount of graduate work. Certifications are renewable every five years upon completion of a certain number of continuing educational units or by passing a re-certification examination. The NBCC offers a list of approved providers of continuing education units.

All states require you to have a license to practice as a substance abuse counselor. The NBCC is the agency that administers the licensing examination, in accordance with the requirements set forth by the individual states. On its website, the NBCC provides links with the licensing board of each state. You can learn your state's current requirements by directly contacting their board.

A number of schools offer graduate training in substance abuse counseling through master's degree programs and graduate certificates. Embarking on such a program will increase your expertise regarding the nature of addiction and how to help those dealing with substance abuse issues.

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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