Best substance abuse counselor online degree programs

The field of substance abuse counseling is more important today than ever, as rates of substance abuse and addiction continue to rise globally.

As the need for qualified professionals in this area grows, educational institutions are offering more convenient and flexible pathways for those who want to enter this rewarding career. Among these options are online degree programs in substance abuse counseling.

In this blog post, I carefully shaded light on the various aspects of these programs, including their benefits, features, and things to consider when choosing the right program for you.

Importance of Substance Abuse Counseling

Before diving into the details of online degree programs, it’s important to understand why this field is so vital. Substance abuse counselors play a crucial role in the recovery process of individuals battling addiction.

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They work in a range of settings, including private practices, hospitals, and rehab centers, to provide emotional and psychological support, develop treatment plans, and offer coping strategies to individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders.

As the opioid crisis continues and other forms of addiction rise, the demand for well-trained substance abuse counselors is projected to grow.

Best substance abuse counselor online degree programs

Let’s take a look at some of the institutions that offer these online programs in USA;

Ohio Christian University

This unconventional Christian educational institution, provides a Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling through its online platform.

The program consists of 45 major-specific credit hours, offering an entryway into the field of addiction recovery.

Best substance abuse counselor online degree programs

Courses in the curriculum encompass topics like Behavioral Principles, Abnormal Psychology, Strategies for Prevention, and Trauma in relation to Addiction. Upon completing their degree, graduates are eligible to undertake the Certified Chemical Dependency Assistant Status examination, provided they’ve also finished 40 hours of chemical dependency training.

The program at OCU is designed for flexibility, featuring a 5-week asynchronous format where students are expected to complete weekly tasks over five successive weeks.

Additional support services for students include complimentary tutoring and mentorship. Prior to enrollment, prospective students must submit their official transcripts and standardized test scores (ACT/SAT/CLT), and must also agree to adhere to the lifestyle standards set forth by OCU.

University of Maine at Augusta

The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) provides an online B.S. in Mental Health and Human Services, totaling 121 credits.

Students must choose one of four concentrations, including Addiction Counseling, with courses like Relational Systems for Substance Use and Crisis Intervention.

The program is hosted on Brightspace and offers online support services like counseling and tutoring via Zoom. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA and either high school or college transcripts, or GED/HiSET scores.

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota offers an online B.S. in Addiction Counseling and Prevention. The 120-credit program has two main tracks: Treatment and Prevention, with six specializations.

Core courses cover topics like individual and group counseling for addiction. Students use Daylight to complete coursework on their own time and have access to resources like Coyote One Stop and academic services. Admission requires an application, official transcripts, and ACT/SAT scores.

Purdue Global

Purdue Global offers an online B.S. in Psychology focused on Addictions, consisting of 180 credit hours. The curriculum covers key aspects of psychology, addiction, and counseling, featuring courses like Health Psychology and Clinical Psychology.

Students use the Blackboard Learn platform for asynchronous learning and have access to resources like a library and career services. Admission requires a GED or high school diploma, enrollment agreement, and official transcripts.

Advantages of Online Degree Programs

  • Flexibility and Convenience

One of the biggest benefits of pursuing an online degree is the flexibility it offers. This is particularly useful for working professionals or those with family commitments. Online programs allow you to study from the comfort of your home at times that are convenient for you.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

Generally, online programs can be more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. You’ll save money on commuting, housing, and other miscellaneous campus fees.

  • Accessibility

Online programs make it easier for people from all over the world to access quality educational resources, irrespective of geographical limitations.

Associates degree substance abuse counseling online

An Associate’s degree in Substance Abuse Counseling is a two-year educational program aimed at preparing students to provide support and counseling to individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction issues.

This degree can be obtained either in-person at various community colleges and universities or through online programs. In terms of education, an associate degree falls between a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree

These certified online associate programs are well-suited for individuals who have completed high school or earned a GED and are interested in studying substance abuse and addiction counseling. Upon earning your associate’s degree from such a program, you have the option to either enter the workforce in an entry-level role within the substance abuse and addiction field, or to further your education by applying the credits earned towards a bachelor’s degree.

Curriculum for associate degree substance abuse counseling online

The curriculum for an Associate’s degree in Substance Abuse Counseling typically includes:

  1. Basic Psychology and Sociology
  2. Introduction to Substance Abuse and Addictions
  3. Counseling Techniques
  4. Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling
  5. Cultural Sensitivity in Counseling
  6. Case Management
  7. Assessment and Treatment Planning

Below are the different colleges for associate degree substances abuse counseling;

Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College offers an online Associate in Applied Science in Addictions and Substance Use Disorders. The program prepares students for professional roles in addiction treatment and is also open to current professionals for skill enhancement.

The curriculum is comprehensive, focusing on practical skills for helping individuals and families impacted by addiction. It includes Level I and II Certificates of Completion in the field.

Courses cover topics like the foundations of addiction, treatment techniques, ethics, and family dynamics, among others.

  • Cost: $215 per credit hour
  • Credits: 61-65 required

Allen Community College

This College provides an online Associate in Applied Science Degree focusing on Addiction and Prevention Studies.

The program equips students for entry-level jobs in addiction counseling and is a strong foundation for further studies at a university.

Known for its rigorous and comprehensive curriculum, the college prepares graduates for careers as licensed clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists, specializing in addiction support. Courses cover topics like substance abuse awareness, group counseling, ethics, and more.

The program costs $85 per credit hour and requires 60-65 credits for completion.

Central Texas College

Central Texas College offers a 60-credit online Associate of Applied Science in Chemical Dependency Specialization. The program equips students to handle addiction issues across all age groups and family dynamics. With a 50-year history of serving the military, the college aims to make its associate degrees accessible globally. Courses range from Interviewing Skills to Crisis Intervention. Cost is $235 per credit hour.

Kansas City Kansas Community College

Iowa Lakes Community College provides an online Associate of Applied Science in Substance Abuse Counseling.

The two-year program includes coursework and hands-on practicum experiences, preparing students for the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) exam.

Licensing varies by state, so students should check local requirements. Graduates can directly assist those battling addiction and are also set up to pursue further education.

Courses cover topics like drug abuse, counseling skills, and psychology. The cost is $184 per credit hour, and 68 credits are needed for completion.

Core Features of Online Substance Abuse Counseling Programs

  • Accreditation

Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality standards set by accrediting bodies. Look for programs accredited by reputable organizations such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

  • Curriculum

Typically, a degree in substance abuse counseling will cover topics like psychology, counseling theory, ethics in counseling, and specific courses on substance abuse and addiction. Make sure to review the curriculum to ensure it aligns with your career goals.

  • Internships and Practicums

Even online programs often have a requirement for field experience. This gives students real-world exposure and helps them apply what they’ve learned in a practical setting.

  • Support Services

Check if the program offers online libraries, tutoring services, and career services to help you succeed academically and professionally.

Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees

Below, you will find the list of the top abuse counseling degrees.

Bachelor’s Degree

Master’s Degree

  • Addiction Studies
  • Counseling – Addictions & Recovery
  • Psychology – Addictions

Doctorate Degree

  • Behavior Analysis
  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology


Below, you will find the answers to some of the most asked questions relating to substance abuse counselor online degree programs.

  • How do I know if a program is accredited?

Check the program’s website or consult the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or other relevant accrediting bodies to confirm accreditation.

  • What kinds of jobs can I get with a degree in substance abuse counseling?

Graduates can work in various settings, such as rehabilitation centers, hospitals, mental health facilities, outpatient clinics, and even private practice.

  • What kind of degrees can I pursue online in substance abuse counseling?

Online programs offer various levels of education, from certificate programs to associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral degrees in substance abuse counseling or related fields like mental health counseling.

  • How much does an online degree in substance abuse counseling cost?

Tuition varies widely depending on the institution and the program’s duration. Some programs may offer financial aid options or reduced tuition for online students.

My final thought on substance abuse counselor online degree

An online degree program in substance abuse counseling can be an excellent pathway to a rewarding career in helping individuals reclaim their lives from addiction.

With the convenience, flexibility, and quality that many of these programs offer, you can acquire the skills and knowledge you need to make a meaningful impact in the field. However, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research and consider all the factors like accreditation, curriculum, and state licensure requirements before making your choice as I earlier stated.


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