Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling

Substance abuse & addiction is a problem for not only those most directly affected, but for their families and friends as well. Complicating matters, many of those with substance abuse problems also have mental and physical health problems. Addiction counselors work with these patients and their families to help identify issues at the heart of their addiction and help to take steps to remedy them.


Degree Requirements

A graduate degree is often not a requirement to become an addiction counselor. In fact, many addiction counselors don't even have a formal higher education degree, but as is the case with many occupations, those with a degree are at a natural advantage when not only jobs, but promotions and other advancement opportunities are at stake. Degrees can also speed up the licensing process in most states.

Those with a master's degree working in the field of addiction counseling often earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in counseling. Further, they often elect an emphasis in Substance Abuse, Clinical Counseling, and Mental Health Counseling. Although the titles may vary from one institution to another, in many cases that's where their differences end.

Although there is no national standard for what distinguishes a good substance abuse master's program, prospective students should look for a program that is certified by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Students might also want to consider more generalized master's degree programs in community counseling, psychology, or social work (MSW). These are often supplemented with a certificate program in substance abuse counseling. Master's degree programs can usually be completed in one and a half to two years.


Educational Programs

A number of colleges and universities across the country offer excellent programs leading to both Master's and Doctorates in addiction counseling or related disciplines. Most require prerequisites of at least some psychology coursework.

Curricula include a comprehensive survey of counseling theories, group counseling, social and cultural issues. In addition, supervised internships provide hours of opportunity for students to develop their counseling skills. In many states, a master's degree is required for the highest level of licensing or certification. It is up to the student to check licensing requirements of the state they want to work in.


Schools Offering a Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling

Some of top known institutions that offer a master's or doctorate in addiction counseling include:


Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers a complete online or campus based programs leading to a master's degree in addiction counseling. 

Classes Include:


Estimated Costs:

  • Books & Supplies (Per Program)    $935
  • Tuition & Fees (Per Program)    $18,370


Graduation Rates:

  • On Time Graduation Rate    51%


The College of William and Mary

The College of William and Mary offers a campus based program leading to both a master's degree and doctorate in addiction counseling (M.Ed.)

Classes Include:


Mid-America Christian University

Mid-America Christian University offers an online option to earn a master's degree in addiction and substance abuse. The program is a Master of Science in Counseling with an emphasis in Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling.

Classes Include:


Estimated Costs & Hours:

  • Total Hours: 45
  • Tuition & Fees (Per Program)   $24,405


This list is by no means complete, since almost all states has several colleges or universities that offer similar programs. See our state by state guide to addiction counseling licensure requirements and schools offering educational programs to get a more specific idea about programs in your state.