Getting Your Addiction Counseling Degree Online


Addiction counselors are trained to help people uncover the causes of all types of addictions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, the need for addiction counselors is expected to increase by 27 percent by 2020, which is a higher than average increase when compared to other professions.


Requirements for getting started in the challenging and rewarding field of addiction counseling range from earning a certification and license to receiving a master’s degree, depending on the specific job description and needs of the clients. With the right education, an addiction counselor learns the interpersonal communication and critical thinking skills they need to assess such things as degree of dependence and to document the progress of clients.


Types of Education

Education programs for addiction counseling range from certification courses to doctorate degree curriculums. Some certifications can be earned after receiving a high school diploma; other certification programs may require possession of a previously earned bachelor’s degree or higher. In most cases, the higher the level of education, the more qualified an addiction counselor is considered to be in order to work with clients in a one-on-one setting and to require less


In addition to the choices for what type of education to receive, where to take courses is also a consideration. One choice is to enroll in a program for an addiction counseling degree online. The flexibility and convenience of an online degree often works well for prospective students who are already working in the field of addiction counseling or another career field. A variety of different programs are available online, including certifications, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate programs for master’s degrees and PhD’s in addiction psychology. In each type of program, courses are designed to prepare students with the skills needed to effectively work with clients to manage a variety of addictions, from alcohol and drugs to eating disorders.


Types of Courses

From certification programs to doctorate degrees, prospective addiction counselors will take a variety of courses to prepare them to help clients with addictions. Some examples of the courses students will take may include:


  • Treatment planning
  • Ethical responsibilities
  • Confidentiality and legal issues
  • Client and family education
  • Community education
  • Service coordinating
  • Documenting and case management
  • Relapse prevention
  • Individual counseling theories and practice


Length of Study

The time a student will spend taking courses to earn an addiction counseling degree online varies on the type of program. Most certifications programs can be completed in between 6 months and 1 year. Associate’s degree programs are typically designed to be completed in 1 ½ to 2 years, while bachelor’s degrees prepare students in 3 to 4 years. Master’s degree options range from 1 to 3 years for completion, and the average PhD program can be completed in 5 to 7 years.


Some Popular Schools that Offer an Online Degree in Addiction Counseling


ICDC College

The associate’s degree in alcohol and drug counseling offered online through ICDC College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Fast track degrees can be completed in as few as 9 months, and the associate’s degree program takes up to 2 years. The approximate cost for a fast track program is approximately $29, 858. Find more information at


Aspen University

The programs for addiction counseling at Aspen University are accredited by the Association for Addiction Professionals and the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education Training Council. The total cost of a bachelor’s degree, requiring 120 credits, is $30,000, plus additional fees. The bachelor of arts in psychology and addiction counseling program at Aspen University includes courses from general education and electives to 19 courses within the program major. Learn more at


Grand Canyon University

Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Grand Canyon University offers a master of science in addiction counseling entirely online. The program includes the courses required for licensure in the state of Arizona, with the majority of students also being prepared for licensure in other states. Per credit hour, graduate students at Grand Canyon University will pay $495 per credit hour for individual courses, plus additional fees for technology and materials, for a total of 36 credit hours. For more information on Grand Canyon University’s master’s degree option, visit


Capella University

In addition to a master of science degree in addiction counseling, Capella University also offers a PhD in Addiction Psychology. Capella is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, and the program can be completed in 5 years as a full-time student. Students also complete colloquia courses, which require access to a local Capella University campus and cost $1,495. Per credit hour for classroom credits, tuition is $495, and quarterly tuition is $2,725 for dissertation and examination courses. More information can be found at