Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Interested in helping people recover from addiction? Learn more about substance use counseling and the best online bachelor’s programs in addiction recovery.
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Updated February 13, 2024

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

An online bachelor's in addiction recovery teaches how to assess addictive behaviors and create treatment plans. Students also learn how to provide individual and group counseling and connect clients with helpful community resources.

Graduates can work in roles such as substance use counselors. This guide ranks the top online bachelor's in addiction recovery programs to help students find the right one for their needs.

Popular Online Addiction Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Online Addiction Counseling Degrees Rankings Summary

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Cincinnati, OH
$10,099 $25,433 85%
#2 Purdue University Global-Indianapolis
West Lafayette, IN
$10,080 $13,356 Not provided
#3 Eastern Washington University
Cheney, WA
$6,896 $24,722 97%
#4 Clarks Summit University
Clarks Summit, PA
$27,200 $27,200 58%
#5 University of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD
$7,773 $11,283 87%
#6 Crown College
Saint Bonifacius, MN
$27,270 $27,270 65%
#7 Ottawa University-Online
Ottawa, KS
$11,976 $11,976 Not provided
#8 Ottawa University-Kansas City
Overland Park, KS
$12,229 $12,229 Not provided
#9 Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global
Marion, IN
$8,453 $8,453 Not provided
#10 Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Natchitoches, LA
$5,180 $15,968 96%

Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees

#1 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

  • Cincinnati, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Cost per Semester:

In-State | $6,785

Out-of-State | $6,965

Credits to Graduate: 120

Designed for full- or part-time students, the University of Cincinnati's bachelor of science in substance use counseling prepares graduates for chemical dependency licensure in Ohio. The degree fulfills the academic requirements for licensure in many other states.

The fully online research-oriented program includes developmental and systems perspectives on drug and alcohol use impacting children, adolescents, and families. It emphasizes fundamental skills for individual and group counseling and advanced cultural competencies for providing services to diverse client populations.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,099
Out-of-state
$25,433
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,224
Out-of-state
$24,966
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
40,329
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Purdue University Global-Indianapolis

  • West Lafayette, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission 

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $371

Out-of-State | $371

Credits to Graduate: 180

Purdue University-Global's bachelor of science program allows distance learners to earn a respected degree from the prestigious Purdue University system. Graduates meet the requirements for the National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I and II certification exams and the National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist certification exam.

Aimed at working adults, the fully online curriculum features an optional concentration in business foundations. Students who enter with transfer or prior experience credits can finish the program in just over two years.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,080
Out-of-state
$13,356
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,730
Out-of-state
$9,700
Retention Rate
75%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
43,458
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Eastern Washington University

  • Cheney, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $243

Out-of-State | $828

Credits to Graduate: 180

The bachelor of arts in addiction studies at Eastern Washington University offers a fully online program approved by NAADAC, the association for addiction professionals. The degree prepares graduates to become certified substance use counselors in Washington. Once students complete all required courses for state certification, they become eligible to take the NAADAC national certification addiction counselor exam.

In addition to a senior capstone focusing on licensure preparation, the curriculum offers an optional practicum for students interested in working in substance use disorder treatment agencies.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,896
Out-of-state
$24,722
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,353
Out-of-state
$27,939
Retention Rate
67%
Acceptance Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
10,892
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#4 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Clarks Summit University

  • Clarks Summit, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditations: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Association for Biblical Higher Education

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $460

Out-of-State | $460

Credits to Graduate: 121 

The bachelor of science in addictions counseling at Clarks Summit University presents the field of counseling as both a profession and a ministry. This four-year degree includes two majors: a biblical studies major and a professional major, plus a core of general studies and ministry courses.

The curriculum covers philosophical foundations and practical methodologies of biblical counseling. It requires 30 credits in addictions counseling and 21 credits in free electives. This degree prepares graduates for entry-level counseling positions.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$27,200
Out-of-state
$27,200
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,020
Out-of-state
$7,020
Retention Rate
71%
Acceptance Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
696
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

University of South Dakota

  • Vermillion, SD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $355

Out-of-State | $355

Credits to Graduate: 120

As the state's only program of its kind, the University of South Dakota's online bachelor of science in addictions counseling prepares graduates for addiction credentialing in South Dakota. Students intending to practice outside South Dakota should consult their state licensure or certification board.

This fully online bachelor's in addiction recovery program allows distance learners to specialize in prevention or treatment. The curriculum comprises 30 credits in core foundations, six credits in the chosen specialization, and nine elective courses.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,773
Out-of-state
$11,283
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,123
Out-of-state
$11,773
Retention Rate
77%
Acceptance Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
9,464
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Crown College

  • Saint Bonifacius, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $455

Out-of-State | $455

Credits to Graduate: 125

A leader in online Christian education, Crown College offers a bachelor of science in alcohol and drug counseling that pairs a biblical perspective with preparation for licensure. All distance learners must fulfill general education and Christian studies core courses, 45 credits in the major and 32 electives. Major coursework covers theory and methods, assessment and treatment, and case management.

Qualified students in the alcohol and drug counseling degree may apply for an accelerated program to earn their master of arts in counseling in less than three years.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$27,270
Out-of-state
$27,270
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,350
Out-of-state
$10,350
Retention Rate
73%
Acceptance Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
1,476
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
71% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Ottawa University-Online

  • Ottawa, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online

Programmatic Accreditation: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $419

Out-of-State | $419

Credits to Graduate: 120

Ottawa University's bachelor of science in addiction counseling prepares graduates for various counseling careers. The program provides the foundation for graduate work in fields, such as counseling, clinical psychology, social work, law enforcement, and human services. This fully online program delivers courses in accelerated eight-week terms.

Coursework explores key areas in the field, including alcohol and substance use disorders, harm reduction, co-occurring disorders, and dual diagnosis. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of cultural competence in working with diverse client populations.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,976
Out-of-state
$11,976
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,253
Out-of-state
$11,253
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
218
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Ottawa University-Kansas City

  • Overland Park, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online

Programmatic Accreditation: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $419

Out-of-State | $419

Credits to Graduate: 120

Rooted in a longstanding commitment to adult education, the bachelor of science in addictions counseling at Ottawa University-Kansas City offers a flexible plan of study that delivers online courses in accelerated eight-week terms. Students complete courses at their own pace, taking one or more courses each term. They may even enroll in an online course simultaneously with face-to-face classes. 

The 39-credit major requires students to complete 300 hours of practicum experience in clinical addiction counseling under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$12,229
Out-of-state
$12,229
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,328
Out-of-state
$10,328
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
551
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global

  • Marion, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online

Programmatic Accreditation: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $398

Out-of-State | $398

Credits to Graduate: 120

Indiana Wesleyan University's bachelor of science in addiction counseling integrates a Christian-based worldview with evidence-based practice that prepares graduates to work in various settings. The degree provides a foundation for graduate study in several counseling fields. 

The curriculum requires 30 credits in liberal arts, including six credits in biblical studies. Learners complete 48 credits in addictions counseling coursework. Students proceed through the synchronously delivered courses sequentially, taking one course at a time. The degree requires 350 supervised hours of onsite practicum experience.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,453
Out-of-state
$8,453
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,715
Out-of-state
$9,715
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
10,008
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Best Online Addiction Counseling Degrees of 2024

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

  • Natchitoches, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $375

Out-of-State | $375

Credits to Graduate: 120

The online bachelor of science program at Northwestern State University of Louisiana combines introductory psychology coursework with addiction studies classes, preparing learners to work in human resources, healthcare, and communication. The degree provides students with the academic requirements for certification as a substance use counselor and prevention specialist in Louisiana. 

The curriculum comprises core liberal arts and science foundations, 27 semester hours of psychology classes, and 33 semester hours in counseling and addiction-related coursework.

Classes include screening and assessment, case management, and special populations.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,180
Out-of-state
$15,968
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$5,738
Out-of-state
$16,526
Retention Rate
64%
Acceptance Rate
96%
Students Enrolled
10,735
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
88% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Ranking Methodology Summary

At TheBestSchools, we pride ourselves on our proprietary ranking methodology to help prospective students like you find the best fit. Our ranking system uses official government data to present schools without bias, taking into account key factors like academic quality, online offerings, and affordability.

Learn more about how our formula works on our ranking methodology page.

What is a Substance Use Counselor?

Substance use counselors provide safe spaces for clients to work through addiction challenges. These professionals typically have a caring, compassionate nature and a thorough understanding of how to treat substance use disorders effectively. They may:

Substance use counselors can work in many settings, including inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities, hospitals, other healthcare providers’ offices, and government agencies.

They typically work with individuals across the lifespan. Yet, some professionals may specialize in a particular age group, such as young adults.

Choosing an Online Addiction Counseling Bachelor's Program

When researching prospective online substance abuse counseling degrees, students should consider several factors: accreditation, curriculum, cost, length, and on-campus requirements.

Accreditation

You must graduate from an accredited program to apply for state licensure or professional certifications. The National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC) is the primary accreditation organization for bachelor’s programs in addiction recovery. NASAC accreditation demonstrates that your program meets academic and industry standards.

Admissions Requirements

Because admission requirements for bachelor’s programs in addiction recovery vary, check your eligibility with each program before you apply. Typical entrance requirements for most addiction counseling programs include the following:

Cost

Average Cost of a Bachelor's Degree for the 2021-22 School Year
Institution Type Average Tuition, Fees, Room, and Board Average Tuition and Required Fees
Public $21,878 $9,596
Private, For Profit $27,911 $27,910
Private, Non-Profit $51,154 $37,222
All Institutions $17,931 $9,874
Source: NCES

The cost of your degree depends on whether you enroll in a public or private school, attend full- or part-time, or choose a fully online or hybrid program. Public schools typically charge much less than private institutions. However, public schools typically charge out-of-state students higher rates than in-state students.

Consider other expenses besides tuition and fees, such as books and technological needs, or any expected loss of income while taking courses versus salary prospects once you graduate.

Curriculum and Internship Requirements

Online addiction counseling degrees typically require 120 credits. The curriculum includes core liberal arts and science courses, foundations in counseling and addiction, and electives. Counseling and addiction coursework often focuses on:

  • The psychology of addiction
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Case management, screening, and treatment planning
  • Psychopharmacology in the treatment of substance use disorders
  • Cultural competence in working with diverse populations

Almost all programs include internship requirements to provide aspiring addiction counselors with supervised practicum experiences in agencies, hospitals, and rehabilitation clinics.

Time Commitment and Format

An online bachelor’s in addiction recovery may take four years of full-time study, depending on the program requirements and your situation. Attending part-time or entering a program with transfer credits impacts how long it takes to finish your degree.

Most fully online programs use asynchronous course delivery formats that allow you to view lectures and complete assignments when convenient throughout the week. However, some programs follow a synchronous format or a hybrid model requiring some on-campus sessions.

Addiction Counseling Careers

Graduates with an online bachelor's in addiction counseling can pursue roles like social worker and substance use counselor. Some careers in addiction counseling may require additional education or certification. All salary and job outlook data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Social Workers

Social workers help vulnerable individuals and groups deal with life challenges. While social workers with a bachelor’s degree only offer non-clinical services, those with master’s degrees and a clinical social work license can work independently in clinical settings such as hospitals, community agencies, and psychiatric centers. An undergraduate addiction counseling degree focusing on assessment, treatment, and prevention provides a strong foundation for aspiring social workers who want to provide clinical services.

Job Outlook: 7%

Annual Salary Range

$36,660
Bottom 10% Lowest-Paid Annual Salary

$55,350
Median Annual Salary

$87,300
Top 10% Highest-Paid Annual Salary

Substance Use Counselors

Substance use counselors offer services and support to individuals with substance addictions, working in public and private settings, including government agencies, hospitals, and mental health clinics.

They assess clients, develop treatment plans and prevention strategies, and connect clients with resources like rehabilitation options and job placement. Depending on state licensure requirements, these professionals usually enter the field after earning a bachelor’s in counseling, addiction recovery, or a related field.

Job Outlook: 18%

Annual Salary Range

$34,580
Bottom 10% Lowest-Paid Annual Salary

$49,710
Median Annual Salary

$82,710
Top 10% Highest-Paid Annual Salary

Correctional Treatment Specialists

Correctional treatment specialists counsel incarcerated people or on probation or parole. They coordinate rehabilitation plans and connect clients with counseling services, healthcare, and job training.

Because correctional treatment specialists often work with offenders who have alcohol or drug dependencies, a bachelor’s in addiction counseling can provide useful skills in multicultural counseling practices, assessment, and treatment.

Job Outlook: 3%

Annual Salary Range

$38,550
Bottom 10% Lowest-Paid Annual Salary

$59,860
Median Annual Salary

$101,080
Top 10% Highest-Paid Annual Salary

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Addiction Counseling Degrees

Is a Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling Worth It?

Deciding if this degree is worth the investment depends on several factors, including how it impacts your responsibilities and whether anticipated future earnings and professional opportunities outweigh the cost.

Yet, earning a bachelor's in addiction recovery can help you make a significant difference in people's lives while providing the skills needed to enter various counseling careers. A bachelor's degree also provides the necessary credentials for state licensure as a substance use counselor in several states and a foundation for graduate work.

What Skills Do You Need to be an Addictions Counselor?

In addition to the skills gained through academic training, you need to develop certain "soft skills" that facilitate your ability to interact effectively with others, manage time, and solve problems.

An effective addiction counselor must have strong communication skills and empathy to connect with clients during their most difficult challenges. Whatever situations you encounter, you must refrain from judging your clients while setting boundaries to protect your well-being and prevent burnout.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Addiction Counselor?

The first step to becoming an addiction counselor is learning your state's requirements. Most states require you to earn a bachelor's degree, which can take 2-4 years. In some jurisdictions, bachelor's degree holders qualify for licensure, but other states only require an associate degree. However, many states require a master's degree and a specific number of supervised clinical hours for licensure, which can take an additional two years or more.

Once you earn your license and gain supervised experience, you can boost your career prospects by becoming a National Certified Addiction Counselor or completing other certifications.

What Does It Take to Become an Addiction Counselor?

Licensure requirements differ by state, but states generally require a bachelor's or a master's degree to become an addiction counselor. Most states require a license and a master's to work with clients independently.

You must hold a master's degree to pass the National Counselor Exam, which is required for licensure in most states. Optional certifications include the National Certified Addiction Counselor or the Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Requirements for testing and application fees vary by type of credential.

How Much Do Addiction Counselors Make?

Substance use, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn a median annual salary of $49,710. The lowest-paid counselors earned less than $34,580, while the top 10% earned more than $82,710.

Your salary prospects depend on many variables, including the highest degree earned, work experience, credentials, and type of employer. For example, counselors in hospital settings earn a median of $54,740, the highest median salary for substance use counselors across settings.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by TheBestSchools. Page last reviewed on January 29, 2024.


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