The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that substance abuse counselor jobs will grow 23% by 2026. Several factors contribute to this growth, such as the opioid addiction epidemic. According to the Health and Human Services Administration, over 11.5 million Americans misused opioids in 2016, and an average of 116 people overdosed each day. As a result, more health insurance companies offer substance abuse treatment in their coverage. This has lead to an increased demand for substance abuse treatment professionals.
The Best Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Programs
Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
Because numerous types of degrees fall under the umbrella of “"Best Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Programs”, the following sections display top-ranked programs from several related ranking articles on our website. To learn more about these different programs, follow the link at the end of each section to the corresponding ranking article.
The Best Online Doctorate in Psychology With an Addiction Specialization Programs
1. Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Pat Robertson founded Regent University in 1977. The school has steadily expanded and now offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Regent also operates an array of distance learning programs, including a Ph.D. in counseling and psychological studies with a specialization in addictions counseling..
This 51-credit program prepares students for a career in mental health counseling, research, education and psychological science. Students receive the knowledge and skills needed to break new ground in behavioral health and make an impact on this social crisis. This doctoral degree is for the student who doesn't need professional accreditation and the scholar seeking to impact culture beyond the Ph.D. counseling arena.
The final year of the doctorate consists exclusively of dissertation research, writing and defending. Faculty asynchronously deliver program coursework . Additionally, all students must complete a capstone seminar that deals with psychological science and Christian thought.
Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Note:The following schools are for-profit schools. If you have any questions about for-profit schools, check out our guide for understanding for-profit colleges and universities.
2. Capella University
Capella University, a private, for-profit university established in 1993, offers an online doctorate in psychology with a focus on addiction aounseling. Their program is designed for busy professionals seeking to serve as academic, research or administrative leaders in the field of addiction psychology. This program is one of the few nonclinical doctoral specializations in addiction psychology that is available online. Students will expand their expertise while exploring theories, issues and trends related to substance use and addictive behaviors. Capella’s experienced faculty also help guide students through the dissertation process.
Their online Ph.D. in psychology requires the following for completion: 104 quarter-credits, comprehensive exams and a dissertation project. Capella’s Ph.D. in addiction counseling is competency-based. It integrates common core psychology and research coursework with topical specialization content; this provides alignment to the profession and an in-depth focus on a discipline.
Students in either program benefit from committed doctoral support, real-world education from scholar-practitioner faculty, asynchronous, 24/7 course delivery and a multidisciplinary approach.
Capella University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
3. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Northcentral University, an online, for-profit university established in 1996, offers an online Ph.D. in psychology with an addictions specialization. The addictions specialization prepares mental health practitioners to address substance abuse, addictions and addictive behaviors. Students will explore the dynamics of substance abuse and dependence; this includes an examination of drugs, alcohol and marijuana, with an emphasis on assessment and treatment planning. Students will also review research related to both addiction and compulsive behaviors as well as co-occurring disorders.
The online Ph.D. program requires 60 credit hours spread across 20 courses for completion; it can be completed in 45 months of study. The Ph.D. in Psychology program is not a licensure program and does not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychologist or counseling professional.
Northcentral University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
The Best Online Doctorate in Counseling Programs
1. Oregon State University
One of the state’s flagship universities, Oregon State University offers several of its programs online. One such distance option is the university’s online Ph.D. in counseling, which requires students to complete a total of 150 quarter hours to graduate.
The program runs on a cohort model that provides students with one-on-one advising from a faculty member. Participants complete courses in a hybrid format. They combine online coursework with twice-quarterly residencies in Wilsonville, which is accessible from the Portland airport.
All applicants must already hold a master’s degree in counseling or an adjacent field, and they must have earned this degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The program accepts students for the spring, summer, and fall terms. Although Oregon State is a public university, all online students enrolled in the counseling program pay the same per-credit tuition regardless of their state of residence.
Oregon State is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The counseling program is also nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
2. University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia’s psychology department focuses on humanistic and transpersonal psychology; they define psychology as the “holistic study of human experience.” The department uses an interdisciplinary, liberal arts approach to psychology that incorporates philosophy, art, anthropology, literature, sociology, religion and other disciplines. Learners at UWG can also opt to pursue a Ph.D. in counseling online.
The school’s 60-credit professional counseling Ed.D. program runs on a cohort model and welcomes 12 students each summer. Learners complete two courses per term and only need to visit the school’s main campus in Carrollton, Georgia at the beginning of the program for an orientation. All applicants must have at least three years of counseling experience, a master’s degree in counseling and a counseling license. Applicant’s verbal GRE score must be at least 151, and their quantitative GRE score must be at least 142.
UWG is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
3. Mississippi College
Mississippi College is the state’s largest private college and one of the oldest Baptist-affiliated schools in the nation. The college hosts many popular distance education programs that include online doctoral degrees in counseling.
The school’s 72-hour professional counseling program runs on a cohort model that combines practice, research and theory. Students complete theoretical coursework related to clinical assessments and group dynamics as well as 12 hours of doctoral internships. All students must undertake a capstone project and complete a series of competency assessments over the course of the program; this includes qualifying and comprehensive exams. Students must enroll year-round and take courses each term (this includes summer terms).
Applicants must have two years of counseling experience, a minimum GPA of 3.25 in previous graduate work, a licensed professional counselor credential and satisfactory GRE scores. Students may transfer up to 21 previous credit hours into this program.
MC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Choosing an Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Program
When earning an addiction counseling doctoral degree, students typically take core courses in subjects like pharmacology of substance abuse, theoretical approaches to treatment and epidemiology. Many programs, especially research-heavy ones, require students to complete dissertations. However, universities that teach students to become licensed practitioners often require residencies instead. While there are commonalities between programs, each addiction counseling degree is unique in regard to its available coursework and specializations.
For example, one school may offer a psychiatry-focused addiction psychology degree, while another school gears its coursework towards counseling. The former equips students to become licensed psychiatrists who treat the physical aspects of addiction, while graduates from the latter focus on mental health counseling. Graduates from both programs often work in tandem. Similarly, a learner aiming to incorporate Christianity with counseling should pursue an on-campus or online addiction counseling doctorate degree from a religiously affiliated institution.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Program?
Because particulars vary between substance abuse counseling programs, learners should research each university’s curriculum. Students should be familiar with a program’s common concentrations and what the program does to prepare students for their careers.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Doctoral Degree in Addiction and Recovery
While earning an addiction counseling degree online with a concentration in public policy, students study how laws affect people with addiction, the global forces that drive substance abuse and theories on stopping epidemics. With this knowledge, graduates can shape alcohol, drugs and tobacco policy.
A student with a medical background can become a licensed psychiatrist through one of these programs. Degree candidates learn the complex and emerging neuroscience behind addiction and its treatment. Learners must complete psychiatric residencies before earning licensure. After obtaining credentials, graduates can use medicine to treat patients suffering from addiction.
Many people suffering from substance addiction have coexisting mental health problems. A student with a master’s degree in addiction counseling is an excellent fit for this program. Learners further study the psychology of addiction and graduate equipped to help patients manage trauma and disorders.
Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Addiction and Recovery
Global Approaches to Substance Use Prevention and Treatment:
Substance dependency and its treatment vary across countries. These courses teach students about theories and practices around the world, and they include the benefits and drawbacks of each.
In these courses, learners study the medications that doctors use to treat behavioral disorders and substance abuse. Lectures explore the physiological responses created by common medications, such as side effects.
Quantitative Research Methods in Psychology:
In these courses, degree candidates learn the best practices for psychological research and how to measure outcomes. This course is especially common in programs that require a dissertation or other research project.
Multicultural Issues in Addiction:
Substance abuse affects different populations in various ways. These courses help students understand how cultural differences should inform a patient’s addiction treatment plan.
Addiction Programs for Complex Cases:
Because a doctorate in substance abuse treatment is the terminal degree its field, graduates from these programs are prepared to treat people with especially complex cases. This course teaches degree candidates how to help such patients.
Careers with a Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery
Students with a doctorate in addiction and recovery have many career options. Those who desire to teach the next generation of counselors and psychiatrists can become postsecondary teachers. Learners who attend psychiatric-focused programs can complete residencies and become psychiatric physicians. Furthermore, degree candidates focused on counseling can become psychologists.
These professionals are professors and dissertation directors who train emerging psychology professionals at universities and colleges. They are often expected to conduct treatment plan research.
- Median Annual Salary: $76,000
- Projected Growth Rate: 15%
These professionals are also called counselors or therapists. They work with patients to develop treatment and addiction recovery plans. They also help their patients identify underlying emotional issues that may be connected to their addiction.
- Median Annual Salary: $77,030
- Projected Growth Rate: 14%
Also called psychiatrists, these professionals identify and prescribe medication to help patients cope with addiction and other mental health disorders. A substance abuse specialization helps these professionals become leading experts in their field.
- Median Annual Salary: $208,000
- Projected Growth Rate: 13%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics