Best Online PhDs in Addiction Studies

Find the best online doctorate inaddiction and slecovery programs with our list of top-rated schools that offer accredited online programs.

Updated October 23, 2023

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Ph.D. in Addiction Counseling

Earning a Ph.D. in addiction and recovery online can open up career pathways in counseling, research, academia, or public policy. Amid the current opioid epidemic, it is essential to help individuals who struggle with addiction. The Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) projects employment for substance abuse counselor jobs to grow by 18% from 2022-2032. If you want to contribute to the fight against addiction as a counselor, researcher, or educator, consider earning a Ph.D. in addiction counseling online.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts on addiction treatment have become an important asset. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 13% of Americans admitted to starting or increasing use of addictive substances in the pandemic's early stages. Substance abuse counselors have taken to online platforms to help counsel people struggling with these issues during the pandemic.

Read on for our alphabetically sorted rankings of counseling and psychology doctoral programs that fall under the umbrella of addiction and recovery doctoral degrees.

Featured Addiction & Recovery Programs

Best Online Doctoral Addiction and Recovery Programs

#1 Best Online PhDs in Addiction Studies

National University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

The Ph.D. in substance-related and addictive disorders program at National University allows students to earn a doctorate in an online format. At the private institution, degree-seekers take doctoral classes in a flexible format. Doctoral students receive access to research support, library access, and career advising.

In the online addiction recovery program, learners complete doctoral coursework and strengthen advanced skills. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates complete a dissertation that contributes original research to the field. Graduates with an addiction recovery doctorate can pursue roles in research, academia, and leadership.

At the accredited institution, doctoral students may qualify for several forms of financial aid. Contact the program for more information about research support and financial aid.

National University at a Glance:

Online Master's Programs: 26

Online Doctoral Programs: 15

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 3-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $16,983

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Undergrad Tuition
Average Graduate Tuition
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
Institution Type
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Best Online PhDs in Addiction Studies

Regent University

  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online Ph.D. in addictions counseling program, offered by Regent University, ranks as a top program in the field. At the private university, degree-seekers participate in virtual classrooms to earn a doctorate. Doctoral students conduct research and participate in academic conferences.

In the online addictions counseling program, graduate learners take advanced courses. Doctoral candidates move through the program by passing exams and researching for a dissertation project. A doctorate in addictions counseling prepares graduates for careers in academia, research, and leadership.

Doctoral students attending the accredited institution online can qualify for several forms of financial aid. Reach out to the program to learn more about transfer credit policies, research support, and admission requirements.

Regent University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 9,507

Online Master's Programs: 37

Online Doctoral Programs: 12

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 29-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $15,552

Average Undergrad Tuition
Average Graduate Tuition
Retention Rate
Acceptance Rate
Students Enrolled
Institution Type
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

What Is an Online Ph.D. in Addiction and Recovery?

Schools typically offer online Ph.D. in addiction and recovery programs as specialized counseling degrees, focused on helping individuals with addiction and substance challenges. However, this degree often includes a non-clinical focus on addiction psychology.

A full-time student usually completes this program in 3-4 years. An online Ph.D. in addiction and recovery suits individuals looking to become addiction counselors. However, the degree also attracts psychiatrists and non-clinical psychologists who are looking to specialize. The degree prepares learners to enter the workforce as specialized addictions counselors or as psychologists dedicated to furthering our understanding of addiction.

Enrollees can expect to take coursework in addiction treatment, family studies, and pharmacology of addiction. Doctoral students also learn cultural sensitivity, empathy, personal ethics, and integrity.

Choosing an Online Ph.D. in Addiction and Recovery Program

When selecting an online doctorate in addiction and recovery, individuals should carefully consider cost, eligibility for in-state tuition, and program length.

Prospective students should also make sure that the program aligns with their professional goals. Check if the program culminates with a residency requirement, and research what kind of practicum or field experience accompanies the curriculum. Learners should also know if the program or concentration is tailored toward addiction counseling or non-clinical addiction psychology.

Accreditation for Online Addiction and Recovery Degree Programs

Candidates should always check the regional accreditation status of prospective schools and programs. Accreditation is a form of quality assurance that demonstrates academic rigor.

Prospective online addiction and recovery online doctoral programs should also have programmatic accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the American Psychology Association (APA). CACREP accredits programs in addiction counseling, while APA accredits non-clinical addiction psychology degrees.

What Else Can I Expect From a Ph.D. in Addiction and Recovery Program?

Ph.D. in addiction and recovery online programs differ widely in their course offerings. Some focus on the traditional counseling path, while others emphasize research into addiction and substance abuse. However, most programs cover similar addiction treatment, counseling, and intervention strategies. They also typically investigate the pharmacology of addiction and the family dynamics and cultural issues that contribute to addiction.

Many doctoral programs in addiction and recovery prepare students for their dissertations by exploring quantitative and qualitative research methods. Other programs incorporate field study or residencies into the course of study.

Common Courses in Addiction and Recovery Programs

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Program?

Earning a Ph.D. in addiction counseling online usually takes 3-4 years. Program length depends on several factors, including course load, research topics, and ability to secure funding. A part-time enrollee may take up to seven years to earn their online doctorate.

Some programs feature residency requirements that can lengthen the process. Conversely, accelerated programs allow enrollees to earn their doctorates in 2-3 years. Taking online courses in an asynchronous format rather than synchronous can also shorten degree timelines.

Addiction and Recovery Jobs

Most graduates with doctoral degrees in addiction and recovery work as counselors or clinical psychologists specializing in addiction and substance abuse counseling. However, this degree provides a strong footing for other jobs in academia, research, and non-clinical psychology, some which require additional study or credentialing. For instance, psychiatrists need to complete medical school to become board certified.

Common career choices for addiction and recovery majors include:


Psychiatrists treat patients for mental health issues, such as addiction and substance abuse, by administering treatment and medication. They sometimes complete advanced degrees in other fields, such as addictions and recovery.

A psychiatrist must go to medical school, earn an MD, complete a psychiatry residency, and gain board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Psychiatrists need licensure to practice, which must be renewed every 1-3 years by completing continuing education credits.

Median Salary: $229,300 Projected Job Growth (2022-2032): 3%


Psychologists study how humans relate to themselves and others through various emotional and cognitive processes. Clinical psychologists provide counseling to help people overcome challenges like addiction, while non-clinical psychologists research human psychology.

A psychologist must possess a master's or doctoral degree in psychology. Most states require psychologists to earn state licensure and complete continuing education credits to maintain and renew their credentials.

Median Salary: $85,330 Projected Job Growth (2022-2032): 6%

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers instruct at the college level. These professionals usually need doctoral degrees to work at colleges or universities, though a master's will often suffice for two-year institutions. Postsecondary teachers can also conduct and publish their own research.

A graduate with an online doctorate in addiction and recovery can work as a postsecondary teacher on addiction and substance abuse issues.

Median Salary: $80,840 Projected Job Growth (2022-2032): 8%

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors help people overcome various mental and behavioral challenges, such as addiction and drug abuse.

These counselors usually hold master's degrees in counseling or related disciplines, such as addiction and recovery. A substance abuse counselor must typically possess a master's in addiction studies or substance abuse counseling, accrue 2,000-4,000 hours of clinical experience, and pass their state board exam.

Median Salary: $49,710 Projected Job Growth (2022-2032): 18%

Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery

Prepare to use all available resources to pay for your online doctorate in addiction and recovery. Begin by filling out your FAFSA form to develop a sense of your financial need. Next, determine whether you'd like to pursue federal grants, school or private scholarships, or work-study programs.

You can also consider taking out a student loan, which may offer subsidies, debt relief, or flexible repayment plans.

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Addiction & Recovery Degree Questions

What Kind of Degree Do You Need to Be a Substance Abuse Counselor?

You typically need at least a master's degree to work as a licensed substance abuse counselor.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Addiction Counseling?

It can take 2-4 years to earn a degree in addiction counseling. If you still need to complete a bachelor's degree, add an additional 2-4 years to your expected timeline.

Do Counselors Need Ph.D. Degrees?

A counselor often needs a minimum of a master's degree to practice, but individuals looking to work in private practice commonly earn Ph.D. degrees.

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