The Best Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Programs

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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 25% from 2019-2029. 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.

In light of 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 COVID-19 crisis.

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

true Mississippi College Clinton, MS

Founded in 1826, MC is the oldest college in Mississippi. The Baptist college now offers several rigorous psychology programs online, including an online doctorate in professional counseling.

The 72-credit program follows a cohort model to prepare practitioners for advanced clinical leadership work. The learning experience culminates with a clinical case study capstone project instead of a dissertation.

Each applicant must possess a master's degree in marriage and family counseling, clinical mental health counseling, or a related major. MC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

true Northcentral University San Diego, CA

This online school emphasizes flexible online programs, with weekly course starts and absolutely no synchronous course elements or weekly assignments. NCU's offerings include an online Ph.D. in psychology with a specialization in addictions.

The 60-credit program takes four years to complete and prepares established practitioners to develop their knowledge in addictions, substance abuse, and addictive behaviors. Course topics include co-occurring disorders, group therapy, and family systems approaches to addiction.

NCU's psychology degree does not prepare individuals for counseling licensure. NCU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Oregon State University Corvallis, OR

Established in 1868, OSU now serves over 30,000 students, making it Oregon's largest university. Its online catalog features an online Ph.D. in counseling, one of few with accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The 150-credit program takes 3-5 years to complete and follows a cohort model in a blended online format. Learners attend face-to-face classes twice each quarter at OSU's downtown Portland campus.

The school requires each applicant to possess a master's in a counseling-related major. OSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Regent University Virginia Beach, VA

Regent, a Christian institution founded in 1977, offers several online doctoral degrees, including an online Ph.D. in counseling and psychological studies with a concentration in addictions counseling.

Licensed counselors looking to deepen their knowledge and scholars who wish to make a difference in the field can pursue this 51-credit program. Courses cover interventions, psychotherapeutic techniques for treating addiction, and research methods in addiction studies.

Online courses at Regent are asynchronous. Each enrollee completes a capstone course on how Christianity affects faith and psychology. Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

University of West Georgia Carrollton, GA

UWG offers respectable interdisciplinary and humanistic psychology programs. The school's online offerings include an online Ed.D. in professional counseling and supervision.

The 60-credit program takes 2-3 years to complete and uses a cohort model, which requires a brief initial orientation residency. UWG requires each applicant to have three years of counseling experience, a master's in counseling, a counseling license, and minimum scores of 151 and 142 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE, respectively.

UWG is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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 (2020): $217,100 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 12%

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 (2020): $82,180 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 3%
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 (2020): $78,180 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 9%
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 (2020): $47,660 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 25%

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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