In this article, we profile the 30 most affordable master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs of 2021.

Substance abuse counseling, also referred to as addiction or behavioral disorder counseling, is a relevant discipline designed to help people overcome issues like alcoholism, drug use, eating disorders, and more. With approximately 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain, misuse has increased. To help combat addiction, substance abuse counselors are needed. Many reputable colleges and universities offer online substance abuse counseling programs that prepare students for a career in addiction counseling.

30 Online Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Programs Methodology

We looked at approximately 76 accredited colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered online master’s in substance abuse counseling or closely related programs. We narrowed our selection of schools by applying the following criteria: accreditation; graduate tuition and fees less than $23,000 per year; and national, regional, and/or program rankings with a major publication like U.S. News and World Report. We then listed the schools according to raw affordability.

Below are the resulting selections for the 30 most affordable master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs for 2021.

#30 – Antioch University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling

Keene, New Hampshire

Website

Antioch University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Rigor and prestige! Antioch University – a top choice for affordable master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,650

Antioch University offers a master’s in substance abuse counseling online for those seeking a rigorous program that prepares graduates to work directly with patients on issues relating to addiction. The hybrid format means students take a combination of online and in-person classes, as well as an internship in a clinical setting working with patients under the guidance of a mentor. The program’s curriculum is designed for students to be prepared for licensure in most states. Admission requirements include two letters of recommendation, transcripts, resume, essay, and accredited bachelor’s degree. U.S. News and World Report ranks Antioch #173 in graduate clinical psychology.

#29 – Prescott College

Online Master’s in Counseling

Prescott, Arizona

Website

Prescott College - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Earn an online master’s in counseling with addiction and recovery specialization at Prescott College. All online!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,286

Prescott College offers an online master’s in substance abuse counseling that focuses on preparing the individual to be a client-centered counselor with a specialty in addiction and recovery. The program is a limited-residency degree offering that blends online courses with strategic in-person opportunities. The degree is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs. The structure of the program is divided into three components – coursework (theory), practicum and internship, and exit examination. Courses may include addiction counseling, professional orientation to mental health counseling, and research and program evaluation in mental health counseling. Prescott ranks #95 in regional universities West by U.S. News and World Report.

#28 – Nova Southeastern University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Website

Nova Southeastern University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Nova Southeastern University offers an online substance abuse counseling program. Ranked and accredited!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,206

Through its College of Psychology, Nova Southeastern University offers one of the most affordable online substance abuse counseling programs in the country. The program blends flexible online coursework with rigorous inquiry to provide the student with an exceptional education and a fulfilling experience. For those actively involved in, or seeking to enter, the field of counseling, this degree will help develop and improve the skills and knowledge to be an effective clinician. Admission requires a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree, 2.5 GPA, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a possible interview. Nova Southeastern ranks #227 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#27 – University of Minnesota

Online Master’s in Addictions Counseling

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

University of Minnesota - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Meets state requirements! University of Minnesota’s online master’s in substance abuse counseling program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,221

The University of Minnesota offers a master’s in substance abuse counseling online consisting of 30 credits that meet Minnesota State requirements for Licensed Alcohol and Drug education. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or a foreign equivalent, and a 3.0 minimum GPA. In addition, candidates must submit two letters of recommendation, transcripts, and CV or resume. The GRE is not required. Students may attend full- or part-time. Featured courses include foundations in addiction studies, foundations of group work, and multicultural foundations of behavioral health. Minnesota ranks #66 in national universities and #26 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#26 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Manchester, New Hampshire

Website

Southern New Hampshire University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Earn a degree in counseling online from SNHU!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810

Southern New Hampshire University offers a substance abuse counseling online degree that meets the educational requirement for licensing in nearly every state. In addition to coursework, students get multiple opportunities to hone their skills through observations, internships, and clinical experiences in the field. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs through 2028. Courses may include assessment and evaluation in counseling, diagnosis of emotional and mental disorders, and substance use disorders and process addictions. Southern New Hampshire University ranks in several U.S. News and World Report categories, including #75 in regional universities North and #1 in most innovative schools.

#25 – University of Mary

Online Master’s in Counseling – Addiction Counseling

Bismarck, North Dakota

Website

University of Mary - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
At University of Mary you can earn a master’s in counseling online with a concentration in addiction counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,694

The University of Mary offers an online master’s in substance abuse counseling that blends distance-learning coursework with one night per week in-person classes. In addition, students participate in a one-week residency on the main campus during the summer. Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Those with degrees in psychology, education, social work, criminal justice, or any human services field will be given preference. A minimum 3.0 GPA is preferred. Other materials include two reference letters, statement of purpose, resume, and transcripts. University of Mary ranks #298 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#24 – Our Lady of the Lake University

Online Master’s in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling

San Antonio, Texas

Website

Our Lady of the Lake University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Our Lady of the Lake University – a top choice for online counseling degrees.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,166

Our Lady of the Lake University lands at #24 on our list of most affordable online substance abuse counseling programs. The 100% online program is designed for working professionals who desire rigor and flexibility. The curriculum is approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). In addition to coursework, students take part in both internship and practicum experiences over the course of 2-3 semesters. Upon graduation, students are prepared to work in a wide variety of patient settings, including public and private counseling agencies, hospitals, clinics, and more. OLLU ranks #298 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#23 – Divine Mercy University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Sterling, Virginia

Website

Divine Mercy University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
GRE required! Divine Mercy’s online master’s in substance abuse counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,153

Through its School of Counseling, Divine Mercy University offers a substance abuse counseling online degree in the Catholic/Christian tradition. The curriculum consists of 66-credits including 700 hours of internship and clinical experiences. Coursework is balanced between synchronous and asynchronous delivery that allows live engagement and flexibility. Courses include counseling skills and helping relationships, group counseling and group work, foundations and ethics of clinical mental health counseling, and human growth and development across the lifespan. Admission requirements include GRE scores no older than five years, resume or CV, transcripts, letter of recommendation, and two interviews. Candidates are evaluated on a holistic basis.

#22 – Central Michigan University

Online Master’s in Counseling: Addiction Counseling

Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Website

Central Michigan University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Ranked and accredited! CMU’s online master’s in addiction counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,150

Central Michigan University comes in at #22 on our list of most affordable substance abuse counseling online degree programs. The program is available in several formats including face-to-face, hybrid, and online. The online program is housed within the Department of Counseling and Special Education and focuses on giving students the skills and knowledge to be effective addiction practitioners in a variety of settings. Admission requirements include a 2.7 undergraduate GPA, accredited bachelor’s degree, statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Central Michigan ranks in multiple U.S. News and World Report categories for higher education including #249 in national universities and #121 in top public schools.

#21 – Regent University

Online Master’s in Human Services – Addiction Counseling

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Website

Regent University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Faith-based curriculum. Regent University – master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,952

Regent University offers a substance abuse counseling online degree for those seeking careers in faith-based addiction interventions and counseling. The program is fully online, which allows students to continue their careers and obligations uninterrupted while pursuing graduate school. The content is delivered using a combination of several mediums and modalities, including asynchronous and synchronous coursework, videos, podcasts, group chats, and more. The addiction concentration provides an opportunity to specialize in addiction treatment and recovery coursework in addition to the general classes. Regent University is ranked #298 in national universities and #113 in top performers in social mobility by U.S. News and World Report.

#20 – Wright State University

Online Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling – Addiction Counseling

Dayton, Ohio

Website

Wright State University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
A top-ranked addiction counseling program online! Wright State University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,298

Breaking into the top 20 on our list of most affordable substance abuse online programs, Wright State University offers a master’s in substance abuse counseling online through its College of Education and Human Services. The program is offered completely online. In addition to coursework, students spend 700 hours in the field through a practicum and internship. With part- and full-time options available, the program is a great fit for anyone looking for a counseling addiction degree from an accredited and respected university. Wright State University ranks #298 in national universities and #154 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#19 – University at Buffalo

Online Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling

Buffalo, New York

Website

University at Buffalo - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Earn an online master’s in rehab counseling at University at Buffalo!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,130

The State University of New York at Buffalo offers an online master’s in substance abuse counseling considered to be the most affordable CACREP-accredited program in all of Western New York State. In addition to relevant coursework, students have a rich experience through 750 contact hours in the field preparing them for successful careers in rehabilitation in a variety of contexts. Graduates go on to work in many settings such as colleges and universities, human resources, public and private mental health offices, penal institutions, and more. The 48-credit degree can be finished in 406 full-time semesters. SUNY Buffalo is ranked #88 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#18 – Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master’s in Clinical Addictions Counseling

Marion, Indiana

Website

Indiana Wesleyan University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Indiana Wesleyan University – a top pick for master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,440

Indiana Wesleyan University offers an affordable online master’s in addiction that prepares students to work with clients struggling with chemical and addictive behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual addiction, gambling, eating disorders, and more. The program’s curriculum blends best practices with Christian theology to bring a faith-based worldview. The program is approved by the National Association for Addiction Professionals and the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. Candidates must submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing sample, and background check. Those with a GPA lower than 3.25 must submit GRE scores. IWU ranks #15 in regional universities Midwest by U.S. News and World Report.

#17 – Assumption University

Online Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling

Worcester, Massachusetts

Website

Assumption University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Fully accredited! Assumption University’s affordable master’s in substance abuse counseling online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,830

Assumption University offers one of the top online substance abuse counseling programs based on quality and affordability. The goal of the program is to prepare graduates for successful careers as Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. Ranked in the top 50 of best graduate schools in rehabilitation counseling by U.S. News and World Report, the Department of Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies philosophy is to develop leaders in the field using an interdisciplinary curriculum. Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs, courses may include foundations of the rehabilitation counseling profession and substance abuse and addictive disorders in rehabilitation.

#16 – University of North Dakota

Online Master’s in Counseling – Addiction

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Website

University of North Dakota - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
The UND master’s in substance abuse counseling online program is ranked by U.S. News!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,058

The University of North Dakota offers a substance abuse counseling online degree as part of its counseling master’s program. Admission to the online program requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution as well as undergraduate courses in psychology and developmental psychology. In addition, students must submit application materials in the form of a 2-3 page personal statement, three letters of recommendation, resume, and supplemental interview questions. Courses include diagnostic and prevention strategies in counseling, dynamics of addiction, and ethics and professional issues in counseling. UND is ranked #258 in national universities and #126 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#15 – Ottawa University

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

Ottawa, Kansas

Website

Ottawa University - 30 Most Affordable Master's in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs
An online addictions counseling program for less than 12K per year – Ottawa University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,770

Ottawa University offers an affordable online master’s in addiction counseling that prepares graduates for meaningful careers helping others overcome and cope with addiction. Graduates have gone on to work in a wide array of organizational settings such as counseling centers, higher education, government, human services organizations, and rehabilitation centers. Those who successfully graduate from the program will have met the educational requirements for substance abuse licensing for the state of Arizona. Students interested in other states should check with individual states to see if the program meets requirements. The program is accredited by the California Association for Drug and Alcohol Educators.

#14 – Mid-America Christian University

Online Master’s in Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Website

Mid-America Christian University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Ranked and accredited! Mid-American Christian University – online master’s in addiction and substance abuse counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,484

Landing at #14 on our list of substance abuse counseling online degree programs, Mid-America Christian University provides the academic and job training and tools to be an effective substance abuse counselor and advocate. The program’s online delivery is engaging yet flexible. Students can pursue a graduate education without interrupting their current obligations like work and family. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek licensure as a mental health and addiction counselor in Oklahoma. Courses include alcohol and drug addiction, career counseling and development, and individual counseling and psychotherapy techniques. Mid-America Christian University is ranked #95 in regional universities West by U.S. News and World Report.

#13 – Grand Canyon University

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

Phoenix, Arizona

Website

Grand Canyon University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Grand Canyon University – affordable, 36-credit online master’s in addictions counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,074

Grand Canyon University offers an online master’s in substance abuse counseling designed to help empower graduates to be effective substance abuse counselors. The Grand Canyon substance abuse master’s meets the education requirements for licensure in many states, making it a useful degree for those seeking eventual licensure in the field. The program blends hands-on learning with theoretical knowledge to ensure a well-rounded practitioner able to work effectively with clients from a base of knowledge. The 36-credit program includes classes such as group counseling theory and practice, introduction to addictions and substance use disorders, and social and cultural diversity issues in counseling.

#12 – Metropolitan State University of Denver

Online Master’s in Clinical Behavioral Health

Denver, Colorado

Website

Metropolitan State University of Denver - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Ranked and affordable! Metropolitan State’s master’s in substance abuse counseling online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,611

Through its Department of Human Services and Counseling, Metro State Denver offers one of the most affordable online substance abuse counseling programs. The addiction specialization combines research, client interaction, and evidence-based practices. Completion of the program qualifies the graduate to sit for the examination for addiction counseling licensure. The program offers a blend of online and in-person coursework designed for working professionals. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Metro State University Denver ranks in several U.S. News and World Report categories, including #95 in regional universities West, #5 in most innovative schools, and #50 in top public schools.

#11 – West Virginia University

Online Master’s in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling

Morgantown, West Virginia

Website

West Virginia University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
West Virginia University – a top pick for online master’s in counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,134

West Virginia University offers a master’s in substance abuse counseling online for those seeking to become licensed mental health counselors. Students engage in learning to address multiple mental health and healthcare issues concerning substance abuse, addictive behaviors, cognitive disorders, and the like. Graduates go on to work in several organizations and settings such as private and public counseling positions, education, vocational rehabilitation, treatment centers, hospitals, and more. The program is delivered almost entirely online aside from two intensive one-week sessions on campus and a preferred one-day orientation session. West Virginia is ranked #117 in top public schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

#10 – Columbia International University

Online Master’s in Addictions Counseling

Columbia, South Carolina

Website

Columbia International University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Columbia International University – earn a master’s in addictions counseling online!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,070

Columbia International University offers an affordable online master’s in addiction that helps students start down the pathway to obtaining their license as a mental health counselor specializing in addiction. The 60-credit program utilizes counseling best practices in combination with Christianity-based therapy approaches and can be finished in just three years. To apply, candidates need to show proof of a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA from an accredited institution. Additional components include an essay, professional reference, and an online interview. Courses may include foundations of growth and development, group care and counseling, and trauma response and crisis care. CIU ranks #42 in regional universities South by U.S. News and World Report.

#9 – Texas Tech University

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

Lubbock, Texas

Website

Texas Tech University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Texas Tech University’s master’s in addictions counseling online program is highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,773

Through its Health Sciences Center within the School of Health Professions, Texas Tech University offers one of the most affordable online master’s in addiction counseling that teaches students to work with clients in overcoming substance abuse disorders and other maladaptive behaviors. Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree in a related area such as social work, psychology, sociology, nursing, or rehabilitation. Other degrees will be considered. Additional components include essay, resume, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts. GRE scores are not required. Core classes may include human growth and development, introduction to counseling and ethical development, and treatment planning and case management. U.S. News and World Report ranks Texas Tech #109 in top public schools.

#8 – Union College

Online Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling

Barbourville, Kentucky

Website

Union College - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
100% online! Union College’s master’s in substance abuse counseling online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,650

Union College of Kentucky offers a fully online master’s in substance abuse counseling consisting of 60 credits. The program is housed within the Division of Graduate and Online Studies and is designed with the busy working professional in mind. Because the degree is 100% online, individuals can pursue their graduate degree without interrupting their current obligations. Courses may include advanced developmental psychology, biological systems of chemical dependency, and techniques of counseling and psychotherapy. Successful completion of the degree satisfies the education requirement for licensing in the State of Kentucky. Union College ranks #103 in regional universities South by U.S. News and World Report.

#7 – Purdue University Global

Online Master’s in Psychology – Addictions

Indianapolis, Indiana

Website

Purdue University Global - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Purdue Global offers 100% online counseling programs, including concentrations in addictions and substance abuse.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,603

Purdue Global University offers a master’s in substance abuse counseling online that is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals Master Addictions Counselor certification exam. Featured courses include advanced research methods, applied statistics in psychology, foundations of professional psychology, and life span development. The concentration in addictions means students learn to specialize in treating addictions, in addition to the general coursework that prepares them to be effective practitioners. Purdue ranks #5 in innovative schools and #17 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#6 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master’s in Prevention Science

Norman, Oklahoma

Website

University of Oklahoma - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
University of Oklahoma – affordable school for master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,577

Landing at #6 on our list of most affordable online substance abuse counseling programs, the University of Oklahoma offers a prevention science degree that prepares graduates to work effectively with those suffering from addiction disorders and behaviors. The program is done online and allows students to enroll either full- or part-time. Course topics include, but are not limited to, foundations in prevention science, prevention across the lifespan, program implementation and evaluation, and strategic planning and evaluation. The recommended sequence is two courses in the fall and spring, followed by one in the summer. Oklahoma ranks #133 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#5 – Liberty University

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website

Liberty University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Liberty’s addiction counseling online programs do not require the GRE.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,400

Breaking into the top 5 on our list of affordable online substance abuse counseling programs, Liberty University provides students with the training and knowledge needed to become an effective licensed addictions counselor. The program does not result in licensure, but meets the educational requirement of multiple states. Courses may include biological aspect of addiction and recovery and treatment and the recovery process. Students must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with a 3.0 GPA. Successful completion of an approved undergraduate statistics course is also required. GRE scores are not required to apply. Liberty is ranked #298 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#4 – Governors State University

Online Master’s in Addiction Studies

University Park, Illinois

Website

Governors State University - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Accredited by the NASAC! Governors State University – a top-ranked master’s in addictions online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,282

Governors State University offers an affordable online master’s in addiction that prepares graduates to be future leaders in helping others overcome addictions. Students learn multiple treatment methods, develop skills, and gain knowledge in addiction prevention and recovery. The curriculum is accredited by the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association. The program is also accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC), which is the only accrediting body that represents addiction-focused educators and practitioners. The program also includes an internship component after the completion of coursework that allows students to gain valuable hands-on learning experience working with clients.

#3 – University of South Dakota

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling and Prevention

Vermillion, South Dakota

Website

University of South Dakota - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
Highly affordable! University of South Dakota’s master’s in addiction counseling and prevention online!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,043

The University of South Dakota offers an affordable online master’s in addiction designed for working professionals who need to balance professional responsibilities with graduate school. The coursework has been reviewed and approved by the South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals. The program can be completed in either 33 credit hours or 45 credit hours, depending on the student’s academic and professional background. The curriculum meets the education portion for licensing in the State of South Dakota. Students from other stated should check with their respective states regarding requirements. USD ranks #249 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#2 – University of West Alabama

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Livingston, Alabama

Website

University of West Alabama - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
University of West Alabama – an affordable option for online master’s in counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,868

Coming in just below the top spot, the University of West Alabama offers an online master’s in substance abuse counseling that includes 60 credits, which can be finished in just 2-3 years. At just $429 per credit, this program is one of the most affordable of its kind in the country. Admission requirements include resume, professional goals essay, three recommendations, transcripts, and completed application. Students must also possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. No GRE scores are required to apply. The institution ranks in multiple U.S. News and World Report categories such as #103 in regional universities South, #106 in top performers in social mobility, and #50 in top public schools.

#1 – University of the Cumberlands

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

Williamsburg, Kentucky

Website

University of the Cumberlands - 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling Online Programs 2021
University of the Cumberlands – #1 most affordable online master’s in substance abuse counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970

The University of the Cumberlands ranks as the top master’s in substance abuse counseling online for those seeking an affordable and rigorous program focusing on addiction counseling. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Candidates must possess an accredited bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Submission materials include a writing sample, transcripts, and application. No GRE scores are required to apply. Courses include advanced clinical assessment, legal and ethical issues in counseling, and theories and techniques for treatment of process addictions and substance abuse. The University of the Cumberlands is ranked #298 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a master’s in substance abuse counseling online degree?

Individuals with a master’s in substance abuse counseling are prepared to work as mental health counselors, addiction specialists, and substance abuse counselors. Substance abuse counselors work in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospitals, substance abuse facilities, and social services organizations. The majority of these professionals work in outpatient centers.

Substance abuse counselors work with clients in individual and group settings. They follow a process involving evaluating the client then providing the best treatment modalities that may help the individual abate and overcome the addiction, followed by maintaining sobriety.

In addition to helping the client overcome addiction and addictive behaviors, the counselor assists the individual with rebuilding, repairing, and creating healthy relationships through improved interpersonal communication. In addition, the counselor also helps the client to rebuild his or her other aspects of life, including career, education, and other various roles in which they may need help.

In these instances, the counselor may have the knowledge and skills to assist with each particular case, or may refer the client to the appropriate partner. Because of this, addiction counselors need to be able to work effectively and collaboratively with other counseling and social service professionals – all of whom should have the best interest of the client as the centerpiece of the operation.

What professional associations can I join while earning a substance abuse counseling online degree?

Professional organizations are an important, but often overlooked, piece of the puzzle when it comes to pursuing a graduate degree in addiction counseling. Not only do these organizations provide up to date information within the field, they provide students with the opportunity to build and establish valuable social capital through relationships with existing professionals. As with any career, having a network one can turn to for advice, opportunities, and support is an integral part of being a productive and fulfilled individual.

The Association for Addiction Professionals
Referred to as NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals is commonly known as the largest and most expansive professional association for addiction counselors and educators in the industry. With more than 100,000 participants spread among a network of 47 state affiliates, the opportunities to learn and network are vast. In addition to further education opportunities through coursework and conferences, students can apply for internships and eventual certification.

Society of Addiction Psychology
SAP is a network of more than 1000 individuals committed to advancing the field of addiction counseling through research, collaboration, and professional training. Members gain access to several resources, including a peer-reviewed journal, newsletter, conferences and conventions, and grants. Students are encouraged and welcome to join.

How long does it take to earn a master’s in substance abuse counseling online degree?

Online degrees are known for their combination of flexibility and rigor. Built for the working professional, these degrees vary in length and often allow students to enroll either full- or part-time. The majority of online substance abuse counseling degrees take 2-3 years to complete. Whether full- or part-time, these 2-3 year programs are designed to not overload working professionals, who often have full-time jobs and other responsibilities, such as family.

Many of these programs require that clinical hours be met through observations and internships. This critical component is typically near the end of the program, when most coursework is completed. Ranging from 1-2 terms, clinical hours are embedded into the 2-3 year graduation time-frame.

One of the main benefits of an online master’s degree in substance abuse counseling is the flexibility. There are accelerated programs that can be completed in 1-1.5 years, and others that allow students up to 6-10 years to complete. Working professionals need flexible options, which is why online degrees are proliferating at such a high rate. They don’t force students into one-size-fits-all schedules. It is critical that each candidate find the right programmatic fit based on their schedule to ensure they strike a balance between juggling the numerous roles they are engaged in.

What is the job outlook for individuals with a master’s in substance abuse counseling online degree?

Recent data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook shows promising news for current and aspiring substance abuse counselors. According to the report, the occupation is expected to grow by a staggering 25% during the time period of 2019-2029. For context, the average for all other occupations is estimated at just 4% during this same ten-year period.

Demand is expected to be driven by an increase in need for mental health services and increased incidents of drug and alcohol abuse, along with other form of addictive behaviors needing treatment, such as gambling, sexual addiction, social media addiction, and the like. Also, as criminal justice reform becomes more of a priority, increased numbers of trained mental health and addiction counselors will be needed as addicts will be assigned to mental health services rather than jail time, which has been proven to be ineffective.

Individuals with master’s degrees in addiction counseling should experience excellent job opportunities given their increased levels of knowledge and training. Those who complete internships will have opportunities to stay on as a full-time counselor. Individuals willing to move to high-demand areas, such as New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago, should experience excellent job prospects as well.

How much money can I earn with an online master’s in substance abuse counseling degree?

According to median (average) annual wage data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors was $46,240 as of May 2019. The median wage is the wage in which half of the professionals in the field earn more while half earn less. The data also reflects that the lowest ten percent earn $29,520, compared to the highest 10 percent, who earned $76,080. To provide a broader perspective on the wages earned by substance abuse counselors, the average median wage for all other occupations is $39,810.

Wage levels within this field are impacted by several variables such as years of experience, level of education, industry, and geographic location. A closer look at the data reveals that substance abuse counselors working for the government earn the highest average annual wage ($52,720) compared to other sectors. Hospital-based substance abuse counselors earn the second-highest wage of $49,100. Top-paying states for this occupation include Utah ($67,410), Nevada ($63,910), and Oregon ($60,960). Graduates with a master’s degree or Ph.D. can expect to have more earning power, as with those working in high-paying states and industries. When looking at wage and demand data, it is clear an online master’s degree in addiction counseling is a wise career investment.

BCO Staff
October 2020

Related:

This concludes our list of the 30 most affordable master’s in substance abuse counseling online programs of 2021.