Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
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Updated June 4, 2024
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Addictions counselors help clients recover from substance use disorders. A bachelor’s degree can launch your career in this high-demand field. As an addictions counseling major, you explore the psychology of addiction, case management, and counseling methods. You also gain hands-on experience through a counseling internship.

If addictions counseling sounds like a good fit for your career, learn more about earning an online addictions counseling degree.

Popular Online Bachelor’s in Counseling Programs

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

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Did You Know…

Demand for addictions counselors remains high, with 18% projected job growth from 2022-2032.

What to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling

Identifying top programs can set you up for success after graduation. Here are some factors to weigh when researching online addictions counseling programs.

  • Accreditation: Always choose an accredited institution for your online bachelor’s degree. Accredited colleges meet high standards for academic quality and help you qualify for government financial aid opportunities. Specifically look for an addictions counseling program with NASAC accreditation, which recognizes programs that effectively prepare addictions counselors for certification.
  • Admissions requirements: Applicants to addictions counseling programs typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent to apply. Many schools require a minimum 2.0 GPA. You might also need SAT or ACT scores. Review the admission process to make sure you meet the requirements.
  • Cost: The cost of an online addictions counseling degree varies widely. When researching programs, compare tuition rates and the total cost of a degree. You can also factor in financial aid. Finally, if you have transfer credits, choose a school that offers the most credit for prior learning.
  • Program length: Earning a bachelor’s in addictions counseling typically takes four years for full-time students. However, the exact length depends on the program, your enrollment status, and transfer credits. Ask an admissions counselor to estimate your degree completion time to find an option that fits your schedule.
  • Program format: Online programs use several formats. A fully online format means you take all classes online, while a hybrid format mixes online and in-person classes. For online classes, you may meet during live sessions at set times or watch recorded materials on your schedule. For those with a busy schedule, the program’s flexibility can make a big difference.
  • Curriculum and concentrations: Addictions counseling majors have several program options. Some schools offer an addiction counseling major, while others offer a bachelor’s in psychology or counseling with an addictions counseling concentration. Review the curriculum to see what classes you’ll take and determine whether the curriculum meets your career goals. You can also explore electives and minors to customize your degree.
  • Internship: Even as a distance learner, you still need to meet counseling internship requirements. Most programs help you arrange a placement in your local area. Contact programs to ask about internship requirements and your options for locations.
  • Graduation rate: A high graduation rate demonstrates that students feel supported at the school and stay in the program through graduation. Alternatively, a low graduation rate can indicate that students face problems with funding, advising, succeeding in coursework, or other issues. Reviewing the graduation rate can help you find a high-quality program.
  • Program outcomes: Do graduates work in addictions counseling? Asking about a program’s graduate outcomes can give you valuable information. Reputable programs provide data on their graduate outcomes to help you make an informed decision.

Admissions Requirements for an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling

Prospective addictions counseling majors must submit an online application and meet admission requirements to enroll.

Common admission requirements include:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • College essays

Exact requirements vary depending on the program. Some waive the SAT or ACT requirement, for example. Research the admission process at prospective programs for specific details.

Cost of an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling

$9,328

Median Annual Tuition and Fees for Online Bachelor’s Programs in Psychology

$20,450

Median Annual Student Budget for Online Bachelor’s Programs in Psychology

Source: NCES

As an online learner, you can expect a median tuition rate of around $9,330 per year, according to NCES data. In addition to tuition and fees, you must also factor in textbooks, living expenses, and other costs.

You can save money on your degree by applying for financial aid. Students at accredited institutions qualify for more forms of financial aid, including federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Psychology and counseling scholarships also help lower the cost of your degree.

Online learners who compare programs based on cost can make college more affordable.

Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling

Online bachelor’s in addictions counseling programs usually design curricula to meet state certification requirements. Programs include general education requirements and addiction theory, prevention, treatment, and recovery courses.

Common core coursework discusses abnormal behavior, pharmacology, case management, and individual and group counseling techniques. Students explore major counseling theories, including psychoanalytic theory, cognitive-behavioral therapy, person-centered therapy, and family systems therapy. Many programs also require supervised practicums or other field experiences, in which students apply and refine counseling knowledge and skills in practical settings.

Although accelerated options exist, most online bachelor’s programs in addictions counseling take about four years and require about 120 credits. Students with applicable transfer credits from accredited institutions can cut down on this timeline. Common courses in addictions counseling bachelor’s programs include those mentioned below.

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    Internship

    During an addictions counseling internship, you review client cases and lead therapy sessions under the supervision of a clinical counselor. The internship allows addictions counseling majors to apply their classroom knowledge of substance use disorders and treatment in a clinical setting.

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    Introduction to Substance Use Counseling

    Majors explore substance use disorders, including alcoholism and other common addictions. You learn about treatment and recovery methods while studying foundational counseling approaches. The course prepares majors for upper-division classes in counseling and addictions.

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    Ethics in Counseling

    Counselors must follow ethical codes. In this class, you examine situational ethics and ethical decision-making. You also discuss issues that arise in counseling practice while strengthening your values as a counselor. Majors examine their attitudes and personal beliefs to understand their role in the counselor-client relationship.

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    Counseling Skills

    In courses focused on counseling skills, you learn how to establish and build a therapeutic relationship by developing interpersonal, listening, and communication skills to maintain effective counseling relationships.

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    Group Counseling

    Group counseling coursework introduces the therapeutic dynamics, methodologies, strategies, techniques, ethics, and systems involved in counseling both groups and individuals. Students learn essential therapeutic communication skills, including active listening and reflection. Students also learn to cultivate empathy, genuineness, and positive respect in client relations.

Careers with an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling

An online bachelor’s degree in addictions counseling builds the counseling skills and addiction knowledge necessary for successful counseling careers. Most programs include supervised fieldwork, where students apply their knowledge to practical situations. A bachelor’s in addictions counseling allows individuals to provide support to those struggling with substance use and behavioral disorders.

Careers

  • Substance use counselors: Substance use counselors, also known as addictions counselors, work closely with clients to manage their recovery. They may lead individual or group therapy sessions. Substance use counselors work in several settings, including in-patient addiction facilities. These counselors can practice under a supervisor with a bachelor’s degree. Independent practitioners must have a master’s degree.
  • Social and community service managers: Social and community service managers oversee programs that provide services to the public, including substance use programs. They evaluate program outcomes, implement changes to programs or services, and supervise staff. Social and community service managers typically need a bachelor’s degree, and several years of experience, or a master’s degree.
  • Community health workers: Community health workers educate the public about healthy behaviors, including recovering from addiction. They help individuals identify social services, conduct outreach to connect people with care, and advocate for clients. Community health workers may also provide coaching or social support. Employers often prefer to hire community health workers with a college degree.
  • Probation officers: Probation officers work with offenders placed on probation rather than sentenced to prison. These criminal justice careers require strong communication and rehabilitation skills. Probation officers meet with probationers regularly to track their progress and help them meet the terms of their probation. These careers typically require a bachelor’s degree.
  • Correctional treatment specialists: Correctional treatment specialists, also known as correctional counselors, create rehabilitation plans for probationers and parolees. They conduct evaluations, create release plans, and write case reports. Correctional counselors also connect people with counseling and addiction support services. These criminal justice careers require a bachelor’s degree.
  • Social and human service assistants: Social and human service assistants work closely with individuals and families to find support services. They meet with clients to determine their needs, identify available resources, and help clients apply to assistance programs. They may also help clients develop treatment plans.

Salary and Projected Job Outlook

With a bachelor’s degree in addictions counseling, you can qualify for several counseling and community services careers. Substance use counselors and related careers report a strong job outlook.

Many of these fields offer growth opportunities with additional experience or a graduate degree. For example, after gaining experience as an addictions counselor, you can earn a master’s degree to become a licensed mental health counselor or pursue opportunities as a social and community services manager.

Salary and Projected Job Outlook for Careers with an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling
Career Projected New Jobs (2022-2032)Median Annual Salary (May 2023)
Substance Use Counselors 71,500$53,710
Social and Community Services Managers 16,200$77,030
Community Health Workers 9,400$48,200
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists2,400$61,800
Social and Human Services Assistants 35,600$41,410
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions About an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions Counseling

Addiction specialists help people recover from substance use disorders and access services to support their mental and physical well-being. For example, addictions counselors create treatment plans for clients, which can include individual or group therapy.


Page last reviewed May 24, 2024.

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