If you want to help solve one of our nation’s most pressing issues, consider one pursuing one of the Best Bachelor’s in Addiction/Substance Abuse.
Addiction and substance abuse problems are increasingly prevalent in the United States and around the world. It’s a disease that destroys relationships, careers, finances, communities, and lives. According to the CDC, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017, nearly 200 per day.
There’s a high demand for trained, compassionate, professionals to help treat this crisis. If you want to be part of the solution, these bachelor’s degrees in Addiction/Substance Abuse will give you the tools you need. You’ll gain hands-on experience and learn to evaluate clients, design and implement effective treatment plans, and provide counseling to groups and individuals. These programs will prepare you to save lives and make a difference in the world.
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What kind of Addiction/Substance Abuse degree should you get?
A bachelor’s degree in Addiction/Substance Abuse will prepare you for most careers in the prevention and treatment of addiction. Some programs offer specializations or tracks in either treatment or prevention. Other programs allow you to customize your degree based on your individual career goals.
You can complete these programs on campus or online. While some students prefer face-to-face instruction, online courses offer flexibility and convenience. If you’re interested in pursuing your degree online, check out our list of the Best Online Addictions and Recovery degrees.
How much money do people make with a bachelor’s degree in Addiction/Substance Abuse?
With a bachelor’s degree in Addiction/Substance Abuse, you have several career options. The most popular and in-demand options are working as a substance abuse counselor or as an addiction social worker.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that substance abuse counselors earn a median salary of $43,300. The median salary for social workers is $47,980. Both of these careers are growing faster or much faster than average. Over the next ten years substance abuse counselors will be in higher and higher demand. The field is projected to grow at a rate of 23% which means that the need for social workers will increase by 16%.
Careers in the addiction field are challenging, meaningful, and rewarding. Already in high demand, the need for substance abuse professionals is only expected to grow in the years to come.
What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in Addiction/Substance Abuse?
In addition to working as a substance abuse counselor or social worker, you may choose to become a detox specialist or a prevention specialist. Other potential careers include drug educator or substance abuse researcher.
Substance abuse professionals work in hospitals, inpatient and outpatient care facilities, employee assistance programs, detoxification programs, recovery programs, community prevention programs, governmental agencies, the criminal justice system, drug courts, and schools.
What are the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in Addiction/Substance Abuse?
To apply to these programs, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. Applications may ask for transcripts, letters of recommendations, personal statements, and SAT or ACT scores.
Like other bachelor’s degree programs, the programs on this list require about 120 credit hours for graduation. You may take courses in sociology, psychology, anatomy and physiology, research methods, counseling best practices, prevention and treatment, ethics, and criminal justice. Most addiction/substance abuse programs require a practicum or internship in the field, perhaps both.
Most programs fulfill licensing requirements in their state. However, you’ll need to check your state’s licensing requirements to ensure that the program you choose will help you meet education and supervised work requirements.
What are the best bachelor’s degrees in Addiction/Substance Abuse?
With a growing need for substance abuse professionals, there are many addiction and substance abuse programs throughout the nation. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, you’ve come to the right place. We selected these programs based on factors such as school reputation, return on investment, and net tuition cost. In addition, every program on this list is accredited.
College Choice data comes only from reputable sources such as:
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. News and World Report
Official college and university websites and course catalogs
A degree from any of these programs will give you the skills and knowledge to effectively help individuals, families, and communities impacted by addiction.
Established in 1819, the University of Cincinnati is a public university serving over 44,000 students. UC emphasizes experience-based learning, with every student engaging in real-world learning opportunities. U.S. News and World Report rank UC as a top tier national university, and Forbes recognizes the campus as one of the most beautiful in the world. UC offers more than 250 undergraduate programs, including a degree in Social Work.
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work at UC have the opportunity to earn a certification in Substance Abuse Counseling. The social work program explores sociology, psychology, and the intersection of economics, public policy, and family life. The Substance Abuse Counseling certificate covers prevention strategies and issues, as well as recognition, understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of addictive behaviors. Courses include:
Introduction to Social Welfare Institutions and the Social Work Profession
Mental Health Perspectives in Social Work
Drugs and Behavior
Assessment and Diagnosis in Substance Abuse Counseling
Case Management and Treatment Planning in Substance Abuse Counseling
This program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Students become eligible to sit for a licensing exam in all states that require licensing at the Bachelor of Social Work level. The Substance Abuse Counseling certification program was developed by a team of academic specialists and practitioners in the field.
A private Christian university, Indiana Wesleyan University is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. It s located in Marion, Indiana and enrolls just under 14,000 students. Indiana Wesleyan University is the largest private university in Indiana. The rapidly growing university offers more than 100 academic programs, with 85 different areas of study at the undergraduate level alone. One option is a BS in Addictions Counseling.
IWU s Bachelor of Science in Addictions Counseling examines the biological, social, psychological, and spiritual aspects of addiction and recovery. Students develop their knowledge of theory, research, and practice in the substance abuse field. The program prepares graduates to compassionately serve addicted individuals and their families through both experiential learning and courses like:
Addictions Counseling Skills
Counseling Addicted and Dysfunctional Family Systems
Theory and Practice of Group Counseling
Addiction Programs and Professional Development
Students participate in local drug court research, volunteer at the Grace House for Recovery, and complete a senior practicum experience. These experiences help students develop the characteristics of an effective counselor, such as mutual respect, empathy, open communication, and collaboration. Students can supplement their degree with an Associate of Science degree or a minor in Addiction Studies if they so choose.
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Drexel University is a private research university founded in 1891. With an enrollment of 25,000 students, Drexel is one of the nation s largest private universities. It has one of the largest and most renowned co-op programs nationally, providing students with up to three six-month professional work experiences with major corporations and industry leaders. Drexel offers over 80 undergraduate majors, including a BS in Behavioral Health Counseling.
Students in the Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Counseling program prepare for careers in mental health and addictions treatment. They select courses that meet individual interests and career goals. Students learn a broad range of evidence-based practices related to individual and group counseling, person-centered assessment and treatment planning, treatment of substance use disorders, family-focused interventions, and much more. You ll take courses like:
Counseling Theory and Practice Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Principles and Practices
Introduction to Addictive Disorders
Assessment and Treatment Planning
Students may participate in an optional six-month co-op, working in a clinical setting that matches their interests. Students have previously worked in psychosocial rehabilitation centers, methadone clinics, and psychiatric inpatient units. At Drexel s Clinical Learning Resource Center, students have access to a state-of-the-art standardized patient lab. There, they interact with actors simulating people in need of mental health or addictions treatment.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana is a public university in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Established in 1884, the school has expanded to additional satellite locations in Shreveport, Fort Polk, and Alexandria. NSU serves more than 11,000 students and offers over 50 degree programs. The student-oriented university is committed to excellent teaching, preparing students to become productive members of society, and promoting economic development. NSU offers a BS in Addiction Studies.
NSU s Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies prepares students for meaningful and in-demand careers in the field of addiction counseling. The curriculum offers an understanding of the human mind, addictive behaviors, and best practices and developments in addiction counseling. Students develop communication skills and the ability to collect, organize, and analyze data to make sound decisions. Courses include:
Introduction to Addiction Disorders
Screening and Assessment
Addiction Counseling Skills
In addition to being an excellent program, NSU s BS in Addiction Studies is highly affordable. The core curriculum consists of 30 credit hours in Addiction Studies and 30 credit hours in Psychology. Students must earn grades of C or better in all core classes.
A comprehensive liberal arts university in Vermillion, the University of South Dakota enrolls just over 10,000 students. Founded in 1862, it s South Dakota s flagship university. USD has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation s best universities since 1992. The school is noted for its beauty and the wealth of opportunities available. USD offers more than 275 degree programs, including a BS in Addiction Studies.
USD s Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies prepares effective addiction counselors and prevention specialists. The program is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. Students complete individual and group addiction counseling practicums, an internship in addiction treatment or prevention, and classes like:
Fundamental Skills of Individual Counseling for Addiction
Fundamental Skills of Group Counseling for Addiction
Ethical and Legal Issues in the Addiction Profession
Study of Alcohol Use and Addiction
Study of Drug Use and Addiction
Completion of this degree program meets state, national and international certification standards for prevention specialists and treatment counselors/providers. Graduates work in inpatient and outpatient care facilities, detoxification programs, recovery programs, transitional programs, community prevention programs, and schools.
Part of the State University of New York System, SUNY College at Brockport is located in Brockport, New York. The liberal art school enrolls about 8000 students and offers 100 academic programs. It s an inclusive learning community devoted to inspiring excellence through engagement, growth, and transformation. SUNY Brockport focuses on student success, academic excellence, and exceptional value. The school offers the only bachelor s level substance abuse training program in New York state.
SUNY Brockport s Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies prepares students to become effective substance abuse counselors. You ll learn to identify client needs, create treatment plans, practice and evaluate counseling techniques, and uphold professional and ethical standards in working with addicted populations. Courses include:
Introduction to Alcohol and Other Drugs
Group Counseling Skills for Alcohol and Other Drugs
Individual Treatment Planning for Alcohol and Other Drugs
Evaluation and Assessment of Alcohol and Other Drugs
Ethics for Alcohol and Other Drugs
This program is certified by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). Students must earn a C or better in each course and complete an internship in a professional treatment setting.
The University of Detroit Mercy is a private Catholic university in Detroit, Michigan. It delivers a values-based education and is the world s only Jesuit and Mercy university. Founded in 1877, UDM is the largest and most comprehensive Catholic university in Michigan. The school enrolls 5,000 students and offers more than 100 degree programs across seven schools and colleges. One program option is a BA in Addiction Studies.
Students in UDM s Bachelor of Arts in Addiction Studies program learn to provide prevention, assessment, referral, and treatment services to individuals and groups impacted by addiction. They develop the listening, writing, and critical thinking skills needed to advocate for their clients and help the profession evolve. In this program, you ll take courses such as:
Assessment of Substance Use Disorders
Techniques of Individual Counseling
Family Theory and Therapy Group Methods
Multicultural Competence in Treating Substance-Related Disorders
Students may choose to pursue the degree either full-time or part-time. They complete internships in area hospitals, residential programs, family counseling centers, community mental health agencies, and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers. The majority of program graduates are accepted into graduate school or become employed in the addiction treatment field immediately following graduation. Some work as prevention specialists and drug educators.
A private Roman Catholic university in Reading, Pennsylvania, Alvernia University is rooted in the liberal arts tradition. All programs emphasize critical thinking, exploration, and real-world experience. The school develops ethical leaders with the moral courage to make a positive difference in society. Alvernia offers more than 50 undergraduate majors in a wide range of fields, including a BA in Behavioral Health.
Alvernia s Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Health provides students with a solid foundation for professional positions in counseling, case management, prevention, administration, and other roles in the behavioral healthcare field. It also explores the closely related fields of psychology, criminal justice, and social work. Students build connections between theory and practice in courses like:
Foundations of Chemical Dependency
Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling
Students complement the program of study with 400 hours of field placements in approved agencies. Program graduates enjoy a high employment placement rate, and Alvernia s Career Services Office provides job search advice. The Behavioral Health degree program is also available in a fully online format. It s offered on the main campus in Reading and at the Pottsville and Philadelphia campuses.
Based in Joliet, Illinois, the University of St. Francis is a private Catholic university with campuses across the country. Students have the option of attending weekly chapel and fellowship at the on-campus St. Joseph Chapel. However, students of all faiths are welcome. USF has more than 60 degree programs, with programs related to psychology, education, and business being among the most popular. USF also offers a professionally recognized BA in Substance Abuse Counseling.
USF s Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling is recognized by the Illinois Certification Board (ICB) as an Advanced Accredited Training Program. Students receive a broad liberal arts foundation and take courses in criminal justice, psychology, nursing, social work, and therapeutic recreation. The degree program prepares students to provide compassionate and respectful service to individuals struggling with addiction. Courses include:
Introduction to Chemical Dependency
Ethics in Addiction Counseling
Psychopharmacology for Addiction Counselors
Advanced Techniques in Substance Abuse Treatment
Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention
USF Substance Abuse Counseling students complete two supervised field experience practicums and a capstone experienced focused on case conceptualization. They also select electives in the areas of psychology, social work, and criminal justice.
Keene State College is a public liberal arts college in Keene, New Hampshire. KSC serves over 5,000 students and provides a unique academic community structure, allowing students to explore a cross-section of related majors. The school offers a wealth of academic support services, resources, and advising. It s also known for its devotion to sustainability. You may be interested in Keene State s BS in Public Health with a specialization in Addiction.
The Bachelor of Science in Public Health with an Addiction specialization equips students with a theoretical understanding of addictions and counseling and treatment. The Public Health major examines factors influencing the health of individuals and populations while creating targeted interventions. Courses focus on nutrition, health promotion, physical activity, biology, and psychology. Addiction option courses include:
Alcohol and Other Drugs: The Fundamentals
Assessment to Treatment in Addictions
Advanced Drug Treatment
Students who select the addictions option also complete an internship in the addiction field. Prerequisites for the major include courses in public speaking, anatomy and physiology, statistics, and chemistry. Students must have an overall GPA of 2.5 and a C or better in Health and Wellness to be admitted to the addictions option.
A private Christian university in Circleville, Ohio, Ohio Christian University develops students intellectually, professionally, and spiritually. OCU was founded in 1948 as Circleville Bible College to educate clergy for the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. While remaining true to this vision, OCU has expanded to offer a wide variety of degree programs that equip students to become leaders in their careers, communities, and the world. One of these programs is a BA in Substance Abuse Counseling.
The Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling program provides students with foundational knowledge about human behavior and mental processes. They learn to assess individual needs, utilize effective counseling techniques, compose treatment plans, and apply chemical dependency interventions. You ll take courses such as:
Prevention Strategies in Substance Abuse and Dependence
Diagnostic Evaluation and Personal Assessment
Ethical Issues in Chemical Dependency Counseling
Students participate in two chemical dependency counseling practicums and career preparation workshops such as Resume 101, Dress and Etiquette Workshop, and Interviewing Workshop. This program exceeds educational requirements for licensure in the state of Ohio. Additional education and supervised work may be required in other locations.
Union College Kentucky has under 1,000 undergraduate students. The small campus is located in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Union Kentucky offers an undergraduate Substance Abuse program through the Department of Psychology.
Union College s Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling consists of the General Education Core, Substance Abuse Counseling Core, professional electives, and supporting electives. Students develop a deep understanding of psychology and human behavior, as well as the science and psychology behind chemical dependency and how to effectively treat it. Courses include:
Foundations of Chemical Dependency
Ethical Issues in Chemical Dependency
Psychology of Addiction Recovery and Relapse
Drugs and Society
UC s program includes a substance abuse internship. To graduate, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and earn a total of 120 credit hours, including 39 upper division credit hours. Upper-division courses focus on criminal dependency, psychology and development, criminal justice, and sociology. Students develop an understanding of the complex and intersecting factors that influence drug abuse on the societal and individual level.
Minnesota State was founded in 1868, originally to train teachers. Since then, MSU has become an accredited university with degree programs ranging from the associate level to the doctoral level. MSU is located on a 303-acre campus in Mankato, within sight of the Minnesota River Valley. The university serves more than 15,000 students and offers more than 200 degree programs. One unique program is the interdisciplinary Alcohol and Drug Studies major.
Students majoring in Alcohol and Drug Studies are effectively prepared to enter high-demand careers in the addiction field. The program has an excellent reputation, with many students getting hired immediately after completing their internship. The program offers a diverse blend of coursework like:
Theories and Methods for Addictions Professionals
Assessment and Diagnosis of Substance Abuse Disorders
Counseling the Chemically Dependent
Family Interpersonal Helping Skills
Law and Chemical Dependency
All students participate in a 12-credit internship in alcohol and drug studies after successfully completing required coursework. Students also take courses in public speaking, sociology, psychology, intercultural communications, and ethics and professionalism, in addition to 9 credits of health science electives.
Rhode Island s first public college, Rhode Island College, was founded in 1854. Located in Providence, RIC is an hour outside of Boston and three hours from New York City. The school is known for sustainability, small class sizes, and campus safety. In fact, it s ranked the second safest campus in New England. RIC serves 7,500 undergraduate students and offers more than 90 undergraduate majors. One option is a BS in Chemical Dependency/Addiction Studies.
Offered through the Psychology department, RIC s Bachelor of Science in Chemical Dependency/Addiction Studies is heavily focused on psychology courses. Students develop an understanding of chemical dependency, research methods, and treatment from a psychological perspective. Courses include:
Drugs and Chemical Dependency
Human Development Personality
Theories of Psychological Intervention
RIC s program also includes a practicum and an internship in chemical dependency and addiction studies. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a minimum grade of B- in designated core courses. During junior year, students must file an application with the program director to be admitted to upper division chemical dependency and addiction studies courses.
One of the largest universities in Arkansas, the University of Central Arkansas currently enrolls more than 12,000 students. It s the home of one of the first honors colleges in the nation and boasts a student-faculty ratio of 17:1. Nearly half of all classes have less than 20 students. In addition to providing more than 100 student groups and activities, UCA offers 90 undergraduate degrees and certificates. There s something for everyone, including a BS in Addiction Studies.
In UCA s Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies program, students gain the education, technology, and clinical training needed to provide effective service in an addiction health care setting. Students choose either the prevention track or the treatment track. Potential courses include:
Addiction Counseling: Theory and Practice
Etiology and Epidemiology of Addiction
Family Systems and Addiction
Program Planning and Evaluation
Legal and Ethical Issues in Addictions
UCA s program is the only program of its kind in the state of Arkansas. Students complete a practicum and an internship in prevention or substance abuse. Graduates work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, employee assistance programs, schools, the criminal justice system, governmental agencies, and drug courts.
St. Cloud State University is a comprehensive public university in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The 100-acre campus is located above the Beaver Islands on the Mississippi River. SCSU enrolls 14,000 students, who participate in over 200 clubs and organizations on campus. It s recognized for diversity, affordability, and top-notch career preparation. At St. Cloud State, you can choose from 200 majors, including a BS in Chemical Dependency.
SCSU s blend of coursework, fieldwork, and service learning equips Bachelor of Science in Chemical Dependency students to help individuals and families struggling with addiction. Students learn assessment, early intervention, and prevention methods as they prepare for private and public work in chemical dependency. Courses include:
Introduction to Counseling Theory and Practice
Individual and Group Differences
Addictions Counseling with Selected Populations
Diagnosis, Intervention, and Treatment of Addictions
Psychopharmacology and Addictions
A supervised chemical dependency clinical experience is required and can be repeated up to 12 credits. Students also complete an internship arranged by contract with their college supervisor and a field supervisor. Credits are determined based on the number of hours worked. 99 percent of SCSU Chemical Dependency graduates are employed.
Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota is the state s third largest university. The public university serves close to 3600 students and was founded in 1913. It s ranked one of the Midwest s best universities by U.S. News and World Report. Minot State empowers students with a distinctive blend of professional expertise and broad-based education to support varied careers and productive lives. MSU offers a BS in Addiction Studies.
Students in the Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies program take general studies core classes, psychology courses, and courses from integrated disciplines to provide a broader knowledge of addiction and treatment. Topics covered include the dynamics of addiction, the physiological effects of drug use, and treatment methods. Students may assist with faculty members addiction research, complete varied field experiences, and explore courses such as:
Dynamics of Addiction
Introduction to Counseling
Addiction counseling licensure in North Dakota requires a nine-month internship experience in a clinical setting. Students intern in inpatient hospitals, outpatient addiction treatment settings, and in a residential treatment center for adolescents. Graduates who successfully complete their internships are eligible to take the state licensure exam.
A private, nonprofit Christian university in Phoenix, Arizona, Grand Canyon University offers an innovative and affordable education. GCU was founded in 1949 by the Southern Baptist Church. Dedicated to accessibility, GCU offers part-time, full-time, evening, weekend, and online courses to accommodate busy students. Through these diverse offers, GCU serves more than 65,000 students. Students choose from more than 200 academic programs, including a BS in Counseling.
GCU offers a Bachelor of Science in Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse. Theoretical knowledge and applied skills prepare students to become competent, compassionate substance abuse professionals. Grand Canyon offers courses that focus on specializations in substance abuse counseling, the role of spirituality in substance abuse counseling, and necessary skills for intake, assessment, treatment planning, and case management. Courses include:
Foundations of Addiction and Substance Use
Psychopharmacology in Treatment of Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
Multicultural Counseling in a Diverse Society
Relapse Prevention in the Treatment of Addiction and Substance Use Disorder
Trauma, Addiction, and Substance Use Disorders
Special issues students can explore include children and adolescents, promoting family engagement in treatment, and working with clients with co-occurring ailments like HIV/AIDS or mental health complications. On-campus courses last for 15 weeks. Students may also complete the program online through seven-week courses.
Kansas Wesleyan is a private Christian college in Salina, Kansas. It was founded in 1886 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. KWU is a small school with a family feel, enrolling about 850 students on its 28-acre campus. The school is community-oriented, student-centered, and committed to innovation, providing service-learning opportunities, and preparing students for successful and fulfilling careers. KWU offers a BA in Psychological Services.
The Bachelor of Arts in Psychological Services prepares students for a range of careers, including social work and alcohol and drug abuse counseling. Students may choose to complete a common core of Counseling, then take specialized coursework in the area of Addictions and Substance Abuse Counseling. The Psychological Services degree is highly customizable and experiential. You can take courses like:
Introduction to Human Services
Theories of Counseling
Foundations of Addiction
Students complete a 150-hour internship, as well as additional field experience opportunities. Graduates work in social service agencies and government agencies and as health coaches, addiction counselors, and more. Others pursue graduate work in social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, and other related fields.
Tiffin is a small school with a global presence. While fewer than 5,000 students attend the physical campus in Tiffin, Ohio, the university has several other satellite locations in Ohio and even offers classes through the University of Bucharest in Romania. Tiffin s School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences houses their Addictions Counseling program.
Tiffins degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an Addictions Counseling concentration. Students take 121-123 credit hours in three major sections:
School of Arts and Sciences core curriculum: 49 credit hours
This is a great option for students intent on earning a Chemical Dependency Counselor license. The program offers internships that will reduce the overall hours applicants need in order to sit for Ohio s licensure exam.
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