Best Addiction/Substance Abuse Degrees

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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:

  • PayScale
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • U.S. News and World Report
  • Princeton Review
  • 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.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Cincinnati
    Location

    Blue Ash, OH

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  2. Indiana Wesleyan University
    Location

    Marion, IN

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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 Theory
    • Addictions Counseling Skills
    • Counseling Addicted and Dysfunctional Family Systems
    • Theory and Practice of Group Counseling
    • Addiction Programs and Professional Development

    Notables

    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.

  3. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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
    • Multicultural Counseling

    Notables

    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.

  4. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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
    • Family Dynamics
    • Screening and Assessment
    • Addiction Counseling Skills
    • Co-Occurring Disorders

    Notables

    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.

  5. University of South Dakota
    Location

    Vermillion, SD

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  6. SUNY College at Brockport
    Location

    Brockport, NY

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  7. University of Detroit Mercy
    Location

    Detroit, MI

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  8. Alvernia University
    Location

    Reading, PA

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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
    • Counseling Theories
    • Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling
    • Addictive Behaviors
    • Case Management

    Notables

    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.

  9. University of St. Francis
    Location

    Joliet, IL

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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.

  10. Keene State College
    Location

    Keene, NH

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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
    • Addiction Counseling
    • Assessment to Treatment in Addictions
    • Co-Occurring Disorders
    • Advanced Drug Treatment
    • Addictions

    Notables

    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.

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