One in seven Americans struggle with addiction. If you want to help, the best online addictions and recovery degrees will give you the tools to do it.
Substance abuse disorder is an often misunderstood and stigmatized disease. It shatters careers, finances, families, and health. In many cases, addiction is fatal. In fact, more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017.
But with the right treatment and proper planning, recovery is possible. With a degree in addictions and recovery, you’ll learn how to improve quality of life for individuals with addiction. In doing so, you’ll help fight the addiction crisis and save lives.
Top 10 Best Online Addictions and Recovery Degrees
||Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
||Northwestern State University of Louisiana
||Purdue University-Main Campus
||West Lafayette, IN
||University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
||City Vision University
||Kansas City, MO
||University of South Dakota
||University of Maine at Augusta
||Southern New Hampshire University
||Ohio Christian University
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What kind of addictions and recovery degree should you get?
The level of degree you need depends on your state. While some states require a license and a bachelor’s degree to work as a substance abuse counselor, others require a master’s degree. Either way, earning your bachelor’s degree is an important first step.
These programs are available both on campus and online. Both options have their advantages. Of course, earning your degree online gives you the freedom to shape your own schedule. If online classes are right for you, but you’re unsure about the field of addiction and recovery, browse our list of “Best Online Colleges and Universities.”
How much money do people make with an addictions and recovery degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for substance abuse counselors is $43,300. Pay varies based on your credentials and where you live. New Mexico, Alaska, and North Dakota have the highest salaries for substance abuse counselors. They’re closely trailed by New Jersey and New York.
Over the next ten years, projected job growth is 23 percent. This is much faster than average, partly because more insurance companies are now financing substance abuse treatment. Additionally, more people are seeking treatment as addiction stigma lessens.
What can you do with an addictions and recovery degree?
A degree in addictions and recovery prepares you to work as a substance abuse counselor in a variety of settings. You may work at a school, hospital, rehabilitation or treatment center, prison, or community agency. Another option is to open a private practice. This path requires a master’s degree.
Alternatively, you can pursue a career as a crisis counselor, case manager, or parole/probation officer.
What are the requirements for a degree in addictions and recovery?
Online degree programs for addictions and recovery typically require 120 credits. Depending on your pace, this can take 2-5 years to complete.
You’ll likely learn about case management, theories related to addiction, general information about psychology and the brain, and more. You may be required to complete an internship or practicum. Some programs require students to complete 300-350 hours of relevant work.
What are the best online addictions and recovery degrees?
To create this list, we considered factors including school reputation, tuition, and overall return on investment. Plus, each program on this list is accredited. This means they’ve undergone an extensive review process and have met specific academic criteria.
We use data from trusted sources such as:
- U.S. News and World Report
- Princeton Review
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
Whatever your goals in the addiction and recovery field, these programs will help you get there.
See our rankings methodology page.
Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
Headquartered in Marion, Indiana, Indiana Wesleyan is a private Christian liberal arts university. The school was founded in 1920 and offers over 80 undergraduate degrees. There are an additional 43 master’s and doctorate programs. IWU also boasts an innovative adult education program. For those interested in the convenience of online courses, the university offers a variety of quality programs. This includes a BS in Addictions Counseling.
IWU’s Bachelor of Science in Addictions Counseling is a 22-month program delivered entirely online. It provides an in-depth understanding of individuals struggling with addiction and their families. Courses are taken sequentially, one at a time, and with a cohort group. These courses include:
- Principles of Addictions Counseling
- Addictions Theory
- Counseling Addicted and Dysfunctional Family Systems
- Theory and Practice of Group Counseling
- Psychology of Abnormal Behavior
Students must have completed at least 60 transferable credits before beginning this program. General Psychology or its equivalent is also required. To earn the BS in Addictions Counseling, students complete 350 hours of supervised practicum experience. The 350 hours are spread over the course of 20 weeks. In addition to feedback from a field supervisor, students receive feedback from an IWU faculty member via weekly video chats.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Established in 1884, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has a long history as a student-oriented institution. To accommodate busy students, the university provides access to extensive online courses and programs. It’s the home of eNSU, Louisiana’s first and largest electronic campus. It offers 40 online degree programs. The online BS in Addiction Studies gives students the opportunity to join one of the fastest growing job fields.
The Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies requires 120 credit hours. In addition to general education requirements, students complete 30 hours each of psychology and addiction studies coursework. Students also choose two additional psychology electives. A practicum or internship is not required. If you enroll in this program, you’ll take courses like:
- Intro to Addiction Disorders
- Screening and Assessment
- Co-Occurring Disorders
- Ethics for Psychology and Addiction
- Seminar in Alcoholism
At eNSU, students pay no out-of-state fees, making these programs more affordable for many. The addiction studies program is ranked sixth in the nation as the most affordable online program for substance abuse counseling. Among bachelor’s degree programs, it’s ranked third in affordability.
Purdue University-Main Campus
West Lafayette, IN
Purdue Global is part of the internationally recognized Purdue University system. Purdue is located in West Lafayette, Indiana. It’s ranked by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges. The mission of Purdue Global is to expand access to affordable, quality education. Programs have multiple start dates to accommodate even the busiest schedules. One of these programs is a BS in Psychology and Addictions.
The Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology-Addictions focuses on addiction science, assessment, prevention, intervention, treatment, and case management. The program consists of 180 credit hours. Students apply psychological principles, theories, and concepts to personal, social, and organizational issues and problems. Courses include:
- Human Behavior and the Environment
- Stress-Critical Issues in Management and Prevention
- Psychology of Addiction
- Psychopharmacology of Alcohol and Drugs
- Ethical Practice in a Diverse World
Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of settings. These include clinical and educational settings with youth and adults, as well as jobs in treatment programs and public health program initiatives. This program is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. Purdue Global also offers an accelerated BS in Psychology-to-MS in Psychology option.
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
The University of Cincinnati is a public research university with an enrollment of more than 44,000 students. It has been named one of the nation’s top tier public universities by U.S. News and World Report. Since its beginnings in 1819, UC has provided students with a balance of academic excellence and real-world experience. Its online bachelor’s in Substance Abuse Counseling is no exception.
UC’s Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling can be completed in as little as two years. However, some students pace themselves to finish the degree in four years. Students learn the science and psychology of addiction. They also study practical, research-based methods for long-term, sustainable recovery. Courses focus on ethical, legal, and professional concerns, along with parameters for best practices. In this program, you’ll take courses like:
- Group Skills in Substance Abuse Counseling
- Substance Abuse Counseling for Families and Other Relationships
- Crisis Management Skills
- Maintenance Strategies for Long-Term Substance Abuse Recovery
- Case Management and Treatment Planning in Substance Abuse
U.S. News and World Report has ranked UC Online as one of the nation’s top schools for online bachelor’s degrees. Graduates work in hospitals, outpatient treatment programs, DUI programs, opioid replacement centers, private practices, and other mental health treatment settings. Graduates are also well prepared to continue their studies in advanced degree programs. These might include mental health counseling, social work, psychology, and criminal justice.
Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty is a private non-profit Christian university. It prepares students with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for impacting tomorrow’s world. Liberty is Virginia’s largest university and offers over 600 programs of study. That means there’s something for everyone, including an online BS in Psychology-Addictions and Recovery.
Liberty’s 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Psychology of Addictions and Recovery takes an average of 3.5 years to complete. It is 100 percent online and delivered in a series of eight-week courses. Students learn to evaluate clients, support families impacted by addiction, and create and enact effective treatment plans. Students enrolled in this program take courses including:
- Overview Theory and Treatment of Substance Abuse
- Social Psychology
- Treatment and Recovery of Addictions
- Psychology of Personality
- Behavior Modification
In order to earn the BS in Psychology of Addictions and Recovery, students are required to complete an internship. The internship provides hands-on practice applying the skills and knowledge learned through coursework. This program takes a Christ-centered approach to addiction treatment. Courses integrate faith and psychology in the development and application of treatment plans.
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, City Vision is an online non-profit Christian university. Its programs are described as “radically affordable education.” The goal is to increase access to education, including in underserved communities. Enrollment is open year round. City Vision has multiple accreditations and credentials, particularly in the field of addictions and treatment. The university offers a bachelor’s degree in Addiction Studies Counseling.
The 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies Counseling is one of the most affordable programs of its kind in the nation. Students learn the 12 core functions of addictions counselors, including screening, intake, assessment, treatment planning, and aftercare. The program requires an addiction studies practicum and courses such as:
- Managing Residential Recovery Programs
- Recovery Dynamics
- Counseling Alcoholics
- Mental Illness and Addiction
- Family Issues and Recovery
The program curriculum was developed in partnership with the NET Institute, a center for addiction and recovery education. The university is an approved education provider for NAADAC, the association for addictions professionals. City Vision provides a 25 percent discount to military/veterans and staff at Rescue Missions and Salvation Army and a 50 percent discount to ministry interns.
University of South Dakota
The University of South Dakota is a public research university in Vermillion, South Dakota. South Dakota’s flagship university, USD enrolls over 10,000 students and offers over 200 undergraduate programs. Campus is noted for its beauty and elegance, but USD also provides off-campus and online opportunities. Some of the university’s most popular programs are available online. This includes the online BS in Addiction Studies.
USD’s Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies provides a science-based addiction education. It combines a strong academic foundation with real-world experience in prevention and counseling. Major requirements include 45 credit hours (in addition to general education requirements). Students choose to specialize in treatment, prevention, or both. A total of six hours of field experience is required, along with courses like:
- Study of Alcohol Use and Abuse
- Study of Drug Use and Abuse
- Ethical and Legal Issues in the Substance Abuse Profession
- Working with Families on Alcohol/Drug Issues
- Adolescents and Substance Issues
USD’s Addiction Counseling and Prevention department and addiction studies programs are accredited through the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. The program often qualifies graduates to meet standards for state, national, and international certification.
University of Maine at Augusta
The University of Maine is dedicated to transforming the lives of students in Maine and beyond through high-quality distance and on-site education. UMA prides itself on student support, civic engagement, and its professional and liberal arts programs. The university has long-time expertise in online learning and offers a wide variety of programs. One of these programs is the BS in Mental Health and Human Services.
UMA’s BS in Mental Health and Human Services offers a number of concentrations, including Addiction Counseling. The Adult Mental Health and Rehabilitation concentration also features courses related to addiction. Program requirements include 121 credit hours and two fieldwork placements. If you decide to enroll at UMA, expect to take courses such as:
- Introduction to Substance Use Disorder
- Models of Addiction
- Adolescence, Substance Abuse, and Criminality
- Addiction and the Family
- Trauma and Addiction
UMA’s Mental Health and Human Services program is especially affordable. In addition to the requirements described above, students must take a writing intensive course and maintain a 2.0 GPA. The 121 credit hours include 40 credits of general education requirements, 12 elective credit hours, and 69 credit hours of program major requirements.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University is situated between Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire. It’s a private, non-profit university committed to providing affordable and accessible education to everyone. SNHU has over 3,000 on-campus students, plus a network of more than 90,000 online students. It has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s best and most innovative universities. SNHU’s 200+ programs include a degree in addiction studies.
SNHU’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Addiction Studies helps students understand how to treat the cycle of addiction. The 120-credit hour program integrates the fundamentals of addiction with a solid foundation in psychology. Courses are affordable, convenient, and taught by experienced professors with real-world experience. These courses include:
- Research I: Statistics for Psychology
- Foundations of Addictions
- Contemporary Issues in Addiction
- Senior Seminar in Psychology (Capstone)
Students learn how to identify, approach, and prevent treatments in relation to the people they affect and their families, communities, and society. The addictions concentration takes an in-depth look at contemporary research and issues. Graduates have found careers as case managers, community relations officers, health educators, treatment specialists, court liaisons, and more.
Ohio Christian University
A private university in Circleville, Ohio, Ohio Christian University was founded in 1948. Since then, university enrollment has expanded to over 4,000 students, and the school offers a variety of degrees at all levels. The university’s OnlinePlus program provides plentiful undergraduate courses online. Students have the option to participate in for-credit enrichment opportunities on campus or abroad. One of these online courses is a BA in Substance Abuse Counseling.
The 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling includes 39 credits in major requirements. Students learn to use appropriate, evidence-based counseling techniques with individuals, families, and groups. They can provide chemical dependency-specific education and design and provide aftercare. Students take courses such as:
- Chemical Dependency Counseling
- Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling
- Family Dynamics in Substance Abuse
- Prevention Strategies
- Case Management
This program integrates theory with Christian and biblical views. Students take a course on the spiritual dimensions of illness and recovery, and all courses are presented from a Christian perspective. Case examples, DVD case demonstrations, online group interaction, and self-study workbook exercises help students develop their own personalized counseling style.