Are you interested in a career helping people and saving lives? Explore the most affordable online addictions and recovery degrees.
When you think of careers that save lives, you might not immediately think of an addictions counselor. But drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Addiction is a disease that destroys lives and families around the world.
But with the right help from someone like you, recovery is possible. In these programs, you’ll learn to support individuals with addiction and their families. You’ll gain tools to screen and assess patients, provide individual and group counseling, and develop treatment plans.
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What kind of addictions and recovery degree should you get?
Many Addictions and Recovery degree programs offer specializations. For example, you may be able to focus on a specific age group or setting.
The level of degree you should pursue depends on your state. Some states require a master’s degree to work as an addictions counselor, while others require a bachelor’s. You’ll need a master’s to open a private practice.
You can earn your degree either in person or online. Online courses give you much more freedom and flexibility. If affordable online programs are a priority, but you’re not sure about the field of addictions and recovery, check out our article on the Most Affordable Online Colleges.
How much money do people make with an addictions and recovery degree?
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, addictions counselors earn a median salary of $43,000. Salaries vary based on your credentials and the state you practice in. New Mexico, Alaska, and North Dakota offer the highest pay. Close runner-ups include New Jersey and New York.
Projected job growth for addictions counselors over the next decade is 23 percent. This is much faster job growth than average. There are several reasons for this accelerated rate. Most notably, more insurance companies are financing substance abuse treatment than ever before.
What can you do with an addictions and recovery degree?
With an Addictions and Recovery degree, you can provide substance abuse counseling in a variety of settings, such as:
- Rehabilitation or treatment centers
- Community agencies
You can also open a private practice, which requires a master’s degree. Other career options include a parole/probation officer, victim’s advocate, case manager, or crisis counselor.
What are the requirements for a degree in addictions and recovery?
Most online degree programs in Addictions and Recovery require 120 credits. This can take 2-5 years to complete, depending on your pace.
Requirements will include both general education and major coursework. You’ll study the brain, the psychology of addiction, addiction theory, case management, group and individual counseling, and more. You may be required to complete an internship or practicum. In some cases, you’ll need 300-350 hours of relevant work.
What are the most affordable online addictions and recovery degrees?
To create this list, we’ve focused on the online programs with the lowest net tuition cost. Additionally, every school on this list is accredited. That means each school has met specific academic criteria in an extensive evaluation process.
Our data comes from trusted sources like:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- U.S. News and World Report
- Princeton Review
These programs are flexible, affordable, and high quality. Whatever you’d like to accomplish in the addictions and recovery field, the programs listed below will help you do it.
See our rankings methodology page.
University of Maine at Augusta
The University of Maine at Augusta in Maine’s third largest university. UMA strives to transform student lives with affordable, accessible education. It’s heavily focused on student support and civic engagement. The university has a long, successful history in online learning. UMA offers a variety of career-focused programs, including an online BS in Mental Health and Human Services.
UMA’s 121-credit Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Human Counseling offers several concentrations. Concentrations related to addiction include Addictions Counseling and Adult Mental Health and Rehabilitation. In addition to required coursework, students must complete two fieldwork placements. In this program, you’ll take courses such as:
- Models of Addiction
- Crisis Intervention
- Chemical Dependency Counseling
- Addiction and the Family
- Trauma and Addiction
The 121 credit hours described above include 40 credit hours of general education, 12 elective credit hours, and 69 required program major credits. Students are also required to take a writing intensive course and maintain a 2.0 GPA.
City Vision is an online Christian university headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. The non-profit university offers programs described as “radically affordable education.” City Vision’s goal is to increase access to affordable education. The university has several accreditations and credentials, especially in the field of addiction treatment. To make education even more accessible, enrollment is open year round. City Vision offers a bachelor’s in Addiction Studies Counseling.
The Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies Counseling is one of the nation’s most affordable degrees of its kind. In the 120-credit program, students learn the 12 core functions of addictions counselors. These include intake, screening, assessment, treatment planning, and aftercare. Students are also required to complete an addiction studies practicum. Courses include:
- Managing Residential Recovery Programs
- Counseling Alcoholics
- Drugs of Abuse
- Professional Counseling Practices
- Technology, Life Balance, and Addiction
City Vision is an approved education provider for NAADAC, the Association for Addictions Professionals. The Addiction Studies Counseling program was developed with the NET Institute, an addiction and recovery education center. City Vision also offers a 50 percent discount to ministry interns and a 25 percent discount to military/veterans and staff at Rescue Missions and Salvation Army.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
With four campuses and extensive online programs, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has a massive reach. NSU was established in 1884 and offers 95 degree programs. The university prides itself on its student-oriented approach. It’s the home of eNSU, the first and largest electronic campus in Louisiana. eNSU offers 40 degree programs, including a BS in Addiction Studies.
NSU’s Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies is a 120-credit hour program. Students must complete general education requirements, plus 30 credit hours each of addiction and psychology studies. Students choose two psychology electives in addition to required coursework. A practicum/internship is not required. If you enroll in this program, you’ll take courses like:
- Screening and Assessment
- Co-Occurring Disorders
- Seminar in Alcoholism
- Ethics for Psychology and Addiction
- Intro to Addiction Disorders
eNSU’s addiction studies program is ranked the sixth most affordable online program for substance abuse counseling in the nation. Among bachelor’s programs, it’s ranked third. Making courses even more affordable, eNSU students pay no out-of-state fees.
Ottawa University - Online
Ottawa University is a private, non-profit, Christian liberal arts university. OU has campuses in Ottawa, Kans., Surprise, Ariz., and five additional locations. Hundreds of students are enrolled at each campus, but the school reaches thousands more through its many online programs. The university’s slogan is, “Prepare for a life of significance.” It’s committed to offering affordable, high quality education. Offerings include a BS in Addictions Counseling.
The Bachelor of Science in Addictions Counseling integrates research, theories of addiction, and counseling theories. Students must complete two fieldwork experiences totaling 300 hours. One hundred of these hours must be in direct contact with clients. Students are also required to create a capstone e-portfolio. Major coursework includes:
- Psychopharmacology and Addiction
- Clinical Addiction Counseling Issues
- Psychopathological and Co-Occurring Disorders
- Group Counseling in Addiction
- Theories of Personality and Addiction
OU’s Addiction Counseling program is led by Dr. Kirk Bowden, President-Elect of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. The program is designed to meet licensing requirements for most US states. It also prepares students for graduate studies in addiction and mental health counseling, clinical psychology, social work, law, and more
Eastern Kentucky University
Located in Richmond, Ky., Eastern Kentucky University has four branch campuses and over 40 online program options. Online programs allow students to take the same courses from the same distinguished professors as on-campus students. For student convenience, six start dates are offered each year. Programs are also affordable, and EKU provides several ways for students to maximize available funds. EKU offers an online bachelor’s in Psychology-Substance Abuse.
EKU’s online bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in substance abuse is a 120-credit program. It provides a comprehensive understanding of addiction and how it impacts individuals, families, and communities. The curriculum blends academic and professional preparation. Students explore the science of substance abuse, as well as theories and techniques of effective treatment. Courses include:
- Psychology of Personality
- Psychological Interviewing and Reporting
- Introduction to Behavior Therapy
- Psychological Perspectives on Substance Abuse
- Senior Exit Course in Psychology
EKU is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best universities offering online degrees. The university offers a PASS tutoring program that provides online tutoring anywhere. It also has personalized graduation plans and special tuition rates for active duty service members.