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Counselor sitting in a circle of addicts, expressing himself using his hands.

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

Ready to make a difference in one of the fastest growing counseling career paths? Consider earning an online addiction counseling degree. When alcohol and substance abuse become difficult to manage alone, patients turn to professional counselors to guide their journey to recovery. Whether you're already in the field or looking to make a change, earning a master’s in addiction counseling could be the next step to a career that transforms lives.


What Can You Do with an Online Addiction Counseling Degree?

With an online addiction counseling degree and state licensure, many graduates go on to become substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also known as addiction counselors. These professionals work with patients experiencing challenges related to addiction and harmful behaviors, including alcoholism, drug use, and eating disorders. Addiction counselors may use techniques including alcohol and drug counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and more. They can also work in a variety of settings, from rehabilitation centers to probation and parole agencies.

In an addiction counseling degree program, you’ll develop the skills necessary to apply counseling intervention and prevention theories, models and approaches in individual or group settings. You'll also be able to articulate knowledge, skills and best practices related to addiction counseling, and select appropriate assessments to evaluate, diagnose and develop a treatment plan for clients. 

Some counselors may go on to start private practices, manage teams of mental health professionals or work in clinical research. Other career paths you could pursue with an addiction counseling degree may include:

  • Health Educator
  • Community Health Worker
  • Social Administrator
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Regulatory Affairs Director
  • Postsecondary Teacher

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How to Get an Online Addiction Counseling Degree

Earning your addiction counseling degree online is a flexible way to launch a new career that makes a difference. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Check your state’s requirements. State requirements for counselors can vary, but one thing is certain: Addiction counselors in private practice must earn licensure. In all states, this requires a master’s degree and anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 hours of clinical experience. Check with your state for specifics, and make sure the online addiction counseling program you’re considering meets all specifications.
  2. Choose the online program that suits your career goals. Not all online addiction counseling programs are suitable for those who wish to become licensed counselors. That said, these programs could help you prepare for many rewarding human services career paths that do not require licensure. Definitely want to earn that license so you can work with patients in a professional counseling setting? At University of the Cumberlands, our online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling program offers a dual-licensure track to fulfill requirements for becoming a licensed professional counselor and licensed/certified addiction counselor. 
  3. Apply, enroll, and start learning! An online master’s in addiction counseling program offers the flexibility you need to study on your schedule. In many cases, you can complete your coursework in around two years of full-time study. If you’re seeking licensure, you’ll also need to pursue supervised counseling experience.      

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Is a Master’s in Addiction Counseling Worth It?

Depending on your state and employer, earning a master’s degree may be required to launch your career in addiction counseling. Here’s why many students find it worthwhile to pursue a master’s degree in this growing field:

  • Job opportunities. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, along with mental health counselors, are currently in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these roles should see 25 percent growth by 2029, faster than average for all professions. 
  • Making a difference. Addictions counselors and other health and human services workers play a vital role in society. These days, more people are willing to try counseling when they need help, and there’s an increasing need for counselors to work with at-risk populations, such as veterans. Additionally, many states now require drug offenders to seek treatment and counseling as a humane—and more effective—alternative to jail sentences. 
  • A return on investment. In 2019, the top 10 percent of addiction counselors earned more than $76,080 per year, while the median salary for this role was $46,240. But investing in your education is about more than a paycheck. Addiction counselors play a critical role in patients’ recovery, changing lives and communities for the better.

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Curriculum and Degree Requirements

The online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling program at University of the Cumberlands serves both recent baccalaureate graduates and those who want to broaden their expertise as mental health counselors. Our program is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and fulfills education requirements for pursuing licensure as both a professional counselor and addiction counselor. In fact, ours is the only CACREP-accredited online addiction counseling program in the country.

Coursework covers core functions for counselors, including psychological assessment in clinical practice, multicultural counseling, diagnosis of mental illness and counseling during grief and crisis. A 100-hour counseling practicum and two 300-hour counseling internships offer the chance to apply your knowledge in supervised clinical settings. In addition, you’ll take the following specialized courses in addiction counseling:

  • Psychopharmacology & Addictions
  • Motivation & Change
  • Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment
  • Spirituality & Values in Counseling

As an institution grounded in Christian principles and leadership through service, University of the Cumberlands seeks to foster empathy, personal responsibility and a drive to change the world. After earning your master’s in addiction counseling degree at UC, you will be able to demonstrate sound ethical values and compassion for humanity in your role as a counselor-leader. You’ll also be ready to pursue professional opportunities across diverse settings, including those that serve vulnerable populations.

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Costs for programs of study at University of the Cumberlands are competitive and affordable. Click here to view tuition rates and fees.

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Admission Requirements

Click here to view admission requirements, admission cycles, and application deadlines. 

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CACREP Assessment

The CACREP Council accredits the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, Addiction Counseling program, PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision, and the related Doctorate of Educational Leadership Online (EdD) Program. CACREP is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) that accredits counselor-preparation graduate degree programs. University of the Cumberlands is one of the only higher education institutions to offer CACREP-accredited programs online.

CACREP accreditation ensures that our programs meet national standards of quality and relevance to the profession. Graduates benefit from a CACREP-accredited program because it can provide tremendous benefits for their future.

CACREP Outcomes for the Department of Counseling at University of Cumberlands:

Vital Statistics: 2017201820192020

Program Evaluation Outcomes Report: 2015-2018

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Click here to view University of the Cumberlands' accreditation information. 

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Click here to view a list of the addiction counseling faculty. 

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