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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 23 percent growth by 2030, 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 2021, the top 10 percent of addiction counselors earned more than $77,980 per year, while the median salary for this role was $48,520. 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.

Click here for Course Details

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Program Goals and Objectives

Mission of the Department of Counseling

To provide excellence in innovative academic programs grounded in service & leadership to develop professional counselors and counselor educators to serve diverse populations.

Mission of Master’s Program
To develop counselors with a strong professional identity and demonstrated specialized knowledge, skills, and dispositions to serve diverse populations.

Department of Counseling Values

  • Service: Programs are grounded in the priority to promote student success through a culture of service and accessibility. 
  • Excellence: Delivery of high-quality rigorous programs that set the standard for professionalism.
  • Community: Cultivate connections among faculty and students that engenders authentic sense of belonging and institutional pride.
  • Development: Foster an environment that facilitates identity development.
  • Accountability: We value accountability through data used to inform continuous improvement and innovation.
  • Inclusion: Programs serve students from diverse backgrounds and prepares graduates with the multicultural competencies to serve diverse communities.

Department of Counseling Goals and Objectives

Master’s Program

Goal 1: Facilitate professional counselor identity development aligned with the ACA Code of Ethics.

  • 1.1 Participation in the M.A. program will increase knowledge of the ACA code of ethics. (CACREP 2016 II. F.1.i, j, k, l, m; F.5.d)
  • 1.2 The program makes continuous and systematic efforts to provide opportunities to develop counselor identity. (CACREP 2016 I.F, I.I, I.M, I.N, I.P, I.S, I.W, I.X, II.1.a-h)
  • 1.3 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge of and involvement in counseling organizations and professional development (CACREP 2016 II C, F.1.f) 

Goal 2: Prepare culturally competent counselors to serve diverse populations.

  • 2.1 The program makes continuous and systematic efforts to hire/enroll and retain diverse faculty and students (CACREP 2016 I.K, I.Q) 
  • 2.2 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge of theories, models, and competencies related multicultural counseling, cultural identity development, social justice, and advocacy (CACREP 2016 II. F.2.b, c.) 
  • 2.3 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student skill in addressing cultural factors relevant to clinical mental health, including heritage, beliefs, help-seeking behaviors, and the impact of power and privilege on counselors and clients (CACREP 2016 II. F.2.d, e, f; AC 3.j; CMHC 2.j) 

Goal 3: Develop an understanding of developmental theory and persons in context across the lifespan

  • 3.1 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge in developmental theory across the lifespan, theories of learning, as well as normal and abnormal personality development. (CACREP 2016 II. F.3.a, F.3.b, F.3.c)
  • 3.2 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge of effects of crises on persons of all ages and strategies for optimal development and wellness over the lifespan. (CACREP 2016 II. F.3.g, F.3.i)

Goal 4: Prepare students to effectively apply career development theory, acknowledging related life-work roles and factors.

  • 4.1 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge in career development theory, resources, and interventions (CACREP 2016 II. F.4.a, c, j) 
  • 4.2 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student skill in assessing abilities, interests, values, personality, work environment, and other factors that contribute to career development, planning, and decision making (CACREP 2016 II. F.4.d,e,i) 

Goal 5: Prepare counselors who demonstrate effective counseling skills and techniques.

  • 5.1 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge of theories, skills, and differentiated approaches to client conceptualization and treatment in clinical mental health counseling (CACREP 2016 II F.3.h, F.5.a, F.5.b, F.5.g, MAC 1.b, 1.d)
  • 5.2 Participation in the M.A. program fieldwork courses will increase student effectiveness in developing relevant outcomes, treatment plans, and culturally relevant strategies for establishing and maintaining counseling relationships (CACREP 2016 II F.5.d, F.5.h, F.5.i, CMHC 3.b)
  • 5.3 The M.A. program will provide opportunity for students to receive formative and summative evaluations of counseling performance from site and university supervisors during fieldwork courses (CACREP 2016 III B, C, H, I, L, M)

Goal 6: Prepare counselors who demonstrate effective group counseling skills and techniques.

  • 6.1 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge of ethical and culturally relevant strategies for designing and facilitating groups, including theoretical foundations and therapeutic factors (CACREP 2016 II. F.6.a,c,g) 
  • 6.2 The M.A. program will provide opportunity for students to participate as a member of a counseling group (CACREP 2016 II. F.6.h) 
  • 6.3 Participation in the fieldwork component of the M.A. program will increase student skill in leading or co-leading psychoeducational or counseling groups (CACREP 2016 III.E) 

Goal 7: Develop counselors who are effective with assessment, diagnosis, and intervention planning.

  • 7.1 Participation in the M.A. program will increase student knowledge in using assessments for diagnostic and intervention planning, including identifying trauma or risk for harm (CACREP 2016 II F.7.c, F.7.d, F.7.e, CMHC 2.d)
  • 7.2 Participation in the fieldwork component of the M.A. program will increase student skill in using assessment results in an ethical and culturally relevant way to diagnose developmental, behavioral, and mental disorders (CACREP 2016 II F.7.l, F.7.m)

Goal 8: Prepare counselors to effectively utilize research in clinical practice and program evaluation.

  • 8.1 Participation in the program will increase students’ knowledge of quantitative research, qualitative research, and program evaluation (CACREP 2016 II, F.8.f.,g.,h.) 
  • 8.2 Participation in the program will increase students’ understanding of the ethical and legal considerations of research (CACREP 2016 II, F.8.j.) 
  • 8.3 Participation in the program will prepare counselors to analyze and use peer-reviewed research data to inform assessment, interventions, and treatment planning. (CACREP 2016 II, F.8.a.,b.,e., i)  

Goal 9: Promote the attitudes and dispositions that facilitate academic success and effective counseling.

  • 9.1 The program will evaluate students on their professional dispositions and performance consistent with institutional due process policies and the counseling profession’s ethical codes and standards of practice (CACREP 2016 I.O)
  • 9.2 The M.A. program faculty will systematically assess student dispositions and provide referrals for student remediation as needed (CACREP 2016 I O)
  • 9.3 The M.A. program will increase student knowledge about counselor characteristics that influence the counseling process (CACREP 2016 II F.5.f)

Goal 10: Equip students with the foundational knowledge and skills that prepare them to seek licensure as a professional counselor. 

  • 10.1 The M.A. program will provide information regarding eligibility for licensure as a professional counselor in multiple formats throughout the duration of the program (CACREP 2016 I M, N, II F.1.g)
  • 10.2 The M.A. program fieldwork courses will provide opportunities to develop the individual and group counseling skills to prepare for licensure as a professional counselor (CACREP 2016 III E, F, G, J, K)

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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. For more information, visit

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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Admissions Office

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