Skip to main content
Master in Addiction Studies Web

Online Master's Degree in Addiction Studies

If the thought of helping people overcome their addictions, build stronger relationships and improve their overall well-being appeals to you, this online master's degree in addiction studies from University of the Cumberlands is for you. 

Our faculty of caring, experts will help you develop the skills necessary to work with a population in desperate need of overcoming their addictions. Your coursework will help prepare you for special licensure in Kentucky as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. 

The online addiction studies program allows students to develop the foundation of knowledge and skills required to work within this helping profession. Your coursework will enhance self-awareness, increase your understanding of personal values; and, most importantly, train you to help heal others from addiction. 

Addiction is more than a disease. It cripples those who are addicted and those that love them. Become a solution in the lives of so many as an addiction professional to guide the journey to recovery. Fill out the form on this page to begin your journey to a degree in addiction studies. 


With the online addiction studies degree from University of the Cumberlands, you'll be on track for special licensure in Kentucky to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) upon completion of experiential hours and other requirements. Many graduates become substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also known as addiction professionals. These professionals work with patients experiencing challenges related to addiction and harmful behaviors, including alcoholism, drug use, and eating disorders. Addiction professionals may use techniques including alcohol and drug counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). They can also work in various settings, from rehabilitation centers to probation and parole agencies.

In an addiction studies degree program, you'll develop the skills necessary to apply 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 studies, and select appropriate assessments to evaluate, diagnose, and develop a treatment plan for clients. 

Some addiction professionals may go on to start private practices or manage teams of mental health professionals. Other career paths you could pursue with an addiction studies degree may include:

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


Earning your addiction studies 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 sure: 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 studies program you're considering meets all specifications. Kentucky recently passed a bill creating an alcohol and drug counselor credential that requires a 30-hour master's degree and focuses on addiction studies. This bill allows recipients of the 30-hour master's degree to become Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) upon completion of experiential hours and other requirements.
  2. Choose the online program that suits your career goals. Not all online addiction studies programs are suitable for those who wish to become licensed counselors. These programs could help you prepare for many rewarding human services career paths that do not require licensure.
  3. Apply, enroll, and start learning! An online master's in addiction studies program offers the flexibility you need to study on your schedule. In many cases, you can complete your coursework in less than two years of full-time study.


Depending on your state and employer, earning a master's degree may be required to launch your career in addiction studies. 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 professionals, 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. Addiction professionals 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 professionals 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 professionals play a critical role in patient recovery, changing lives and communities for the better.


The online Master of Arts in Addiction Studies program at University of the Cumberlands serves recent college graduates and those who want to broaden their expertise as mental health professionals.

Coursework covers core functions for addiction professionals, including psychological assessment, multicultural counseling, diagnosis of mental illness, and counseling during grief and crisis. In addition, you'll take the following specialized courses in addiction studies:

  • Psychopharmacology & Addictions
  • Motivation, Change & Treatment of Addictions
  • Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment
  • Clinical Management of Addictions

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 studies 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


Mission of the Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services provides students the opportunity to develop the foundation of knowledge and skills required to work within the helping profession. The Department's curriculum emphasizes coursework that enhances self-awareness and increases understanding of personal values while fostering an appreciation of diversity and the needs of humanity. Education is provided in the areas of professional helping skills, behavioral theory, and current social issues. Students are equipped to conduct ethical practice, establish appropriate boundaries, and apply their skills within professional environments that offer services to people.

Masters of Addiction Studies Goals: 

Screening, Assessment, and Engagement

  • Train counselors who can demonstrate verbal and non‐verbal communication to establish rapport and promote engagement.
  • To prepare counselors to discuss with the client the rationale, purpose, and procedures associated with the screening and assessment process to facilitate client understanding and cooperation.
  • Train counselors to assess clients' immediate needs by evaluating observed behavior and other relevant information, including signs and symptoms of intoxication and withdrawal.
  • To prepare counselors to administer appropriate evidence‐based screening and assessment instruments specific to clients to determine their strengths and needs.
  • To prepare counselors to obtain relevant history and related information from the client and other pertinent sources to establish eligibility and appropriateness of services.
  • Train counselors to screen for physical needs, medical conditions, and co‐occurring mental health disorders that might require additional assessment and referral.
  • Train counselors to interpret the results of screening and assessment and integrate all available information to formulate diagnostic impressions and determine an appropriate course of action.
  • To prepare counselors to develop a written summary of the results of the screening and assessment to document and support the diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations.

Treatment Planning, Collaboration, and Referral 

  • To train counselors to formulate and discuss diagnostic assessments and recommendations with the client and concerned others to initiate an individualized treatment plan that incorporates the client's strengths, needs, abilities, and preferences.
  • To prepare the counselor to use ongoing assessment and collaboration with the client and concerned others to review and modify the treatment plan to address treatment needs.
  • Train counselors on matching client needs with community resources to facilitate positive client outcomes.
  • To prepare counselors to discuss the rationale for a referral with the client.
  • To prepare counselors to communicate with community resources regarding the client's needs.
  • Train counselors to advocate for the client in areas of identified needs to facilitate continuity of care.
  • To train counselors on how to evaluate the effectiveness of case management activities to ensure quality service coordination.
  • Train counselors on developing a plan with the client to strengthen ongoing recovery outside of primary treatment.
  • Train counselors on documenting treatment progress, outcomes, and continuing care plans.
  • To prepare counselors to utilize multiple recovery pathways in treatment planning and referral.


  • To train counselors to develop a therapeutic relationship with clients, families, and concerned others to facilitate transition into the recovery process.
  • To prepare counselors to provide information to the client regarding the structure, expectations, and purpose of the counseling process.
  • To prepare counselors to continually evaluate the client's safety, relapse potential, and the need for crisis intervention.
  • Train counselors on applying evidence‐based, culturally competent counseling strategies and modalities to facilitate progress towards completion of treatment objectives.
  • To prepare counselors to assist families and concerned others in understanding substance use disorders and engage them in the recovery process.
  • Train counselors to document counseling activity and progress towards treatment goals and objectives.
  • Train counselors to provide information on issues of identity, ethnic background, age, sexual orientation, and gender related to substance use, prevention, and recovery.
  • Train counselors to provide information about the disease of addiction and the related health and psychosocial consequences.

Professional and Ethical Responsibilities 

  • To prepare counselors to adhere to established professional codes of ethics and standards of practice to uphold client rights while promoting the best interests of the client and profession.
  • To prepare counselors to recognize diversity and client demographics, culture, and other factors influencing behavior to provide services that are sensitive to the uniqueness of the individual.
  • To prepare counselors to continue professional development through education, self‐evaluation, clinical supervision, and consultation to maintain competence and enhance professional effectiveness.
  • Train counselors to identify and evaluate client needs outside the counselor's ethical scope of practice and refer to other professionals as appropriate.
  • To train counselors to uphold clients' rights to privacy and confidentiality according to best practices in the preparation and handling of records.
  • To train counselors to obtain written consent to release information from the client and/or legal guardian, according to best practices.
  • Train counselors to prepare concise, clinically accurate, and objective reports and records.


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


  • Completed Graduate Application and payment of the associated fee
  • A completed Bachelor’s degree in human services, counseling, psychology, or a closely related field
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 for all prior coursework is required for full admittance; conditional admittance will be considered for applicants with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 and other significant supporting material (e.g., professional work experience) – If conditional admittance is granted, a GPA of 3.0 is required after the completion of 12 hours of coursework in the program with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale 
  • Submit official transcripts from all applicable colleges/universities attended; must be received directly from the issuing college or university.
  • Documentation of language fluency for non-native speakers of English, such as a score report from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the 8 International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or a report from Duolingo. This requirement is waived for students who have completed bachelor’s or master’s level coursework in the U.S. at an accredited institution. The minimum acceptable TOEFL or IELTS scores for admission are: 
    • Paper-based TOEFL (PBT) - 550 
    • Internet-based TOEFL (IBT) - 79 
    • IELTS - 6
    • Duolingo - 100
  • Any international course work completed must have official transcript evaluations completed and submitted to the University by the evaluation firm. Evaluations MUST include GPA for admission.

Approved Evaluation Firms are:

  • World Education Services (WES)
  • Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE)
  • International Education Research Foundation (IERF)
  • Educational Perspectives (EP)
  • SpanTran

All admissions materials should be submitted to Graduate Admissions:

University of the Cumberlands
Graduate & Online Admissions
649 S. 10th Street Suite C
Williamsburg, KY 40769
Phone 606.539.4390
Toll Free 855.791.7199


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


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

Admissions Office

Contact Us

Phone: 606.539.4390
Tollfree: 855.791.7199

Visit Us In Person

649 S. 10th Street Suite C
Williamsburg, KY 40769