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Masters Degree in Chemical Dependency: Program Information

If you want to become a counselor for patients who struggle with chemical dependency, you may consider enrolling in a Master of Arts program in Addiction. Learn what to expect from these programs and what you can do after graduation.

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Essential Information

Master of Arts programs in Addiction Studies are designed for aspiring substance abuse counselors. Through theoretical coursework and supervised clinical experience, these programs provide training in therapeutic methods for combating chemical dependency. Most programs focus specifically on alcohol and drug abuse. Prior to graduation, students must submit a research-based thesis. In order to apply to one of these two-year programs, students must hold a bachelor's degree.


Program Coursework

A master's degree program focused on chemical dependency provides graduate students with an understanding of how addiction can affect individuals, families, relationships and entire societies, and they learn how to work with these diverse populations. Programs are designed to provide prospective counselors with an understanding of the mental, social and emotional conditions that can lead to a chemical dependency. Some examples of course topics commonly included in such a program are:

  • Addiction counseling
  • Managing addiction through public policy
  • Recovery and maintenance
  • Culture and history of addiction
  • Educational statistics
  • Preventing relapse
  • Case management
  • Chemical dependency and families
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Comprehensive chemical dependency

Employment Outlook and Career Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 87,090 substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors in the United States in 2015. The overall employment for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was predicted to grow by 22% between 2014 and 2024, which was much faster than the average overall predicted job growth rate. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for substances abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was $39,980 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Options

Each state offers its own certification procedures for aspiring substance abuse counselors, although most states require students to earn a master's degree and pass an examination. Organizations such as the Association for Addiction Professionals also offer voluntary national certification in the field, designating credentials such as National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) Level I, NCAC Level II and Master Addiction Counselor.

Master's degree programs in addiction studies prepare students for counseling careers where they can help patients overcome chemical dependency. With a job outlook that is much higher than the average, graduates could have numerous options for employment.

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