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Top Schools for Substance Abuse Counseling

Learn about degree programs in substance abuse counseling, through which students learn how to help people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Read about the education options at three top schools, and find a table that lists other colleges and universities that train substance abuse counselors.

School Information

Among the three schools featured below, students will find two regional and one national university that offer certificate or master's degree programs in substance abuse counseling that can help them prepare for state certification. Prerequisites may include an undergraduate degree, minimum GPA and entrance exams.

1. University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, MI

The School Highlight of the University of Detroit Mercy, is that the program is among the first addictions counseling programs in the country.

The University of Detroit Mercy ranked as tied for the 41st best regional university in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2015. It not only offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Addictions Counseling, but also a Licensure as a Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Certification as an Addictions Counselor (CAC) program. Graduates of the latter two programs can practice as addictions counselors in the state of Michigan.

Once admitted, students take courses in counseling theories and practices, testing and evaluation, group counseling and recovery processes; they also learn about the theories of addiction. Additional requirements include a counseling practicum and an internship.

2. New York Institute of Technology in Westbury, NY

The School Highlight of the New York Institute of Technology or NYIT is that it has three foreign campuses.

The New York Institute of Technology ranked tied for 50th among Northern regional universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. The school offers a certificate in alcohol and substance abuse counseling that can be taken as a standalone program or as part of the master's program in school counseling. Prerequisites for admission to the certificate program include a bachelor's degree and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Candidates must also pass oral and written exams.

Courses include topics in group counseling, psychotherapy, pharmacology and epidemiology. Students also learn how to conduct clinical assessments and research.

3. University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA

The School Highlight of the University of the Pacific is its online program in substance abuse counseling is available.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of the Pacific tied for 116th among national universities in 2015. The university offers a certificate program for aspiring substance abuse counselors that trains them in individual and group counseling, crisis intervention and case management. Coursework in assessment and treatment planning is also included.

This program also requires a supervised internship that exceeds the hours required for state certification. Graduates of this program are eligible for the credentialing exam offered by the California Certification Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors.

Other Substance Abuse Counseling Schools

Let's take a look at the rest of the top substance abuse counseling schools in the country, along with their own distinctions.

School Name Location Distinction
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina Graduates of its master's program can subtract one year from the two years of experience required for licensure
Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, New York Credits earned through the Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate program can be applied toward a relevant associate or bachelor's degree
Ohio Christian University Circleville, Ohio Program provides 180 hours of chemical dependency education
Portland Community College Portland, Oregon It has the largest addictions counseling program in the entire state
Southern University at New Orleans New Orleans, Louisiana It has a trans-disciplinary substance abuse counseling program for its students
University of California-San Diego La Jolla, California It's specific distinction is that it has a practicum requirement, meaning that it requires its students to possess hands on experience before granting them their degree
University of Cincinnati Ohio Students can choose from either onsite or online classes

There are a number of schools with well-regarded substance abuse counseling programs around the United States. The top three include the University of Detroit Mercy, the New York Institute of Technology and the University of the Pacific. These all have differences in their programs but they all explore similar topics, included crisis prevention and group counseling. A lot of importance is placed on hands on experience, which is why these programs frequently require completion of a practicum and an internship.

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