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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.

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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.

Top U.S. Schools with Substance Abuse Counseling Programs

1. University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, MI

The University of Detroit Mercy ranked as one of the top 25 regional universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2012. 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.

Prerequisites for entering the M.A. program include an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher and at least 15 credit hours in the behavioral sciences. 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 New York Institute of Technology ranked 68th among northern regional universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2012. 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

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of the Pacific 101st among national universities in 2012. 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.

List of Ten Good Substance Abuse Counseling Schools

School Name Distinction Location
East Carolina University Graduates can subtract one year from the two years of experience required for licensure Greenville, NC
Mercy College Credits earned through the Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate program can be applied toward a relevant associate or bachelor's degree Dobbs Ferry, NY
New York Institute of Technology Overseas campuses Westbury, NY
Ohio Christian University Substance abuse counseling program designed for working adults Circleville, OH
Portland Community College Has the largest addictions counseling program in Oregon Portland, OR
Southern University at New Orleans Trans-disciplinary substance abuse counseling program New Orleans, LA
University of California-San Diego Practicum requirement La Jolla, CA
University of Cincinnati Students can choose onsite or online classes Cincinnati, OH
University of Detroit Mercy Among the first addictions counseling programs in the country Detroit, MI
University of the Pacific Substance abuse counseling program developed for students pursuing state certification Stockton, CA
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Other Schools:

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    • Iowa (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Iowa include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
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      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
        • Marriage and Family Counseling
        • Substance Abuse Counseling
      • Nursing Professions
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