Drug Counselor Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Educational programs for aspiring drug counselors, also known as substance abuse or addictions counselors, are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Read on to learn more about education in this field.

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In all states, aspiring drug counselors must earn a postsecondary degree and pass a licensure exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some positions are available for counselors who hold bachelor's degrees, but for private practice, licensed drug counselors must hold a master's degree.

10 Schools with Drug Counselor Programs

Here's a list of schools with applicable programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
University of Iowa Iowa City, Iowa 4-year, Public Doctorate In-state tuition $8,396
Out-of-state tuition $25,574
University of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada 4-year, Public Master's, certificate In-state tuition $4,968
Out-of-state tuition $18,878
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina 4-year, Public Master's, certificate In-state tuition $4,434
Out-of-state tuition $17,036
Wright State University Dayton, Ohio 4-year, Public Master's In-state tuition $12,788
Out-of-state tuition $22,224
Pace University-New York New York, New York 4-year, Private Master's $28,080
University of Louisiana Monroe Monroe, Louisiana 4-year, Public Master's In-state tuition $6,106
Out-of-state tuition $18,206
National-Louis University Chicago, Illinois 4-year, Private Master's $10,224
Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, New Hampshire 4-year, Private Master's $18,810
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, Michigan 4-year, Private Master's, certificate $26,802
Governors State University University Park, Illinois 4-year, Public Master's, certificate In-state tuition $7,368
Out-of-state tuition $14,736

*Source: National Center of Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for drug counselor schools:

  • Because state licensure requirements differ, prospective students should make sure the program provides the correct preparation for practice in the state where they wish to work.
  • Prospective students may want to find out what the pass rate is for graduates on the state licensure exam.
  • It can be helpful for students to find out about the settings in which they will get clinical training, such as large hospitals or small private practices, in order to make sure that they will get experience in the setting where they would like to work in the future.
  • When considering research-based PhD programs, student may want to find out if there are faculty members at the school with whom they share research interests, as they may act as advisors.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

A few schools offer Bachelor of Science (BS) in Counseling programs with a focus in addiction, chemical dependency and/or substance abuse. Students in these programs study fundamental psychological principles and mental health counseling techniques. They also fulfill general education requirements. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs are prepared for licensure and work in supervised clinical settings, such as drug rehabilitation clinics, but it is important to note that they are not qualified to practice independently.

Master's Degree Programs

The most common educational option for aspiring drug counselors is a master's degree. Students may be able to enroll in a program that focuses specifically on addictions and substance abuse counseling, or they may choose a broader master's degree in counseling program with a specialization in substance abuse. These programs combine advanced theoretical studies in psychology with hands-on clinical training through real-world internships. When they graduate, students will have met the eligibility requirements for state licensure and private practice in the field.

Graduate Certificate Programs

Graduate certificate programs vary depending on the school. Some programs provide specific preparation for the state licensure exam. There are also programs for licensed healthcare professionals who want to boost their careers through advanced studies in the subject. Some certificates may also be pursued in conjunction with a graduate degree in a different subject, such as social work.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Individuals who want to conduct scholarly research in the field and/or teach future substance abuse counselors can earn a PhD in the field. In these programs, students write a research dissertation in a topic of interest within the field, and they may gain pedagogical experience through teaching assistantships. Most graduates go on to become university professors.

Students who want to get an education in drug counseling can find relevant degree and certificate programs. It is important to consider state licensure requirements and clinical training opportunities when choosing between programs.

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