In this article ranking the 15 most affordable online Master’s degrees in Addiction Studies, we will explore a few degrees like:
- Online MS in Counseling–Addiction Studies
- Online MA in Psychology and Addictions Counseling
- Online MS in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
- Online MHS in Addiction Studies
- Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling
If you’ve already gotten a Bachelor’s degree in the addictions counseling field, then you’ve already got the heart for this kind of work. Continuing your education in addictions and substance abuse studies will just mean that you can help people on a deeper level and even be ready for your state licensure requirements for certification. And because we know that you’re probably trying to juggle your new career and your desire to continue your education, in this ranking we’re giving you 15 options for an affordable online Master’s degree in Addiction Studies that you can complete on your own time! So if you’re ready to advance your education and your career, then keep reading!
Rating and Ranking Methodology
To develop this ranking of the top affordable Master’s in Addiction Studies online programs, our editors searched for schools that offered cheap online graduate programs in addiction studies. To rate and rank these programs, we applied the methodology below using information from Google, the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), Payscale.com, and each program’s website. In cases of a tie, the more affordable school pulled the higher rank. If the information didn’t fit within the parameters, zero points were awarded for that category.
Online Ranking Methodology
- Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
- Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
- Net Price Below $18,000: 2 points
- Net Price Below $20,000: 1 point
Student to Faculty Ratio
- Less than 20:1: 1 point
- Less than 15: 1: 2 points
- Less than 10: 1: 3 points
Return on Investment (ROI) According to Payscale.com
- Top 500: 1 point
- Top 300: 2 points
- Top 150: 3 points
Flexibility of the Program (asynchronous course delivery, hybrid options, part-time/full-time schedule, etc. ) – 1 point per item
Online Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, etc.) — 1 point per item
Concentrations/Specializations – 1 point per item
Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item
“Wow” Factor – 1 point
#15 Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Online MS in Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Nova Southeastern University offers its low-cost online Master’s degree in Addiction Studies by way of an MS in Counseling. Students will then choose a concentration in Substance Abuse Counseling and Education (or other options like mental health counseling, applied behavior analysis, and advanced applied behavior analysis). You can choose a 48-credit hour program in Substance Abuse Counseling or a 60-credit hour Substance Abuse Counseling and Education degree path. The program is specially designed with working-students in mind, whether you have a background in addiction studies or not. Sample coursework includes Psychopharmacology of Illicit and Licit Drugs, Foundations of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counseling in Community Settings, Psychological Testing for Individual Evaluation, and Diagnosis and Treatment of Adult Psychopathology. Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the SACSCC, and the Substance Abuse program is specially accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Graduate Tuition: $19,131
#14 Aspen University
Online MA in Psychology and Addictions Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
The affordable graduate degree in addiction studies offering at Aspen University will result in a Master of Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. The program will address studies in both individual and family counseling, as well as treatment and prevention of substance abuse strategies. It is important to note that this program will not necessarily fulfill your requirements for state licensure as a substance abuse counselor. Classes include Advanced Counseling Skills, Neurobiology of Addiction, Drug Enforcement, and Research in Counseling. One unique benefit of this program is the manageable once a month tuition payment! This means you can pay just $325 a month (starting on the first day of class), so there are no thousands of dollars of tuition due upfront. Aspen University is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $3,900
#13 Virginia Commonwealth University
Online MS in Addiction Studies
Student-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
The cheap online Master’s in Addiction Studies offering at Virginia Commonwealth University is quite unique and worth looking into if you’re interested in the international realm of the field. First of all, the degree is in collaboration with two other universities, King’s College London and the University of Adelaide in Australia. The program is designed to prepare students for local, national and international policy positions and will allow students to compare international perspectives on addiction and substance abuse issues. The coursework can be taken on a full-time or a part-time basis. Classwork includes Public Health Issues and Approaches to Addictions, Research Methodology in Addictions, Treatment of Addiction: Psychosocial Interventions, and Treatment of Addiction: Critical Issues. Students will complete their studies with a research project. Virginia Commonwealth University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Graduate Tuition: $25,032
#12 Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies
Center City, Minnesota
Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: N/A
Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies’ online Master’s in Addiction Studies offering might have one of the higher tuitions on this list, but you can pay it knowing you’re getting a targeted, evidence-based program taught by experts in the field. What makes this program stand out is its focus on studying co-occurring disorders. In fact, you’ll graduate with a degree in Master of Arts in Addiction Studies: Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders. The curriculum will address key aspects of substance abuse counseling, like differential diagnosis, trauma-informed treatment, medical issues, psychopharmacology, and recovery management. If taken on a full-time basis, you can graduate in just two years. Part-time schedules are also available. Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $34,144
#11 West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Online MS in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
At West Virginia University, you can earn a low-cost Master’s degree in Addiction Studies, but from a unique perspective. While it won’t specifically focus on addiction like many other programs, you will get a dual certification in both clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. Graduating with this degree will allow you to work with those suffering from addictions, but also give you a broader education, too, in case you change careers. It is important to note that you must have a Bachelor’s degree with a 2.8 GPA or higher to apply. Among the 18 required courses, you’ll take classes like Addictions Counseling, Couples and Family Counseling, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, and Medical Aspects of Rehabilitation. All students will participate in a practicum. West Virginia University is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Graduate Tuition: $25,776
#10 Liberty University
Online MA in Addictions Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Liberty University Online offers an affordable Master’s in Addiction Studies that results in an online MA in Addictions Counseling. In fact, LU’s tuition is among the least expensive on this list. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t getting a quality degree. Your investment will be well-spent. When you graduate, you’ll have the education and training required for certification or licensure as an addiction or substance abuse counselor. Featured courses include Acute Stress, Grief and Trauma, Assessment Techniques in Counseling, Biological Aspects of Addiction and Recovery, and Treatment and Recovery Process. An optional Addictions Counseling internship is available for interested students. Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Graduate Tuition: $7,904
#9 Mid-America Christian University
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Online M.S. in Counseling with an emphasis in Addiction and Substance Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Just like the name suggests, Mid-America Christian University’s online Master’s in addiction studies program will teach from a Christian perspective and help students take into account spirituality in the realm of counseling, no matter the background or beliefs of their client. And as an online student, you’ll have maximum peer support through the school’s cohort-based program. The curriculum will include topics like addiction in the family, pharmacology of drugs of abuse, and advanced counseling and psychotherapy techniques. Upon graduation, you’ll be able to seek licensure as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) or mental health counselor in Oklahoma. If you live in another state, check your requirements to see if this coursework will prepare you for licensure. Mid-America Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $11,070
#8 Grand Canyon University
Online MS in Addictions Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Grand Canyon University offers an affordable online graduate degree in addiction studies through its Online MS in Addictions Counseling. This rigorous curriculum will utilize evidence-based substance use disorder assessments and treatments to provide a quality graduate-level education. Classes include Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling, Counseling Chemical Dependency Adolescents, Family Issues and Addictive Disorders, and Psychopharmacology and Addictions. All students are required to participate in a practicum/internship as well. You can take these asynchronous classes anytime, anywhere. If taken on a full-time basis, you can complete your degree in just over 2.5 years. Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $9,916
#7 Post University
Online Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services
Student-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
At Post University, you can earn your cheap online Master’s in Addiction Studies by getting an online MS in Counseling and Human Services. Next, you’ll take concentrated coursework in Alcohol and Drug Counseling that will examine how the biological, psychological and sociological effects of drugs can impact the person, their family, and their surrounding communities. The curriculum will address key areas of substance abuse and addiction, like prevention, remediation, psycho-education, diagnosis, assessment, and intervention. Sample coursework includes Biology of Addiction, Theories of Alcohol & Drug Counseling, Psychopathology of Addiction, and Group and Family Treatment in Addictions. Post University is accredited by the NECHE.
Graduate Tuition: $7,500
#6 University of the Cumberlands
Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
If you’re already in the addiction studies field or looking for a career change, then the University of the Cumberlands affordable Master’s in addiction studies online program might be for you. Not only will you get the skills you need to utilize intervention and prevention techniques, but you’ll also be in a unique program that offers a dual-licensure track to fulfill requirements for becoming a licensed professional counselor and licensed/certified addiction counselor. The curriculum will provide a solid psychology foundation, and then feature courses like:
- Psychopharmacology & Addictions
- Motivation & Change
- Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment
- Spirituality & Values in Counseling
Graduates will be ready for exciting careers as:
- Addiction Counselors
- Health Educators
- Community Health Workers
- Social Administrators
- Rehabilitation Counselors
- Regulatory Affairs Directors
- Postsecondary Teachers
The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the SACSCC, and the addiction counseling degree online program is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Graduate Tuition: $5,670
#5 Governors State University
University Park, Illinois
Online MHS in Addiction Studies
Student-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Governors State University offers a versatile and flexible low-cost online Master’s degree in Addiction Studies. You can customize your delivery format: fully online, on-campus or a hybrid combination of both. Fully accredited by the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association (IAODAPCA), this program will teach you how to transform your knowledge of research into practice. Students will even participate in a hands-on, real-world internship. The bottom line? This program will guide you to become a leader in your field, to care about the people you are treating, but also those surrounding that individual. In addition, interested students can take the criminal justice internship option to meet the requirements for the Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional as well. Just like the program’s motto says, at GSU, “you will change lives.” Governors State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $11,704
#4 University of South Dakota
Vermillion, South Dakota
Online MS in Administration—Addiction Studies
Student-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
The University of South Dakota’s online Masters in addiction studies offering takes a different approach. First, you’ll get your online MS in Administration and then complete an area of concentration in Addiction Studies. This path will give propel you in administrative leadership roles and would be best suited for the student who desires to pursue that type of career in addiction studies. Coursework in the Addiction Studies focus includes:
- Comprehensive Substance Use and Addiction Education
- Substance Use and Addiction Treatment Continuum
- Psychopharmacology of Addiction
- Addiction and Substance Use Counseling Theories
- Advanced Legal/Ethical Issues & The Addiction Profession
The program is designed with the flexibility to accommodate adult, distant learners. The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $11,283
#3 Capella University
Online MS in Addiction Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Capella University offers an affordable MS in Addiction Studies. Utilizing the Guided Path model, courses are delivered in 10-week blocks, and you’ll take 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter. Sample courses are:
- Survey of Research in Human Development for Addiction Professionals
- Assessment of Addiction
- Principles of Integrated Addiction and Mental Health Treatment
- Ethical and Legal Issues in Addiction Treatment
- Group Therapy in Addiction Treatment
To prepare for licensure, you’ll get lots of support. First, you’ll engage in a residency fit with intensive, on-site experiences with both faculty and students. Next, you’ll participate in a supervised direct-client internship. Lastly, you’ll have an entire licensure team that is dedicated to helping you gain the credentials you need. Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $14,516
#2 Ottawa University
Online MS in Addictions Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 3:1
Ottawa University offers an affordable online MS in Addictions Counseling and offers a curriculum that integrates theory, research, and practice. Specific courses include core classes like:
- Multicultural Concerns in Addictions Counseling
- Law and Ethics in Addictions Counseling
- Appraisal, Assessment, and Treatment Planning in Addictions Counseling
- Psychopharmacology and Addictions Counseling
- Co-Occurring Disorders
- Fundamentals of Trauma, Abuse, and Deprivation
If accreditations matter to you, then you’ll be impressed by the ones at Ottawa University. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program is accredited by the California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators (CAADE). Furthermore, the MS in Addiction Counseling program is also accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC) and an approved Academic Education Provider through the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).
Graduate Tuition: $11,430
#1 Washburn University
Online MA in Addiction Counseling
Student-Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Washburn University comes in on top of our ranking list with its cheap online Master’s in Addiction Studies by way of an MA in Addiction Counseling. If you’re looking for an accelerated option, take a good look at this program. You can complete your degree in just 2 years or if you’re working on your Bachelor’s, take advantage of their Fast Track option that allows you to graduate with both degrees in just 5 years. As a part of this 36-credit hour program, you’ll take coursework like Integrative Approaches Dual Disorders, Diagnosis Substance Use Disorders, Advanced Methods Individual Counseling, and Professional Ethics and Practice. While the curriculum can be taken fully online, you’ll also complete practicum fieldwork in your geographic location. Washburn University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $17,930
What is an affordable online Master’s in Addiction Studies?
An online Master’s degree in Addiction Studies is a graduate-level degree that will closely examine advanced elements of the addiction and substance abuse field. In general, if you are pursuing a degree in Addiction Studies, you will be examining the external, internal, social, cultural, and behavioral components that affect addictive behaviors, and how those behaviors can then affect the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of the person. While your studies at the undergrad level will focus on the fundamentals like ‘what is addiction?’ or ‘what causes addiction?’ your graduate studies will dive deeper into the subject matter. You will extend your studies beyond the basics and really hone in on aspects like intervention, treatment, and prevention. You’ll research and, in most cases, gain real-world experience through internships and practicums. Getting your Master’s degree in this field will not only help you gain more knowledge, but you’ll also become a more respected professional in your field. And in some cases, your Master’s degree could allow you to become a certified counselor (with the addition of licensure).
What classes can I expect to take in my cheap online Addiction Studies Master’s degree?
The coursework you will take in your online Master’s degree program will vary from program to program, but you can expect advanced topics like:
- ethics in addictions counseling
- multicultural issues in addictions counseling
- co-occurring disorders
- legal issues in the addictions counseling field
- trauma, acute crisis, and intervention
- psychopharmacology of addiction
- neurobiology of addiction
- drug enforcement
- research in addictions counseling
Common specific courses could include:
- Psychopharmacology: the study of the effects that drugs have on an individual, including mood, sensation, thinking, and behavior.
- Co-Occurring Disorders: examines mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders that occur simultaneously
- Diagnosis and Treatment of Disorders: focuses on methods of both diagnosing addictions and substance abuse disorders, as well as various treatment plans
How will I get admitted to my Addiction Studies Program?
Admission to all programs varies from school to school. But, in order to apply to a graduate school, you will need a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. In most cases, you’ll also need to submit your GRE/MAT scores in order to be admitted to grad school. It could be possible that you can find a program that doesn’t require standardized test scores, so if that’s important to you, keep an eye out. In addition, you could need letters of recommendation, a certain undergraduate GPA, or specific coursework. Check the details of your program to see exactly what you need in order to apply. Pay close attention to application deadlines to ensure that you’re submitting your application on time!
- Letters of recommendation (possible)
- Minimum GPA
- Professional Work Experience
Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degree in Addiction Studies FAQ:
Q: Is getting my online degree in Addiction Studies worth it?
Yes, absolutely. Data presented by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics proves it’s a field worth getting into. Employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Plus, the bottom line is–the need for highly trained professionals in the mental health field is in high demand. And with the increasing drug and opioid crisis? You are needed now more than ever. In addition, as awareness and acceptance for mental health issues continues to emerge, more people are willing to seek professional help, making the demand even that much greater.
Q: What resources are available for online students?
Taking online classes can be daunting, but schools are completely aware of that–and are on top of it. You’ll have access to a wide array of online student services, which could include online tutoring, online writing centers, online advising, online library resources, and even online counseling services. Some schools even provide a licensure team that will help you with all the details surrounding your credentials and licensure process.
Q: Will I need to travel to campus?
If you are taking your degree 100% online, no you will not need to travel to campus. However, you will want to check the details of your program because some schools require a once a year seminar on-campus or have a hybrid model that combines both distance learning and on-site classes. Some schools on this list do require a week-long residency within the program, so you’ll definitely want to check. If you know you don’t want to travel, and you need a 100% online degree, make sure to get all the details before you apply!
Q: How long will it take to get my cheap online Addiction Studies Master’s degree?
The answer to this question will vary from program to program. But, the length of a Master’s degree program is much shorter than a Bachelor’s degree. Typically, you can earn your Master’s in 2-2.5 years, unless you can find an accelerated program. Some schools offer 4 + 1 programs that allow you to get your Bachelor’s + Master’s in just 5 years.
Q: Does my tuition cover the cost of my textbooks as well?
No, unfortunately, the cost of your textbooks will be extra, in addition to your tuition. There are a few ways you can save money though; consider finding a program that utilizes online textbooks or use scholarship and grant money to help pay for your books! You can also buy used textbooks online to save a few dollars.
Q: How can I pay for my low-cost online Master’s in Addiction Studies degree?
Paying for your graduate degree can be scary, especially if you’re still on a payment plan for your undergraduate degree. But, if you are wise, there are a few ways you can save money. First, apply for all of the scholarships and grants you can because you won’t have to pay those back. Next, look for assistantships at your school. Even if you’re taking your classes online, if you live near the school, you could get a job on-campus that could help pay for your education. Lastly, utilize any special tuition discounts you can find (military service, corporate reimbursement options, etc).
Q: When I graduate, will I be a licensed counselor?
No, you won’t necessarily be a licensed counselor when you graduate. Some programs will help you get all of the credits/credentials you will need to sit for your exams, but some won’t. So if becoming a counselor is what you want to do, you’ll need to find a program that fits your specific state’s requirements, and then look into the licensure process.
Q: How do I become a certified Substance Abuse Counselor?
This will depend on the state where you live and their specific licensing requirements. But typically, it will take these steps:
- Work Experience: After getting a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, you will need to complete about 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. It’s possible that the hours you accrued during an internship or practicum (in your Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree programs) could count, so choosing a program with that element could be wise.
- Extra coursework: It’s possible that your state will require extra coursework beyond what your degree requires, so check your state’s requirements. To meet the extra requirements, you could take online courses or participate in workshops.
- Licensure Testing: You’ll need to pass the National Counselor Examination.
- Extra Industry Certifications: While this isn’t always necessary, you may want to pursue extra certifications in your professional field
Q: Do I need to be sober to become a Drug Abuse or Addiction counselor?
Many people enter into this profession because they have experienced healing from their own addiction problems. However, it is important to remember that in order to effectively support those suffering from addictions, you will need to be sober. Many suggest that being sober for 2 years before entering this profession is wise.
Q: How do I know if getting my degree in Addiction Studies online is right for me?
Ultimately this kind of decision will be something you have to decide. But before you take the plunge, you can do a little due diligence to help make the choice a little easier. First, do some research on what kinds of careers you can pursue with an affordable online Master’s in Addiction Studies (or look at our information below). Take a good look at those jobs, read about what they would entail, and think about your passions and skills. Do they line up with what the job will require? If they do, you are probably making a wise decision. If your talents and skillset don’t really line up with the potential requirements of the career, you might want to put some more thought into it before you enroll in an Addiction Studies program!
Q: Will I be able to take my classes part-time?
Yes! Many of these programs understand that non-traditional students are also working or managing complicated life situations. Therefore, most schools allow for students to take their classes on a part-time basis. Keep in mind that this can lengthen the time it takes to get your degree.
Q: Will I be able to work and attend school at the same time?
This will completely depend on YOU, and what you think you can handle. Graduate school is often accelerated, more advanced, and requires an internship, so consider all those factors when making your decision. On the other hand, many programs are designed with professionals in mind and will cater to you balancing your career and your advanced degree.
Q: Does my program need special accreditation?
While it isn’t necessary to enroll in a program that has special program accreditation, it might be wise to take a look at programs that do. In the counseling field, look for special program accreditation called Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. In fact, the CACREP claims that graduates of CACREP-accredited programs receive higher scores on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, so your investment in a degree program that has special accreditation would be a useful investment.
Addiction Studies Career Opportunities:
Q: What careers can I pursue with a low-cost Master’s degree in Addiction Studies?
With a Master’s degree in Addiction Studies, you’ll be able to work in a variety of professional settings, including school settings, social service organizations, hospitals, prisons, private practices, and more. Generally, graduates with Master’s degrees in Addiction Studies will pursue counseling related careers, like Addictions Counselors, Mental Health Counselors, Social Service Managers, and School Counselors.
Q: What kind of salary can I expect in this field?
Like with most careers, your salary will depend on your specific job. But, according to Payscale, you can expect the average salary in this field to be $59,000.
In addition, based on data from 2018, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics shares the following mean annual wage:
Addictions Counselor: $44,160
Mental Health Counselor: $46,050
Social Service Manager: $65,320 per year
School Counselor: $56,310 per year
Q: What knowledge and skills will I need to acquire to become a Substance Abuse Counselor?
To be successful in any career, you’ll need both education and experience in that field. But on top of that, you’ll also need to acquire a professional skillset specific to that job. If you plan to become a Substance Abuse Counselor, some skills/aspects of the position you should master include:
- one-on-one counseling
- group counseling
- patient referrals
- an understanding of the cultural, social, and behavioral influences that can impact addiction
- family education and support
- administrative skills
- treatment planning
Q: What professional organizations are available to professionals in the field of Addiction Studies?
It isn’t necessary to join a professional organization in your field, but it’s always wise. Not only will you stay up-to-date on When you join a professional organization in the Addiction and Substance Abuse field, but you will also stay up-to-date on current research and career trends as well as build your network of like-minded professionals.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association
- American Counseling Association
- National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
- International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors
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