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Online Master's in Addiction Counseling Degree

The MS in Addictions Counseling program is not accepting applications for the 2023-2024 academic year.


Drexel’s online Master of Science in Addictions Counseling program is designed to provide you with the ability to apply evidence-based practices to meet the needs of an ever-growing population of people experiencing drug and alcohol use disorders as well as behavioral (process) addictions. Whether you are looking to advance your career options or have a greater impact on the development of workforce competencies and treatment policy and resources, you will benefit from the advanced addictions counseling curriculum.

What is a Master's in Addiction Counseling?

Due to the growing opioid epidemic, there is an increased, emerging need for addiction counselors. The online master's degree in addiction counseling will benefit professionals working in fields such as probation and parole, criminal justice, nursing, physician assistants and public health. Graduates will learn to improve their effectiveness in responding to the clinical problems associated with the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders. In addition, this MS in Addictions Counseling degree may provide a pathway to eligibility for your state addiction counseling certifications.


The online MS in Addiction Counseling curriculum has been designed to not only advance your career but prepare you for the educational portion of the requirements, in most states, needed to sit for the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) or Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) certification exams.

In addition to the educational requirements, some of the certification exams, such as MAC, will require additional components post-graduation in order to be qualified to sit for the exam. For example, the Master Addictions Counselor certification exam, which is credentialed by NAADAC, also requires at least 500 contact hours of education and training in Substance Use Disorder/Addiction, with at least 50% of those hours being face-to-face.

To prepare for a state credential in addiction counseling, please schedule an appointment with your faculty advisor during your first term in the program to discuss individual state requirements.

Master's in Addiction Counseling Program Features

  • Designed to meet the educational requirements outlined by the Certification as an Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
  • Curriculum also covers the knowledge, theory, and skill development areas as suggested by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC)
  • Beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year, field practice and clinical supervision will be an optional component of this program (some states require a practicum experience during the master’s degree)
  • Courses taught by experienced and internationally-recognized faculty of the Department of Counseling and Family Therapy in the College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • This program curriculum does not meet the requirements to obtain licensure as a professional counselor or mental health counselor

State restrictions may apply to some programs.

The MS in Addictions Counseling program is not accepting applications for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Administer Treatment
  • Understand the established diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders, and describe treatment modalities and placement criteria within the continuum of care
  • Consider the readiness of the client and significant others to participate in treatment
Clinically Assess
  • Use relevant assessment information to guide the treatment planning process
  • Analyze and interpret the data to determine treatment recommendations
  • Document assessment findings and treatment recommendations
Plan for Ongoing Treatment
  • Develop understanding of models of substance use prevention, abuse, recovery, and relapse
  • Be familiar with medical and pharmacological resources in the treatment of substance use disorders
  • Formulate mutually agreed-on and measurable treatment goals and objectives

Provide Counseling Services

  • Cultivate a non-judgmental attitude about substance use behavior by understanding the stages of change and strategies associated with each phase of treatment
  • Describe a variety of helping strategies for reducing the negative effects of substance use, abuse, and dependence
  • Establish rapport, including management of a crisis, and determine need for additional professional assistance
  • Work appropriately with the client to recognize and discourage all behaviors inconsistent with progress toward treatment goals
  • Make constructive therapeutic responses when the client’s behavior is inconsistent with stated recovery goals

Coordinate Documentation

  • Demonstrate knowledge of accepted principles of client record management
  • Describe and document the treatment process, progress, and outcome
  • Document service coordination activities throughout the continuum of care

Serve as a Case Manager

  • Coordinate treatment activities and community resources in a manner consistent with the client’s diagnosis and existing placement criteria

Oversee Discharge and Continuing Care

  • Arrange referrals to other professionals, agencies, community programs, or appropriate resources to meet the client’s needs
  • Inform the client of confidentiality rights, program procedures that safeguard them, and the exceptions imposed by regulations
  • Adhere to established professional codes of ethics that define the professional context within which the counselor works to maintain professional standards and safeguard the client
  • Adhere to Federal and State laws and agency regulations regarding the treatment of substance use disorders

Supervise Family Involvement

  • Understand the characteristics and dynamics of families, couples, and significant others affected by substance use
  • Assist families, couples, and significant others in understanding the interaction between the family system and substance use behaviors
  • Assist families, couples, and significant others in adopting strategies and behaviors that sustain recovery and maintain healthy relationships

What Can you Do with a Master’s in Addiction Counseling?

Along with the industry certifications that are required, the online MS in Addictions Counseling will provide you with the education needed to work with substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health patients. You will have the opportunity to learn the skills needed to provide integral counseling and recovery treatment plans to patients and their families who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected rise in employment for professionals in the addictions and behavioral health industry is very positive at 23% by the year 2026. This is considerably higher than the 7% national average. With a wide variety of employment settings to choose from, including mental health centers, community health centers, prisons, government agencies, prisons, and private practice, employment opportunities will continue to grow as the number of people seeking addiction and mental health treatment continues to rise.

What is the Salary AND JOB OUTLOOK for a Master’s in Addiction Counseling?

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors help clients recover from addiction or mental health issues, or modify problem behaviors.

2016 Median Pay

  • $42,150 per year
  • $20.27 per hour

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

  • None

Job Outlook, 2016-26

  • 23% (Much faster than average)

Employment Change, 2016-26

  • 60,300

Data from