What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Addictions And Recovery?

An online Master’s in Addiction and Recovery Program enables students to learn about patients with substance abuse and addictive behaviors. This graduate degree focuses on teaching future practitioners how to identify addictions and substance abuse behaviors. Upon graduation, specialists in this field work with patients to prevent recurrence of those behaviors while treating them appropriately in an inpatient or outpatient setting. This online master’s degree can lead graduates to both counseling and management roles. As a counselor, practitioners are able to use the skills and practices learned to provide the most beneficial recovery experience possible for patients. In management jobs, graduates can design recovery programs, lead their implementation, provide guidance to counselors and perform evaluations on program effectiveness. Graduates can also specialize in research, teaching and public health programs.

An online master’s degree in this field enables the flexibility some students need to continue working in their current roles while completing the education necessary for future careers. In addition, online programs allow students to remain in their current location rather than moving to attend graduate school in other locales. Finally, online programs are available in a number of designs, allowing students to choose between lock-step degree plans, asynchronous learning and hybrid programs that include some on-campus intensives.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Addictions And Recovery

Addiction Counseling Immerses students in the study of how addictions occur, which treatment types work for different addictions, how future addictions can be prevented and how patients with addictions can best transition from recovery to their regular lives. Addiction Counselor
Substance Abuse Counseling Focuses on coursework related to how patients abuse various substances, rehabilitation paradigms related to substance abuse, and how to work with various demographics in individual or group counseling settings. Substance Abuse Counseling
Public Health Enables students to learn about the impact on public health by addictions and substance abuse issues while gaining knowledge in how to design public health programs that benefit patients and their families through the recovery process. Public Health Administrator

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Addictions And Recovery

An online master’s in addiction and recovery can be obtained through a variety of graduate program types with degree names including a master’s in addiction counseling, a master’s of science in addiction studies, a master’s of arts in clinical addictions counseling, a master’s of arts in human services with a concentration in addiction counseling and a master’s of arts in addiction studies. Typically, master’s of science degrees differ from master’s of arts due to mandatory science- or math-based classes like statistics.

A master’s in this field could include some of these classes:

Issues in Addiction Recovery Introduces students to the areas of addiction and substance abuse and the various protocols and demographics that play into recovery.
Theories and Treatment of Addiction Explores theories related to the treatment of addiction and how recovery plans and methods impact patient success.
Addiction Intervention Enables students to learn about how addictions occur, identifying individuals with addictions and how to conduct interventions after patients have been examined and assessed.
Addiction Studies Research Students elect to choose their own topic areas and conduct research about additions, formulating their own impressions on addiction and how to apply research to actual practice.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Addictions And Recovery?

An online master’s in addiction and recovery can take between 33 and 48 credit hours to complete. Generally, the programs that offer a master’s of science require higher credit loads to complete the degree. Additionally, students may opt to take more credits than are required in order to complete a concentration or enroll in additional electives. Completing the number of credits required generally takes two or three years to accomplish but may take longer due to the availability of courses, lower credit loads for students who continue to work full-time while in college, and the completion of internships, capstone courses and practicums.

Students in self-timed or asynchronous courses can often complete credits faster than their cohorts in lock-step degree types but also have the power to conduct their learning at a slower pace that better suits their life and work demands. Degrees may also be completed at a quicker pace if students obtain permission to transfer in credit hours completed in similar classes at other colleges. In addition, some colleges allow students who currently work in addiction and substance abuse-related positions to use their time-in-service or prior degrees and certifications in lieu of taking certain classes.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Addictions And Recovery Prepares For

Licensed Professional Counselor Graduates of master’s programs in addiction and recovery who complete the necessary internship and post-graduation work in the counseling field can test to become licensed professional counselors.
National Certified Addiction Counselor Offered by the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals, this certification requires a combination of education and practice before individuals are approved to complete required testing.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Addictions And Recovery

Colleges and universities can become accredited through a variety of organizations that examine their practices and course offerings thoroughly before deeming them appropriate for accreditation. Accreditation can come from federal, geographical or professional organizations. Generally, degrees from accredited institutions are more highly regarded than those that have not been endorsed.

Students comparing colleges to find the best master’s in addiction and recovery program for their career aspirations should carefully examine accreditation. Some include the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education, the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Addictions And Recovery Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Most counseling and management jobs related to addiction and recovery require a minimum of a master’s degree, which is also required for important industry certifications like a Licensed Professional Counselor. While it is possible for some candidates with only a bachelor’s degree to work in this field, far more opportunities exist for those who have completed a graduate degree.

Expected Salary

Graduates with a master’s in addiction and recovery can expect to find a wide range of salary levels dependent upon the type of job sought as well as the type of agency or organization a candidate pursues.

The field of substance abuse counseling is growing quickly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 260,200 substance, behavioral and mental health counselors worked in the field as of 2016, and that number and will grow at about a 23 percent rate over the next 10 years, adding at least 60,000 more jobs. Jobs in this field are spread through many industries with varying salaries.

Outpatient Care Centers 63,110 $49,770
Individual and Family Services 52,580 $52,050
Residential Facilities 43,550 $44,140
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 30,160 $53,870
Local Government 23,170 $58,390

Career Opportunities

Completing your online master’s in environmental management program opens the door to a variety of professional opportunities. Along with building a career that helps protect the environment, your advanced degree gives you the opportunity to move up within your organization or seek out a better position with another company.

Substance Abuse Counselors A substance abuse counselor may work in an outpatient or inpatient setting, partnering with individual patients as well as groups to determine needs and guide treatment and recovery plans accordingly. $43,300 per year 23%
Addiction/Mental Health Counselors A mental health counselor specializing in addiction can work with patients in hospitals, recovery centers and schools to aid patients in recognizing their addictions before designing a treatment plan to support their recovery. Counselors can also examine comorbid mental health issues, including PTSD, anxiety and depression and base recovery goals on those as well. $42,840 per year 23%
Rehabilitation Counselors A rehabilitation counselor works primarily in healthcare and residential settings to recognize addictions, substance abuse and other mental health issues that may play a role in recovery. Rehabilitation specialists may also work in management level roles to lead counseling teams and ensure proper programs and practices are being used. $34,860 per year 13%

Professional Organizations

Graduates from online master’s degrees in addiction and recovery can join a variety of professional organizations in order to have access to industry news and studies, remain up-to-date on regulations impacting the counseling field, interfacing with other professionals and attending periodic conferences.

American Society of Addiction Medicine: ASAM welcomes doctors, practitioners, counselors and other health professionals to join their organization, which concentrates on improvements in addiction treatments, emerging theories on recovery and research within the field.

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers: NAATP is open to clinical providers working in the field of addiction treatment and aims to ensure current and emerging best practices are followed during substance abuse and addiction recovery plans.

Association for Addition Professionals: Through its national and state-based groups, this organization focuses on the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction through education, networking and policy creation.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Addictions And Recovery

One of the most important concerns future students may have is the cost of obtaining their master’s degree. A master’s can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, typically more than a student has on hand to pay. However, online master’s degrees are often less expensive than degrees earned at in-person brick-and-mortar schools. Although that savings can represent thousands of dollars, graduate degrees do remain fairly expensive. Fortunately, many financial options are available for students to use in pursuit of their higher education.

To begin exploring financial aid, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is a form that the federal government requires to be completed each year that a student is in school. Information like locations, salary levels and other demographics can change during the time a student is in school. That’s why it’s necessary to complete the form with the most recent information possible. Once completed, students can examine their options for financial aid, including federal loans, grants, work studies and scholarship. Federal loans often feature attractive interest rates and pay-back terms and can even be eliminated entirely for students entering certain fields of work.

Addiction and recovery students can also seek financial aid through a variety of organizations that offer scholarships and grants. Schools also offer financial aid through scholarships, grants and work-study arrangements. Underserved demographics may find additional financial aid resources they can tap into as they further their education. Local philanthropic organizations may also offer scholarships based on need and the type of degree being pursued. Finally, professional organizations related to addiction and recovery also often offer scholarship and grant opportunities.



Scholarships Details
American Addiction Centers’ Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program Award: $2,500-$5,000

Deadline: April 30

Eligibility: This organization offers 3 scholarships annually to both undergrad and grad students pursuing degrees related to addiction and substance abuse. To earn this scholarship, students must be enrolled in an approved program with a 3.2 GPA or higher and a written essay on challenges in addiction treatment.

The Melanie Foundation Scholarship Award: $2,500

Deadline: March 5

Eligibility: This scholarship is open to grad students working on a master’s or doctorate in the field of mental health. Students must be actively working on their degree and submit a curriculum vitae, transcript, letters of reference and essay.

The Recovery Village Health Care Scholarship Award: $1,000

Deadline: June 30

Eligibility: Available to students studying in the medical field, including focuses on counseling, substance abuse and addictions. The scholarship requires an essay plus information about studies and aspirations.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.