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

Online programs offer the same academic quality as on-campus programs. Also, by eliminating the need to commute to campus, online programs provide working students more time and energy to meet their job responsibilities while they further their education. Another benefit is that you can attend a school outside your area without the cost and inconvenience of relocating. When deciding on which online master’s in addictions and recovery program you will attend, be sure to carefully review each of your options to find the best match for your personal needs and professional goals.

Available concentrations

If you already know exactly what role you would like to have in this field, look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on this specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for a master’s in addictions and recovery include:

  • Substance Abuse Counseling: Focuses on how patients abuse various substances, rehabilitation paradigms related to substance abuse, and how to work with multiple demographics in individual or group counseling settings.
  • Public Health: Reviews the effects that addictions and substance abuse have on public health and how to design programs that address these issues.

Common degree curriculum

Online master’s in addiction and recovery programs are available in Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) formats. The key difference between these two options is that M.S. programs involve more science and math-based courses, such as statistics.

While the exact curriculum depends on which school you attend and whether you pursue a concentration, some topics are covered in just about every master’s in addictions and recovery program, including:

  • 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 addiction treatment and how recovery plans and methods impact patient success.
  • Addiction Intervention: Reviews how to conduct interventions after patients have been examined and assessed.

Certification and license preparation

Earning a master’s degree is one of the eligibility requirements for becoming a Master Addiction Counselor (MAC), the most advanced credential offered by NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. Earning the MAC designation, which also requires substantial experience in the field and passing a certification exam, will demonstrate that you are exceptionally well-qualified and help you advance your career.

Program accreditation

Only apply to institutions approved by a DOE-recognized accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Otherwise, you may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed. In addition to institutional accreditation, the best options for earning a master’s in addictions and recovery are programmatic accreditation from an industry group such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in addictions and recovery programs typically require between 33 to 48 credit hours of coursework, allowing most full-time students to finish within two years. Part-time students may need up to five years to earn their degree.

If you want to earn your master’s in addictions and recovery as quickly as possible, look for programs that offer asynchronous courses you can complete at your own pace. You’ll also be able to shorten your program if you can transfer in credits from previous efforts to earn a master’s degree.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Addictions and Recovery Graduates

The number of jobs in this field is growing at a fast rate. That means plenty of employment opportunities should be available once you graduate, making it easier to find a job and negotiate pay raises.

Addictions and recovery professionals earn about $40,000 to $60,000 per year. There’s the potential to make much more, though — the top 10% of substance abuse counselors earn over $82,710.

Where you plan to work will likely affect how much money you make, as areas with a higher cost of living usually offer higher pay. For example, the average salary for substance abuse counselors is $64,460 in California but just $41,090 in Louisiana.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Substance Abuse Counselor Substance abuse counselors 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. $49,710 18%
Social Worker Social workers help individuals and families deal with everyday problems, which involves responding to crises and providing information about resources and services. Many social worker jobs are focused on addressing addiction issues. $55,350 7%

Professional organizations

Graduates from an online master’s in addictions and recovery program can join various professional organizations to stay informed about industry developments and network with peers in the field. The top organizations for addiction and recovery professionals include:

Financing Your Online Master’s in Addictions and Recovery Degree

While online degree programs tend to be more affordable than on-campus programs, you still may need help paying for your education. Fortunately, many financial aid options are available for online master’s in addictions and recovery students.

You should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year, as this will determine your eligibility for federally funded grants and loans. You can also access financial aid opportunities through your school, employer, industry groups, nonprofit organizations, or private companies.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

There are so many financing options available, each with its own eligibility requirements and application deadlines, that it can be challenging to determine what you should do after submitting your FAFSA. The resources listed below will help you sort through all this information and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

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