Earning an affordable online Bachelor’s in Addictions & Recovery puts students on a path to help others overcome the challenges of addiction. Not only will a student’s expertise assist those personally dealing with addiction, but he or she will help the patient’s family and friends who are experiencing the impact of the disease as well. Also known as substance abuse counselors, these individuals help people overcome issues such as eating disorders, gambling addictions, drug use, or alcoholism. Undergraduate programs, as well as master’s and doctoral programs, prepare students for a range of professions to help counsel and guide people toward recovery.
Prospective students are advised to choose an online Bachelor’s in Addictions and Recovery degree program from an accredited university or college. Accredited schools meet established academic standards set by accrediting agencies, ensuring that all students are receiving a quality education. In addition to earning a degree from a regionally accredited school, students should opt for bachelor’s degrees that are recognized by either the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), an agency that accredits doctoral and master’s degrees. The U.S. Department of Education provides a database of recognized accredited schools and accrediting agencies.
With so many schools making it possible to earn an online Bachelor’s in Addictions and Recovery, it is important to consider not only the quality of each program and school but the tuition cost as well. This ranking was created with data compiled at the National Center for Education Statistics. After identifying an initial pool of 20 schools by searching the site’s College Navigator database for the term “Bachelor’s in Addictions & Recovery degree online,” we were able to narrow the list down to the top 10 programs based on their graduate tuition rates for in-state students.
Ranking Low-Cost Online Bachelor’s in Addictions & Recovery
10. Bay Path University
Online B.A. in Psychology – Foundations in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling
Bay Path University is a private university in Longmeadow, Massachusetts that offers all-women bachelor’s degree programs, available online and on-campus, and co-educational master’s degree programs are available both online and on-campus. Founded in 1897 as the Bay Path Institute, Bay Path is now a member of the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield, an eight-college consortium. The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology – Foundations in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling program helps students identify and explore the causes of substance abuse disorders. Students also develop the skills to treat, diagnose, and assess people with substance abuse disorders in group and individual settings. In order to graduate, students must participate in a 300-hour internship in order to develop and refine effective intervention, counseling, and interviewing skills in a clinical, supervised environment. Students also have the option to meet the practicum and educational requirements to become a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor after completing the program.
9. Liberty University
Online B.S. in Psychology – Addictions and Recovery
Measured by student enrollment, Liberty University is one of the biggest Christian universities in the world and the biggest private non-profit university in the country. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, the university enrolls more than 94,000 students in online courses and more than 15,000 students on-campus. The school offers hundreds of areas of study throughout its 17 colleges, and all programs have a Christian orientation. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a focus on addictions and recovery is a 120-credit-hour program that undergraduates may complete in three and a half years. The program is divided into eight-week courses and is available entirely online. With core courses in the integration of psychology and Christianity as well as social psychology, students aim to build a strong foundation of the knowledge of psychological principles while simultaneously integrating their faith into the field.
8. Purdue University Global
West Lafayette, Indiana
Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology – Addictions
Operated as part of the Purdue University System, Purdue University Global is an adult-serving public university. Most of the school’s content is delivered online, and its programs focus on career-oriented areas of study at the doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate level. Purdue Global was established in 2018 following the acquisition of the former private for-profit Kaplan University by Purdue University. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Addictions focuses on building a fundamental understanding of the major historical trends, research methods, psychological studies, theories, values, and concepts as they apply to case management, treatment, intervention, prevention, assessment, and addiction science. Throughout the 180-credit program, students have the opportunity to examine case-management skills, prevention, the recovery process, pharmacology, and the process of addition. Courses include clinical psychology, health psychology, personality development, and abnormal psychology.
7. Indiana Wesleyan University
Online B.S. in Addictions Counseling
Indiana Wesleyan University is a private Christian liberal arts school headquartered in Marion, Indiana, The university is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church denomination, and it is the largest private university in Indiana as well as the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Students may choose from various liberal arts and professional educational programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The Bachelor of Science in Addictions Counseling can be completed in 22 months, and the program provides an in-depth education from a Christian perspective for students who wish to serve and/or understand addicted individuals and their families. Students complete the majority of the coursework online, and practicums are offered at mutually agreed-upon sites.
6. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Online Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies
Northwestern State University of Louisiana is a four-year public institution situated in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Founded in 1884 as the Louisiana State Normal School, it was the first school in the state to offer degrees in business education and nursing. The school now offers more than 50 degree programs, and in 2017, it reported its largest enrollment in the university’s 133-year history at 10,572 students. The Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies provides students with an overall understanding of the human mind as well as an opportunity to pursue a career in one of the fastest-growing industries. Areas of study include ethics, psychological research, theories of personality, psychological testing and measurements, statistics, childhood disorders, social psychology, and positive psychology.
5. Clarks Summit University
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
Online Bachelor in Addictions Counseling
Located just outside the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania in South Abington Township lies Clarks Summit University. The school offers a number of academic degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels, including a one-year Bible certificate, a high-school dual enrollment option, and doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees. Programs are offered on-campus as well as through online distance learning. The 121-credit online bachelor’s degree in addictions counseling helps students build a Biblical foundation for counseling and graduate studies while emphasizing addictions. Students build on core courses while engaging in psychology and counseling courses that are focused on, founded upon, and filtered through the lens of scripture. Courses cover areas such as crisis counseling, marriage and family dynamics, ethics and professionalism, adult development, behavioral addictions, substance addictions, understanding and treating addiction, abnormal psychology, and dynamics of discipleship.
4. Southern New Hampshire University
Hooksett, New Hampshire
Online B.A. in Human Services – Substance Abuse
Southern New Hampshire University is a nonprofit, private, nonsectarian, coeducational university located between Manchester and Hooksett in New Hampshire. The school is well-known for its high-quality online degree programs, which have made the school one of the fastest-growing of its kind in the U.S. Founded in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science, Southern New Hampshire now operates schools and colleges in education, business, the arts and sciences, continuing and online education, and aeronautics, technology, and engineering. The online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services with a concentration in substance abuse explores the trajectory of treating, diagnosing, and reintroducing a recovering patient to a sustainable, healthy life. Students learn about pharmacological factors, prevention strategies, screening techniques, and more. This program is also designed with the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) in mind to teach students the 12 core functions of an alcohol and drug counselor.
3. University of Cincinnati
Online Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling
Founded in 1819 as Cincinnati College, the University of Cincinnati is the oldest institution of higher education in the city, educating more than 44,000 per year. It is one of the 50 largest universities in the country and the second-largest in Ohio. The University of Cincinnati is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top colleges in the U.S. as well as one of the top 200 universities worldwide. The Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling provides students with the opportunity to earn a degree entirely online with no obligation to travel to the school’s campus. After completing the program, students will have gained the skills, competencies, and knowledge needed to begin a career working with addicted patients or to work in the field. Students will have also met all academic requirements to seek licensure under the guidelines set forth by the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board.
2. Union College
Online Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling
Union College, located in Barbourville, Kentucky, was founded in 1879 and serves students throughout Appalachia and beyond. Students pursuing the online Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling must complete 120 credit hours to earn their degree. The program is offered in convenient eight-week schedules and is available entirely online. Students are expected to complete 39 hours of coursework, including 24 hours of core courses in areas such as cross-cultural psychology, principles of microeconomics, recovery and relapse, the psychology of addiction, ethical issues in chemical dependency, and foundations of chemical dependency. Students are also required to complete a substance abuse internship before completing the program.
1. Fort Hays State University
Online Sociology Degree – Addictions Counseling Track
Fort Hays State University is the third-largest of six state universities that are governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. Located in Hays, Kansas, Fort Hays enrolls approximately 15,100 students in its online, on-campus, and Chinese programs. Founded in 1902 as the western branch of Kansas State Normal School, now Emporia State University, the institution was initially established on the grounds of Fort Hays, a frontier military outpost that closed in 1889. Now, Fort Hays is comprised of four colleges which, together, have more than 30 departments and offer more than 60 academic majors for undergraduates and nearly 20 degrees for graduate students. Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Sociology students may choose to pursue an addictions counseling track. This option provides a path for students to become licensed addictions counselors in Kansas. To earn the degree, students must complete the 21 credit hours of core B.S./B.A. in Sociology requirements as well as the general education program courses, the 30 credit hours in addictions counseling track courses, and the elective courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Bachelor’s in Addictions & Recovery?
Schools that offer an online Bachelor’s in Addictions and Recovery make certain that graduates are fully prepared to enter the profession of their choice. Roles such as substance abuse counselor, parole officer, and social worker are just some of the career options available. Each of these choices requires the ability to effectively communicate, organizational skills, and patience.
1. Social Worker: Social workers assess the needs of a community and help people access the resources they require to improve their quality of life. In addition to working with patients who are living with addictions, social workers may also help the friends and family of the patient by organizing individual recovery plans.
- Median Annual Salary: $47,980
- Projected Growth Rate: 16 percent
2. Correctional Treatment Specialist and Probation Officer: These professionals work closely with law offenders who are placed on parole or probation. They are required to assess offenders’ progress via evidence provided by friends and family, maintain files on their status over time, and ensure probationers remain sober and clean. Career advancement in this field may require a master’s degree.
- Median Annual Salary: $51,410
- Projected Growth Rate: 6 percent
3. Substance Abuse Counselor: Substance abuse counselors advise individuals who are struggling with addictions like drug and/or alcohol dependency. This role requires assessing the challenges facing their patients and devising a plan to help address them. Practicing in a private facility requires the student to earn a master’s degree as well as obtain licensure, but there are many positions held by substance abuse counselors who have earned a bachelor’s degree in addictions and recovery.
- Median Annual Salary: $43,300
- Projected Growth Rate: 23 percent
Other career paths for students with an undergraduate degree in addictions and recovery include abuse prevention specialist, detox specialist, alcohol and drug counselor, drug and alcohol treatment specialist, case manager, family therapist, referral resource specialist, clinical supervisor, behavioral disorder counselor, and client, family, and community educator.
What Are the Program Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Addictions & Recovery?
Students of addictions and recovery study the causes and symptoms of chemical dependency and are trained to provide clinical support for their patients. The top online colleges for bachelor’s degrees in addictions and recovery offer a combination of affordability and academic strength to prospective undergraduates.
In order to qualify for a bachelor’s program, applicants must generally have letters of recommendation, qualifying scores on college entrance exams, a strong high school grade-point average (GPA), and a high school diploma. Most online bachelor’s degrees in this field can be earned within four years, though some universities and colleges offer accelerated programs. Typically, students are required to complete about 120 to 133 semester hours to graduate.
What Will You Study While Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree?
The coursework for most bachelor’s degrees in addictions and recovery leverage current research against best practices to ensure the classes are relevant and rigorous. Students pursuing an online bachelor’s degree will take general education classes in English as well as the social sciences, math, science, and humanities in addition to counseling-specific core courses.
Most addictions and recovery programs include courses in various topics within clinical counseling and psychology, including ethics in clinical work, human services, counseling, diagnosis of addiction, pharmacology, psychopathology, and assorted counseling methods for specific demographics such as families and youth. Classes may also explore topics such as domestic violence, spirituality, and substance abuse prevention and counseling. The knowledge students gain throughout these programs equip them for entry into successful careers, and some even prepare students to sit for the licensure exam required to become a Certified Chemical Dependency Assistant in their respective states.
Moreover, some programs allow students to choose a concentration and further narrow their degrees based on their individualized interests. An example of a specialty may be alcohol and/or substance abuse rehabilitation, which often attracts individuals who are interested in inpatient and outpatient rehab treatment. Students may also elect to pursue a minor in another discipline such as sociology or psychology.
Do You Need Hands-On Experience to Graduate?
In some cases, online colleges offer students the opportunity to practice in-person counseling via supervised practicum courses. Although some may not feel that a practicum is necessary and may instead search for programs that do not have this requirement, gaining real-world experience is vital to becoming a successful addictions and recovery counselor. During a practicum, a student works in the same capacity as an assistant counselor or a fully employed counselor within a mental health facility or other healthcare organization. This is an excellent way for students to gain hands-on, real-world work experience before graduating.
While a bachelor’s degree may be enough to find a job as a substance abuse counselor or an addictions and recovery counselor, each state sets its own employment standards for counselors. Some may require that applicants have only a high school diploma, while others require master’s degrees. In either case, when comparing programs, prospective students should also keep in mind that the program a student chooses will determine how or long it will take to earn the degree as some begin at specific times of the year and others continue year-round. It is also important to determine if the program is available exclusively online or if it requires an on-campus commitment as is the case with hybrid-format programs. Different affordable online Bachelor’s in Addictions & Recovery degrees may also require capstone projects and internships before completion.