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Field of Study: Addiction Counseling


Addiction counseling programs prepare students to work as counselors with people who have alcohol, substance abuse, or gambling addictions.



Addiction counseling programs include topics such as:

  • Addiction theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Assessing addiction problems
  • Setting up treatment plans
  • Methods for early intervention
  • Prevention measures

Many community colleges offer associate degree or certificate programs in addiction counseling. Most of these programs are only open to people who already have a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field such as nursing, social work, or general counseling. An associate degree program usually takes two years to complete. A certificate program usually takes a year of full-time study.

A few colleges and universities offer bachelor's and master's degrees in addiction counseling. Several offer minors or concentrations in addiction counseling as part of a counseling, psychology, nursing, or social work program. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Very few schools offer doctoral (PhD) degree programs in addiction counseling.


College preparation

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

  • Probability and Statistics
  • Psychology
  • Advanced Psychology courses
  • Sociology
  • Biology


Graduate admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Required courses


Typical course work

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Addiction and Spirituality
  • Counseling Theory and Techniques
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Ethics and Law
  • Group Counseling
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Intervention and Assessment
  • Prevention
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Theories of Addiction

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

  • Required courses
  • Fieldwork and/or internships
  • Thesis (master's degree)
  • Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
  • Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)


Things to know

Most states require that you become licensed or certified. Usually you are required to have specific training in addiction counseling plus a bachelor's degree and supervised contact with patients. You must also pass a written exam.

Some addiction counseling programs require that you pass an exam and submit a videotape of yourself interviewing a mock patient before you can begin your clinical experience.

Most addiction counseling programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels include in-depth training in psychology.


Similar fields of study

Careers you may qualify for

Mental Health Counselors
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors



NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals
Click on "Education."

Schools that offer program

Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.

Bemidji State University , Located in Northwest
Capella University - Minneapolis, Located in Metro
Century College - White Bear Lake, Located in Metro
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College - Cloquet, Located in Northeast
Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies - Center City, Located in Central
Mesabi Range Community and Technical College - Eveleth , Located in Northeast
Mesabi Range Community and Technical College - Virginia , Located in Northeast
Metropolitan State University - Online - Saint Paul, Located in Metro
Metropolitan State University - St. Paul - Saint Paul, Located in Metro
Minneapolis Community and Technical College , Located in Metro
Minnesota State University, Mankato , Located in Southeast
North American Training Institute - Duluth, Located in
North Central University - Minneapolis, Located in Metro
Ridgewater College - Hutchinson , Located in Central
Ridgewater College - Willmar , Located in Central
Rochester Community and Technical College , Located in Southeast
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
St. Cloud State University , Located in Central
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Minneapolis, Located in Metro
Winona State University , Located in Southeast
Winona State University - Online , Located in Southeast