Master’s in Addiction Counseling Degree

Master of Science in Addiction Counseling

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Study Skills and Techniques Needed for Substance Abuse Counseling 

Substance use and addictive disorders are diseases that adversely affect individuals, families and communities as a whole. As an aspiring addiction counselor, you could work toward effecting meaningful change in the lives of people in your community. The Master of Science in Addiction Counseling at Grand Canyon University follows a curriculum designed to introduce you to evidence-based substance use disorder assessments and treatments. 

Offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, this addiction counseling master’s program is designed to blend classroom instruction with practical learning experiences. You will be taught matters of professional ethics, counseling theories and principles, psychopharmacology and chemical dependency in adolescents and adults. Graduates with a master’s in addiction counseling can position themselves to pursue licensure and work opportunities in various settings. 

Benefits of GCU’s Master’s Degree in Addiction Counseling

If you would like to pursue a career as a licensed substance abuse counselor, a master’s in addiction counseling can provide the pathway toward licensure in most states. You can enhance your qualifications and pursue a career in addiction counseling with the academic competencies you will be taught at GCU. Below, you can explore some of the benefits of choosing GCU for your degree program.

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GCU’s master’s degree in addiction counseling is available through online classes. Earning your degree online or during the evenings offers the flexibility to fit classes around your schedule. Our online learning platform is designed to facilitate collaboration among instructors and learners.

The Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program at GCU is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC). 

NASAC aims to provide legitimacy to the study of addiction science by offering structured curriculum standards and expectations for faculty. Additionally, NASAC accreditation provides purpose in the classroom, creating a connection between learned objectives and actual applications. This accreditation may benefit master’s in addiction counseling online graduates who are seeking state licensure as an addiction counselor.

Courses and Topics to Expect in the MS in Addiction Counseling Program

All classes are taught by knowledgeable instructors who guide you through a curriculum designed to teach foundational skills in the counseling field. GCU seeks to graduate students who are skilled communicators and effective servant leaders, capable of thinking critically about ethical issues and dilemmas. 

Throughout the courses in this program, you will examine the following topic areas:

  • The stages, processes and effects of substance use, as well as the professional’s role in prevention, intervention and aftercare
  • Screening, assessing and treating individuals with co-occurring disorders, and associated strategies for risk management
  • Theories of multicultural counseling, multicultural competencies and strategies for working with diverse populations, including immigrants and refugees
  • Major counseling theories and principles, including existential psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral, reality therapy/choice therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT)

In addition, all students in the master’s in addiction counseling program are required to complete the Pre-Practicum and Practicum/Internship. This is an in-person, supervised fieldwork experience that includes counseling-related and direct-contact practicum hours. The Pre-Practicum is followed by the Practicum/Internship, which can help you to develop your counseling skills in a mental health practice setting under supervision.

71,500 

Estimated number of new substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselor jobs from 2022 to 20321

Career Opportunities for Graduates With a Master’s in Addiction Counseling 

Qualified counselors are needed to meet the rising need for substance abuse and addictive disorder treatment. Professionals with this background may pursue work in any of the following settings:

  • Inpatient addiction treatment facilities
  • Outpatient treatment programs
  • Jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers
  • Community mental health agencies
  • Human services organizations

When you graduate with an MS in Addiction Counseling, you will have the opportunity to meet the requirements for licensure in Arizona as a licensed associate substance abuse counselor (LASAC). You may also be prepared to seek licensure or additional certification in other states you may wish to practice in. You are responsible for understanding the licensing requirements for your state, as criteria may vary from state to state.

Master’s in Addiction Counseling Degree FAQs

Before applying to the Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program at GCU, you may have some questions. Explore the following frequently asked questions and answers and reach out to our university counselor for more information about enrollment.

How long it takes to complete a master’s program depends on your schedule of classes. The MS in Addiction Counseling at GCU requires 36 credits for completion. Most online courses and the Practicum are eight weeks in length.

Earning a master's degree in addiction counseling, along with obtaining the proper licensing credentials, can help position you for possible career advancement opportunities in the field. Career options with a master's in substance abuse counseling include substance abuse counselors and postsecondary educators in health specialties.

Addiction counselors may work in a variety of settings, depending on their areas of interest and expertise. These may include specialized treatment programs, mental health centers, prisons and halfway houses, detox centers, hospitals, colleges and schools. Some addiction counselors work in residential care centers. 

The median annual national wage for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was $49,710 in May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2  During this same timeframe, government and hospitals were the top-paying employers for substance abuse counselors.

The educational requirements for becoming a substance use counselor vary by state. You should determine the requirements for the state in which you plan to practice before applying to a degree program. In general, however, a master’s degree in counseling is a necessary steppingstone toward pursuing licensure. Since you’re interested in working in the substance abuse counseling subfield, it’s a good idea to choose a degree with an emphasis in substance abuse and addictive disorders.

According to the BLS, the highest-paying state for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors as of May 2022 is Alaska with an hourly mean wage of $33.06, followed by Hawaii with an hourly mean wage of $32.02. However, those states also have a relatively low number of employed counselors (1,270 in Alaska and 850 in Hawaii). The top-paying states for counselors that also have a high employment level of counselors are California (36,100 employed; hourly mean wage of $30.99) and New York (22,810 employed; hourly mean wage of $29.00).2  To search the data for your own state, visit the link in the references below. 

In addition to pursuing an education as an aspiring substance abuse and addiction counselor, you can benefit from developing communication skills, interpersonal skills and active listening skills. Compassion, empathy and patience are additional characteristics that can prove helpful in counseling settings.

The BLS estimates job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors to be 18% from 2022 through 2032, much faster than average, indicating an increase of about 71,500 jobs during that time period.1

Begin working toward your master’s degree in addiction counseling in order to pursue work opportunities in the substance abuse rehabilitation field. Apply today for consideration with GCU’s admission procedures

1COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, retrieved on Sept. 19, 2023. 

2The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors as of May 2022, retrieved on Sept. 19, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 36
Online: 8 weeks
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TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
TUITION RATE:
Online: $575 per credit [More Info]

Course List

Major:
36 credits
Degree Requirements:
36 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare students for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University. Students have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the health sciences. Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of counseling ethics, legal standards, and responsibilities, including professional identity, report writing, record keeping, and service reimbursement for addiction counselors. Also covered are the history of and current trends in counseling. Important goals of this course are to help students develop a strong personal and professional ethic, as well as an appreciation for the value of professional collaboration and identity.

Course Description

This course provides a comprehensive survey of the major counseling theories and principles. Coursework includes the following theories: psychoanalytic, Adlerian, existential psychotherapy, behavioral, cognitive behavioral, person-centered, reality therapy/choice theory, and rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT).

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of the stages, processes, and effects of substance use disorders, social and psychological dynamics of substance use disorders, and the professional's role in prevention, intervention, and aftercare, including recovery and relapse prevention. This course explores theories and models of treatment of substance use disorders, drug classification, and assessment. It also continues building foundational knowledge, utilization of professional resources, and exploration of standards to help students prepare for licensure/certification within the counseling industry.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society. Studies in this area include the following: attitudes and behaviors based on such factors as age, race, religious preference, physical disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity and culture, family patterns, gender, socioeconomic status and intellectual ability; individual, family, group, and community strategies for working with diverse populations; theories of multicultural counseling and identity development; and multicultural competencies. Students examine a variety of cultural populations in multiple regions of the United States, exploring issues and trends that are associated with each population. Cultural considerations for immigrants, refugees, and undocumented immigrants are also addressed.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of group development, group dynamics, group counseling theories, and ethical standards with reference to professional and substance use disorders counseling. The course also addresses group process components, appropriate selection criteria, developmental stage theories, group members' roles and behaviors, and group leadership styles and approaches. The course includes didactic and experiential group learning. Required synchronous group experience: 12 hours.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the basic principles of psychopharmacology and the effects of psychoactive substances. Students examine the behavioral, psychological, physiological and social effects of psychoactive substance use, and learn to recognize symptoms of intoxication, withdrawal, and toxicity. The class covers various screening options, limitations, legal implications, and the utilization of pharmacotherapy as part of substance addiction treatment.

Course Description

This course introduces students to co-occurring disorders. Students examine screening and assessment tools to reveal and evaluate the presence and severity of co-occurring disorders. This course also explores the treatment needs of persons with co-occurring disorders. Strategies for risk management associated with treating individuals with co-occurring disorders are presented.

Course Description

This course examines the impact of substance use disorders in family systems. Various treatment interventions are discussed. The treatment roles and responsibilities of addicted individuals and their families are also examined.

Course Description

This course provides a conceptual framework for the use of assessment and diagnostic tools for the development of appropriate treatment interventions for a variety of behavioral health and substance use disorders. Included is an introduction to the use of the diagnostic tools, including the DSM, and the integration of diagnostic and assessment information, in the development of treatment plans.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to adolescent substance use disorders prevention and treatment techniques and interventions. Signs, symptoms, and patterns of adolescent substance use are examined. Students also explore adolescent screening methods and assessment tools.

Course Description

This is a supervised fieldwork experience under the supervision of a faculty member and an on-site clinical supervisor approved by the college or university. Documentation of a minimum requirement of 150 hours of counseling-related activities, which include 50 direct contact hours, is submitted directly to the college's Office of Field Experience for verification and tracking. Students may not progress to PCN-662A without the required amount of hours submitted and proper approval. State licensure requirements may mandate additional hours. Students must review and adhere to their state board's additional requirements. Practicum/field experience hours: 150. Prerequisites: Completion of all didactic coursework in the program; a GPA of 3.0 or better; and maintenance of student professional liability insurance in the amount of $1 million, $3 million.

Course Description

Students use this supervised practicum/internship experience to develop their counseling skills and to perform all the activities that a regularly employed professional counselor would be expected to perform in a supervised setting. The practicum/internship is performed under the supervision of a faculty member and an on-site clinical supervisor approved by the college or university. Documentation of 150 hours of counseling-related activities, which include 50 direct contact hours, is submitted directly to the college’s office of field experience for verification and tracking. State licensure requirements may mandate additional hours. Students must review and adhere to their state board's additional requirements. Practicum/field experience hours: 150. Prerequisites: PCN-622 or PCN-622A; a GPA of 3.0 or better; maintenance of student professional liability insurance in the amount of $1 million, $3 million; and college approval.

Locations

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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