If you’re interested in a high-level leadership career as an addiction counselor in a treatment facility, mental health center, or a government program, you’ll want to go for a doctorate degree in addiction counseling. In most states, a degree from one of the best Ph.D. or PsyD programs will also be required to get a license and practice as a clinical psychologist. This license lets you practice on your own as well as accept a number of positions in the specialty. For information on earning this degree online, see the sections below.

What Will I Learn in an Online Addiction Counseling Doctorate Program?

This degree will build on your master’s degree education, so you can generally expect courses to take you on a deeper dive into the specialty. There may be some differences between an addiction counseling curriculum and a closely-related substance abuse counseling degree. The addiction counseling program will be sure to cover non-substance addictions, such as porn, video games, or even work, as well as addictions to drugs and alcohol.

It is important to note that not all addiction counseling doctorate degree programs meet the qualifications for licensure. They may be missing accreditation, practicum hours, or other key factors. If you’re studying with the intent of becoming licensed, you’ll want to avoid these programs. While students may find more options for the Ph.D. in Addiction Counseling/Psychology programs available, some PsyD programs in the specialty can also be found. PsyD programs focus more on direct patient practice, while a Ph.D. is ideal for clinical practice, research, and/or academia.

Even though each school tends to have its own name for the various courses involved in an online addiction counseling doctorate degree program, the concepts covered tend to be the same. Some examples include:

  • Biology and behavior – Cell biology, neurological functioning, and other physical aspects of addiction – and how they influence behavior – are covered.
  • Evaluation of addictive behaviors – Good treatment starts with the proper assessment of the patient. This course teaches clinical methods for accomplishing this.
  • Pathology of addictive behaviors – Studies psychological needs, conditions, and motivations that overlap addictive behaviors.
  • Treatment of substance abuse disorders – This course gives an overview of several different treatment methods.
  • Many other related courses

You will also need to give a dissertation in order to get your degree. Clinical practicum experience may also be required, especially for programs intended to lead to licensure. Because you’ll be enrolled in an online program, the clinical hours will likely be completed in locations where you live.

The classroom requirement is often in the range of 80 credit hours, but practicum requirements vary widely. Be sure to check with your prospective university for the details on the latter, because this can greatly affect how long it takes to get the degree.

What To Look For in an Online Addiction Counseling Doctorate Program

When searching for an online doctorate program in addiction counseling, there are several important factors to consider. First and foremost, accreditation is crucial to ensure that the program meets the necessary standards of quality and legitimacy. Look for programs that are accredited by recognized accrediting bodies in the field of counseling or psychology. The curriculum should be comprehensive, covering a wide range of topics related to addiction counseling, such as substance abuse treatment, behavioral therapies, assessment and diagnosis, and ethical considerations. It is important to evaluate the qualifications and expertise of the faculty members, ensuring that they have significant experience and knowledge in the field of addiction counseling.

Research opportunities and resources are valuable for doctoral students, so consider programs that offer access to research facilities, scholarly journals, and collaboration opportunities. Additionally, flexibility in scheduling and online learning platforms that provide interactive discussions and support services are important aspects to consider, as they contribute to a positive learning experience. Finally, it can be beneficial to look for programs that offer practical training experiences, such as internships or supervised clinical placements, which provide hands-on experience in addiction counseling settings. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when selecting an online doctorate program in addiction counseling.

Admissions Requirements for a Doctorate in Addiction Counseling

Most schools have admission requirements that are slightly different from each other, though there are also many similarities. Here are some of the common requirements:

  • An application, and possibly, a fee
  • GRE or GMAT scores that meet or exceed a minimum level (not all universities demand these)
  • A suitable GPA from prior studies
  • A master’s degree in psychology or a closely-related field
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Relevant professional experience

Just as universities have requirements for you, there are certain things you should require of them. Chief among these is accreditation. In many situations, such as seeking work, your diploma is only useful if it came from an accredited program.

List of Addictions Counseling Doctorate Degree Programs

Find an online or campus-based doctorate program in addiction counseling today – our state-by-state listings make it easy to find a great program near you.

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Tara Moretti, LMHC
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