10 Most Affordable Master’s in Addiction and Recovery

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Updated August 7, 2020

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Online master's in addictions and recovery therapy programs can fulfill state licensing for caring practitioners craving opportunities to remedy life-threatening abuse of illicit substances. The UN's World Drug Report states that just one in six of the 29 million adults who are victims of chemical dependency disorders receive treatment. Master's in addictions and recovery online have the most flexible formats for learning the counseling theories to defeat the most abused drugs: nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, painkillers, cocaine, and heroin. Demand is high with the Centers for Disease Control reporting 42,249 U.S. deaths in 2016 from a worsening opioid crisis. Alcoholism is another treatment priority affecting 16.6 million Americans and contributing to 10,265 drunk driving casualties yearly according to Motor Vehicle Safety. Addiction workers can help address the 30 percent rise in ER overdose visits from 2017 by guiding users through detox, withdrawal, and abstinence to lifelong sobriety.

Top 10 Most Affordable Master's in Addiction and Recovery

#1 University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD
#2 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#3 Governors State University University Park, IL
#4 Washburn University Topeka, KS
#5 Purdue University Global Augusta, ME
#6 Union College Barbourville, KY
#7 Grand Canyon University Phoenix, AZ
#8 Mid-America Christian University Oklahoma City, OK
#9 Ottawa University Ottawa , KS
#10 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA


The Grad School Hub staff strives to improve chemical dependency workers' prognosis for a healthy degree ROI by prescribing a list of cheap addictions and recovery masters online. We started by inputting the search terms "substance abuse/addiction counseling" into the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator. We visited each of the 35 colleges' websites to sort the online master's from the advanced certificates. Our team also consulted Google to locate newer online programs not yet indexed by the directory. Next, we evaluated academic quality by double checking each potential university's regional accreditation on the U.S. Education Department database. Our last step was to record the average in-state graduate tuition, excluding fees, updated for 2017-18. These are the 10 least expensive online master's in addictions and recovery therapy billing under $12,000.

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These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Ranking Low-cost Online Addictions and Recovery Master's

  1. University of South Dakota

    Vermillion, SD



    Recognizing 170 clubs, including the Coalition of Addiction Students, the University of South Dakota is a public, big-time research MVFC member opened in 1862 that's budgeting $147 million to welcome 2,538 post-grad Coyotes into 75 programs online or at the 274-acre Missouri River campus. USD was chosen America's 370th best college on the Social Mobility Index, the 200th top university in Washington Monthly, and 431st best value by Money. Adhering to the Mount Rushmore State's BAPP Standards Manual, the School of Health Sciences draws on 40 years of excellence to award the Master of Arts in Addiction Studies Online via D2L Brightspace. The 33-45 credit curriculum overseen by Dr. Francis Zavadil has funds like the Faithe Family Scholarship to afford NASAC-accredited courses from Case Management to Psychopathology plus 500+ internship hours.

  2. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Highly regarded for the first Center for Digital Wellness to curb technology addictions, Liberty University is a nonprofit, conservative Mid-Atlantic Christian school in central Virginia that's seen enrollment hit 112,984 Flames online via Blackboard since its 1971 founding for annual revenue of $799 million. Liberty is deemed America's 242nd best research university in Forbes, top evangelical college on Newsmax, and 35th best study abroad school by IIE. Headed by Dr. Ron Hawkins, the SACS-accredited School of Behavioral Sciences created the Online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling for LSATP licensing. The 48-credit, non-thesis program utilizes Theravive to arrange 17-week internships in 50 states after courses in Clinical Diagnosis, Spiritual Counseling, and Acute Stress & Trauma, among others.

  3. Governors State University

    University Park, IL



    Hosting its 6th Annual Recovery Walk in September 2018, Governors State University is a public, civic-engaged AASCU member approaching its 50th anniversary that's endowed for $2 million to educate 2,546 post-grad Jaguars in 31 programs in the Chicagoland and online via Blackboard. Governors is called America's 227th hardest college on Niche, 396th best health sciences institution by College Factual, and 56th best value on WalletHub. Offering an optional Mindfulness in Helping Professions Certificate, the College of Health & Human Services presents the Master of Health Science in Addiction Studies Online. The two-year, NASAC-accredited major chaired by Dr. Cheryl Mejta blends courses like Screening Assessment and Family Counseling with a 600-hour advanced clinical internship.

  4. Washburn University

    Topeka, KS



    Endowed for $158.02 million, Washburn University is an independently governed, coeducational MIAA institution established as Lincoln College in 1865 that's now hosting 6,973 Ichabods at its 160-acre Shawnee County campus in Sperling's 197th best city and on Desire2Learn. Washburn is recognized for America's 217th highest graduation rate in Washington Monthly, 457th best average salary at $59,800 on PayScale, and sixth best counseling buy by College Values Online. The School of Applied Studies produces Kansas Licensed Masters Addiction Counselors via the Online Master of Arts in Human Services/Addictions Counseling. Administered by Dr. Kayla Waters, the 36-credit, two-year program arranges convenient practica between courses like Individual Counseling Methods and Recovery Services.

  5. Purdue University Global

    Augusta, ME



    Transitioning to Purdue University Global in 2018, Kaplan University-Augusta is Maine's regional branch off Interstate 95 of the newly nonprofit distance learning giant that's evolved since 1937 to instruct 29,000 adults in classes averaging 24 online. Kaplan was congratulated for America's 181st best master's graduation rate in Washington Monthly, 199th most campus safety on Niche, and fourth best online psychology education by TheBestColleges.org. Starting monthly, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences delivers the Master of Science in Psychology with the NASAC-accredited Addictions Concentration Online in 33 months. Managed by Dr. Christina Migliara, the 75-unit, asynchronous program offers a thesis or comprehensive exam track after courses like Psychopharmacology.

  6. Union College

    Barbourville, KY



    Linked to 2,568 LinkedIn alumni like Phillip Allen Sharp and Flem D. Sampson, Union College is a private, close-knit Methodist CIC member founded in 1879 that's enrolling 1,203 Bulldogs from 35 states on Moodle and at the 20-building Appalachia campus. Union was judged America's 84th safest college on Niche, 72nd best religiously affiliated school by College Factual, and 446th best master's institution in Washington Monthly. The SACS-accredited Division of Graduate & Online Studies features an Online Master of Science in Substance Abuse (MSSA) with selective 69 percent admission. Coordinated by Dr. David Williams, the 60-credit curriculum offers courses like Developmental Psychology, Relapse Recovery, and Behavioral Neuroscience with 600 fieldwork hours and the COMP exam.

  7. Grand Canyon University

    Phoenix, AZ



    Teaching 74,506 Antelopes with 4,535 faculty, Grand Canyon University is a private, Southern Baptist liberal arts WAC member returned to nonprofit status in 2018 that has 200+ majors online or face-to-face in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Scottsdale, and Sun City. GCU was applauded for America's 215th best value on WalletHub, 312th highest community service participation in Washington Monthly, and fifth top e-school by Fortune. Accredited by the NASAC through 2023, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences led by Dr. Sherman Elliott awards the Master of Science in Addiction Counseling Online. The 36-credit, non-thesis curriculum immerses students with minimum 2.8 GPAs into 750 fieldwork hours with courses like Adolescent Chemical Dependency and Group Counseling Theory.

  8. Mid-America Christian University

    Oklahoma City, OK



    Occupying a 65-acre "Big Friendly" campus with eLearning on D2L Brightspace, Mid-America Christian University is a private, nonprofit Biblical liberal arts school established in 1953 that's inspiring 2,558 Evangels to "Dream Bigger, Do Greater" in 25 majors. MACU was named America's 154th most conservative college on Niche, 220th most popular health professions school by College Factual, and 371st top master's institution in Washington Monthly. The Adult & Graduate Division has an accelerated, 2.5-year format for the CACREP-accredited Online M.S. in Counseling with an Addiction and Substance Abuse Emphasis. Chaired by Dr. Carol Armstrong, the 60-unit, values-oriented curriculum includes a 600-hour internship after courses like Multicultural Treatment Planning and Human Development.

  9. Ottawa University

    Ottawa , KS



    First envisioned at the 1860 Baptist State Convention in Atchison, Ottawa University is a private, nonprofit Christian KCAC school endowed for $14.3 million that's devoted to "Veritas Vos Liberabit" when teaching 1,260 Braves online via Blackboard or in Ottawa, Overland Park, Phoenix, and Brookfield. OU is crowned America's 190th hardest college on Niche, 118th best baccalaureate university in Washington Monthly, and 24th smartest choice by SuperScholar. The School of Arts & Sciences headed by Dr. Karen Ohnesorge started a NASAC-accredited Addiction Counseling Concentration for the Master of Arts in Counseling Online. Integrating 900+ practicum hours, the five-term program satisfies Arizona or Wisconsin licensure after online courses from Addictions Appraisal to Co-Occurring Disorders.

  10. Virginia Commonwealth University

    Richmond, VA



    Bestowed the IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation, Virginia Commonwealth University is a public, RU/VH Atlantic 10 member founded in 1968 that's educating 7,191 post-grad Rams from 101 nations in Richmond and via Blackboard. VCU is declared America's 72nd best medical school by the U.S. News & World Report, 147th top public college on Niche, and 219th best college on the Social Mobility Index. Launched in Fall 2017, the LCME-accredited School of Medicine's International Programme in Addiction Studies offers an Online Master of Science for cross-cultural exposure to substance abuse treatment methods. The 36-credit, full-time major directed by Dr. Mary Loos gifts $97,000 in ISAS Scholarships to afford English courses like Pharmacotherapies and Psychosocial Interventions.

Other Master's in Addictions and Recovery Online Degree Offerings

Capella University

Master of Science in Addiction Studies Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,365 per year

Carlow University

Online Professional Counseling (MS) Addictions Concentration

Average Graduate Tuition: $16,360 per year

Nova Southeastern University

M.S. in Counseling – Substance Abuse Counseling Concentration Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $18,932 per year

Prescott College

Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.S.) – Addiction Emphasis

Average Graduate Tuition: $20,280 per year

Monmouth University

Master of Arts in Addiction Studies Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $25,124 per year

Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies

Online Master's in Addiction Studies: Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders

Average Graduate Tuition: $33,132 per year

Certificates in Addictions and Recovery Also Available Online

Montana State University

Addiction Counseling Graduate Certificate Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $4,941 per year

Winona State University

Online Addiction Counseling Certificate Program (ACCP)

Average Graduate Tuition: $6,980 per year

Post University

Graduate Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $7,500 per year

Eastern Washington University

Online Master's Certificate in Addiction Studies

Average Graduate Tuition: $11,192 per year

California University of Pennsylvania

Addictive Disorders Counseling Graduate Certificate Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,000 per year

Western Michigan University

Online Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,310 per year

Union Institute & University

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling Graduate Certificate Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,652 per year

University of Providence

Online Addictions Counseling Certificate Program

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,670 per year

You may also like: 10 Most Affordable Doctorate in Behavioral Psychology Online

Which Jobs Open for Master's in Addictions and Recovery Online Graduates?

Finishing an online master's in addictions and recovery therapy in two to five years would qualify altruistic, resilient post-grads for most jobs rescuing others from the powerful grips of drugs. Perhaps the only Ph.D. careers graduates are ineligible for are psychiatrist, university professor, rehab physician, and medical scientist. Addictions are pervasive disorders, so in-depth chemical dependency knowledge aids jobs in various disciplines like family therapy, case management, nursing, behavioral health, probation, vocational rehabilitation, and education. Adding NCCAP credentials like Certified Addiction Counselor, Nicotine Dependence Specialist, and Adolescent Addiction Counselor can help specialize with an initial application fee of $235. The AIHCP also provides the Certified Substance Abuse Practitioner distinction with 215+ continuing education credits earned every four years. Let's review four popular job descriptions where addictions and recovery master's online study is viewed favorably.

Substance Abuse Counselor- Recognized for the 10th best social service job by the U.S. News & World Report, substance abuse counselors are guiding lights who place addicts on the road to recovery with personalized therapeutic care. Online addictions and recovery masters help counselors assess mental health, identify co-occurring disorders, outline treatment goals, follow 12-step programs, teach coping mechanisms, and nurture family support.

Addictions Social Worker- Earning a master's in addictions and recovery online after LBSW licensure could lead social workers to Forbes‘ $35 billion addiction treatment field where weaning off alcohol or drug dependence is principal. Besides counseling, they'll connect clients to rehab, establish support groups, refer community resources, address personal issues, plan prevention outreach, advocate for drug-related policies, and arrange job training.

Recovery Coach- The National Institute on Drug Abuse places the relapse rate at 40 to 60 percent, so online master's in addictions and recovery therapy graduates may specialize in aftercare that keeps patients sober. Recovery coaches facilitate rehab transitions, create wellness plans, refer social assistance, resolve abstinence barriers, model life skills, recognize relapse symptoms, make home visits, and monitor long-term progress.

Drug Rehab Administrator- The 14,500 substance abuse facilities counted by American Addiction Centers each need senior-level executive teams to direct the delivery of efficient patient care from five to 90 days or longer. Drug rehab administrators with addictions and recovery master's online degrees will develop operational policies, recruit clinicians, budget finances, analyze quality metrics, handle regulatory affairs, and report to governing boards.

What is the Salary Potential for an Addictions and Recovery Master's Online?

Finding cheap addictions and recovery master's online bargains is smart because this modestly paid field often compensates less than the average loan debt of $56,661 published on Business Insider. Although the Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed funding in March 2017 to raise mental health funding by $30.2 million, wages have hardly risen. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 91,040 substance abuse counselors make a mean yearly salary of $44,160, or $21.23 per hour. Mental health therapists snag average pay of $46,050. Clinical social workers bring home median wages of $53,760. Rehabilitation technicians earn just $38,740 on average. Psychologists boast higher pay of $75,230 each year. On Salary.com, the best-paid addictions job goes to rehabilitation directors at $127,552. Other high averages were $115,584 for substance abuse center managers, $99,704 for chemical dependency directors, $101,082 for clinical nurse specialists, and $75,708 for case managers.

How are Hiring Prospects For Online Addictions and Recovery Master's Degrees?

Demand for addictions and recovery masters online graduates is rising along with illicit drug use, which spiked 8.3 percent to 24.6 million from 2002 to 2013 according to the National Institutes of Health. The NACE Class of 2016 survey found that 89 percent of master's students had positive employment outcomes in six months. That's especially true in substance abuse counseling where the U.S. Department of Labor projects faster-than-average 23 percent growth of 23,800 jobs through 2026. The hiring of family therapists will jump by 23 percent for 51,200 total employment. Addictions social workers can expect a 19 percent increase this decade. Other 10-year outlooks are 14 percent for psychologists, 16 percent for health educators, 13 percent for rehabilitation technicians, and 20 percent for clinical services administrators. Sober Nation noted Vermont, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, Alaska, and Rhode Island as the most addicted states where jobs will abound. Online master's in addictions and recovery therapy degrees give location flexibility for nurturing one's calling to battle people's dependencies anywhere.

Additional Sources:

World Drug Report

Centers for Disease Control

Motor Vehicle Safety

College Navigator

This concludes our list of the 10 most affordable online master's in addictions and recovery therapy.

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GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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