Graduate School: Online Master’s Degree

How does our CACREP-accredited online master’s program prepare you to change lives and spread the hope of recovery? Read on to learn about the program and join the next generation of addiction counselors.
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Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

If you're considering an addiction counseling degree or you’re passionate about becoming an addiction counselor or developing your career in the field of addiction studies, you should consider our CACREP-accredited online Master's in Counseling, Specialty: Addiction Counseling. 

With an online addiction counseling degree from the accredited Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School, you'll be better prepared to make significant and immediate impacts in the field of addiction studies where mental health counseling is becoming more and more important, and where proficient addiction counselors are always desperately needed. Read on to learn about our 60-credit hour online master's degree and all of its advantages.

Integrated Treatment for Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Today, working in addiction counseling requires a proficiency in the management and coordination of a patient's mental health treatment. Our Master's in Counseling, Specialty: Addiction Counseling online program is the best possible preparation for the current best practices in treating substance abuse.

With a dual focus on substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders, students will be well prepared for the mental health work that often intersects with addiction counseling.

Your coursework will include evidence-based addiction treatment approaches and clinical training that you might expect to see in a mental health counseling program, such as: 

  • Differential diagnosis 

  • Trauma-informed treatment

  • Complicating medical issues

  • Psychopharmacology

  • Recovery management 

The focus in mental health counseling will prepare you to treat the whole person, increasing the likelihood of sustained and happy recovery.

Dynamic Coursework and Student Body

For new and experienced substance abuse counselors, the benefits are the same: you can do your coursework wherever, whenever and however you please.

As an online student, you join a diverse and passionate learning cohort from across the country. You will hear and engage with different perspectives and ideas regarding addiction treatment, mental health counseling and addiction studies at large. This diversity in thought will improve your ability to relate with and guide each patient through their substance use treatment and recovery. 

You can also join one of our student organizations, committed to student success and community vibrancy. 

Roadmap to Degree Completion: Part-Time and Full-Time Enrollment

If you enroll in our online addiction counseling degree on a full-time basis, you will take up to four classes each semester across six semesters, with practicum hours starting in the third semester. As a part-time student, you will likely complete the 60-credit hour requirement by taking up to two courses per semester over a 10-semester time period, with practicum hours starting in the sixth semester. 

View our full-time and part-time online program course and elective options (pdf). 

Overview: Online Master’s Program

  • 60-credit hour accredited graduate degree program
  • Flexibility to complete coursework according to your schedule
  • Full-time 24-month degree program with part-time options available 
  • Develop and hone your skills and knowledge in the addiction counseling field with direct patient clinical interaction
  • Three convenient start dates each year: January, May and September
  • Financial aid, scholarships and veterans' benefits available to those who qualify
  • Online orientation course introduces various learning activities and prepares new students for success as online learners 
  • Two on-campus residencies combine classroom instruction and interactive learning
  • Online master's program designed to meet a broad array of state standards for licensure. The curriculum meets academic licensure requirements for Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) credentials in Minnesota.
  • Our Master of Arts in Counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  Graduating from a CACREP-accredited program does not guarantee licensure. However, CACREP standards typically meet minimum educational and experiential requirements for state licensure, and some states require graduation from a CACREP-accredited program in order to be eligible for licensure. Learn more about CACREP Accreditation.
  • Some students who do not hold bachelor degrees may be eligible to enter the program through an Alternative Admissions Pathway. We recommend that you review our admission requirements before submitting your application. 

Student Outcomes for the Master's in Counseling, Specialty: Addiction Counseling Online Program

  • 2022 graduates: 40
  • 2017-2022 pass rates on credentialing examinations (6 month post-graduation): n=45/45 = 100%* 
  • completion rates** 
  • 2017-2022 job placement rates: n=77/85 = 90.6%*** 

*Among the student respondents who have taken the exam, what % passed the first time? 

**Graduate Rates: This gives the percentage of first-time, full- and part-time students enrolled (day 8) in a given fall semester who graduate from the graduate school within specific time periods. 

***Employed at six month post-graduation. What is the % of student respondents seeking employment were gainfully employed at the time of survey?

Start your application today or contact us to speak with an admissions specialist.

Online Program and Licensing Requirements

On-Campus Residencies

Our online master's students participate in two on-campus residency experiences at our location in Center City, Minnesota. Each on-campus visit lasts four days for a total of eight days. The residencies provide classroom instruction and interactive learning activities. The on-campus engagement will also grant the opportunity for students to meet their peers and professors face-to-face, and hear from leaders in-person at Hazelden Betty Ford.

These on-campus residencies are not clinical experiences and do not satisfy clinical internship requirements for licensure in substance abuse counseling. 

Clinical and Internship Requirements

Online master's degree students will complete 900 hours of clinical or internship experiences over the course of their study. Internships are the most effective way for you to develop your clinical skills. By working under the supervision of a practicing counselor, you will receive expert guidance on how to apply what you are learning in class to real-life situations with clients. If you are located near one of Hazelden Betty Ford's treatment facilities, you may have the option to complete your internship with Hazelden Betty Ford counselors. No matter where you study, our faculty advisors will work with you to find an internship opportunity that best supports your academic and professional goals.

Counseling Program Licensure Information by State

With the completion of our online master's degree program, you may begin seeking certification and licensure in Minnesota as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). 

Learning outcomes for our online addiction counseling degree are based on state and national criteria for licensure and certification as an alcohol and drug counselor and/or mental health professional. Licensing and certification requirements vary from state to state. It is your responsibility as a counseling program student to check the licensing and certification requirements for your respective state.

How to Be Successful in an Online Program for Addiction Studies

Many factors contribute to the successful completion of an online addiction counseling degree. Below are seven important considerations for distance learners. Pay close attention to each of these skills to ensure your success in the Master's in Addiction Counseling: Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders program.

Time Management and Organizational Skills

Relative to in-person and traditional counseling programs, online master's programs are equally demanding. Both online and traditional counseling programs involve focused time management throughout the week. As an online student, you will also want to create a dedicated study space where you can focus on your coursework. 

Additionally, online students need to multitask in order to organize and track the many details associated with course requirements and participation. Successful online students are proactive in creating the necessary space and time to study.

Responsibility and Focus of Control

As a graduate student entering into a new counseling program, there may be times when you will need to conduct your own research or self-direct your study in order to fill any learning gaps. You have control over your learning. By recognizing that, you can transition from a grade-based definition of success to a learning-focused approach. Taking control of your learning will contribute greatly to your success as an online graduate student and, subsequently, as a substance abuse counselor.

Initiative and Help-Seeking

Each graduate-level course will have its own cadence and specifics related to how and when assignments and learning activities are submitted. Self-reliance is vital: carefully check your course materials and ask clarifying questions about assignments, activities or requirements.

Engagement and Curiosity

The fields of substance use and behavioral health treatment rely on great communication. So does our online counseling program. The intensive discussion and peer interaction will help you, as an online student, to engage with course content and activities, process reading materials and lecture topics, and deepen your understanding.

Successful online students readily engage with peers in the learning process and value the opportunity to gain new perspectives when others share viewpoints that differ from your own. 


Texts, discussions, and written assignments are important components of the coursework for online addiction counseling programs. Effective written communication is essential in your graduate studies and in your future work as an addiction counselor.

In addition to their effective writing, successful online students will also continually develop their communication skills through their interactions with peers, patients and professors. They will constantly grow in their professionalism in the addiction counseling field.

Technology and Problem-Solving 

Online courses leverage technology that serves a greater educational purpose. All online students must have internet access and current technology. They are also comfortable and literate with their technology: creating documents, engaging in online conversations and finding trustworthy information.

Motivation and Shared Vision

Pursuing an online addiction counseling degree requires your ongoing commitment. You must be motivated for your career in addiction counseling. Your sense of purpose will help you withstand the challenges of graduate-level coursework. Sharing your vision about a career in addiction counseling with those who can support you in achieving your goals (family members, friends, co-workers) will help you stay focused and enthused in your studies.

Still unsure whether an online degree program is the right format for you? Take the brief assessment below  to gain more insight into your potential as an online learner. 

Online Orientation Course

Completion of an online orientation course is designed to engage our graduate students in learning activities that equip them to succeed as online learners. Through the course, students will also be introduced to key policies and procedures associated with life as a student in the Graduate School.

The course lasts one month and is structured into four weeklong units. Each unit will have learning activities and assignments to be completed and submitted for feedback. The intent of all assignments is to help a student use the online tools (so plenty of assistance is available!) and get acclimated to life as an online student.

In this course, prospective students will:

  • Familiarize themselves with the Graduate School’s history, mission, vision and values 
  • Successfully utilize core functions of a learning management system such as discussion forums, quizzes, submitting assignments and checking grades
  • Demonstrate the ability to access and utilize educational technologies used in the program such as streamed media, VoiceThread, as well as video conferencing
  • Explore online resources that will assist them in writing and researching at the graduate level
  • Find key student-related policies and procedures within the Graduate School's materials and demonstrate their ability to apply these to relevant scenarios 
  • Get introduced to the Community of Inquiry Framework and consider their roles as adult learners in a learning community—building a community of learning within their cohort.
  • Reflect on their goals for the program and factors that will contribute to their success as online learners
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Are You Ready for Online Learning?

This self-assessment is designed to provide you, as a prospective graduate student, with a general idea of your readiness to succeed in an online learning program. The questionnaire focuses on four areas of readiness: technical experience, study habits, learning style and communication skills.

While consistent high scores do not assure success in an online learning program, consistent low scores are likewise not meant to discourage you.

Instead, your results in this self-assessment serve as a benchmark of your current readiness to succeed in an online program and identify skills that can help maximize that success.

The self-assessment should not be the sole determinant of your decision to pursue online education.

Point Scale

Award yourself the following points when answering individual questions in each of the four sections of the questionnaire below, and then compare that section’s total points to the rubric:

Your Answer                    Points

Always/Often                  2 points

Sometimes                        1 point

Rarely/Not at all             0 points

Technical Abilities

  1. I am comfortable using a computer and working with various applications.
  2. I have regular access to the Internet.
  3. I am able to use web browsers to research information.
  4. I can confidently write and format documents using a word processing program.
  5. I use technology (e.g., email) to communicate.
  6. I have used Internet chat programs.
  7. I can download and install programs onto my computer.

Technical Abilities Scoring – Total Score

Point Total       Outcome

10-14 points     You appear technically proficient for online learning

7-9 points        You know quite a bit about technology but could sharpen your abilities for online learning

0-6 points        Your technical abilities appear below the norm for a first-time online learner

Study Habits

  1. I am comfortable working and learning independently.
  2. I strive to do well in my coursework.
  3. I do not procrastinate about beginning my coursework.
  4. I turn in assignments on time without reminders.
  5. I take notes on my text readings or from viewing audio or video clips.
  6. I persevere when confronted with challenges.
  7. I enjoy interacting with fellow classmates either individually or in group projects.

Study Habits Scoring – Total Score

Point Total          Outcome

10-14 points        You appear to have good study habits for success in online learning

7-9 points           You have basic study habits but could sharpen them for successful online learning

0-6 points           Your study habits appear below the norm of successful online learners

Communication Skills

  1. I am comfortable communicating with others in writing.
  2. I am confident with my writing skills.
  3. I have used email to contact an instructor.
  4. I have used electronic methods to communicate with other students for a group project.
  5. I have participated in threaded, asynchronous discussions.
  6. I am very comfortable with online communications and am comfortable in an online environment.
  7. Reading and writing college-level English is easy for me.

Communication Skills Scoring – Total Score

Point Total       Outcome

10-14 points      Your communication skills appear well suited for success with online learning

7-9 points         Your communication skills could be sharpened for success in online learning

0-6 points        Your communication skills appear below the norm of successful online learners

Learning Styles

  1. I prefer to see visual aids after reading written information.
  2. I prefer working in a group environment.
  3. I prefer learning about an interesting topic by having it explained rather than reading about it.
  4. I do best in a class when I am able to listen to lectures and/or tapes.
  5. I am better following oral instructions than written instructions.
  6. I enjoy raising my hand in class to answer questions or respond to discussions.

Learning Styles Scoring (note the inverse scale) – Total Score

Point Total       Outcome

0-5 points        Your learning style appears highly conducive to online learning

6-9 points        Your learning style appears adequately aligned with what can be expected from the experience of online learning

10-12 points     Your learning style may be better aligned for styles of learning other than online learning

A note about learning style: Your score pertaining to learning styles is indicative of your preferred method of learning (visual, auditory, interpersonal, etc.). While there is no right or wrong way to learn, some styles are more conducive to what can be expected from online learning experiences.

*This survey was developed by Lesley University and is used with their permission (July 2014).

What if my Readiness Scores Are Consistently Low?

Low scores in the readiness survey may not indicate that you are not suited for online learning. Rather, low scores may suggest that you are not yet prepared for online learning.

What Can I Do if I Scored Low in One or More Area?

Contact our Admissions Office or call 1-866-752-0458 to discuss your results and your educational objectives. Keep in mind that the questionnaire is intended to merely benchmark your present technical abilities and readiness skills.