Introducing Alternative Admission Pathways opportunity for future substance use and mental health counselors

Learn About Hazelden Betty Ford

Center City, Minn. (April 25, 2023) – While the number of people experiencing substance use and other mental health issues continues to grow, the workforce available to meet those needs has struggled to keep pace. In response, the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School has introduced a pilot Alternative Admission Pathways opportunity for prospective students who do not have a bachelor's degree.

This equity-based approach is aimed at expanding opportunities for those who seek to work, or are already working, in the treatment field—including many with a personal connection to addiction and recovery—and who are prepared for graduate school success despite not having a traditional four-year undergraduate degree. By expanding access to master's level opportunities, the school also hopes to attract greater diversity of professionals into this area of health care to better reflect the diversity of people who need help. Research has shown that culturally specific care provided by people with similar identities of those seeking treatment improves patient satisfaction, retention, and engagement.1

"The United States has an urgent need for well-trained, educated, caring substance use and mental health professionals," said Kevin Doyle, EdD, president of the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School. "Interest is there—a full two-thirds of our inquiries are from people who do not have a bachelor's degree. Even with decades of experience, many who don't have access to a master's degree are held back from professional growth, earnings potential and opportunities to ascend into leadership roles and—most importantly—help save more lives. We want to open the doors wider for their future growth, as well as expand and diversify the workforce."

The Alternative Admission Pathways pilot is an innovative and pioneering approach to meeting the national shortage of addiction and recovery professionals.

"The Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School is experienced in serving non-traditional students. Our current average student age is in the mid-40s, and many have not been in school for years," said Dr. Doyle. "We know how to provide the support that such students require—and we are well-positioned to maintain our academic rigor and ensure the success of these prospective students."

Application deadlines for the fall 2023 semester via Alternative Admission Pathways are due July 13 for the On-Campus Master's Program and Aug. 11 for the Online Master's Program.

Contact the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School admissions team with any questions or for more information at

Applicants considering admission via an alternative pathway may be prohibited from licensure/certification in some states if a bachelor's degree is required in that state. The Graduate School recommends that applicants conduct their own research by contacting their respective licensing boards. Graduate School staff will also serve as resources regarding licensure/certification questions.

Federal financial aid is available to students who have completed the equivalent of three academic years of full-time study.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School

The Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies educates future leaders in addiction counseling who provide evidence-based integrated care for substance use and co-occurring disorders. We have been training addiction counselors longer than any other institution in the U.S. and aim to set the international standard for addiction counselor education, practice and leadership.

1. Meyer, O. L., & Zane, N. (2013). THE INFLUENCE OF RACE AND ETHNICITY IN CLIENTS' EXPERIENCES OF MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT. Journal of community psychology, 41(7), 884–901.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout health care. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction.