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Schools That Offer Masters Programs in Chemical Dependency

by Dr. Kelly S. Meier

If you are interested in working as a counselor and are looking for ways to expand your job opportunities, certification in chemical dependency or addictions counseling may be a good option. Graduate programs are available across the country and are either part of a counseling degree or an add-on certificate. Admission requirements vary, but they usually include a bachelor’s degree, professional or supervised volunteer experience, a statement of purpose, a resume and professional references. Check the websites of colleges near you, as well as the sampling of programs listed below.

West

Portland State University offers a graduate certificate that prepares mental health professionals to work in addictions counseling. This program can be taken as a certificate or as an emphasis in a graduate degree program. The coursework involved meets the specifications of accreditation for professional associations, such as the Association for Addiction Professionals. Students progress through the program with a cohort of peers and learn about the basics of treatment, clinical skills and best practices in addictions counseling. Current healthcare professionals, such as nurses, psychologists and social workers, enroll in this six-semester program as continuing education or to advance in their field.

East

The University of Southern Maine houses a Master of Science in counseling that leads to licensure in alcohol and drug counseling. In addition to coursework required for a graduate mental health counseling degree, students take five specific courses, including chemical dependency, crisis intervention, couple and family counseling and psychopharmacology. A capstone to the program is the completion of a 600-hour internship in a substance abuse treatment center. Successful completion leads to certification as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

Midwest

The University of South Dakota offers a Master of Arts in addiction studies to prepare professionals interested in working with chemical dependency issues. The flexibility of choosing an online or traditional degree program allows students from across the country to enroll. This program is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission and prepares students to be certified in South Dakota. Check with your state for certification standards related to the requirements of this degree. This 32-credit program is considered to be an advanced track in counseling and includes courses such as public policy and addiction, research methods in addiction, and wellness, recovery and maintenance.

Online

Capella University has an online-only option for graduate studies in addiction counseling. Classwork is 10 weeks in duration and prepares students to teach or to become family therapists or residential counselors. Students learn practical theories about treating mental health illnesses and addictions. In addition, 20 quarter credits of work are done in a clinical setting as a capstone to the online education requirements. Students must spend 12 days in residency education to connect theoretical and practical learning components. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to take the national counseling exam.

About the Author

Dr. Kelly S. Meier is a professor and college administrator for a large public institution in Minnesota. She received her undergraduate degree from Western Illinois University and her master's degree and doctorate from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has published more than 15 books on education, group development and diversity.

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