Updated December 13, 2022

Are you looking for a career in a dynamic field that offers plenty of job opportunities? Do you enjoy helping people and want a job that's rewarding? If so, then a career in addiction and substance abuse might be the perfect choice for you.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and ...

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Are you looking for a career in a dynamic field that offers plenty of job opportunities? Do you enjoy helping people and want a job that's rewarding? If so, then a career in addiction and substance abuse might be the perfect choice for you. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and 2026, job opportunities for substance abuse and mental health specialists may grow by 23 percent. This growth is much faster than other occupations and is due to the increased demand for counseling as states begin to seek treatment for substance abuse addicts, rather than relying on jail time. Sentences often require that substance abuse addicts seek treatment, which increases the need for adequate treatment facilities and counselors.

To work as an addiction or substance abuse counselor, you will often need a certification or license, but these 20 Best Bachelor's in Addiction/Substance Abuse prepare you well for any required exams. Most of these programs fulfill the entire classroom education requirement for their state's certification or licensure, and some also give you the chance to complete the required internship hours. If you plan to be licensed or certified in another state, then you will need to verify that the program also meets your own state's requirements. With a license or certification, you can qualify to work in many different settings, from hospitals to rehabilitation centers to mental health facilities and more.

Selection Criteria

Best Value Schools publishes college degree rankings with the belief of how one's higher education should be, both, affordable and an investment of continued value for the students who pursue them. The staff of BVS collects data from reputable sources in order to calculate Net Price and the short and long-term value of every ranked degree. Collected data is simplified into weighted categories before scoring and then scaled through a BVS Score up to 100. The weighted categories are:

  • Degree Investment Return (25%)
  • Student & Alumni Evaluation (25%)
  • Cost Value (25%)
  • Matriculation (10%)
  • Academic Success (15%)

No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are numerous resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself!

Here are the 20 Best Bachelor's in Addiction & Substance Abuse!

1. University of Cincinnati - Cincinnati, OH

Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling


The University of Cincinnati's Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling prepares students for careers working with addicted persons, and program graduates will also have all licensure requirements under the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board guidelines. During the program, students have the opportunity to participate in clinical experiences, giving them valuable on-the-job experience. Program graduates go on to work in a variety of fields, including social work, mental health professions, guidance counseling, nursing, and more.

This degree program is available to both on-campus students and to online students. Distance learning students complete all of the coursework online with no on-campus requirements. Students who enroll in this program will join the nearly 46,000 students currently enrolled at UC. Founded in 1819, UC is also home to more than 300,000 living alumni and has been recognized as one of the best national universities by The U.S. News & World Report.

Net Price: $21,050
Score: 100

2. Northwestern State University of Louisiana - Natchitoches, LA

Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies


At the Northwestern State University of Louisiana, students may pursue a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies degree program. This program focuses on topics including the human mind, addictive behaviors, and advancements in addiction counseling in order to prepare students to work in human resources, communications positions, and more. During this program, students take courses in a variety of topics such as Special Populations, Dynamics of Group Counseling, Developmental Psychology, a seminar in alcoholism, and more.

Established in 1884, Northwestern State University has campuses in Alexandria, Leesville, Shreveport, and more. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees for many different fields, including allied health, education, engineering technology, mathematics, and more. Students can participate in over 100 student organizations, intercollegiate athletics, and Greek life on campus.

Net Price: $10,503
Score: 99.76

3. University of South Dakota - Vermillion, SD

Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies


The University of South Dakota's Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies degree program prepares students to provide counseling to individuals dealing with substance abuse. During the program, students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and upon graduation, students are eligible to receive addiction and prevention credentials from the South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals. The program consists of 30 credits of major coursework, six hours of specialization courses, and nine hours of elective courses.

Founded in 1862, USD is the oldest university in the state and consists of nine academic departments within its 274-acre campus. Of USD's 437 faculty, 74.1% hold the highest degree in their field, and students enjoy a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The university offers 198 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs. USD is home to 18 NCAA Division I athletic teams, and students can also choose from the university's 120 organizations and clubs. Eighty-six percent of freshman live on campus, and approximately 81% of undergraduates receive financial aid.

Net Price: $16,647
Score: 97.81

4. Indiana Wesleyan University - Marion, IN

Bachelor of Science with a Major in Addictions Counseling


At Indiana Wesleyan University, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science with a major in Addictions Counseling. This degree immerses students in substance abuse theory, research, and practice, and features both theoretical and experiential learning opportunities. During the program, students have the opportunity to participate in activities like local drug court research, volunteering at the Grace House for Recovery, and participating in an Urban Encounter experience. Program graduates can hold a variety of careers, including opportunities as mental health counselors, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, social and human service assistants, and more.

Founded in 1920, Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian institution. This private, non-profit university is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. Over 84,000 alumni have graduated from the university, and over 3,000 students attend the university each year. Indiana Wesleyan University is situated on a 320-acre campus and is home to NCAA Division II athletics teams. As of Fall 2017, the university had a 78.8% retention rate among first-time freshmen and bachelor's seeking undergraduate students.

Net Price: $20,008
Score: 97.46

5. St. Cloud State University - St. Cloud, MN

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Dependency


St. Cloud State University's Bachelor of Science in Chemical Dependency degree program prepares students to help others with alcohol, tobacco, drug and gambling addictions, as well as eating disorders in both public and private settings. The program includes courses that prepare students to apply for their Minnesota Licensed Addictions and Drug Counselor licensure, and program graduates often pursue graduate degrees in counseling or psychology. After completing this program, students are prepared to work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to treatment centers to community mental health centers.

St. Cloud State University was founded in 1869 and has an enrollment of over 14,000 students today. Students can choose from over 200 majors, minors, and pre-professional programs as well as 60 graduate degrees and two doctoral degrees. In addition to on-campus courses, St. Cloud State University offers hundreds of online courses each semester. Students can participate in over 200 clubs and organizations on the university's 100-acre campus. The university was included in Forbes' "America's Top Colleges" ranking.

Net Price: $13,684
Score: 93.41

6. University of Detroit Mercy - Detroit, MI

Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies


At the University of Detroit Mercy, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies degree. The program is intended for students who plan to pursue a graduate degree in counseling, clinical psychology, or social work. Students can study full-time or part-time and may access the program at the McNichols Campus or at the Macomb University Center in Clinton Township. The degree incorporates internship placements to allow students to apply their learnings in real-world settings. Students may receive placements in family counseling centers, hospitals, community mental health agencies, and more.

The University of Detroit Mercy was founded in 1877 by the Society of Jesus, and today it holds the distinction of being the largest Catholic university in the state. The university offers over 100 academic degrees and programs across its seven schools and colleges and is home to about 5,000 students. Students receive a quality education at the University of Detroit Mercy, where 89% of faculty hold Ph.D.s or terminal degrees in their fields. Ninety-two percent of undergraduates receive financial aid.

Net Price: $20,904
Score: 92.03

7. Minnesota State University, Mankato - Mankato, MN

Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Studies


Minnesota State University, Mankato's Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Studies prepares students to work as drug and alcohol professionals in many different settings, such as treatment centers, academic institutions, halfway houses, and more. Because of the high demand for drug and alcohol professionals, students are often hired after their internships. This program satisfies the academic coursework requirement if students should wish to pursue the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy's Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor credential. In completing this program, students will also be prepared to pursue their Board Certified Counselor credential through the Minnesota Certification Board.

Minnesota State University, Mankato was founded in 1868 and served an initial class of just 27 students. Today, the university serves over 15,000 students, including 1,100 international students who come from over 90 different countries. Over 80% of the university's full-time faculty have terminal degrees in their field, and the university is home to over 119,000 alumni. Students can choose from more than 130 programs of study across the university's six academic colleges. The campus offers more than 300 academic student groups as well as NCAA Division I and Division II athletic teams.

Net Price: $13,704
Score: 90.97

8. University of Central Arkansas - Conway, AR

Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies


At the University of Central Arkansas, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies degree program - the only such program offered in the state. This program prepares students who plan to enter an addiction health care setting, and graduates will be prepared to work in environments including schools, outpatient clinics, drug courts, governmental agencies, and more. This 47-credit-hour program encompasses courses such as Abnormal Psychology, First Aid, Group Counseling Skills, Prevention Practicum, and Administration of Health Programs.

Overall, the University of Central Arkansas educates over 11,000 students each year on its 356-acre campus. Students can choose from 159 certificates and degrees including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university's 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio means that students receive personalized attention from their instructors. The university also participates in NCAA Division I athletics with 7 men's and 9 women's sports teams.

Net Price: $14,005
Score: 90.07

9. University of St. Francis - Joliet, IL

Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling


The University of St. Francis offers a Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling degree program that prepares students for a variety of career options. Program graduates can pursue a master's degree in psychology, social work, criminal and social justice, or another related field. Additionally, this program qualifies as an Advanced Accredited Training Program, meaning that program graduates are prepared to take the Illinois Certification Board's certification exam to become Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselors. This program is the only B.A. in Substance Abuse Counseling currently offered within the state of Illinois.

The University of St. Francis opened in 1925 and is a Roman Catholic university with a foundation in the liberal arts. Nearly 4,000 students are enrolled at the university, with over 1,700 of them being on-campus students. Of the 96 full-time faculty, 71% have doctorates or terminal degrees in their field. Class size at the University of St. Francis averages just 14 students, allowing faculty to provide students with individualized feedback for a quality education. One hundred percent of incoming freshmen received some financial assistance, and the university offers 88 scholarships and grants to help students pay for college.

Net Price: $18,204
Score: 89.58

10. Minot State University - Minot, ND

Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies


At Minot State University, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies. During this degree program, students take core classes, psychology classes, and classes in other disciplines to provide a broad understanding of addiction counseling and treatment. Students will have the opportunity to pursue internships in inpatient hospitals and outpatient and residential addiction treatment centers. Students who complete a nine-month internship are eligible to take the North Dakota addiction counselor licensing examination. Students are also welcomed to join the university's Psychology & Addiction Studies Club.

Minot State University consists of four schools and colleges, including the College of Education & Health Sciences and the College of Arts & Sciences. Students can explore degrees in a wide range of fields, such as Criminal Justice, Communication Disorders, International Business, and Management. The university offers a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio that allows faculty to engage with students.

Net Price: $10,252
Score: 88.64

11. Metropolitan State University - Saint Paul, MN

Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Counseling


Metropolitan State University's Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Counseling program prepares students to take and pass the licensure examination to work as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. This program includes a practicum, and students have the ability to customize their degree by choosing electives in topics that interest them. If students already have a bachelor's degree, they can take a Post-Baccalaureate Licensure Track, preparing them to take the licensing exam without taking the full bachelor's degree program.

Founded in 1971, Metropolitan State University has campuses throughout Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn Park. Over 11,000 students were enrolled at the university in 2016-2017, and 91% of those students were undergraduates. The university grants bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in many different fields such as business administration, accounting, and psychology. The class of 2015 had an 82% licensure exam pass rate, and 57% of the class was employed one year after graduating.

Net Price: $13,954
Score: 85.4

12. Drexel University - Philadelphia, PA

Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Counseling


Drexel University's Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Counseling degree is intended for students who seek careers in the mental health and addiction treatment fields. The program is taught by faculty who have research and clinical practice experience within the region, and thanks to the Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions, students have access to interdisciplinary health care scenarios and learning environments. The curriculum incorporates more hands-on training than other undergraduate colleges provide, and co-operative employment experiences provide students with real-world application of the information that they're learning. Program graduates often find immediate employment in fields such as individual and group counseling and addictions counseling.

Drexel University opened in 1891 is now one of the 15 largest private universities in the country, and it is consistently ranked among the top 100 institutions in America. The university has three campuses in Philadelphia, as well as other regional sites and international partnerships in China and Israel. Drexel also offers online degree programs through Drexel Online. Over 24,000 students attend Drexel each year, where they can choose from 200 degree programs offered across the university's 15 schools and colleges.

Net Price: $40,977
Score: 85.39

13. Western New Mexico University - Silver City, NM

Bachelor of Science in Clinical Dependency Counseling


Western New Mexico University's Bachelor of Science in Clinical Dependency Counseling prepares students for careers in many different areas, including counseling and research. This 74-credit-hour program focuses largely on chemical dependency counseling, though students also take courses in psychology, sociology, and statistics. The program meets the educational requirements for a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor license in New Mexico, and in completing the program, students will have earned their required 300 practicum or internship hours. If students are not able to enroll in the bachelor's degree program but still have an interest in the field, the university also offers a minor in Chemical Dependency Counseling.

Founded in 1893, WNMU offers over 70 programs of study in a variety of fields. Over 3,500 students attend WNMU, where they attend on-campus programs but can also pursue bachelor's and master's degrees entirely online. The university is a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, and half of the undergraduates at WNMU are Hispanic. The diverse student body represents 18 countries. At WNMU, classes may be small, averaging 18 students in size, but the 83-acre campus is plenty spacious. Art and galleries are highly popular in Silver City, and 3.3 million National Forest acres give students a way to escape the city and enjoy activities like hiking, backpacking, and fishing.

Net Price: $12,500
Score: 83.5

14. Ohio Christian University - Circleville, OH

Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling


At Ohio Christian University, students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling degree program to prepare for apprenticeships, entry-level positions, or graduate work. The program combines both biblical and professional disciplines, providing students with an understanding of human behavior and mental processes. This 120-credit-hour program incorporates courses in math, science, psychology, sociology, substance abuse, and more. It also includes a Resume 101, Dress and Etiquette Workshop, and Interviewing Workshop to give students the skills they need to seek professional employment.

Founded in 1948, Ohio Christian University was originally named the Circleville Bible College. The college was established to educate clergy but has since expanded to offer associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs in psychology, human services, and more. OCU offers undergraduate programs through its Circleville campus, but adult programs are available both online and through several campuses in Ohio and Georgia. Over 4,000 students are enrolled at OCU, and 500 students are residential undergraduates. OCU offers a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Net Price: $25,232
Score: 83.49

15. Alvernia University - Reading, PA

Bachelor of Arts in Addictions and Mental Health Treatment


At Alvernia University, the Bachelor of Arts in Addictions and Mental Health Treatment degree program prepares students for careers in counseling, case management, administration, and more. Coursework throughout this program features a practice-based emphasis that is also grounded in current theory, allowing students to apply the knowledge they gain to real-world situations. During this program, students complete 400 hours of field placements, giving them experience in clinical environments. Alvernia's AMHT program is available online and residentially on the Reading, Pottsville, and Philadelphia campuses. It is one of the oldest degrees of its kind found in the country and is backed by a 40-year history.

In 1926, the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis founded an orphanage that later became an elementary school before evolving into the Alvernia University of today. In 1958, the university's attendance was just 23 students, but today, over 3,000 students attend Alvernia. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and adult education programs both in-person and online. Alvernia is one of just 23 institutions in Pennsylvania to receive the Carnegia Foundation's 2015 Community Engagement classification, and the U.S. News & World Report has included Alvenia in its Best U.S. Colleges and Universities, regional universities (North) ranking.

Net Price: $26,895
Score: 79.8

16. The College at Brockport State University of New York - Brockport, NY

Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies


The College at Brockport's Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies degree program prepares students to hold entry-level positions in various settings, including residential and outpatient settings. After completing the degree program, students will have acquired essential skills for an entry-level position, including the ability to perform a clinical evaluation, construct a treatment plan, identify referral sources, conduct appropriate documentation, and more. Many students choose to pair this degree with a second major in psychology, social work, criminal justice, or a related field.

Brockport was established in 1835 and this public university is part of the State University of New York system. Over 8,000 students are enrolled at Brockport, and 53.5% of first-time freshman applicants are accepted to the university. Of Brockport's 626 instructional faculty, 62% hold a doctoral degree or a terminal degree in their field. Undergraduate class sizes average of 24 students and the university offers over 70 undergraduate majors. At Brockport, 79% of students receive financial aid, and Brockport Foundation scholarships total $550,000.

Net Price: $14,960
Score: 79.53

17. Keene State College - Keene, NH

Bachelor of Science in Public Health with Addiction


Keene State College offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in Addiction. This degree program prepares students to find employment or earn their licensure or certification as an addiction counselor. Program graduates are also prepared to study at the continuing education and graduate levels. This program combines both theoretical and evidence-based learning, as well as an introduction to counseling and treatment.

Keene State is situated on a 170-acre campus and over 5,000 students attend the college each year. The college offers over 40 different areas of study including fields like biology, economics, exercise science, and more. Students can explore the arts, humanities, STEM, and professional programs, preparing them for fulfilling careers. The college is also devoted to sustainability and in 2017 the U.S. Department of Education recognized Keene State as a Green Ribbon School. Keen State is also included in the Sierra Club's list of the most eco-literate colleges.

Net Price: $19,494
Score: 78.1

18. Tiffin University - Tiffin, OH

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with Addictions Counseling


At Tiffin University, students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Addictions Counseling. During this program, students acquire hands-on skills and education in substance abuse and the mental health addiction issues that often occur in conjunction with substance abuse. Students complete an internship and acquire 220 hours of practical experience, qualifying them for the Ohio Chemical Dependency Counselor licensure after they gain one year of experience in the field. Many Tiffin University students are able to find jobs before they graduate because of the demand caused by the current opiate crisis.

Founded in 1888, Tiffin University offers a new kind of education in the country, combining both traditional on-campus students with online students from all over the world. Nearly all of Tiffin faculty have worked in the field, and they bring that practical experience into the classroom. Tiffin's main campus is a spacious 135 acres, and the university also offers undergraduate and graduate programs online and in Fremont and Toledo, as well as throughout Greater Cleveland. Students can choose from over 25 majors offered both on campus and online.

Net Price: $20,799
Score: 77.69

19. Viterbo University - La Crosse, WI

Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Substance Abuse Counseling


By completing Viterbo University's Substance Abuse Counseling Minor, students develop the knowledge and skills needed to identify and treat substance abuse. The program combines evidence-based training practices with digital video technology, so students can immediately receive feedback on their skill development, preparing them for the real-life situations they will face in their careers. To qualify for Substance Abuse Counselor certification in Wisconsin, applicants must complete 360 hours of classroom education and 4,000 hours of counseling. By completing this degree program, students will meet the classroom education requirement for certification.

Viterbo University is one of just 24 Franciscan universities in the country. The university offers an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and has an enrollment of over 2,600 students. At Viterbo University, 98% of undergraduates receive financial aid, and students have an average of 85% of their financial aid needs met through over 100 scholarships and financial aid packages. G.I. Jobs named Viterbo University to its Military Friendly Schools list, a distinction that only 15% of schools throughout the country earn.

Net Price: $20,457
Score: 77.02

20. Rhode Island College - Providence, RI

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Dependency, Addiction Studies


Rhode Island College offers a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Dependency / Addiction Studies degree program that is an extension of the liberal arts Psychology major. To be admitted to the degree program, students must earn a minimum of a B- in several psychology courses, as well as a minimum 2.5 GPA in all of the courses that they have taken prior to being admitted to the program. To maintain enrollment in the program, students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in all of their coursework. During this program, students can expect to take courses such as Human Development, Personality, Behavior Modification, and Health Psychology.

Rhode Island College was established in 1854 in order to educate and prepare teachers. It was the first educational institution in Rhode Island. Today, this public college serves about 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students on and off of its 180-acre campus. Students can choose from almost 90 majors across five different schools, and about half of the undergraduates opt for professional programs while the other half studies liberal arts or business. RIC fosters hands-on learning opportunities; students studying social work can gain field experience, and students studying education have access to student teaching opportunities.

Net Price: $9,008
Score: 76.3

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