Most Affordable Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees

People embark on the substance abuse counselor career path for many reasons. Some have personal reasons for choosing this profession, such as a family member who became a victim of substance abuse in the past. Others are simply drawn to a career that involves helping others. Whatever reason you may have, a career in this field can be deeply fulfilling..

Enrolling in an online substance abuse counseling program is an excellent educational step toward becoming a drug and alcohol counselor. If you're passionate about assisting others with substance use disorders and helping them along the road to recovery, this field could match your academic and professional goals.

Before enrolling in a college or university, it pays to weigh your options. Use this guide to explore affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees.

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Overview of Online Substance Abuse Counseling

Substance abuse counseling is just one of the many fields of counseling you could choose from. This field of study encompasses social work, psychology, sociology, and mental and emotional health in general. To become a substance abuse counselor to help those struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, or other behavioral illnesses, you need to draw from your learnings and experiences in various areas of the social sciences.

Before you can coordinate care and create treatment plans for your patients, as a substance addiction counselor you may need to interact with registered nurses, doctors, or psychiatrists and work with clients one-on-one or in a group setting. While you may opt to work with clients sent to a treatment program as part of a court order, you may also choose to specialize in delivering assistance to specific demographics, such as veterans or minors.

If this is a career path aligned with your personal and academic interests, exploring the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees available for you is the first step you must take.

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Most Affordable Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees

You can start a career in addiction therapy or a similar field by taking an online bachelor's, master's, or doctorate program in substance abuse counseling. Suppose you're interested in providing people with addictions with the care and assistance they need to recover. In that case, these courses can provide you with the knowledge and training to excel in this field.

Finding the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees can narrow your options and get the most out of your hard-earned money. Not only can you select from a curated list of accredited schools with set quality standards, but you can also assess which school ranks better based on the available rankings and criteria readily available online.  


Tips for Funding an Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degree

Finding some of the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees doesn't mean you'll no longer need to spend any money on your studies. In addition to your tuition fees, you must also consider miscellaneous expenses, book allowance, food and housing, and other resources (e.g., computer and internet). In this case, if you can find different ways to fund your online counseling degree, that would take a bit of weight off your shoulders and help reduce the academic stress you may be experiencing.

The good news is that numerous organizations are willing to provide loans, grants, and scholarship programs to help aspiring counselors cover their educational costs. You must be aware of your resources while creating a strategy to pay for your online degree. Here are some of the numerous scholarships and loan payback options that could help fund your online counseling degree.

Ab Irvine Scholarship

Scholarship Provider: The Great Southwest Civitan Foundation

Scholarship Amount: $2,000

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

Scholarship Provider: Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

Scholarship Amount: Based on donations

Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)

Scholarship Provider: Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Scholarship Amount: $500–$5,000

The Melanie Foundation Scholarship

Scholarship Provider: The Melanie Foundation

Scholarship Amount: $2,500

NBCCF Minority Master's Fellowship (Master's in Mental Health)

Scholarship Provider: National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation

Scholarship Amount: Up to $8,000

Looking to earn a degree in counseling? Check out our most affordable online counseling degrees page to discover the cheapest counseling degrees available.


Finding the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees is the first step. Before enrolling in your preferred college or university, assess their qualifications to offer you an online substance abuse counseling program. 

If the institution you enroll in is accredited, you and your potential employer can rest assured that the school adheres to professional educational standards essential in offering this degree. Since you cannot receive federal financial aid at universities that lack regional accreditation, you should only enroll at those institutions.

Common Courses for Substance Abuse Counseling Degree Programs

Before completing your enrollment, once you’ve selected from your list of the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees, you must also consider another factor: Do your skills and interests align with the coursework in an online counseling program?

The exact subject title and contents of the curriculum may vary, but here are some examples of the courses that you may need to take when you enroll in an online substance abuse counseling degree program:

  • Behavioral Disorders
  • Case Management
  • Dynamics of Group Counseling
  • Foundations of Addictions
  • Psychopharmacology

How to Choose a Substance Abuse Counseling Program

Narrowing down your main option from your list of most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees requires some thought. Other than the standard coursework you need to consider, you also have to take note of other factors.

  • Cost: Before deciding on a school, you’ll need to consider the overall program costs, such as books, housing, and cost of living, which go above and beyond the essential tuition fees. You may reduce your educational expenses as an online learner by skipping some campus-based fees and travel costs.
  • Location: The choice between taking in-person or online classes is one that you may find difficult at first. Each has advantages and disadvantages. In-state public universities are frequently more affordable if you live within their state compared to out-of-state, and private universities are more expensive. You can also combine in-person classes with online programs if you enroll at a nearby college and take online classes.


Additionally, some online programs have components that must be completed on-campus. Second, internships are necessary for some counseling programs, so finding internship placements will be much easier if you live close to the college or university.


  • Program Format: As a distance learner, you should also consider whether you prefer synchronous or asynchronous learning. You must participate in scheduled, live online sessions if you’re enrolled in synchronized programs. Asynchronous programs will give you more freedom by allowing you to meet deadlines on flexible terms.
  • Support: Student support can significantly impact progress and outcomes, particularly for you as a distance learner. Numerous programs provide internship opportunities as well as student services such as career counseling. On top of that, online mentoring and tutoring may also be available.


Substance Abuse Counseling Degree Salary and Career Outcomes

The value of mental health services and counseling is more widely understood than ever. With this heightened awareness, there is an increased demand for abuse counseling professionals. Based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, the average annual salary for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors was around $48,520. 

Many factors influence salary potentials, such as location, title, employer, and previous employment. As of May 2020, the top 10% of professional earners received an average annual pay of about $77,980, while the bottom 10% took home less than $30,870.

Additionally, according to the same report, the BLS predicts a 23% increase in employment for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors between 2020 and 2030. This equates to over 75,000 new roles being created in the industry over the specified timeframe. To put things in perspective, the overall predicted growth rate for all occupations is 8% from 2020 to 2030.

Here are some career outcomes you could look into once you graduate with an online substance abuse counseling degree with the corresponding average annual salary for each career:

  • Correctional Treatment Specialist: $55,690
  • Social Services Coordinator: $69,600
  • Health Counselor: $47,660
  • Substance Use Disorder Counselor: $47,660

Find The Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degree to Advance in Your Career

As you can see, finding the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees is just the beginning, regardless of what level — bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate — you may pursue. It would help if you also took note of all the relevant prerequisites, courses, and needed licensure exams in addition to the time and resources you need to commit.

Remember, to benefit from any degree, whether online or on-site, it’s vital to properly understand your motivation before enrolling in one. So, don’t just settle for the most affordable online degree; look for one that best aligns with your career and academic goals, budget, and time allotment.



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Here are some of the most popular online counseling programs. On each page you will find a detailed write-up of the program, specific courses, and schools that offer that program that are currently accepting applicants.

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