Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling

March 15, 2022
May 09, 2022
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UC Online’s Bachelor’s degree in Substance Abuse Counseling prepares graduates for rewarding careers helping those who are struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Put your passion for helping others to work and learn how to treat America’s most harmful disorders. With summer, fall and spring start dates available, it’s easy to begin earning your degree right away.

What Is Substance Abuse Counseling?

There is an epidemic of substance abuse addiction and overdose deaths in the United States. Substance abuse counseling is a high-demand profession that can make a real difference in your community. Counselors are needed to help people who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions learn to modify their behavior to lead them on the road to eventual recovery.

The University of Cincinnati’s Bachelor of Substance Abuse Counselor Program

UCO’s Substance Abuse Counselor Degree Online is a cutting-edge, research-oriented program that offers proven practical course content and is designed to help you learn how to become a qualified clinician. The degree is designed to help full-time students as well as career professionals gain the knowledge, competencies, and skills needed to begin a career working with addicted persons or to advance their professional credentials.

Whether you’re looking to advance your current career or are looking for an opportunity to learn to treat one of America’s most harmful disorders, our BS in Substance Abuse Counseling can help you get there.

Program Offerings

  • 100% online
  • Financial aid available
  • Graduate in 2-4 years
  • Designed for full- or part-time students
  • Start dates in spring, summer, and fall
  • Graduates will meet Academic Requirements for Licensure
  • Transfer-friendly

Summer 2022 Waived Aplication Fee

Accreditations and Rankings

  • The University of Cincinnati and all of its regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Michael Brubaker (Program’s Associate Professor) was awarded the 2020 Faculty Excellence Award.
  • The BS in Substance Abuse Counseling program is currently ranked #2 for The Best Online Bachelor’s in Addiction Recovery Programs on
  • The program is ranked #6 for Best Online Accredited Counseling Programs on

What will I learn?

Your curriculum for an online bachelor degree in addiction counseling will teach you how to guide patients to maintain their sobriety and lead you to a successful career in substance abuse counseling.

  • An overview of the field of substance abuse counseling and its graduate level academic trajectories (counseling, social work, psychology, etc.).
  • Pharmacology explored through the lens of substance use disorders.
  • Individual, family, and societal factors that are associated with individual substance use.
  • Clinical assessment and diagnostic processes in substance abuse counseling.
  • How to develop advanced cultural competencies that are essential in substance abuse counseling practices.
  • Fundamental skills necessary for individual counseling of clients with a substance use disorder.
  • About the group process, leadership, and practice for substance abuse counseling.
  • How to help individuals with substance abuse with strategies to prevent relapses and promote recovery.

See all courses to learn more.

Upon completion of our addictions counselor program, you may meet academic requirements for licensure in many states. Due to specific state-by-state requirements, students will need to research their individual state chemical dependency licensure boards for state-specific information on levels of licensure, certificates available, and reciprocity across states.

Graduates of our degree in addiction counseling will have met academic requirements for a chemical dependency license under the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board’s guidelines for Licensed Chemical Dependency counselor II and III (LCDC II and LCDC III).

You can learn more about the counselor pathway in our Complete Guide to Becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor.

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A day in the life of a Substance Abuse Counselor

A substance abuse bachelor’s degree prepares graduates for rewarding careers helping those who are struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Your job might be to work with individuals in a crisis situation at a hospital or a private clinic, or you may choose to meet regularly one-on-one or in a group setting throughout the recovery process.

Armed with a passion to help others and a non-judgemental approach, Substance Abuse Counselors assess and counsel individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), provide counseling to family members who are affected by SUDs, provide life skills training including stress management, relapse prevention, and relationship skills and prepare and lead outreach and other community interventions to prevent and remediate SUDs and their effects.

Career Options with a Substance Abuse Counseling Degree

Careers for substance abuse/addiction counselors are flourishing, due to the rise in demand as addiction and mental health counseling services are increasingly covered by insurance policies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Students who graduate with a substance abuse counselor degree online can go on to pursue such careers as:

  • Chemical dependency practitioner: Help break the cycle of drug dependency and recover the lives of those who suffer from addiction.
  • Substance abuse counselor: Help overcome addictions and provide support to people who are having trouble breaking the cycle alone.
  • Social worker: Support vulnerable individuals and/or families through difficult times and help them improve lives.
  • Guidance counselor: Work in an academic setting helping students make the best academic decisions for their education.
  • Intervention specialist: Intervention specialists work in schools or other education facilities by assisting children with special education or social adjustment needs.

Graduates of the online substance abuse counseling degree are also well prepared to continue their studies in advanced degree programs such as mental health counseling, social work, psychology, and criminal justice.

Is Substance Abuse Counseling right for me?

Are you concerned about the current substance abuse epidemic and want to help individuals affected by it? Are you a good listener with a strong motivation to help others? Do you possess excellent communication skills and are also calm under pressure/in a crisis? Then substance abuse counseling may be a good career fit for you.

This program is also a great next step if you already have experience in social work,  counseling, nursing, or psychiatry.

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Our online Substance Abuse Counseling program continues to be ranked as one of the BEST Online Programs at #6 on for 2020.

Student Testimonials
Kathleen K. Testimonial Photo
“UC Online's BS in Substance Abuse Counseling was the only bachelors’ program I found that focused strictly on substance abuse counseling. Studying online is the perfect fit for me.I find interacting with everyone to be quite easy. Even though we don’t see each other in person, I developed a camaraderie with some of my UCO peers, especially those in my last three semester classes. I find it to be much easier than I expected. Once you get into the flow of the courses, it is surprisingly easy to stay on track. Everything I learn at UCO informs my current role. My focus on prioritizing education and certification rewards me every day.”

Kathleen K.
Program Graduate | Lead Recovery Support Specialist | NY

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The University of Cincinnati is one of the first institutions to offer online courses. Innovation in education is at the forefront of what we do. We have expanded the convenience and quality of our online learning to online degree programs. Today, we offer nearly 100 degrees from undergraduate to doctoral programs.

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