Substance Abuse Counselor Schools

For people interested in becoming a substance abuse counselor, there are plenty of great schools to choose from. Some students prefer to attend private colleges, others prefer more affordable state schools, and some prefer the convenience of online schools. A degree is not required to be a group counselor in most states, but most state require a degree for people who want to open a private practice.

Things to Consider First

When choosing a graduate school to earn your Master’s degree and receive your substance abuse counselor training, it’s important to make sure the school is accredited. In most states, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) is accepted. Before you decide on a school, make sure the schools credentials meet your state requirements.

State requirements are different. The main advantage to choosing a school in the state where you want to practice is that the programs will be geared to meet state requirements. Other advantages include the opportunity to meet local professionals in the field. Local education and experience may provide an edge when the time comes to find a job. State schools are also usually considerably less expensive to attend.

Today, finding a great job often depends on professional networking. By building contacts during college years, students can jumpstart a lucrative career path. Students with strong local experience and connections will be the first to hear about available jobs and upcoming opportunities.

Top Substance Abuse Counselor Schools

According to U.S. News & World Report, the top ten universities in the U.S. are:

  1. Yale University: Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale is ranked number one for substance abuse counseling degrees. Yale is a private research university established in 1701. Full-time tuition is $49,500.
  2. Columbia University: Located in Manhattan, New York, the the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry is recognized as one of the finest programs in the country. Full-time tuition is $49,504.
  3. Harvard University: Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard is one of the most recognizable and exclusive Ivy League schools in the world. It was established in 1636. Tuition is $53,496.
  4. University of California, San Francisco: Located in San Francisco, California, UCSF was founded in 1873 and is regarded as one of the top schools for health services education. Since it’s a state school, students who live in California pay significantly lower tuition. Full time in-state tuition is $31,134. Tuition for Out-of-state students is $43,379.
  5. University of Pennsylvania (Perelman): Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Perelman School of Medicine (also known as Penn Med) was founded in 1765 and is the oldest medical school in the country. Full time tuition is $47,090.
  6. Johns Hopkins University: Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins is a not-for-profit private research university founded in 1876. Full time tuition is $44,190.
  7. University of California—Los Angeles (Geffen): Located in Los Angeles, California, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA was founded in 1945 and quickly earned a place among the top schools in the U.S. Full time tuition for in-state students is $34,784. Out-of-state students pay $47,029.
  8. University of Washington: Located in Seattle, Washington, the University of Washington is a public research university founded in 1861. Tuition for in-state students is $28,040. Out-of-state students pay $56,970.
  9. University of California—San Diego: Located in La Jolla, California, UCSD is a public research that opened its doors in the early sixties. Tuition for in-state students is a comparatively economical $11,220. Out-of-state students pay $23,465
  10. University of Pittsburgh: Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, affectionately know as Pitt, was founded in 1787. In state students pay tuition of $44,726. Out-of-state students pay just a little more, $45,846.

Alternative Options to Substance Abuse Counselor Schools

substance abuse counselor schoolsIf attending graduate school is not within your budget or impractical for other reasons, online school is an option that’s growing in popularity. Online schools are typically far less expensive, but that’s not the only reason to consider schooling from home. Online school is more flexible and you can work at your own pace.

Some online universities require some face-to-face attendance, so choosing a school you can get to may be important.

Getting a Substance Abuse Counselor License

Whether you attend a physical school or an online program, you’ll have to complete 2,000 to 3,000 hours of practical experience in a clinical setting before you can get a license for private practice. Each state sets its own requirements for number of clinical hours and level of education necessary for certification. Aspiring substance abuse counselors must take a state board exam once all the requirements are met.

While most states require a Master’s degree, clinical hours, and a state exam to open a private practice or take a supervisory position, you may not need a degree to work as a counselor under supervision of a licensed professional.

Earning a Master’s degree is expensive and time consuming, but it opens the door to a long and satisfying career.

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