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Overview of Master Degree Programs in Chemical Dependency

Majors Overview July 25, 2018

This article talks about master’s degree programs in chemical dependency and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education options.

Master’s Programs in Chemical Dependency

Aspiring substance abuse counselors can gain knowledge in this field by enrolling in a degree program such as a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Addiction Studies where they’ll learn about therapeutic methods aimed at combating chemical dependency. Certification is compulsory in most states for substance abuse counselors and is available through holding a master’s degree in addiction studies from an accredited school.

Enrollees in a graduate-level addiction studies program gain the supervised clinical training and theoretical background in the counseling field necessary for addressing patients with chemical dependency issues and helping them in sorting through their addictions. Students are usually required to complete a thesis project before they can graduate from the program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, usually one related to psychology, counseling, substance abuse counseling or therapy.


Enrolled students can expect to gain a strong grasp of the ways in which families, individuals, relationships and entire societies change because of addiction, and they learn about ways of working with diverse individuals.

Prospective counselors gain a grasp of the social, mental, and emotional conditions that entail chemical dependency. Coursework features practical clinical experiences, theoretical classroom hours, a thesis project, and research hours. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Preventing relapse
•Educational statistics
•Culture and history of addiction
•Recovery and maintenance
•Managing addiction through public policy
•Addiction counseling
•Comprehensive chemical dependency
•Chemical dependency and families
•Case management

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2016, about 260,200 individuals were employed in the United States as substance abuse counselors or other types of behavioral disorder counselors working in private or group practices (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the 2016-2026 decade, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are expected to see a faster-than-average 23% job growth; in May 2013, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $43,300.

Continuing Education Options

Prospective substance abuse counselors learn about certification procedures that vary by state, although common requirements include holding a master’s degree and passage of an exam. Voluntary national certification in the field is also offered by the Association for Addiction Professionals and other similar organizations through credentials such as Master Addiction Counselor, National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) Level I, NCAC Level II.

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