Top 100 Affordable Addiction Counseling Schools

Best Most Affordable Addiction Counseling Programs

Search Programs

Are you considering becoming an addiction counselor? Substance abuse counseling may be a good career choice if you are interested in helping people who suffer from drug and/or alcohol dependencies. Those who enter this field typically enjoy several benefits, including sustained job security and opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

Addiction counselors primarily serve as advocates and strive to help clients manage the physical and psychological difficulties that often accompany addictions. It’s important to know, however, that they cannot prescribe medications to patients. Most work in individual and family service centers, hospitals, or residential substance abuse facilities. They typically meet with anyone who struggles with the use and abuse of one or more substances such as alcohol, narcotics, prescription medications, and other drugs. This means professionals are likely to counsel a wide variety of demographics, from teenagers to adults, as well as veterans and people with disabilities. You can, however, choose to specialize in the treatment of a specific population.

If you are interested in pursuing this as a career, finding an affordable addiction counseling program should be a top priority. Professionals in this field will need some level of higher education to qualify for employment.

Search Programs

Top 100 Affordable Addiction Counseling College Rankings

Affordable addiction counseling school rankings can provide valuable insight when deciding between potential programs. The information provided often indicates which programs are most highly valued and, as a result, which degrees will be respected more by future employers. We leave no stone unturned when developing our list and focus our data collection on colleges and universities that specialize in affordable addiction counseling programs.

Our goal is to acquire and organize the most important data points into a simple, easy-to-understand, and applicable format. We recognize the importance of finding the best program and academic atmosphere to meet your unique needs, which is why we focus on the information needed for prospective students to make the best academic and professional decisions possible. Some of the most relevant data types utilized to generate our rankings include the number of programs offered, cost of tuition, and percentage of students receiving financial aid.

It’s not uncommon for students to change their majors. In fact, as many as 50% of students alter their academic plans before graduation. As a result, colleges and universities that offer a wide variety of degree options to choose from tend to rank higher.

Earning any degree can be expensive, making it incredibly important to find a balance between the upfront cost of higher education and future salary potential. Rankings can help you identify which schools offer the best value for your money.

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to confirm what financial aid options are offered through the college or university. Knowing the number of students receiving financial aid can help you assess overall affordability.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,917
    • Out-of-state: $18,733
  • Net Price: $4,419
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Total Enrollment: 29,113
  • Undergrad Students: 24,965
  • Graduate Students: 4,148
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 49
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

California State University-Fullerton

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,953
    • Out-of-state: $18,833
  • Net Price: $8,322
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Total Enrollment: 40,445
  • Undergrad Students: 35,335
  • Graduate Students: 5,110
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 36
  • California State University-Fullerton

Marshall University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,512
    • Out-of-state: $19,366
  • Net Price: $8,387
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Total Enrollment: 12,852
  • Undergrad Students: 9,415
  • Graduate Students: 3,437
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 49
  • Marshall University

Coppin State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,809
    • Out-of-state: $13,334
  • Net Price: $12,544
  • Retention Rate: 57%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,101
  • Undergrad Students: 1,845
  • Graduate Students: 256
  • Graduation Rate: 26%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 14
  • Coppin State University

Northern Kentucky University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $10,296
    • Out-of-state: $20,256
  • Net Price: $9,664
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,664
  • Undergrad Students: 11,868
  • Graduate Students: 3,796
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 17
  • Northern Kentucky University

Governors State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $10,108
    • Out-of-state: $17,620
  • Net Price: $9,998
  • Retention Rate: 52%
  • Total Enrollment: 4,789
  • Undergrad Students: 3,206
  • Graduate Students: 1,583
  • Graduation Rate: NA
  • Diplomas Awarded: 25
  • Governors State University

Midwestern State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,796
    • Out-of-state: $11,746
  • Net Price: $10,094
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,969
  • Undergrad Students: 5,226
  • Graduate Students: 743
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Diplomas Awarded: N/A
  • Midwestern State University

University of Louisiana at Monroe

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,070
    • Out-of-state: $21,170
  • Net Price: $10,134
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,673
  • Undergrad Students: 6,948
  • Graduate Students: 1,725
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 18
  • University of Louisiana at Monroe

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,248
    • Out-of-state: $14,908
  • Net Price: $10,684
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,498
  • Undergrad Students: 2,382
  • Graduate Students: 116
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 3
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Youngstown State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,656
    • Out-of-state: $10,016
  • Net Price: $11,785
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Total Enrollment: 12,110
  • Undergrad Students: 10,938
  • Graduate Students: 1,172
  • Graduation Rate: 41%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 44
  • Youngstown State University
Full Ranking Report

Why a Degree from an Affordable Addiction Counseling School?

The cost of enrolling at a college or university can be substantial. While financial aid options such as scholarships, grants, and loans are generally available, the assistance provided may still not be enough to pay for an entire higher education degree. This makes finding an affordable addiction counseling school extremely important, particularly for prospective students with financial constraints. Regardless of the type of degree sought, opting for a more inexpensive program can be beneficial.

Counseling degrees are also extremely flexible. Not only can you choose from programs at varying levels, but you can pursue a variety of different career paths after graduation.

Some of the most common employment opportunities for counseling graduates include:

  • Addiction Counselor
  • Certified Addiction, Drug, and Alcohol Counselor
  • Clinical Supervisor
  • Alcohol or Drug Rehabilitation Facility Director
  • School and Community Service Manager
  • School and Career Counselor
  • Health Educator
  • Community Health Worker
  • Rehabilitation Counselor

While most states require addiction counselors to have a bachelor’s degree, it may be possible to find entry-level work in this field with minimal higher education. Some locations require nothing more than a high school diploma. Candidates should always verify that they meet the posted education requirements prior to submitting an application for employment. Identifying your ultimate career goals can help you determine which degree type will be necessary moving forward.

Choosing an Affordable Addiction Counseling College

There are several factors you should consider when choosing an affordable counseling college. Every institution is different, making it important to compare and contrast several different options prior to making a final decision. As you assess the various programs available to you, pay close attention to cost, location, accreditation, instruction methods, and graduation requirements.

  • Cost
    The cost of earning an addiction counseling degree can vary significantly, especially between public and private institutions. Take the time to carefully consider your financial situation prior to deciding which school is best. You can factor in financial aid options available, living accommodations, and the length of the program to more accurately determine the total investment.
  • Location
    Where you plan to study can have a significant impact on your career, particularly if the college or university makes a distinction between in-state and out-of-state tuition. While some institutions charge the same amount regardless of where students are from, most schools charge state residents significantly less.
  • Accreditation
    It’s also important to find a college or university addiction counseling program that is accredited. While most institutions maintain an overall accreditation status, individual departments can also choose to accredit the specific programs they offer. At the very least, make sure the school is regionally or internationally accredited before enrolling. Colleges and universities that lack accreditation may offer less financial aid, make transferring credits difficult or impossible, and may not properly prepare you for future employment.
  • Instruction Methods
    Brick-and-mortar colleges and universities will offer the majority of their instruction on campus, requiring students to attend classes in person. Online schools, however, offer more flexible learning experiences, allowing learners to participate from anywhere in the world. Keep in mind, however, that some distance learning options require periodic in-person residencies. These are often referred to as hybrid programs. Choose the solution that suits your situation and budget best.
  • Graduation Requirements
    While addiction counseling graduation requirements are often similar, no two institutions are exactly the same. This means that it is imperative for students to become familiar with expectations before enrolling. This includes reviewing curriculums and course listings to ensure they align with your ultimate education and career goals.

Online Options

If you are interested in earning an addiction counseling degree online, you should have little trouble finding a college or university offering an acceptable program. Options exist nationwide, with varying degree levels available.

While locating potential degree programs is easy, it’s important that you take time to research your state’s specific licensure and certification regulations prior to enrolling. This is particularly relevant for individuals pursuing a career as a professional addiction counselor. All substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in private practice have to be licensed, but guidelines vary by state. Every state requires that counseling candidates acquire a master’s degree, as well as 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Passing a state-issued examination and yearly continuing education is also necessary. If you intend to become licensed and manage your own private practice, make sure you select an online program that helps you meet these requirements.

Professionals outside of private practice should also review their state’s licensure regulations. Not every state requires candidates to earn a specific degree, but examinations are relatively standard. You’ll also need to verify the accreditation of the online program. Most states require that professionals receive degrees from institutions accredited by board-approved agencies, which means researching state accreditation guidelines and school status is imperative.

It’s also worth noting that some online options offer accelerated programs. While a traditional on-campus addiction counseling degree typically takes a full-time student four years to complete, accelerated online programs can take as little as one-and-a-half to two years. For some, faster graduation timeframes and scheduling flexibility make this type of degree an optimal solution.

Ultimately, as long as the online addiction counseling program you select is accredited and offers a degree type accepted by your state for licensure purposes, this is a completely viable method of entering the field.

Are Addiction Counseling Programs in High Demand?

Overall, the outlook for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors working in the United States is very promising. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the profession is expected to grow by 25% from 2019 to 2029. This is much faster than the national average for other professions. The primary explanation for the anticipated job growth in this sector is mostly due to the fact that people will continue to seek addiction counseling services in the future.

It’s also worth noting that more and more states are moving towards rehabilitation services for drug offenders rather than jail time. This is due in large part to recent studies indicating that substance abuse addicts are less likely to offend again if they receive treatment for their addictions. Judges are expected to incorporate these findings into their sentencing practices, resulting in an increased number of counseling patients. Further, treatment programs tend to cost less than incarceration, making this alternative even more appealing. As the country continues to embrace a treatment and counseling-oriented approach, there will be an increased need for qualified professionals in the field.

Military veterans account for a significant portion of addicts. As care for these individuals remains imperative, position availability is unlikely to decline any time soon.

What Can You Do with a Degree in Addiction Counseling?

What you can do with an online degree in addiction counseling will depend on the level of education you receive. Another important factor is whether or not you choose to pursue licensure after graduation. Because options are varied, there are a number of potential careers to choose from within this field of study.

The most obvious career pathway is becoming an addiction counselor. Addiction counselors are responsible for working with people with substance use and abuse problems. They often create and implement therapeutic treatment plans in order to resolve substance dependencies for their patients. These professionals are also responsible for maintaining case histories, noting progress, providing evaluations, offering individual and group therapy, conducting interventions, and coordinating with the patient’s family members.

Alternatively, you could pursue a more administrative career as a clinical supervisor. Clinical supervisors serve as clinic or department managers and are generally responsible for the associated overall operational activities. Unlike addiction counselors, these professionals are far less likely to provide direct treatment. Instead, they tend to coordinate scheduling, direct employee activities, and delegate tasks that need to be completed. In most cases, it’s also a clinical supervisor that ensures a facility meets all applicable legal standards and regulations.

Another option is pursuing work as an alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility director. These professionals are even further removed from patient treatment. They are responsible for overseeing and managing the financial affairs, hiring, and maintenance of the professional teams in rehabilitation departments. While good communication skills are necessary, the most a facility director will interact with patients and families is during the admittance process or in order to resolve potential complaints.

Addiction Counseling Graduates Earn More After College

Overall, the earning potential for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is decent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for these professionals was $47,660 in 2020, which is higher than the median annual wage of $37,690 as reported for all occupations. The highest 10% of employees in this field earned more than $78,700.

As previously mentioned, licensure is required for addiction counselors in and outside of private practice. While requirements vary by state, most require some level of formal education in order to qualify.

According to PayScale, the average salary for counselors with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in addiction counseling is $38,560. While this figure is just above the median annual wage, it’s important to realize that some employment opportunities offer less compensation than others. Salary is also often dependent upon location, with Nevada, Utah, Alaska, New Jersey, and Oregon offering the highest wage prospects.

Professionals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees are likely to make more. According to PayScale, individuals with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in addiction studies or Master of Science (MS) in addictions counseling make an average yearly salary of between $45,005 and $49,300.

While an online associate degree in addiction counseling may meet your state’s licensure requirements, it may still be difficult to find high-paying employment. This is because you are likely to be competing with candidates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. As a result, the degree level you choose can have a direct impact on your earning potential.


  • What are the admission requirements for addiction counseling students?

    Most colleges and universities have predetermined requirements that prospective addiction counseling students must complete before admittance is possible. Every institution is different, so it’s important to review prerequisites carefully before submitting an application.

    While specific requirements vary from school to school and will further depend on the type of degree you are seeking, expect to provide some variation of the following:

    • Official High School Transcripts or College Transcripts
    • Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)
    • Application and Fees
    • Letters of Recommendation
    • Personal Statement or Supplemental Essay
    • Academic Work Samples
    • Scores from College Entrance Exams (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT etc.)
  • How long will it take to complete an addiction counseling degree?

    It may be possible to secure some entry-level positions with an associate degree in addiction counseling. While this level of education does not satisfy licensure requirements for many states, it doesn’t take much time to complete. Most programs consist of 60 credit hours and can be completed within two years.

    Most people pursuing a career as an addiction counselor will need a bachelor’s degree. This type of program typically consists of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Some colleges and universities offer accelerated online programs with projected graduation timeframes of two years or less.

    Like associate degrees, many master’s degree programs in addiction counseling are comprised of 60 credit hours of coursework. The majority of full-time students are able to finish all associated graduation requirements in two years.

  • What type of accreditation should addiction counseling students be looking for?

    When looking for a program in addiction counseling or a related field, it’s important to consider the college or university’s accreditation status. Proper accreditation means that the institution currently meets established academic and professional standards. Only accredited programs can guarantee students will be adequately prepared for work within the field after graduation.

    Institutions can choose from several regional accrediting agencies, but departments and programs can seek specialized accreditation as well. In this case, the most prominent specialized accreditation organization is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).

  • What are the licensure requirements for addiction counseling professionals?

    All 50 states and the District of Columbia require that chemical dependency counselors in private practice be licensed.

    While specific requirements will vary by location, most have requirements similar to the following:

    • Master’s degree with a major study in counseling from a regionally accredited program
    • Coursework in specific content areas including, but not limited to:
      • Human Growth and Development Theories in Counseling
      • Social and Cultural Foundations in Counseling
      • Assessment in Counseling
      • Career Counseling and Lifestyle Development
      • Group Counseling Theories and Processes
    • Hours of postgraduate counseling supervision over a specified period of time
    • Endorsement from a professional colleague who holds a master’s degree or higher in a mental health field
    • Hours of postgraduate counseling experience over a specified period of time
    • Passing score on the state-issued examination

    The licensure criteria for addiction counselors outside of private practice also vary from state to state. While not all states require applicants to have a specific degree, most require candidates to pass a board-issued examination.

  • Where to addiction counselors work?

    Addiction counselors can work in a wide variety of settings. The largest employers for addiction counselors are outpatient centers, individual and family services, hospitals, residential substance abuse facilities, and the government.

    Some of the most common places of employment include:

    • Mental Health Centers
    • Prisons
    • Probation Agencies
    • Parole Agencies
    • Juvenile Detention Facilities
    • Private Practices
    • Halfway Houses
    • Detox Centers
    • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
    • Residential Treatment Facilities
    • Outpatient Treatment Centers

Search Programs