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2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Montana

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/18/2023


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Our list below highlights online substance use counseling degrees in Montana at all available program levels, including certificates. Montana’s online schools meet the educational requirements students need to sit for the licensing exam to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) in Montana or another state if applicable. 

Earning a bachelor's degree in substance use counseling may be a good first step toward entering this field. For those on a budget, we also list the most affordable online substance use counseling programs

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Montana State University

  • Locations: Bozeman
  • Annual Tuition: $28,264

At Montana State University (MSU) — a medium-sized, public university — students interested in substance use counseling can pursue an online certificate program.

  • The 12-credit Addiction Counseling Graduate Certificate Program is for students who already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. This online certificate program comprises 10 courses, and it's designed to help prepare students to pursue licensure as a Licensed Addiction Counselor in Montana. Sample courses include Counseling Theories in Addiction Settings, Psychopharmacology and Addictions, and Alcohol and Drug Studies. Graduates may find careers as substance abuse counselors, recovery coaches, and case managers.

MSU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on the digital learning platform D2L Brightspace. MSU’s online student resources include an online library, disability services, academic advising, career services, a writing center, tutoring, a bookstore, and IT support.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $6,287
  • Repayment Rate: 94%
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Recommend Rate: 91%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 618 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 426 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 9 enrolled

University of Providence

  • Locations: Great Falls
  • Annual Tuition: $26,812

The University of Providence (UP) is a small, private, nonprofit, Roman Catholic university with an associate degree in addiction counseling available online.

  • The Associate of Arts in Addiction Counseling is a 22-credit program that gives students a strong foundation in addiction counseling. It focuses on treatment and intervention for people with substance use disorder. Example coursework includes Gambling, Co-Occurring Disorders in Addiction, and Helping Skills. A state addictions counseling competency exam and 1,000 hours of supervised chemical dependency counseling experience are required. Future careers for graduates may include substance abuse counselors, recovery coaches, and rehabilitation counselors.

Moodle is the learning management system that UP uses to deliver asynchronous online courses. Online students at UP can access career services, an online bookstore, an online library, a writing and critical thinking center, and accessibility services.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $18,424
  • Repayment Rate: 91%
  • Acceptance Rate: 62%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Retention Rate: 58%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 267 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 223 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 2 enrolled

Dawson Community College

  • Locations: Glendive
  • Annual Tuition: $8,445

Dawson Community College (DCC) is a small, public institution offering one online associate degree program in substance use counseling.

  • The Associate of Arts in Chemical Dependency Counseling requires 60 credit hours, and it meets the educational requirements for students to apply for licensure in the state of Montana. Some of the program’s courses are Pharmacology in Addictions, Addiction Treatment & Documentation, and Co-Occurring Disorders. Prospective careers include peer support specialists, community health workers, and care coordinators.

At DCC, part- and full-time students can complete online courses in asynchronous and synchronous formats via the learning management systems Moodle and D2L Brightspace. DCC’s online student resources include academic advising, tutoring, a virtual library, disability services, a bookstore, and computer resources.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $5,743
  • Repayment Rate: 83%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 37%
  • Retention Rate: 58%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 135 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: N/A
  • Certificate Online: 70 enrolled
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Overview of Substance Abuse Counseling in Montana

Although Montana has one of the lowest drug overdose death rates in the U.S., it still has its share of problems with alcohol and drug use. Over the past several years, state lawmakers, public health officials, and healthcare providers have taken action to address this crisis, and they continue to propose new solutions, such as the HEART Fund.

Under this plan, the state is funding new treatment programs and recovery services for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. As a result, Montanans now have access to more inpatient centers, where they can receive various types of treatment and services, such as addiction counseling. As the state implements new phases of the plan, it will need more trained professionals who can provide counseling for substance abuse.

Thinking about a career in counseling? You'll find lots more online bachelor's programs on our ranked listings of the best online substance abuse counseling degrees, the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees, and the best online counseling degrees.

FAQs About Substance Use Counseling Degrees in Montana

What Can You Do With a Substance Use Counselor Degree in Montana?

Serving your community by providing face-to-face, telephone, or online substance abuse counseling in Montana is just one of several career options available to you once you've completed an in-person or online substance abuse counseling degree program. Although you don't need a degree to become a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC), a bachelor's or master's may make you a more attractive job candidate for higher-level positions. 

According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 1,910 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors working in Montana, and they earn a mean annual salary of $48,690. More state funding, among other factors, should lead to a 20.8% increase in the number of jobs for counselors in Montana through 2030.

You may also be interested in nonclinical roles, such as becoming a community health worker or a health education specialist. You could go to work for a local or state government agency or nonprofit organization where you'll be involved in operating education, prevention, and treatment programs. With experience, you may qualify for managerial positions that typically feature higher incomes.

How Do I Become a Substance Use Counselor in Montana?

The Board of Behavioral Health (BBH) is the governing body that oversees substance use counseling in Montana. The board provides a simple checklist that explains how to become a substance use counselor, including specific certification requirements. 

This state's substance abuse counseling certification system is straightforward. There is just one category — Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) — but many ways to meet the requirements for licensure.

For example, you do not necessarily have to have a college degree to become a LAC. However, you do need to attend an accredited college or university where you take specific courses in human behavior, psychology, psychopathology, abnormal behavior, and counseling theory. You'll also need to take classes in chemical dependency assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning and documentation, co-occurring disorders, ethics, and more.

In addition to educational requirements, you'll need to accumulate 1,000 hours of supervised addiction counseling experience. To complete your application for licensure, you have the option of taking any one of several possible exams: Level 1 or Level 2 exam sponsored by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), the Northwest Certified II exam, the Southwest Certification II exam, or the ADC or AADC exam sponsored by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).

Although a bachelor's or master's degree is not required, having a more advanced education may qualify you for higher-paying roles in leadership positions. If you'd like to earn a master's degree online, you may be interested in the accredited options on our lists of the best online substance abuse counseling master's programs and the most affordable online substance abuse counseling master's programs

Does Montana Have Reciprocity for Substance Use Counselors?

No, Montana does not offer reciprocity for substance use counselors from other states. However, if you are a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in good standing, your background may qualify you for licensure in Montana. You will, however, have to retake one of the licensing exams accepted by the state licensing board.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Addiction Counselor in Montana?

In Montana, you could conceivably become an addiction counselor in as little as three years. You'll need about two years to complete the required college coursework and another year to acquire the 1,000 hours of supervised work experience. However, if you plan to earn both a bachelor's and a master's degree, it is likely to take about seven years to complete your education and work experience.

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