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2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Ohio

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/18/2023

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Our list below highlights online substance use counseling degrees in Ohio at all available program levels, including certificates. Both current counseling students and working professionals can benefit from expanding their knowledge, pursuing credentials, and earning a certificate or degree in addiction studies. 

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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University of Cincinnati

  • Locations: Cincinnati (and 1 other)
  • Annual Tuition: $27,932

The University of Cincinnati (UC) is a large, public institution that offers several online programs in substance use counseling.

  • UC’s online Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling requires 120 credit hours, allowing full-time students to finish in approximately three years. Courses in this program include Historical Perspectives in Substance Abuse Counselings, Drugs & Behavior, and Co-Occurring Disorders in Treatment. Graduates often work as chemical dependency practitioners, substance abuse counselors, social workers, guidance counselors, and intervention specialists.
  • The online Substance Abuse Prevention Certificate requires 18 credit hours, and it includes courses such as Program Planning, Implementation and Evaluation, Risk Reduction & Disease Prevention in Public Health Education, and Drugs & Behavior. The one-year program is made for corrections officers, social workers, mental health professionals, military personnel, and licensed professional counselors who wish to gain the knowledge, competencies, and skills to work with those affected by addiction.
  • The Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate is a six-month program requiring 24 credit hours. It is designed for working professionals with a bachelor’s degree or students wanting to obtain one. It equips students to work with persons impacted by substance use disorders. Courses include Case Management & Treatment Planning in Substance Abuse Counseling, Group Skills in Substance Abuse Counseling, and Fundamental Substance Abuse Counseling Skills.

At UC, students use the learning management system Blackboard to access their coursework, which is 100% online and asynchronous. Online students have access to tutoring, mentoring, and the university library.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 85%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $6,980
  • Repayment Rate: 90%
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Recommend Rate: 86%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 4,382 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 4,691 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 999 enrolled

Kent State University at Kent

  • Locations: Kent
  • Annual Tuition: $20,810

Kent State University at Kent (KSU Kent) is a large, public institution that offers an online certificate in counseling.

  • KSU Kent’s Addictions Counseling Undergraduate Certificate requires 16 credit hours and less than a year's commitment for students to complete if they maintain a full-time schedule. Some examples of courses include Foundations of Addiction Counseling, Treatment Planning in Addictions Counseling, and Motivational Interviewing. This program fulfills all requisite training hours for licensure eligibility, and graduates can apply for the Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant credential. They can also apply for the Alcohol and Drug Counselor credential.
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,401
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Recommend Rate: 86%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 5,364 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 2,647 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 551 enrolled

Ohio Christian University

  • Locations: Circleville
  • Annual Tuition: $22,506

The Ohio Christian University (OCU) is a small, private, Christian institution that offers one online degree in substance use counseling.

  • The Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling is a four-year program that requires 120 credit hours and includes courses like Prevention Strategies, Psychopharmacology, and Spiritual Dimensions of Illness & Recovery. Students are eligible to apply to the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals board for Certified Chemical Dependency Assistant status after completing 40 clocked hours of training.

At OCU, students use Brightspace to access their coursework which is fully online and asynchronous. Online students have access to tutoring, mentoring, and the university library.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $13,996
  • Repayment Rate: 89%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Recommend Rate: 57%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 1,354 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 189 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 551 enrolled

Wright State University - Main Campus

  • Locations: Dayton
  • Annual Tuition: $19,808

At Wright State University - Main Campus, which is a mid-sized, public university, students can pursue an online graduate certificate in addiction counseling.

  • The Trauma-Informed Counseling Certificate is a 12-credit program that gives students the knowledge and skills to implement a variety of interventions, trauma assessments, and diagnoses. Some of the program’s key courses include Crisis Counseling, Advance Crisis Intervention, and Bisopsychosocialspiritual Aspects. Prospective careers include social workers, chemical dependency counselors, and clinical mental health counselors.

Wright State facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on the learning management system Pilot. Online learners can access academic advising, tech support, online libraries, disability services, and career services at Wright State.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,040
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 96%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Recommend Rate: 76%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 871 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 657 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 143 enrolled

Union Institute & University

  • Locations: Cincinnati
  • Annual Tuition: $17,141

Union Institute & University (UI&U) is a small, private institution that offers one online certificate in counseling.

  • The online Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling Graduate Certificate requires 18 credit hours, which students can complete in less than a year. Courses include Substance Abuse & Addictive Disorders, Psychopharmacology for Mental Health & Addictive Disorders, and Group Work & Therapy. The program provides required courses and 270 educational hours to meet licensing or certification criteria in the states of IA, VT, OH, KY, NH, and PA.

UI&U uses the digital platform Brightspace to manage classwork for both 100% online and hybrid curricula. Online classes are asynchronous, meaning that students can learn at their own pace. UI&U provides 24/7 access to the digital library, one-on-one tutoring services, career and writing services, and mental health counseling.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $9,345
  • Repayment Rate: 95%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Retention Rate: 100%
  • Recommend Rate: 63%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 488 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 136 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: N/A
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Overview of Substance Abuse Counseling in Ohio

The most current statistics for Ohio show that the state is on track to have an equally high number of drug overdose deaths in 2023 as its record-breaking number of deaths in 2022. Lawmakers, public policy analysts, and other stakeholders agree that Ohio must do more to address this addiction crisis. One of the most pressing needs is greater access to treatment and services, which will include hiring more substance abuse counselors to staff inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. 

Discover your educational path to a substance abuse counseling career by reviewing our lists 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 Ohio

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


A great place to begin your career journey is to earn an in-person or online substance abuse counseling degree. The skills and knowledge you've acquired in this type of program have prepared you for several different options.

If you want to work directly with people suffering from substance use disorder (SUD), you'll need to first obtain one of the four levels of substance abuse counseling certification. Each successive level requires additional education but also allows you to provide more services. With an associate or bachelor's degree, you can become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II (LCDC II) or a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III (LCDC III), but in both cases, you'll have a limited scope of practice. Only a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) who holds a master's degree or doctorate can practice independently.

According to ProjectionsCentral, the number of substance abuse counseling jobs in Ohio is expected to grow by 20.8% through 2030. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the 13,760 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors currently working in Ohio earn a mean annual wage of $53,310.

Offering substance abuse counseling in Ohio is not your only option, however. You may be more interested in serving your community by working in a government agency or nonprofit organization. For example, you may be employed as a community service worker or a health education specialist.

How Do I Become a Substance Use Counselor in Ohio?


If your career goal is to become a substance use counselor in Ohio, you'll want to review the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals (OCDP) website. This state licensing agency's site provides clear and concise information on the four levels of substance abuse counseling certification available in Ohio, along with application and verification forms.

The degree requirements and scope of practice for the four levels are:

  • Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA), which requires a high school diploma or the equivalent. They can offer SUD counseling under the supervision of a licensed independent practitioner.
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II (LCDC II), which requires an associate degree in behavioral science or nursing. They can also offer SUD counseling while supervised by a licensed independent practitioner.
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III (LCDC III), which can offer SUD counseling and diagnosis under the supervision of a licensed independent practitioner. This level requires a bachelor's degree in behavioral science or nursing.
  • Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC), which has the authority to diagnose, treat, and counsel those who suffer from SUD without any supervision. They are required to hold a master's degree or doctorate in behavioral science or nursing.

Additional requirements for all four levels include 180 hours of SUD education (often included in a degree program), 2,000 hours of paid work experience in counseling, a reference from your supervisor, and a passing score on the ADC Exam sponsored by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).

Under Ohio's certification requirements, you can obtain your education traditionally or online as long as you attend an institutionally accredited school. Your college coursework may be part of any clinical behavioral science degree program, such as substance abuse counseling or clinical counseling, or a nursing degree program. However, your college transcripts must show that you've completed 180 hours, or about 12 courses, of SUD counseling education.

If you're interested in earning an online master's degree so you can become an independent practitioner, you'll find that all of the programs on our site are institutionally accredited. You may want to explore our lists of the best online substance abuse counseling master's degrees and the most affordable online substance abuse counseling master's degrees

Once you earn your credential, you'll need to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years in order to renew your license. 

Does Ohio Have Reciprocity for Substance Use Counselors?


Yes, Ohio offers reciprocity for substance use counselors who've earned their credentials through the IC&RC and who plan to live or work in Ohio at least 51% of the time. If you're a licensed counselor in good standing who wants to offer in-person, telephone, or online substance abuse counseling in the state, you can initiate the reciprocity process by contacting your current state's credentialing board. 

Substance abuse counselors who have been credentialed in Ohio and want to transfer to another IC&RC member state may need to complete additional education and training to obtain a comparable level of certification. Ohio requires fewer college courses and work experience hours than most other states.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Ohio?


Because Ohio's education and work experience requirements are somewhat less stringent than other states, you may be able to earn licensure as a substance abuse counselor in this state in as little as three years. You'll need to complete at least 12 college courses, which may take about two years, and 2,000 hours of paid work experience in counseling, which will take an additional year. Of course, you may want to invest additional years in earning an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree, as these may qualify you for more advanced, higher-paying positions in the future.

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