2022 Best Online PhD in Addiction Psychology [Doctorate Guide]

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Earning your PhD in Addiction Psychology can help you develop the skills to study and treat addiction in your community. It may also provide you with the opportunity to qualify for a rewarding job or to advance your current career in the field.

Best Online PhD in Addiction Psychology [Doctorate Guide]

Addiction psychology is the study of addictive behaviors. While this includes the abuse of alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs, it also includes behaviors like excessive shopping, gambling, or eating.

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Students and professionals who pursue a PhD in this field may find themselves tackling addiction through research, counseling, or academic pursuits.

PhD in Addiction Psychology Online Programs

social service managers leads life group discussion

Substance abuse is a problem that affects a large portion of the population. Earning a doctoral degree in addiction psychology could help you play an essential role in aiding those who struggle with addictive behaviors.

A Ph.D. in Addiction Psychology is a specialized counseling degree that focuses primarily on research and evidence-based practices. A degree program in addiction psychology examines the behavioral, social, emotional, and neurological roots of addiction. It also teaches students to apply principles and theories to addictive behaviors as a way to better understand the psychology of substance abuse.

If your goal is to work with individuals one-on-one, another degree option to consider is a PhD in Addiction Counseling. This route prepares you for the challenge of working in a clinical setting and providing treatment and therapy to individuals suffering from addiction.

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Both an addiction counseling doctorate degree and a PhD in Addiction Psychology can provide career opportunities in academia, research, counseling, or public policy. Coursework may include subjects like:

  • Family studies
  • Pharmacology of addiction
  • Addiction treatment
  • Counseling skills and techniques
  • Diversity and social justice

There are many avenues you can pursue with an online degree in addiction psychology or addiction counseling.

If you are wanting to work as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or postsecondary teacher, you may benefit from a substance abuse PhD. Some professionals also find fulfilling positions as counselors in the fields of:

  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse
  • Behavioral disorders

Completing a PhD in Addiction Studies can be a strategic way to make a difference in this field. Your research may even effect change in the way the public health system views and treats those suffering from addiction.

Addiction Psychology and Counseling Careers & Salaries

Addiction Psychology and Counseling Careers & Salaries

Academia, public policy, and clinical research are just some of the related job fields with career opportunities available to professionals with a PhD in Addiction Studies.

Many states are implementing programs that provide treatment and counseling as an alternative to jail time for individuals charged with drug offenses. Some professionals provide substance abuse counseling to veterans struggling with addiction due to post-traumatic stress.

Many clinics are now required to present data to demonstrate the outcomes of their programs. Qualified researchers may monitor the performance of these treatment centers and evaluate the success of their methods.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following are possible career opportunities that could benefit from doctoral studies in addiction psychology.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Psychiatrists $249,760
Sociologists $92,910
Psychologists $81,040
Postsecondary Teachers $79,640
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Health Education Specialists $60,600
School and Career Counselors and Advisors $60,510
Social Workers $50,390
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,880
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $48,520

Some of these career paths require additional licensure or further education. Psychiatrists, for example, go through medical school.

It is common for students who’ve earned their substance abuse PhD to go on to work as counselors or clinical psychologists with a specialty in addiction. These are not the only paths available, though. Many graduates go on to pursue opportunities as teachers, non-clinical psychologists, or researchers.

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Some professionals who specialize in addiction may even develop and set into motion public awareness campaigns that emphasize substance abuse prevention in their community.

Addiction Psychology PhD Curriculum & Courses

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There is a wide range of coursework in the field of addiction psychology, and the classes you take will depend on the program you choose. While some programs emphasize addiction research and theory, others may focus on individual counseling.

Here are some examples of courses you may encounter:

  • Research Methods: In this class, you’ll learn the fundamentals of doctoral-level research and focus on critical evaluation, research ethics, and proposal development.
  • Addictive Behaviors and Substance Abuse: This course examines the thought patterns and behaviors that can cause an individual to be at risk for substance abuse.
  • Family Systems Approaches to Addiction: In this course, you’ll review the theories for successful family intervention and examine the connection between addiction and family dynamics.
  • Counseling Skills and Techniques: This course helps prepare you for the challenge of addiction counseling by covering the techniques and theories of one-on-one treatment.
  • Group Therapy: In this class, you’ll learn strategies for substance abuse treatment that are centered on group counseling and support.
  • Advanced Analysis and Design: Through this course, you can develop an understanding of the applied research skills necessary for qualitative and quantitative analysis.
  • Addiction Intervention: This course teaches intervention-based strategies to prepare you for the challenge of guiding family interventions.
  • Professional Growth: The work of a substance abuse counselor can be personally challenging, so this course provides you with strategies for personal wellbeing and healthy, effective practices.
  • Clinical Survey of Substance Abuse: In this class, you’ll cover the theoretical, biological, socio-cultural, and legal perspectives of substance-related psychological disorders.
  • Diversity and Social Justice: Throughout this course, you can develop an understanding of how race, gender, and class affect addiction and treatment.

Most programs will require the completion of a dissertation in addition to your coursework. Some may include residencies or field-study as part of their completion requirements.

Choosing an Online PhD in Addiction Psychology Program

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There are many online programs available for students looking to earn their PhD in Addiction Psychology. When determining which program is best for you, you might want to keep the following points in mind:

  • Program cost. Earning a degree online is often a more affordable alternative to traditional attendance, but it’s beneficial to review your eligibility for in-state tuition and to understand all fees associated with your program.
  • Your long-term goals. Determining what it is you want to do with your degree can help you look for a program that will align with your professional goals. Some programs concentrate on addiction counseling, while others focus on non-clinical addiction psychology.
  • Program length. Some programs require residency or field-study components, which may increase a program’s completion time.

Additionally, it’s strategic to verify the regional and programmatic accreditation of the school you wish to attend.

Admissions Requirements

sociologists working with a laptop

The admission requirements for doctoral programs in addiction psychology vary depending on the school. Some programs require applicants to meet a minimum GPA to be admitted. Additional criteria may include:

  • GRE scores (only some schools require them)
  • Master’s degree in a related field
  • Current resumé
  • Graduate academic writing sample
  • Academic transcripts

While most programs do not require prior work experience or licensure, they may favor applicants who have completed internships or worked in a mental health field. Some schools may also ask for a cover letter detailing why you’ve chosen to pursue this degree at their institution.

Accreditation

university campus offering PhD in Addiction Psychology

When you’re researching various doctoral programs, you can narrow down your options by checking which schools are accredited. Regional accreditation is a rigorous review process that determines the academic quality of colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education must meet pre-determined criteria to be eligible for accreditation.

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Employers often prefer candidates who hold accredited degrees, and an accredited education is a common prerequisite for licensure and certifications as well. In addition, accredited schools generally only accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions and programs.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid for students taking PhD in Addiction Psychology

Federal aid, private scholarships, and work-study programs are all potential methods for funding your PhD in Addiction Studies.

Your school’s financial aid office can offer you guidance on how to apply for scholarships either through your school or through private organizations. Some employers offer scholarship programs for employees seeking higher education. You may also find scholarship opportunities through academic fraternities or social and cultural organizations.

If you require additional aid, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to applying for federal or state loans. While student loans have to be repaid after graduation, they tend to have lower interest rates than private loans.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Addiction Psychology?

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A degree in addiction studies can open the door to a variety of needed and fulfilling career opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a few of the industries that employ individuals in the field of addiction psychology include:

  • Outpatient care centers
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • State and local governments
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Mental health and substance abuse facilities

Graduates may pursue careers as psychiatrists, psychologists, postsecondary teachers, social workers, or substance abuse counselors, among many other opportunities. Most counseling roles require state licensure, and psychiatrists must also complete medical school.

Whether you choose to work in academia, public policy, counseling, or research, a substance abuse PhD can provide you with many ways to serve your community.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Addiction Psychology Online?

female psychologist and patient having consultation in office

In general, a PhD takes 3 to 5 years to complete. The length of time it takes to complete a doctorate program in addiction psychology varies depending on the program’s format and number of credit hours. Your enrollment status and course load can impact your time to completion as well.

Some universities now offer accelerated psychology degrees online or on campus for those students needing complete their degrees faster.

A dissertation will also lengthen the time it takes to finish your program. If no dissertation is required, a doctoral program may be completed in 3 years with full-time study. Part-time students may take longer to finish their degree.

What’s the Difference Between a PsyD vs. PhD in Addiction Psychology Program?

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Addiction Psychology are comparable degrees. They can both be beneficial to students looking for advanced career opportunities in the field of psychology.

PhD in Addiction Psychology PsyD in Addiction Psychology
  • Focuses heavily on research and theory
  • Typically prepares students for positions in research and academia
  • Accepts fewer students but is more widely available
  • Focuses more on direct patient care
  • Prepares students for work in clinical settings
  • Accepts a larger cohort but is less common

While a PsyD focuses more on clinical training and a PhD on research, both degrees cover research methods and patient care to different extents.

Is a PhD in Addiction Psychology Degree Worth It?

Millennial female client having session with psychologist

Yes, a PhD in Addiction Psychology degree is worth it for many professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 23% job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors over the next ten years. This projected growth is much faster than average, and it demonstrates the growing need for professionals in this field.

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If you are looking to make a difference in your community by studying the psychology of addiction, you might consider earning your PhD. A doctoral degree in addiction studies can help you develop new substance abuse treatment plans, facilitate community outreach, or publish academic work.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Addiction Psychology Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Adler University

Adler University

Adler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Barry University

Barry University

Barry University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

California Southern University

California Southern University

CalSouthern is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Capella University

Capella University

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Carlow University

Carlow University

Carlow University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Felician University

Felician University

Felician University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Fielding Graduate University

Fielding Graduate University

Fielding Graduate University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Indiana University

Indiana University

Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Lesley University

Lesley University

Lesley University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Meridian University

Meridian University

Meridian University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Mississippi College

Mississippi College

Mississippi College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University

Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Pacifica Graduate Institute is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Regent University

Regent University

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Saybrook University

Saybrook University

Saybrook University is accredited by the Senior Commission of Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of West Georgia

University of West Georgia

The University of West Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University

Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Earning Your PhD in Addiction Psychology Online

Patient Having Consultation With Health Education Specialist

The overall aim of a doctoral program in addiction psychology is to prepare students and working professionals for their long-term goals in the field of psychology.

This degree may help qualify you for academic or government research, professorship, or counseling in a clinical setting. If you have a passion for breaking down the stigmas surrounding addiction and are ready to take your education to the next level, consider applying for your PhD in Addiction Psychology.

The sooner you start exploring accredited universities, the sooner you may find the online addiction psychology PhD program that best fits your personal needs and professional goals.

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Annastasia Marburger
WRITTEN BY
Annastasia Marburger
Annastasia holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University at Buffalo where her concentration was writing and critical theory. She has also completed significant coursework in psychology and computer science. Annastasia’s goal is to assist future students in navigating the next step of their lives as well as guide them toward an inspirational path.