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Addiction Counseling & Prevention

For nearly 50 years, our nationally ranked program has prepared students with skills in alcohol and drug prevention, education, counseling and treatment.

Change Someone's Life

With addiction rates on the rise across the country, you have the opportunity to change someone’s life as an addiction counselor or prevention professional. It affects people from all walks of life, all backgrounds and across all economic and social boundaries. Our communities need compassionate, well-trained professionals who can address current and future addiction counseling and prevention challenges in society.

As a student pursuing an advanced online degree or certificate in addiction counseling and prevention, you will learn to provide the highest quality counseling to individuals experiencing substance use disorders. Your science-based addiction education will equip you to better serve individuals, families and communities, as well as bring a valuable set of skills to your employer. You will benefit from the flexibility of an online program while experiencing strong connections to a community of learners who engage in critical thinking, prioritize respect and practice teamwork. You will leave our program with the tools needed to meet the growing demand for professionals skilled in alcohol and drug prevention education, counseling, and treatment.

Addiction professionals must possess advanced levels of competency to address current and future addiction counseling and prevention challenges in society. This nationally ranked and accredited program prepares you to meet the increasingly complex needs of clients by equipping you with skills in alcohol and drug prevention education, counseling and treatment.


Degrees & Offerings

Addiction Counseling & Prevention (M.A.)


This master's program can be completed in as little as 33 credit hours, or as many as 45, depending on your current certification and academic background. This program will prepare you to achieve an advanced level of competency in addressing current and future addiction, co-occurring and prevention challenges in society. You will graduate eligible for the highest level of addiction and prevention credentialing in South Dakota. Individuals outside the state of South Dakota should contact their state chemical dependency certification board to ensure courses meet their requirements which may differ by state.

View Admissions Requirements

Addiction Counseling & Prevention: Co-Occurring (M.A.)


This master's program with co-occurring specialization requires 45 credit hours (standard track only) and will prepare you to better treat the needs of individuals with both substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Through advanced coursework in psychopathology, addiction and relapse prevention you will be able to identify clients with co-occurring disorders.

View Admissions Requirements

Addiction Counseling & Prevention


Through this certificate program, you will gain the training needed to meet the increasingly complex needs of clients. Completion of this program prepares professionals to meet 15 of the 21 specialized academic credit hours required for South Dakota state credentialing. This program may or may not lead to licensure in other states; USD cannot confirm whether the course or program meets requirements in the state in which the student resides. Individuals outside the state of South Dakota should contact their state chemical dependency certification board to ensure courses meet their requirements.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

An Affordable Education

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation. 

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate director of the department.

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Real-World Opportunities

The Addiction Counseling and Prevention Department at the School of Health Sciences at USD has provided internship opportunities for several decades. In 1973 most of our students were already working in the addiction or prevention profession and were taking additional coursework to earn certification in South Dakota. Over the years the program grew to encompass both undergraduate and graduate level programs. Students who did not currently work in the addiction and prevention field began enrolling in the programs. In the fall of 2009, the internship experience became a requirement of the program so students could gain the real-world experience they needed to succeed.

The program not only allows student internship opportunities in South Dakota, but nationally and internationally.  Internships have been completed in New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Germany.  The internship provides students with the opportunity to use all the knowledge they have learned from their courses work on real clients. The majority of our student obtain job opportunities through their internship experience.  

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting at local and national conferences exploring innovative areas of interest to them. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School, faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus, and in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program.

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IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work in oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays.

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Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in addiction counseling and prevention.
Professor Lecturing to a Class

Addiction Counseling & Prevention

A national leader in addiction counseling and prevention education for nearly 50 years, we emphasize state-of-the-art, evidence-based approaches through community partnerships and hands-on experiences.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Addiction Counseling and Prevention. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in evidence-based practice in the treatment of substance use disorders, medication assisted treatment, addiction counseling, trauma and addiction psychopathology, addictive family systems and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kelly Bass

Kelly Bass

Chair-Social Work
Bio Image for Faculty Member John Korkow

John Korkow

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Amy Orr

Amy Orr

Advisor, Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mary Merrigan

Mary Merrigan

Emeritus Faculty
Faculty Default

Christina Berger

Program Assistant I
Bio Image for Faculty Member Diane Sevening

Diane Sevening

Emeritus Faculty
People sitting a circle talking.

Follow Your Passion for Helping Others

Our communities need addiction counselors and prevention specialists who can support the health of individuals and families, and these careers are in high demand. Through the master's program or graduate certificate in addiction counseling and prevention, you can expand your capacity to change lives and gain confidence in your work. 

Bob Bogue of the Keystone Treatment Center.

The USD Difference is Apparent

Since 1973, USD has been a national leader in addiction counseling, co-occurring and prevention education. The programs at USD boast national credentialing pass rates of nearly 100% and an employment placement rate of 95%. USD's high-quality education and extensive curriculum is held in high regard by experts in the field. Graduates of USD are actively pursued by employers in schools, in-patient and outpatient facilities, hospitals, private practices and correctional facilities.


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Become a Master!

Graduate certificates are a focused graduate-level set of coursework you can take advantage of to gain the most up-to-date evidence-based practices in your field. The coursework for the graduate certificate can be applied toward earning your advanced graduate degree from USD when you are ready. 

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
GA (Resident*)
Tuition (1 cr.)
GAF Fee (1 cr.)

More About Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates are subject to change and may vary depending on the program or department. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs page for more information.

* Graduate Assistant (GA) rates are available for resident, non-resident and online students.

** Resident rates may be available to you through the SD Advantage, Child of Alumni or Western Regional Graduate Program. To see if you quality, visit usd.edu/grad-tuition.

hear from a usd alum

Success story Kelsey Barrett smiling.
Professors don’t just teach from textbooks, but from their past field experiences. Learning from realistic situations taught me what to expect from a source who’s actually been there. It’s easy to tell they care about addiction’s evolution in the country. The way they adapt course content to match today’s issues will make me a more successful addiction professional.

Kelsey Barrett M.A., CRADC

M.A. Addiction Counseling & Prevention '17
B.S. Addiction Studies '16
Young Adult Group Therapist, Compass Health Center
Normal, Illinois

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