The new degree is designed to prepare professionals for advanced levels of competency to address current and future addiction challenges in society, and it offers graduates of the program the highest level of addiction professional certification through the South Dakota Certification Board for Alcohol and Drug Professionals (SDCL 36-24). Additionally, the program will assist the state in meeting the demand for professionals in the field as evidenced by the South Dakota Department of Labor, which currently lists substance abuse counselors in the top 15 of “Fastest Growing Occupations.”

According to Dona Kennealley, chairperson of USD’s Department of Alcohol and Drug Studies, growth in the field has remained steady over the last several years with overall employment of substance abuse counselors expected to rise faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. The National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors also says the need for addiction professionals licensed and possessing a master’s degree is expected to increase 35 percent this year.

“Not only does a master’s degree in addiction studies support the Governor’s 2010 Educational Initiative providing opportunities for graduate-level training and education,” Kennealley added, “it responds to the credentialing needs of the profession and prepares more graduates for employment in addiction counseling.”

USD’s master’s degree in addiction studies is the first to be offered in South Dakota and the region. The Department of Alcohol and Drug Studies is part of USD’s School of Health Sciences.

To apply online for the Master of Arts in Addiction Studies degree, please go to or for more information, contact the Division of Continuing and Distance Education, at (605) 677-6240 or 1-800-233-7937.

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