An academic degree is usually needed to advance as a counselor.
Academic coursework and other training can satisfy licensing or certification requirements.
- See this Comparison of Licensure and Certification requirements and features.
- See the Alcohol and Drug Counselor Licensure Requirements, for areas your education should cover in order to count toward specific initial licensure requirements.
- Continuing Education is required for licensure renewal, and may count toward initial licensure as well.
Make your coursework count!
You may be able to have coursework for an academic degree also satisfy other requirements. When choosing a course or program make sure that it is “recognized” or "approved" by the state for the purpose of licensure. If a course is an AAEP (Approved Addiction Education Provider) through the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, or if it is NAADAC-approved, it will count toward Massachusetts licensure. To check, contact the MA DPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services' Licensing Unit at Ian.Bain@state.ma.us (preferred), or by phone 617-624-5165.
In general, “Recognized Entities” for licensure are:
- An accredited educational institution
- Professional organization
- Training institute
- Governmental body
- Recognized certifying body or other entity which has been recognized or authorized by the Department to sponsor, conduct or approve continuing education programs for alcohol and drug counselors/assistants
"Approved Addiction Education Providers," or AAEPs, are marked as such under the Certificate Programs, below.
If you are a representative of a Certificate Program that provides all or most of the required 270 hours of coursework for initial LADC eligibility, you may apply to become an AAEP in the "For Educators" section on the BSAS website's Training and Workforce Development page.
The following Higher Education Treatment Programs are designed for Counselors but can also be taken by others.
Some of the coursework will also satisfy requirements for Licensure or Certification.
- Massasoit Community College - AS Human Services
- North Shore Community College - Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation
- Northern Essex Community College - AS Human Services
- Springfield College - BS in Human Services with concentration in Addiction Studies
- Cambridge College – BA in Human Services with concentration in Addiction Studies (prepares for CADC)
- Cambridge College –M. Ed. program in Counseling Psychology (prepares for CADC and LADC)
- Cambridge College – M. Ed. in Mental Health Counseling (prepares for LMHC, option to prepare for CADC and LADC)
- Cambridge College – M. Ed. School Adjustment and Mental Health Counseling (prepares for DESE, LMHC, option to prepare for CADC, LADAC)
- Brandeis NIAAA Fellowship. This is a federally-sponsored doctoral training program housed within IBH, to support and educate qualified doctoral students interested in research careers. The focus of the program is the study of the impact of the organization, financing, and management of alcohol prevention and treatment services on quality, cost, access to, and outcomes of care. The NIAAA Training Program is a full-time three-year PhD program.
One is the Train Vets to Treat Vets special program for former service personnel and reservists who are interested in careers in mental health care.
The Military & Veterans Psychology (MVP®) Concentration trains people who have not served in the US Military to provide culturally competent services to those who have.
The College participates in the Yellow Ribbon scholarship program to support veterans in obtaining education (see Education Funding)
Certificate Programs can satisfy some of the educational requirements for licensure, and some programs specifically prepare students for either a Certification exam or the state Licensure Exam (the state accepts some Certifications in lieu of the licensure exam). Continuing Education and Training courses can also be used to satisfy some licensure requirements. Ask whether the program will prepare you for specific certification or licensure exams; and if credits can be transferred to degree-granting programs. APPROVED ADDICTION EDUCATION PROVIDERS for individual licensure (LADC) are marked AAEP.
- AdCare Educational Institute -Latino(a) Behavioral Health Workforce Training Program (Springfield and Boston) AAEP
- AdCare Educational Institute - Addiction Counselor Education Certificate Program (Central MA) (prepares for CADC exam; additional work experience will be required to be certified) AAEP
- Assumption College- Certificate in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling AAEP
- Becker College - Certificate in Alcoholism/Drug Abuse Counseling AAEP
- Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis- Certificate in Addictions Counseling
- Bridgewater State University – Post-MSW Addictions Certificate
- Cambridge College – Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study – Mental Health Counseling prepares for LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Clinician), CADC and LADC
- Cambridge College - Addiction Rehabilitation Studies Certificate
- Cambridge College - Certificate in Alcohol & Drug Counseling (prepares for certification -CADC and licensure -LADC)
- Cape Cod Community College- Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor Assistant Certificate AAEP
- Center for Addiction Studies and Research- Addiction Treatment Certification AAEP
- Holyoke Community College - Addictions Studies Certificate
- Middlesex Community College - Alcoholism/Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate
- Mount Wachusett Community College - Substance Aubse Counseling Certicficate
- North Shore Community College - Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate AAEP
- Northern Essex Community College - Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Certificate AAEP
- Trundy Institute of Addiction Counseling - CADC/CAC/LADC Preparation Program AAEP
- UMASS Boston – ACEP: Addiction Counselor Education Program (and Certificate) (get certificate or just prepare for CADC/LADC) AAEP
- Westfield State - Addiction Counselor Education Certificate Program (prepares for CADC exam; additional work experience will be required to be certified) AAEP
Specialty Certifications include:
- Becker College has a special grant for 2015-2018 to offer two FREE Community Health Worker Certificates on Adolescents and one on Families. Each is comprised of three, one-credit course. See General Information and a Description of the Courses.
- UMass Medical School Certificate in Primary Care Behavioral Health provides training for behavioral health professionals to work with primary care offices.
- University of Massachusetts Peer Mentor/Recovery Coach Certificate - 50-hour distance learning course covering advocacy, mentoring/education, recovery/wellness support and ethical responsibility. Leads to Peer Mentor Certificate offered by various credentialing boards across the US, including the IC & RC. For providing mental health, developmental disability and/or addiction related peer support.
- University of Massachusetts "Digital Chalk" Prevention Specialist course - 40 hour student-directed distance learning course leads to the Prevention Specialist (PS) credential offered by various credentialing boards across the US. Covers the five competencies that comprise the Prevention Specialist credential: planning & evaluation, education & skill development, community organization, public policy, and professional growth & responsibility.
- University of Massachusetts "Digital Chalk" also has other 40-hour, student-directed courses:
-Clinical Supervision Specialist (CSS)Training Series (advanced course, after obtaining licensure)
-Co-occurring Disorders Specialist (CDS) Training Series
-Criminal Justice Substance Abuse Specialist (CJSAS) Training Series
-NIDA Research Report: Heroin, MDMA, & Marijuana
- University of Massachusetts Tobacco certification accredited by the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence’s Council for Tobacco Treatment Training Programs. Tobacco cessation work done by people with this certification is reimbursable through MassHealth. The following questions and answers are from the website; check for updates.
Who can bill MassHealth for providing tobacco cessation counseling?
Community health centers, physicians and acute outpatient hospital departments can bill MassHealth for providing tobacco cessation counseling services to covered members.
“Physicians” are any MassHealth-enrolled MDs, such as primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and specialty physicians.
Clinical providers eligible to provide the counseling service are physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, registered nurses, physicians’ assistants, and qualified tobacco cessation counselors. All non-physician providers must be under the supervision of a physician, except independent nurse practitioners and independent nurse midwives providing the tobacco cessation counseling services directly.
Can substance abuse and mental health facilities participate in this new benefit?
Eligible MassHealth members may access tobacco cessation medications by having their primary care provider or other qualified MassHealth physician write a prescription.
Substance abuse facilities and mental health clinics may not obtain payment from MassHealth for tobacco cessation counseling services at this time. Members may receive counseling from their primary care clinician or a qualified member of the clinical team in their community health center, physician’s office, or outpatient hospital department.
For more information from MassHealth about the overall tobacco cessation benefit, call MassHealth Customer Service at 1-800-841-2900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Education options
NOTE: The State will accept online college coursework for licensure requirements; the Massachusetts Board of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification does not accept online coursework for initial certification, although it is accepted for certification renewal.
- Online Courses Available through Massachusetts Community Colleges: http://www.mco.mass.edu/index.jsp