Counselor/Clinician Education Opportunities

An academic degree is usually needed to advance as a counselor.

Academic coursework and other training can satisfy licensing or certification requirements.

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. Contact the MA DPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services' Licensing Unit at alex.kearns@state.ma.us or 617-624-5173 to check.

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.

Associate's Programs

Bachelor's Programs

Master's Programs

Ph.D. Programs

  • 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.
Wiliam James College (formerly the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology) offers Masters and Doctoral degrees which can have a specialization in Military and Veteran Psychology, and include a component on substance use and addiction.

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

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 Programs (AAEP) for individual licensure (LADC) are marked 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 providersupport@mahealth.net

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.

Training options

Trainings can count toward licensure. See Training Resources and Training Suggestions.