Indiana University Northwest
Department of Psychology

Department of Psychology

Masters in Clinical Counseling with Specialization in Drug and Alcohol Counseling - M.S

Masters in Clinical Counseling with Specialization in Drug and Alcohol Counseling - M.S

The Master of Science in Clinical Counseling with Specialization in Drug and Alcohol Counseling (MSCC) program is designed for students who wish to prepare for careers in addiction counseling.Download the application form. Applications will be accepted until March 1.  Applications received after March 1 will be considered if openings remain.

 Program Objectives

 The program recognizes that drug and alcohol addiction and treatment are complex topics driven by an array of biological, genetic, neural, psychological, social, and cultural forces. The program will help students acquire information about assessment, psycho-pharmacology, evidence-based counseling methods, addiction theory, and professional practice.

Students will study various addictions and how they affect the mind, body, and emotions as well as diagnostic formulation, documentation procedures, treatment planning, and facilitation of individual and group sessions.

Students will gain basic knowledge about pharmacology, abnormal psychology, theories of addictions, and treatment options. Students will develop and practice counseling skills and learn how to evaluate treatment methods and techniques. Graduates will be prepared to pursue licensure. 


To be considered for admission to the MSCC program, students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and should have obtained an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0.  Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are recommended. Students with a GPA slightly below 3.0 for a recent degree, or students with a slightly lower GPA who are returning to college with relevant work experience in a health or human services agency may be admitted if their applications contain sufficient evidence of their skills and ability to succeed in graduate work. 

Prerequisites include 15 hours of coursework in psychology, including introductory psychology, research methods, statistics, and abnormal psychology with grades of at least a B-.

Degree Requirements

The program requires 36 credit hours, typically completed over four semesters based on three courses each semester. It consists of two components, didactic classroom instruction (27 credit hours) and "in the field" counseling experience (9 credit hours).


Coursework is heavily concentrated in psychology and counseling disciplines for both core courses and electives. The classroom instruction will provide students with a basic understanding of many of the forces that drive an addiction, an array of drug and alcohol treatment procedures, theories of drug use and abuse, the addictions process and its mental health connections, pharmacology, core counselor functions, strategies for addressing addiction, and ethical considerations.


The undergraduate and graduate degree offerings of the College of Arts and Sciences are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission as an Academic Quality Improvement Program and as a member of the North Central Association. 

Experiential Learning

The field training component will pair students with seasoned professionals who will mentor them in all aspects of counseling substance abusers.  Field training exposes students to the practice of the core counselor functions including screening, intake, assessment, treatment planning, counseling, case management, crisis intervention, client education, and record keeping.

What can I do with an MSCC?

The program is specifically designed to help candidates master the background information needed to qualify for the Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor credential in the State of Indiana.  In addition to direct service to clients, addictions counselors may become supervisors or administrators in their agen­cies, move into research or consulting, or go into private or group practice. Some may choose to pursue a doctoral degree to improve their chances for advancement.

Career Outlook

 The latest information about the career outlook for MSCC graduates can be found here

 Drug and alcohol addictions remain one of the most vexing problems facing society. One in ten adults in the U.S. is currently addicted to alcohol or drugs and almost one-third of all adults will struggle with addictions at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, there exists a shortage of therapists who are prepared with graduate-level knowledge and skills in addictions treatment.


 According the labor department figures, job prospects for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 21 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How many credits are required for the degree?

The program includes 36 credit hours (27 classroom hours and 9 practicum hours).

What are the undergraduate prerequisites for admission to the master's program?

Prerequisites include 15 hours of Psychology, including introductory psychology, research methods, statistics, and abnormal psychology with grades of at least B-.

What is the best way to obtain letters of recommendation?

Letters of reference must be on official letterhead with original signatures, or emailed from an institutional email address and include an electronic signature. Letters from friends, relatives, and co-workers are unacceptable. The recommender should state whether he or she knows you as an employee or as a student as well as how long they have known you. They should address such issues as your capability for graduate work, industriousness, motivation, perseverance, intellectual curiosity, and empathy.

Tip: Schedule an appointment to speak with your recommender rather than requesting letters by email. Professors from the courses you completed more than a few years ago cannot write an informed letter. Give recommenders 2-3 weeks’ notice.

When do classes begin and how quickly can I complete the degree requirements?

Students may begin the program in the fall or the spring semester. For those who begin in the fall and attend full-time, the degree can be completed in 5 consecutive semesters, including one summer session.

Please see the attached list of requirements and course sequences for fall start dates

What are the course descriptions for the MSCC classes?

See the link for course descriptions.

If I am accepted, can I defer my enrollment?

Enrollment may be deferred up to one year with written permission from the department chair.

Can I keep my full-time job and still complete the degree?

Classes in the degree program are scheduled in the evenings to accommodate working students. However, class attendance and expectations for out-of-class reading and preparation are much more demanding than those at the undergraduate level. We recommend that for full-time enrollment (9 credit hours) students should plan to work no more than 20 hours/week. Based on the experience of past students, full-time employment is quite challenging if your employer expects you to work over-time or is inflexible regarding your school schedule.

Can I attend part-time?

Yes, but you may enroll in no fewer than six credit hours in the fall and spring semesters. NOTE: the maximum time to complete the degree is 8 semesters. Students may not enroll in the practicum until they have completed P535, P641, and P624 which are offered only in the fall, so delays in completing these courses will lead to delays in practicum enrollment. Practicum and internship courses must be completed sequentially, not simultaneously.

What are the tuition and fees for graduate degrees?

Tuition and fees for degrees are reset every year by the Indiana University Board of Trustees. For 2013-2014 the per credit-hour fee is $255.96 for Indiana residents. Below is an example of costs that may be incurred for one semester. This is an estimation and costs may vary per student. Please see the Bursar’s web page for current fees

Approximation of costs for a 9 credit hour semester (including mandatory fees)

Resident Graduate Instructional Credit Rate: $255.96 X 9 credit hours = $2303.64

Student Activity Fee:$5.22 X 9 credit hours = $46.98

Temporary Repair & Rehab Fee: $5.00 X 9 credit hours = $45.00

Technology Fee for 9 credit hours: $150.36 hours

Total = $2545.98

Is financial aid available?

As of this time, there are no grants available for the master's program, but federal loans may be available. Complete a FAFSA to confirm your eligibility. Although taking out loans to finance your education is risky, programs such as income-based repayment (IBR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) can make federal loan repayment more manageable. Many organizations that specialize in drug and alcohol counseling qualify for the PSLF program.

Will I be given credit for graduate work I have already completed?

Students may be given credit for up to 9 hours of required or relevant elective classes completed with a grade of B or better. These credits will be evaluated only after admission.

Can I get credit for previous work experience?

If you have worked in the field of addictions counseling under a qualified supervisor, you may be eligible for up to 3 hours of practicum credit. These credits will be evaluated after admission.

How does the program prepare students for licensing?

The program is designed to help candidates master the background information needed to succeed on the licensing exam. The curriculum does not include a specific test preparation course. Note that in addition to completing the formal education requirements, applicants for the clinical addiction counselor license must have at least two years of clinical addiction counseling experience under appropriate supervision. For details, see the document Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board Compilation of the Indiana Code and Indiana Administrative Code 2012 Edition

Is a criminal background check needed for admission?

IUN reserves the right to conduct a limited criminal background check before students enroll for course work in order to ensure the applicant meets state licensing guidelines. In addition, the State of Indiana now requires all applicants for the LCAC to submit to a national criminal history background check at the cost of the individual.

What is the employment outlook for addictions counselors?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook: Employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 27 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. As society becomes more knowledgeable about addiction, more people are seeking treatment. Furthermore, drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs rather than to prison. For more detailed information