Program Overview

Mastery of substance use disorders counseling requires superior competency in the delivery of best practices, in combination with strong client-centered clinical skills. The Master of Science degree in Alcohol and Drug Counseling is designed to foster the necessary advanced knowledge and skills, allowing counselors to address the increasingly complex challenge of effectively addressing substance use and co-occurring disorders. The program is strongly centered on expertise in the theory and application of evidence-based practices (including motivational interviewing and cognitive-behavioral therapies), co-occurring disorders competency, culturally responsive and anti-oppressive practice, ethics and professionalism, and integration of new research findings into clinical practice.

Program Outcomes
  • Distinguish key elements of the investigative process and scholarly review, thus developing competency in evaluation of clinical and social research.
  • Examine and appraise the evidence base for specific best practices in substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders counseling.
  • Critique the evidence base for specific best practices in substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders counseling with regard to multicultural inclusion and anti-oppressive practices.
  • Develop competency in applying evidence-based practices with fidelity in clinical and community-based settings in ways that are culturally appropriate and specific.
  • Formulate a personal commitment to anti-oppressive practices and a plan for implementing such practices in clinical and community-based settings.
  • Evaluate the principles of ethical behavior and decision-making, and create a personal code of professional ethics.
  • Demonstrate healthy personal behavior and self-care consistent with culturally and personally appropriate standards of health and wellness.
  • Demonstrate written and oral communication skills at a professional level appropriate for effective substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders counseling.
  • Qualify for the state of Minnesota LADC (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor).
  • With additional coursework, qualify for the state of Minnesota LPC/LPCC (Licensed Professional Counselor/Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor).

More information about this program

Admission Criteria

This is a summary listing only. See Applying to the Program for full details on application requirements, admission criteria, and deadline information.

  • Graduate Application
  • $20 non-refundable application fee (waived for graduates of Metropolitan State University)
  • Official transcripts
  • Three professional references
  • Current resume
  • Admission essay
Transfer Credit

Up to 12 credits may be transferred from other graduate programs. A review of transfer eligibility will be made by the Graduate Program Coordinator. The course work must have been taken from a regionally accredited university. The credits that are being requested for transfer must have been taken at the graduate level (a course number of at least 500 or higher). A course is eligible for transfer only if no degree was granted, a letter grade of B or better was earned in the course, and the course was taken within 5 years of admission.

Additional Information

Other Core, Research and Clinical required courses pending approval: 
  • HSCD 620 Psychopharmacology
  • HSCD 631 Integrated Care: Treatment and Recovery Planning
  • HSCD 632 Integrated Care: Harm Reduction and Case Management
  • HSCD 651 Master's Project I
  • HSCD 652 Master's Project II
  • HSCD 681 Practicum I
  • HSCD 682 Practicum II
  • HSCD 635 Integrated Care: Advanced Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices
Academic Standing

Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain in the graduate program and to maintain financial aid eligibility. Only courses with a letter grade of B- (2.67) or better count toward degree requirements; a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required for graduation. Grading in the program is letter grade only; pass/fail grading is not an option.

If a student receives a letter grade of C+ (2.33) or below in any graduate course, s/he will be placed on academic probation. If a student receives a letter grade of C+ or below in two courses, s/he will be dismissed from the graduate program.

If a student has been dismissed from the program for unsatisfactory academic progress, s/he may apply for readmission after one calendar year has passed. To reapply, students must submit an updated resume and a letter indicating what circumstances have changed and how s/he plans to successfully complete the program. The admissions committee reviews the request and responds in writing.

Time to Completion

Full-time students (8 credits per semester) complete the program in two years. Part-time students (2-6 credits per semester) complete the program in three to four years.

Students have eight years from their first semester of graduate study to complete the degree program requirements. Students may request an extension of the time limit by writing to the Graduate Program Coordinator. Such requests must be received prior to the expiration of the time limit. Requests for extensions should include reason(s) for requesting the extension, a summary plan to complete graduation requirements, and a specific date for the extension to expire. Extension decisions are made by the Graduate Program Coordinator and are not automatic and cannot be appealed.

Faculty

Resident Faculty: Therissa Libby (program coordinator), Glen Spielmans; Community Faculty: Derrick Crim, Sue Fust, Tamarah Gehlen, Shvonne Johnson, Amanda Richards

Contact Information

After reviewing the information provided on the website, if you have specific questions regarding the MS in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, you may email therissa.libby@metrostate.edu. General questions about the applying process can be directed to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu.

Additional Program Information 


How Admissions Works

We are looking forward to you joining us. Take the first step by filling out this application.
Course List

Prerequisites

Requirements ( 48 total credits)

Foundation Courses (12 credits)

  • HSCD 600 Foundations, Models and Evidence-Based Practices
    3 credits

    This course provides an advanced survey of the history of the alcohol and drug counseling discipline, the foundations of the practice of alcohol and drug counseling, and current evidence-based practices that are informing practice and improving outcomes. Students review the historical, social, cultural, theoretical and epidemiological foundations of alcohol and drug counseling; utilize this foundation to explore the scientific research that underpins theories of addiction; explore and critique evidence-based practices and interventions that produce positive behavior change those receiving alcohol and drug counseling services; and discuss the future of the profession.

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  • HSCD 601 Theory and Practice of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies
    3 credits

    In this course, students explore cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs) and their application to substance use disorders counseling (SUDC) and co-occurring disorders counseling (CODC). Theory, research base and practice are all emphasized. In considering the theoretical base of CBTs, students investigate the research and service gaps in multicultural application of these interventions. The course includes a practice dimension that allows students to advance their skills in using multiple cognitive-behavioral approaches with clients in SUDC and CODC.

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  • HSCD 602 Advanced Motivational Interviewing: Practice and Supervision
    2 credits

    This course focuses on motivational interviewing (MI) skills. Students consider the theory, research base and practice of MI. Building on this knowledge, students are guided through practice exercises and skill-building sessions. These include recording and coding of mock counseling sessions, which are designed to build student proficiency in utilization of this key component of alcohol and drug counseling.

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  • HSCD 650 Evaluation and Utilization of Research
    3 credits

    This course is designed to expand understanding of formal and informal investigations relevant to alcohol and drug counseling, and to guide students in evaluating research and incorporating research results into counseling practice. Students endeavor to become proficient in searching, evaluating and critiquing scientific literature, particularly that regarding evidence-based practices and clinical outcomes evaluation in alcohol and drug counseling. Students also critically assess research with regard to the populations on which it is performed and on which its evaluation instruments are normed. This course provides the foundation for the Masters Project, as students determine the topic areas of their projects and consider how to implement them with underserved populations.

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Other Core Curricula (28 credits)

  • HSCD 603 Ethics and Professional Practice
    2 credits

    This course provides advanced understanding of the ethical and professional responsibilities of alcohol and drug counselors. The course explores specific components of ethical theories, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Alcohol and Drug Counselors in Minnesota, the ethical decision-making process, and application to specific clinical cases. Emphasis is placed on thoughtful consideration of ethically ambiguous and/or morally charged situations, on engaging in dialogue with peers to help resolve them, and on each student's personal biases as they affect decision-making. Attention is also given to the role of self-care in maintaining professionalism.

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  • HSCD 610 Evidence-Based Group Counseling
    3 credits

    In this course, students investigate group theories, dynamics and processes at an advanced level. Emphasis is placed on the foundations of group facilitation and on application of motivational interviewing skills, cognitive behavioral strategies and other evidence-based practices to group counseling. Students gain advanced knowledge and capacities in process, dynamics, developmental stages, leadership and ethical issues involved facilitating group work in substance use disorders counseling (SUDC) and co-occurring disorders counseling (CODC). Students participate in a classroom-based skills development group as part of this course.

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  • HSCD 611 Culturally Responsive and Anti-Oppressive Practice
    3 credits

    In this course, students engage in thoughtful dialogue regarding issues of race, class, language and immigrant status in the provision of alcohol and drug counseling and co-occurring disorders counseling services. The course places the interplay of racism, classism and addiction in its historical context, and considers how institutionalized race and class privilege manifest in current research and treatment gaps and law enforcement biases. Attention is given to the intersectionality of racism and classism with other forms of oppression, such as those based on sex, sexual and gender identity and ability. Students examine their own preconceptions and points of privilege, and evaluate methods of bridging service gaps through incremental and systemic change. Students also consider power structures in helping relationships, with the goal of creating egalitarian and empowering practices in alcohol and drug counseling and co-occurring disorders counseling.

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  • HSCD 620 Psychopharmacology
    3 credits

    This course provides a broad understanding of psychopharmacology related to substance use and co-occurring disorders. Following a review of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and synaptic and behavioral mechanisms of addictive drugs, the course focuses on medications used to treat substance use and psychiatric disorders. Students distinguish among the major classes of psychotherapeutic and anti-addiction medications, and evaluate the evidence base for clinical effectiveness of psychiatric medications for co-occurring disorders and medication-assisted treatments for substance use disorders. Competence Statement Students demonstrate knowledge of the actions of addictive drugs and psychiatric and anti-addiction medications on the brain and behavior, and demonstrate application of this knowledge as would be expected in clinical settings.

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  • HSCD 630 Integrated Care: Screening and Assessment
    3 credits

    A wide variety of screening instruments, assessment tools and diagnostic criteria are used to evaluate the nature and severity of substance use disorders (SUD) and co-occurring disorders (COD). In this course, students examine the process of screening and assessment, beginning with a consideration of counselor characteristics that influence effective engagement of clients, and of ethical concerns inherent in assessment. Screening and assessment methods are evaluated on their evidence base, with special consideration given to cultural inclusion in creating, norming and applying such methods. Students gain advanced experience in utilizing screening and assessment methods that show evidence of validity, reliability and cultural appropriateness, with particular attention to those required by the state of Minnesota for service placement. Competence Statement Students demonstrate skill in assessing substance use and co-occurring mental disorders in a highly professional, therapeutic and culturally responsive manner.

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  • HSCD 632 Integrated Care: Harm Reduction and Case Management
    3 credits

    This course introduces the philosophical underpinnings of public health approaches to and case management of substance use and co-occurring disorders. Students gain knowledge and understanding of the history, principles and strategies of harm reduction interventions, as well as knowledge of and proficiency in delivering specific brief interventions that have been shown to reduce both risky behavior and its consequences. Students also review the principles of and strategies for effective case management in substance use and co-occurring disorders counseling, and create a broad database of case management resources. Significant attention is paid to culturally specific considerations and strategies, and students consider issues of gender, race, class and age when reviewing access to and appropriateness of services.

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  • HSCD 640 Clinical Supervision
    3 credits

    This course is designed to prepare students for effective clinical supervision in the provision of services for those with substance use and co-occurring disorders. Topics include elements of supervision, enhancing effectiveness of supervision, managing the supervisory relationship, and ethical and legal concerns that supervisors may be required to address. Consideration is given to power structures, pitfalls and cross-cultural issues encountered in supervisory relationships, and to supervision as a partnership in support of superior client care and professional goals.

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  • PSYC 611 Advanced Lifespan Developmental Psychology
    4 credits

    Lifespan developmental psychology reviews a variety of advanced concepts, theories and principles of human development from conception, prenatal development, and young adulthood through late adulthood. This course will emphasize the cognitive, physical and social aspects of development from a topical approach and review important contemporary as well as classic theories addressing lifespan development. Discussions will include a variety of contemporary topics of developmental psychology (i.e., Gender differences in behaviors, ADHD; Childhood obesity, styles of play and cultural parenting practices) from a variety of scholarly journal articles. Other key topics that will be addressed include research design in developmental psychology, maturation, cross-cultural topics relative to parenting and lifespan development, human growth experiences and the various stages of physical development as key components influencing human behaviors.

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  • PSYC 648 Psychopathology
    3 credits

    In this course, students gain advanced understanding of the etiology and treatment of psychopathology/psychiatric disorders as viewed from several theoretical perspectives. Assessment and diagnostic tools are reviewed, preparing students to apply this information in clinical practice. The overlap between psychopathology/psychiatric disorders and substance use disorders is described. The widely used DSM diagnostic system will be critically examined in terms of both its evidence base and its multicultural relevance.

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Possible Electives

  • HSCD 612 Family Counseling
    2 credits

    This course provides an advanced survey of family systems theories and family therapies. Attention is given to evidence-based practices, particularly cognitive-behavioral interventions and therapies; this includes an overview of a variety of approaches that assist families in coping with substance use and co-occurring disorders. Students engage with cross-generational issues and multicultural considerations, and review social and practice trends as relevant to family therapy. Competence Statement Students integrate knowledge of family systems theories into their understanding of substance use and co-occurring disorders service provision, and demonstrate counseling and psycho-educational skills utilized in the application of family systems therapies.

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  • HSCD 613 Career Development Theory and Practice
    2 credits

    This course provides an overview of the major theories of career development, career choice, and decision making, emphasizing assessment, vocational guidance strategies, and sources of occupational information. Attention is paid to multicultural and gender issues related to career development and applications of career counseling. Competence Statement Students demonstrate knowledge and skills needed to assess and facilitate career development in those affected by substance use and co-occurring disorders.

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  • PSYC 602 Prevention Theories and Strategies
    4 credits

    This course provides an advanced survey of theories and approaches to preventive psychology. Students will develop knowledge and skills that can be used in helping individuals, communities and organizations work to prevent issues such as violence, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, child abuse, obesity, and other behaviorally based social, mental health, and health issues. Emphasis is placed on developing knowledge and skills relevant to creating and adapting prevention programs for use in culturally diverse communities. Topics may include: stress and coping theory/research; social support and mutual help interventions; prevention theory, research, and strategies; health promotion and other community/social change strategies.

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  • PSYC 618 Program Evaluation
    4 credits

    Learn how to utilize research skills in the applied area of program evaluation, including conceptualization, roles as evaluators, planning and implementing an evaluation, as well as analyzing and reporting results to stakeholders and participants. The strengths and weaknesses of various quantitative and qualitative methods of program evaluation are discussed, emphasizing an awareness of and sensitivity to potential cultural, class, and gender differences in the evaluation process. Students engage in a community-based program evaluation hands-on project.

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