• Apply for Admission
  • Explore Programs and Courses
  • Pathway to Student Services
  • Resources and Library Services
  • Alumni, Friends, and Community

Alcohol and Drug Counseling (MS)

[Program Overview] [Program Outcomes] [Curriculum] [Foundation Courses] [Other Core Curricula] [Research Applications] [Clinical Applications]
[Additional Coursework] [Possible Electives] [Admission Criteria] [Application Requirements] [Transfer Credit] [Academic Standing]
[Time to Completion] [Faculty] [Contact Information]

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).

Curriculum (48 credits)

Foundation Courses (12 credits)

Other Core Curricula (28 credits)

  • HSCD 603: Ethics and Professional Practice (2)
  • PSYC 647: Psychopathology (3)
  • HSCD 610: Evidence-Based Group Counseling (2)
  • HSCD 611: Psychopharmacology (3)
  • HSCD 612: Culturally Specific and Anti-Oppressive Practice (3)
  • HSCD 613: Harm Reduction and Brief Interventions (3)
  • HSCD 614: Case Management and Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (3)
  • HSCD 615: Relapse Prevention and Long-term Recovery Management (3)
  • HSCD 630: Integrated Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders (3)
  • HSCD 640: Clinical Supervision (3)

Research Applications (4-semester series, 4 credits)

  • HSCD 651: Master's Project I (1)
  • HSCD 652: Master's Project II (1)
  • HSCD 652: Master's Project III (1)
  • HSCD 652: Master's Project IV (1)

Clinical Applications (4-semester series, 4 credits)

  • HSCD 681: Practicum I (1)
  • HSCD 682: Practicum II (1)
  • HSCD 683: Practicum III (1)
  • HSCD 684: Practicum IV (1)

Possible Electives

  • PSYC 602: Prevention Theories and Strategies (4)
  • PSYC 611: Lifespan Development (4)
  • PSYC 614: Group Dynamics and Processes (4)
  • PSYC 618: Program Evaluation (4)
  • PSYC 620: Grants in Community-based Practice (4)
  • PSYC 646: Health Psychology (4)
  • PSYC 670: Program Design and Community Intervention (4)
  • HSCD 631: Advanced Applications of IDDT (2)
  • HSCD 632: Trauma in Chemical Dependency and Mental Health (2)
  • HSCD 633: Eating Disorders (2)
  • HSCD 634: Dialectal Behavioral Therapies (2)
  • HSCD 641: Family Therapy (3)
  • HSCD 642: Career Development (2)

Admission Criteria

An earned baccalaureate degree in Health, Social or Behavioral Sciences from a regionally accredited university (or equivalent) and including:

  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 point scale) total and
  • Alcohol and drug counseling coursework GPA of at least 3.5
  • The following prerequisite undergraduate coursework:
    • Statistics: STAT 201 or equivalent
    • Abnormal Psychology: PSYC 300 or equivalent
    • Research Methods: PSYC 312, HSER 368 or equivalent
    • Best Practices in Alcohol and Drug Counseling: HSCD 400 or equivalent
  • Evidence of Unencumbered Professional License (where applicable).      

Students with a lower GPA maybe admitted conditionally and could progress to full admission upon completion of at least 8 graduate level credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students without the prerequisite coursework at time of application may be admitted conditionally and could progress to full admission upon completion of required courses.

Application Requirements

This is a summary listing only. See Applying to the Program full details on application requirements and the deadline.

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

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 and a letter grade of B or better was earned in the course, and the course was taken within 5 years of admission.

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) will complete the program in two years. Part-time students (3-5 credits per semester) will complete the program in 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.


Resident Faculty: Therissa Libby, Bill Payne, Glen Spielmans; Community Faculty: To be determined.

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 or bill.payne@metrostate.edu . General questions about the applying process can be directed to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu.