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Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling (MS)

About The Program

Counseling for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders presents professionals with a broad range of challenges and opportunities. Clinical effectiveness and systems change require mastery of strong person-centered skills in combination with a thorough grounding in best practices.

Graduates with a Master of Science in Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling are counselors who are change agents, committed to supporting individuals, families, and communities in defining and fostering wellness. The Co-occurring Disorders program at Metro State is strongly centered on building advanced clinical skills, implementing best practices that are community responsive, demonstrating anti-oppressive care and striving for ethical excellence. Graduates qualify for licensure as Alcohol and Drug Counselors and Professional Counselors in the state of Minnesota. With two years of post-master's supervised practice, graduates qualify for licensure as Professional Clinical Counselors in the state of Minnesota.

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Program Accreditation

Our program is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC*). NASAC ensures that higher education addiction studies programs adhere to a single, comprehensive standard. This standardization raises the quality and consistency of addiction studies education across institutions.

*NASAC is the result of a collaborative effort between two prominent entities in the field of addiction studies: the International Coalition for Addiction Studies Education (INCASE) and the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). Together, they formed an alliance to establish NASAC.

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Co-occurring Disorders program student outcomes

Graduates of the MS in Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling program are prepared to:

  • Integrate effective practices into service delivery to those affected by substance use, mental health and co-occurring disorders by:
    • distinguishing the strengths and limitations of clinical research.
    • appraising research literature for quality and applicability to practice.
    • critiquing research literature for multicultural inclusion and applicability.
    • applying principles of program evaluation to service delivery improvement.
    • implementing effective research-based strategies and evaluation practices in clinical settings.
  • Provide high-quality, culturally-responsive counseling to those affected by substance use, mental health and co-occurring disorders by:
    • engaging in person-centered care across the service continuum, including assessment, care planning, resource access and long-term support.
    • applying appropriate counseling theories and strategies in clinical settings.
    • addressing systemic barriers to optimal outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
    • demonstrating humility and effectiveness in the delivery of cross-cultural counseling.
    • utilizing clinical supervision for ongoing practice improvement.
  • Demonstrate ethical excellence in all aspects of counseling practice by:
    • addressing physical, mental and relational health on an ongoing basis.
    • integrating relevant statutory and ethical guidelines into a personal code of professional practice.
    • implementing an effective process for evaluating and responding to ethically challenging situations.
    • evaluating the impact on professional practice of own privilege, oppression and bias on an ongoing basis.
    • advancing competence through professional licensure, professional association involvement and continuing education.

Ready to become an agent of change?

Become a student in Metro State’s Co-occurring Disorders program where you can pursue a master’s degree to qualify for licensure as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor in Minnesota. With supportive faculty and staff, Metro State’s urban, higher-learning environment is diverse and inclusive.

How to enroll

Program eligibility requirements

Students must be able to pass a Minnesota Department of Human Services background study.

Prior to entering practicum, students must have a minimum of two years of freedom from mental health, physical health and substance use concerns that would impair their objectivity or effectiveness in performing the duties of a professional counselor.

Applicants must have an earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university (or equivalent) with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).

Priority is given to applicants with an earned baccalaureate degree in a health, behavioral or social science. Priority is given to applicants who have completed undergraduate coursework in Abnormal Psychology and/or Research Methods.

Applicants with a cumulative undergraduate GPA lower than 3.0 may be admitted conditionally and could progress to full admission upon completion of at least eight graduate level credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency or permanent resident status, documented or demonstrated as specified by University policy.

Application instructions

Metro State University is participating in the common application for graduate programs (GradCAS). Applications are only accepted via the CAS website.

CAS steps

  1. Select the term for which you are seeking admission (below), and navigate to the CAS website. Open applications include:
  2. Create or log in to your account and select the Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling (MS) program.
  3. Carefully review all instructions and complete all four sections of the application.

Specific application requirements for individual programs can be found on each program page in CAS. Carefully read the instructions that appear throughout the application pages. You can only submit your application once. If you need to update information you have submitted, please notify

Application fee

A nonrefundable $38 fee is required for each application.
Applications will not be processed until this fee is received.

Active-duty military, veterans, and Metro State alumni can receive an application fee waiver. Contact

Courses and Requirements


Students must be able to pass a Minnesota Department of Human Services background study. Prior to entering practicum, students must have a minimum of two years of freedom from mental health, physical health and substance use concerns that would impair their objectivity or effectiveness in performing the duties of a professional counselor.

Academic Standing

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

A letter grade of C+ or below in any graduate course results in being placed on academic probation. A letter grade of C+ or below in two courses requires consultation with the program director and academic advisor and may result in dismissal from the graduate program. Under such circumstances, application for readmission may be undertaken after one calendar year has passed. To reapply, the student must submit an updated resume, a letter indicating what circumstances have changed, and a plan for successfully completing the program. The Program Director reviews the request and responds in writing.

Time to Completion

Full-time students (8 credits per semester) complete the program in three years. Part-time students (5-6 credits per semester) complete the program in four years.

Contact Information

After reviewing the information provided on the website, if you have specific questions regarding the MS in Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling, you may email General questions about the application process can be directed to

Student licensure

Graduates qualify for licensure as Alcohol and Drug Counselors and Professional Counselors in the state of Minnesota.

Requirements (60 credits)

+ Foundation (16 credits)

In this course, students gain an initial understanding of substance use and co-occurring disorders and how they are addressed. Emphasis is placed on understanding multiple conceptualizations of the disorders and their treatment. The fundamental knowledge gained and resources explored in this course help prepare students for advanced studies in substance use or co-occurring disorders counseling.

Full course description for Introduction to Substance Use and Co-occurring Disorders

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.

Full course description for Foundations, Models and Evidence-Based Practices

In this course, students explore cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs), trauma-informed strategies (TIS) 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 and TIS, 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.

Full course description for Cognitive Behavioral and Trauma-Informed Strategies

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.

Full course description for Advanced Motivational Interviewing: Practice and Supervision

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.

Full course description for Ethics and Professional Practice

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.

Full course description for Culturally Responsive and Anti-Oppressive Practice

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.

Full course description for Evaluation and Utilization of Research

+ Other core curricula (36 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.

Full course description for Evidence-Based Group Counseling

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.

Full course description for Family Counseling

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.

Full course description for Career Development Theory and Practice

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.

Full course description for Psychopharmacology

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…

Full course description for Integrated Care: Screening and Assessment

The development and implementation of treatment plans is considered key to effective practice of substance use and co-occurring disorders counseling. In addition, treatment planning can play a central role in advocating for and obtaining the most appropriate care for a client. This course examines both treatment (short-term) and recovery (medium- to long-term) planning, including an examination of relevant service delivery systems in Minnesota. Students examine and practice counselor characteristics and strategies that promote retention in care, plan adherence and relapse prevention. Students consider the central roles of stage of change, client autonomy, cultural appropriateness and responsiveness, and motivational enhancement in treatment and recovery planning, and engage in advanced skills-building exercises. Competence Statement Students demonstrate knowledge and skills needed to assist individuals in designing person-centered, strengths-based care plans and to complete…

Full course description for Integrated Care: Treatment and Recovery Planning

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.

Full course description for Integrated Care: Harm Reduction and Case Management

Advanced practice of co-occurring disorders counseling requires excellence in clinical skills, program innovation and application of professional ethics. In this course, students build on their coursework and practicum experiences to gain advanced proficiencies in diagnostics, evidence-based practices and ethical decision-making. Students expand their competence in assessment and diagnosis of substance use, mental health and co-occurring disorders. Students examine the advancement of practice through emerging technologies and address barriers to implementation. Case studies that present especially challenging ethical dilemmas are considered and resolved through collaborative means. Special attention is paid to the responsiveness of professional counseling practice to the needs of clients from marginalized communities.

Full course description for Integrated Care: Advanced Practice

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.

Full course description for Clinical Supervision

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.

Full course description for Advanced Lifespan Developmental Psychology

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.

Full course description for Program Evaluation

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.

Full course description for Psychopathology

+ Research experience (4 credits)

This course supports students in creating, carrying out and completing projects designed to improve service delivery in alcohol and drug counseling. Building on work begun in HSCD 650, students review literature relevant to their topic areas, and network with local service providers regarding opportunities for implementing their projects with underserved populations. Under faculty supervision, students design projects and implement them in clinical or community-based settings that provide services to clients with substance use or co-occurring disorders, and follow up with outcome evaluation measures.

Full course description for Master's Project Seminar

Following HSCD 651, students complete two credits of Student-Designed Independent Study over two semesters to complete their Master’s Projects.

+ Field experience (4 credits)

This course provides students with opportunities to demonstrate the advanced knowledge and skills acquired during their academic coursework and practice by implementing them in clinical or community-based settings. The practicum experience requires students to demonstrate advanced competence in alcohol and drug counseling and co-occurring disorders counseling. Students complete internship hours in settings that provide opportunities for multicultural applications of evidence-based practices. The classroom portion of the course allows students to review and critically analyze client case conceptualization, counseling style, anti-oppressive practice, ethical issues, personal challenges and the practicum setting.

Full course description for Practicum