Monday, October 22, 2007

Get Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Online!

When her family moved from the Valley to Page, Ariz., Miriam Hughes found herself more than two hours away from the classes she needed to complete her degree.

Now a new partnership between Rio Salado College and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix has made it possible for students anywhere in the nation to earn their bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling completely through online classes.

“This is the first entirely online bachelor’s degree program in addiction counseling in Arizona, and only one of a handful of programs nationally,” said Dr. Kirk Bowden, Rio Salado Faculty Chair of the Chemical Dependency Program. “There is a significant shortage of counselors specializing in addiction. This partnership will make this program available to people who would not otherwise have this opportunity.”

Bowden will also oversee the program at Grand Canyon University as the director of counseling and addiction studies. Well known in his field, Bowden serves as the president of the International Coalition for Addiction Studies Education (INCASE) and as a curriculum consultant for the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. He recently worked with the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on dissemination of competencies for substance abuse counselors nationally.

Students can enroll in the online bachelor’s degree program now, with classes starting at Grand Canyon University in January 2008.
“I wouldn’t be getting my degree right now if it weren’t for online classes, simply because I couldn’t spend that much time away from my family,” said the 30-year-old Hughes. “I have three kids and I didn’t want to have to travel two hours one way to class.”

Hughes will receive her Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing from Rio Salado in December. In her current work as an LPN at Page Hospital, she noticed that chemical dependency was a major problem for many of her patients. She plans to specialize in the addiction counseling field.
“I was interested in an associate degree in chemical dependency. Now that I know about this new online program, I will go for my bachelor’s degree as well,” Hughes said. “I think this partnership is a phenomenal opportunity for me.”

Students who receive their Associate in Applied Science Degree in Chemical Dependency from Rio Salado will be able to take an additional 19 transfer credits from the college, giving them a total of 83 credits at the community college price of $65 per credit hour (for Arizona residents). Because of the partnership, the credits will seamlessly transfer to Grand Canyon University, where students can complete the 45 remaining credits required for a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Counseling.

In addition to benefiting students in remote locations, the convenient online classes also make education possible for busy professionals who need to arrange their classes around their jobs, Bowden said.

“Many professionals providing addiction counseling have degrees in social work or other related fields, but have never taken courses specifically in addiction counseling,” he said. “Because of the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Licensure requirements, individuals need to meet very specific degree requirements to become Licensed Substance Abuse Counselors”.

Carolyn Brown, Rio Salado adjunct faculty member since 1982 and owner and operator of the Desert Oasis Counseling Center in Phoenix, said the program will strengthen the addiction counseling field and improve the quality of its members.

“We started in this field with very few standards or guidelines for being service providers. Now we’re creating standards,” she said. “This program will open new doors and help a lot more people meet the requirements for licensure on all levels.”

For more information or to enroll in the bachelor’s degree program, please contact Karilyn Van Oosten, director of enrollment at Grand Canyon University, at (602) 639-6477 or For more information on the associate degree program, contact Rio Salado at (480) 517-8000 or