Delivering Excellence in Lifelong Learning
woman holding a travel coffee mug, seated at a desk and viewing a webinar on her tablet woman holding a travel coffee mug, seated at a desk and viewing a webinar on her tablet

Professional Addiction Studies

Building holistic skills for health professionals.

Program is offered entirely online!


McMaster University Continuing Education has been offering programs in addiction studies for nearly 30 years. We are pleased to continue this tradition with the Professional Addiction Studies program. 

The Professional Addiction Studies diploma and certificate programs provide an opportunity for individuals seeking to enter the field of addiction to enhance their knowledge and skills required for employment and professional certification. The programs also serve as professional development for those already working in fields such as mental health, counselling, law enforcement, nursing, social work, child and family services. 

Program Overviews

Content is based on areas of knowledge and skills as identified by the Canadian Addiction Counsellor Certification Federation (CACCF) core competencies, and from consultations with other industry experts in addiction and mental health. Courses are approved by the CACCF towards ICADC/CCAC certification. See our professional associations page for details.

The required courses in the program provide holistic information about various aspects of addiction. In recognition of the prominence of trauma in the addiction field, these courses are designed with a trauma-informed lens.

The Professional Addiction Studies Diploma program will consist of:

  • 10 three-unit courses of 42 hours (8 required courses, and 2 elective courses)
  • Total of 30 units
  • Upon successful completion of the required 10 courses, participants will receive the McMaster University Diploma in Professional Addiction Studies. Students are given 5 years to complete all required components of the diploma program. 

The Professional Addiction Studies Certificate program will consist of:

  • 5 three-unit courses of 42 hours (choice of full program list)
  • Total of 15 units
  • Upon successful completion of the 5 courses, participants will receive the McMaster University Certificate in Professional Addiction Studies. Students are given 5 years to complete all required components of the certificate program.

Who should take this program?

  • Addiction and mental health workers
  • Nurses
  • Counsellors and social workers
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Health and social service professionals
  • Recent college or university graduates in related fields of study

Learning Outcomes

Each course will bridge theory and practical experience through a combination of experiential learning and traditional teaching methods. Emerging trends, theories, and practices will be incorporated into the coursework to ensure that program content is current and relevant. 

Upon successful completion of the program participants will be able to:

  • Assess a broad spectrum of variables that lead to and influence addiction in order to support those living with, and those affected by addiction from a strength-based perspective;
  • Recognize knowledge limitations and scope of professional practice, including awareness of when referrals to other professionals are required and the role of multidisciplinary care in relation to addiction;
  • Differentiate distinct theoretical and applied approaches pertaining to the application of screening, assessment and treatment approaches;
  • Explain the relationship(s) between addiction and mental health, the complexities of working with individuals experiencing concurrent disorders, and the need for holistic care in situations where trauma is involved;
  • Use evidence-informed practice across a continuum of treatment modalities in order to support diverse populations and provide culturally-safe care;
  • Communicate effectively and appropriately, both verbally and in writing, within recognized professional and industry standards;
  • Translate theory to practice in the support of individuals, groups, families, and communities;
  • Act, at all times, in a professional and ethical manner that reflects sensitivity to the nature of addiction and is in compliance with relevant laws;
  • Apply counselling and therapy-based treatments to be used in client-care.

*The Professional Addiction Studies certificate program draws its learning objectives from the same lists as the diploma program, however, students will select 15 units of study based on their individual learning needs. 

Watch the latest Program Preview to learn more: