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New Addiction Studies Certificate to launch in fall 2023

Master of Social Work alumni Amy Rigenhagen listens to a patient's struggles with addiction
Master of Social Work alum Amy Rigenhagen listens to a patient’s struggles with addiction

The College of Health Sciences will offer a new certificate in addiction studies, welcoming its first undergraduate students in fall of 2023. The Idaho State Board of Education approved the certificate in March.

The certificate fills a need among Boise State undergraduates, many of whom will find themselves working among populations whose lives and experiences are impacted by substance use disorders, according to Susan Esp.

Esp is an associate professor in the College of Health Sciences’ School of Social Work, and associate director and co-training coordinator for the Institute for the Study of Behavioral Health and Addiction at Boise State, a partnership with the university’s College of Education. She will serve as coordinator of the new undergraduate certificate in Addiction Studies.

Boise State has offered a minor in addiction studies, but the new certificate is designed to make the study and skills, increasingly needed across multiple industries and lines of work, more accessible to more students. The certificate pulls from the substantial body of research and knowledge accumulated as part of the earlier minor program.

Historically, students pursuing the minor were drug and alcohol counselors working in Idaho who needed to be certified. But the times have changed, Esp observes, and addiction studies are increasingly applicable in many work environments. The certificate adds value to students pursuing a variety of degrees, from nursing to criminal justice to social work. Esp said she cannot imagine a line of study that, given the prevalence of substance use in society, would not benefit from the certificate program.

In contrast to a minor, Esp hopes more students can earn the certificate within the constraints of their degree requirements.

“We were looking at, how can we educate more people, rather than less?” Esp said. “What we want to do is educate more people. That was the overarching goal of this, was to increase access.”

The first students will take part starting with the fall term. For more information, contact Susan Esp at or (208) 426-3970.

Learn more about the certificate and substance use disorders in America