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UW-Madison to offer flexible non-credit certificate

December 10, 2013 By Käri Knutson

The University of Wisconsin–Madison announced last week that it would be joining the University of Wisconsin System’s UW Flexible Option and offer a non-credit certificate in Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Counseling.

Flex Option Logo  

UW-Parkside, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Stout will also offer an array of programs using this self-paced, competency-based format. That announcement was made at the December Board of Regents meeting.

UW-Madison’s program will be coordinated through the Division of Continuing Studies, with support from the School of Social Work. The program will serve human services professionals seeking state certification as AODA counselors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for drug counselors will grow by 34 percent through 2016, resulting in 29,000 new jobs.

“Many individuals seeking professional certification as AODA counselors are already practicing human service professionals with degrees in the field, and much of the content covered in the required training programs could be obtained through work experience. So, the Flex Option’s competency-based model is a perfect fit,” says James Campbell, Associate Dean of the Division of Continuing Studies at UW–Madison.

Alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) counselors fill a unique role among health and human service professionals. AODA counselors work in a variety of settings, use multidisciplinary treatment approaches and serve a client population that varies greatly in its needs.

UW-Madison is working with the Department of Safety and Professional Services to ensure that all certification requirements are met.

The UW Flexible Option is an innovative way to make UW degree and certificate programs more convenient and affordable for adult and nontraditional students. In this model, students have the opportunity to demonstrate what they know, whether that knowledge was gained through prior coursework, military training, on-the-job training, or other learning experiences.

It is an example of Educational Innovation at UW–Madison, a campus-wide initiative to create innovative approaches to education and research. More information can be found at

“UW-Madison is proud to be a partner in offering this new option in education,” Campbell says. “When we listen to the needs of our students and recognize the skills they already have, we can better prepare them for an ever-changing job market.” 

Start dates have not been announced for any of the new programs. They are in various stages of development, and will enroll students as the programs are ready. For more information, visit