Degree Requirements

Master of Science in DRL
Dual Degree
Certificate in DRL

Master of Science in DRL 

We live in an insecure world where the number of people at risk from conflict and natural disasters has resulted in escalating numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees globally. With the UN reporting that five times more people are now affected by disasters than a generation ago, it is clear that our collective future depends upon the quality of leadership to save lives, alleviate suffering and increase the capacity of impacted communities to address the root causes of humanitarian crises - chronic poverty, political marginalization, etc.

Towards that end, the Disaster Resilience Leadership Studies (DRLS) Master of Science program, which is being offered through the Tulane School of Social Work, will advance the field of disaster resilience leadership by training and nurturing current and future leaders as well as promoting research and stimulating global innovation in the disaster resilience and humanitarian assistance community.

The DRLS Master of Science program is a 36 credit program that can be pursued in a traditional 2-year format, or can be taken in an accelerated 3 semester (12 month) timeframe. 18 of the required credits must come from completion of core courses, including four courses representing each of the core academic pillars and two research based classes:

  • Human Factors (3 credits)
  • Disaster Risk Management & Leadership (3 credits)
  • Leadership Analytics (3 credits)
  • Environmental Hazards (3 credits)
  • Research & Evaluation in Crisis and Disaster Settings (3 credits)
  • Quantitative Research & Analysis in Disaster Settings (3 credits)

The remaining 18 credits can be taken through electives chosen to best match the student's area of interest. Of the 18 elective credits, 6 credits must be DRLS electives and the remaining 12 credits may be DRLS or interdisciplinary. The DRLA has developed electives tailored to the goals of the program and these are listed under Electives.

The program boasts expert faculty from schools throughout the Tulane University community including the School of Social Work, School of Law, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, A.B. Freeman School of Business, School of Architecture, and the Departments of Mathematics, Economics and Sociology. Academy faculty bring a wealth of knowledge and research, as well as field experience, providing the students with an interdisciplinary view of the challenges and best practice approaches to leadership in the disaster resilience and humanitarian aid field.

The DRLA expects graduate students to complete all degree requirements and graduate within four semesters, although the degree can be completed in three semesters as well (fall/spring/summer). As a result, the minimum number of credits per semester a full-time student can take is 9 credit hours and the maximum number of credit hours per semester is 15. With written justification and department approval, students may be able to take more than 15 credit hours per semester. Part-time students must complete all degree requirements and graduate within six semesters. 

The Graduate Program aims to create a unique program identity and innovative student cohort experience. Some classes are team-taught by two faculty members from different fields. Students are exposed to not only multiple frames of reference and methodologies, but to experiences of cross-disciplinary interaction and cooperation as applied to the particular issues studied.  Such a pedagogical approach is imperative not only in keeping with the interdisciplinary focus of the DRL Graduate Program, but also in developing an analytic toolkit that transcends traditional field divisions; this equips graduates with the skills required to address complex issues pertaining to Disaster Resilience Leadership. Other courses in operations, analytics, environment, and complex organizational systems will combine and integrate information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from the social sciences, social work, architecture, and humanities, among other areas.

Dual Degree 

The MSW/MS in Disaster Resilience Leadership dual degree program is designed for motivated students wishing to pursue a career that supports the capacity of vulnerable populations to address the root causes of humanitarian crises. The joint degree's focus is on the development of robust leadership capacity to facilitate effective resilient programs, and creative empowerment-centered social work education promoting the integration of person and community approaches. It is the first academic program of its kind with such a dynamic and innovative purpose.

The five-semester curriculum requires completion of 77 credit hours: 53 credit hours in social work and 24 hours in disaster resilience leadership studies. Students take courses primarily in social work during the first academic year, with enrollment in disaster resilience leadership courses increasing over the course of the remaining four semesters. Individuals pursuing the dual degree will also be engaged in a field internship program that joins real-world social work practice with disaster risk management. 

Students may choose to add a social work certificate in Disaster Mental Health or Global Social Work, which focuses your coursework in these related areas. The curriculum would vary slightly to complete the certificates, but still can be completed within five semesters. 

Read the press release on the new joint degree. 


Certificate in DRL 

The Certificate in Disaster Resilience Leadership can be obtained through taking 12 credit hours of coursework over two semesters (fall/spring). The 12 credit hours are composed of the 4 core academic pillar courses; Human Factors, Disaster Risk Management & Leadership, Leadership Analytics, and Environmental Hazards.