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Master of Science in Disaster Resilience Leadership

You’ve seen the hardships disasters create for individuals, families, communities, and the environment. To alleviate these, you need interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to strengthen your leadership and capacity. Gain valuable education from a program focusing on resilience models that produce effective and positive outcomes from the individual to community level.

Tulane’s Master of Science in the Disaster Resilience Leadership program provides:

  • An interdisciplinary, evidence-based curriculum that integrates education, research, and practice-based application
  • An understanding of planning, management, and delivery of human services within communities
  • Disaster mitigation, disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response, and recovery experience through applied experiences with community-based organizations 
  • Access to faculty and fellows respected as global experts in their fields, including instructors from Tulane’s School of Social Work, School of Architecture, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the Department of Sociology, and the Bywater Institute
  • A focus on research for evidence-based practice
  • A supportive and cooperative academic environment 

Although many graduate programs focus on disaster and risk management, none of them specifically target the role and development of interdisciplinary leadership. This is the first academic program with such a dynamic and innovative focus on producing effective systems and programs that instill resilience within individuals and communities.

The Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) is part of the Tulane School of Social Work. DRLA’s mission of strengthening leadership in communities to address the root causes of vulnerability, such as chronic poverty and social inequality, is supported by the School of Social Work’s dedication to teaching students about human diversity and the importance of promoting social and environmental justice. TSSW and DRLA share a commitment to scholarship and social justice, a combination of fields unmatched at any other university.

Mission, Vision & History

DRLA is dedicated to the systematic strengthening of global humanitarian leadership, a process that integrates education, research, and practice-based application—to achieve increased resilience in communities, households and individuals impacted by a changing environment that results in natural and manmade disasters.

Our purpose is to

  • Produce highly educated practitioners of Disaster Resilience Leadership with advanced theoretical and methodological skills and flexibility to compete in the academic, governmental, non-profit, private, and public sectors, or some combination thereof.
  • Develop partnerships between faculty and students to extend scholarship in important areas of research, creativity, and practice to benefit communities vulnerable to disasters.
  • Create new, or improve existing, leadership practice techniques, research/evaluation methods, leadership/disaster-related theories, and to disseminate these innovations through both professional and public media.

The resilience and strength of leadership that Tulane University exhibited in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill makes it the ideal setting to learn about the impact of complex and large scale disasters. Whether students are engaging in this program on-campus or taking our online certificate or dual degree, they gain knowledge from people and communities with first-hand experience of challenges and best practices in disaster resilience.

DRLA was established in March of 2009 through a grant from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and was administered within the Tulane Payson Center. The grant was written by Dr. Charles Figley, Dr. Nancy Mock, and, and supported by Dr. Eamon Kelly and former Dean Ron Marks. In 2013, DRLA was transferred to within the Tulane School of Social Work.

A wide variety of careers are available with an MS-DRL degree.

Program Competencies

The MS in Disaster Resilience Leadership provides graduates with competencies in five key areas: 

  • Human and Social Factors
  • Economics
  • Environment and Infrastructure
  • Disaster Operations
  • Measurement and Evaluation

We extended the focus of many programs, which only typically address disaster operations.

View a complete listing of competencies under each area. 

Degree Requirements

The program aims to advance the field of disaster resilience leadership by training and nurturing current and future leaders with various time formats, as well as promoting cutting edge research and stimulating global innovation in the disaster resilience and humanitarian assistance community. 

The Master of Science in Disaster Resilience Leadership requires 36 credit hours, which can take from 12 to 24 months. 

On campus students may also seek a dual degree with a Master of Social Work.

Click here for the full-time curriculum for a MS-DRL degree.

View information on the MSW/MS-DRL dual degree.


With Tulane’s high-touch program, students focus and engage in a variety of ways. Required coursework in the core competencies teach tangible skills to engage in disaster resilience leadership. You will develop your capacity via team projects and teaching, problem-based learning, creative simulation (e.g. table tops), field work, and electronic learning exchanges.

View our course descriptions.

Refer to Tulane’s class schedule to determine availability of courses in any given semester. All DLRA courses are identified with DRLS before the course number. 


The Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy hosts faculty and fellows who have made strides within their respective fields. They have positively affected public policy and have worked in international organizations and in leadership roles for national offices and agencies.

View full faculty and fellow list with their areas of expertise.


Still have questions? Reach out to us by emailing or calling 1-800-631-8234.

MS-DRL Admissions Information