TSSW Disaster Resilience Leadership students planting trees

Master of Science in Disaster Resilience Leadership

You’ve seen the hardships disasters create for individuals, households, 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 equitable resilience models that produce effective and positive outcomes from the individual to the community level.


Become a resilience innovator.


With our one-of-a-kind Master of Science in Disaster Resilience Leadership (MS DRL), you can learn from resilience experts and join a global alumni network. The only program in the country with a focus on FEMA's National Disaster Recovery Framework, the MS DRL prepares you for work in governmental organizations like FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Our alumni also work in nonprofits and internationally as resilience leaders. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, employment in the emergency management, disaster relief, and crisis response industries more than doubled between 1990 and 2017. It continues to grow, with 180, 600 jobs projected in 2026. We believe there's no better place to learn about resilience than our downtown campus, located in the heart of vibrant and diverse New Orleans, just minutes from the historic French Quarter. 

The program was designed with social workers in mind, but that doesn't mean you need a social work background to get the degree. Study full-time or part-time, or go for a dual Master of Social Work (MSW) and MS DRL

New Orleans is waiting with open arms. Discover resilience in a city unlike any other. 

No matter what your Bachelor's degree is in, you can get your MS DRL. 

Talk with an enrollment advisor and get all your questions answered! Call 504-266-0699 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST, or email us any time. 

Request More Information

Make the best decision for your goals. Fill out the form to get additional program details.

Why Disaster Resilience Leadership?

At Tulane, we take a proactive approach to emergency management. Rather than simply respond to a crisis when it occurs, we seek to build infrastructure within communities that allows them to reduce the impact of a disaster. This first-of-its-kind degree is the only program in the country that focuses on FEMA's National Disaster Response Framework, making our graduates extraordinary candidates in the emergency and disaster management, relief, and preparedness job markets.


median annual wage for emergency management directors


US institution to be admitted to the Global Resilience Partnership


projected emergency management job openings annually

Which Program is Right for You?

We know everyone is different, so we offer a variety of options for students. Choose to study part-time or get your degree ASAP, or go for a dual MSW/MS-DRL. 



Semesters: 3-4
Class Sessions: 9-12 hours/semester
Field Education: --



Semesters: 5
Class Sessions: 15-22 hours/semester
Field Education: 24 hours/week



Semesters: 6
Class Sessions: 6 hours/semester
Field Education: --
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Informed Curriculum

There's no place better to learn about resilience than New Orleans. Our culturally competent, anti-imperialist courses are informed by this adaptable city.

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Flexible Schedule

Get your degree on your timeline. Take classes Full-Time (12 months) or Part-Time (24 months), or opt to upgrade your Certificate in DRL into a Master's degree.

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Global Framework

Although our program's focus is on resilience practices in the United States, we have a footprint in 38 countries. Our alumni get jobs all over the world.

A Focus on Interdisciplinary Leadership


Although many graduate programs focus on disaster response, risk mitigation, and emergency 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 equitable resilience within individuals, households, and communities.

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 equitable 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
  • A focus on research for evidence-based practice
  • A supportive and cooperative academic environment 

DRLA is dedicated to the systematic strengthening of global humanitarian leadership, a process that integrates education, research, and practice-based application—to achieve equitable resilience in communities, households and individuals impacted by a changing environment that results in 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 fellows 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 Hurricanes Katrina and Ida and the BP Oil Spill make 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 offerings, they gain knowledge from people and communities with first-hand experience of challenges and best practices in equitable disaster resilience.

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

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

  • Human and Social Factors
  • Disaster Operations
  • Leadership and Economics
  • Environment and Infrastructure
  • Leadership


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

View a complete listing of competencies under each area. 

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. 

Students may also seek a dual degree with a Master of Social Work.

MS-DRL Curriculum

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.

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. 

Disaster Resilience Leadership students look at the Mississippi river.

Study Hands-On with Our Annual Institutes


We host several Disaster Resilience Leadership Institutes annually, allowing students from across Tulane's graduate schools to develop a greater understanding of the interdisciplinary role of resilience in fields like architecture, emergency management, and more. Previous institute topics include an in-depth case-study on resilience in New Orleans, a semester-long grant writing seminar, and humanitarian assistance in Washington, D.C. 

A man directs an emergency call center

Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy

Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) is the department within the School of Social Work that operates our MS DRL and our DRL Certificate. 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, environmental and climate justice. 

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 Mr. Ky Luu, and supported by Dr. Eamon Kelly and former Dean Ron Marks. In 2013, DRLA was transferred to within the Tulane School of Social Work.

Take the Next Step!

For more details about graduate programs through Tulane School of Social Work, complete our information request form. If you're ready to take the next step, apply today!