MSW Focus Areas

Students in our MSW program may elect to enhance their education by seeking a Focus Area at no additional cost. 


Disaster and Collective Trauma

Disaster can strike unexpectedly, dramatically affecting communities, families, and individuals. The Disaster and Collective Trauma (DaCT) Focus Area as part of Tulane School of Social Work’s Master of Social Work program prepares aspiring social workers to treat the psychological consequences of these types of crises. As one of the few disaster and collective trauma programs in the United States, this program teaches students the skills required to make substantial change in their communities and assist individuals cope with the trauma associated with surviving disasters. Students who choose to pursue the DaCT Focus Area tailor their education and use an anti-oppressive lens with the goal of enhancing the well-being of diverse individuals, families, and communities recovering from disaster and collective trauma. 

The Disaster and Collective Trauma Focus Area appeals to students who:

  • wish to explore the theories of collective trauma, trauma adaptation, and disaster mental health
  • are interested in applied practice with individuals, families, or communities recovering from collective trauma, and/or disaster
  • are interested in the policies and programs that influence the ability of individuals, families, and communities to not only survive but thrive following collective trauma and disasters 


  • Mandatory elective SOWK 7015 Collective Trauma 
  • Mandatory elective SOWK 7075 Disaster Mental Health and Trauma Intervention

See full MSW curriculum and schedule of classes for more information.

Field Education

Every MSW student is required to complete 948 hours of field-based education. This integral part of the degree program pairs each student with an organizational partner in the individual’s city or town to start getting on the ground experience. The fieldwork experience and the rest of the curriculum are mutually supportive so that students have the opportunity to practice what they learn in the classroom, in their field placement. 

Mental Health, Addiction, and the Family

The Mental Health, Addiction and the Family Focus Area centers around the evidence that healing is the most robust in a relational context. This Focus Area is unique to Tulane University School of Social Work. Our program is a rigorous combination of coursework, focus area-related field placements, and our signature Journal Club/Community meetings component, which gives the student opportunities to network and discuss focus area-related topics.

The Focus Area is affiliated and funded by the Porter-Cason Institute (PCI). PCI is the result of a large private contribution from a Tulane MSW alumnus for the purpose of training. Funds from PCI allow us to augment training with lectures from local and national experts as well as provide advanced training of professionals in our community.

The culture of this focus area centers around developing creativity and courage in both your time at Tulane and in your career. Social Work is both an art and a science. We teach the science and provide a place for you to come to understand and develop your own unique art within ethical and evidence-based interventions. Throughout your career, you will hone your understanding of the science, art, and creativity required of an exceptional Social Worker. We view it as one of our primary objectives to give you the courage to be comfortable in uncomfortable moments and to give space for truth and healing that may emerge as you develop this comfort.


  • Opportunities for mentorship by national experts
  • Opportunities for work on community projects
  • Try on your “Clinical Self” and your “Community Self” (A laboratory for Courage and Creativity)
  • Mental Health, Addiction, and the Family are ALWAYS part of any Social Work career


  • Students must come prepared to learn about healing in a relational context
  • Elective Classes that qualify for the Focus Area (2 of your 3 Electives):
    • 7300 Clinical Intervention with Children and Adolescents
    • 7360 Contemporary Practice with Couples & Families
    • 7365 Clinical Practice in Addiction and Substance Abuse
  • One core MSW curriculum paper per semester
  • On-campus students - Attend each semester’s Journal Club/Community meeting.
  • Online students - Once a semester, attend one community meeting or educational opportunity related to the focus area with a 1-page reflection each semester. Meetings and opportunities are to be approved by the Program Director ahead of time.
  • Focus area-related field placement with one focus area-related objective included in field education plan

Application Process

Once admitted to TSSW’s MSW program, contact Parker Robinson with any questions and to schedule an interview to apply for the Mental Health, Addiction, and the Family Focus Area.