Environmental Law Masters Degree Program Options

To study law at the graduate level, students have the choice between a Master's of Science in Environmental Law and a Master's of Laws in Environmental Law.

Essential Information

The Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Law program is offered by Stanford University and is the only MS law degree program in the United States. This program allows for a concentration in environmental law and sustainable development. Students complete courses and workshops related to this concentration, and a thesis is required. Applicants do not have to hold a law degree to enroll, but they do need to hold a bachelor's degree.

A Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Environmental Law program is for students who already hold a Juris Doctor degree (JD). There are several options for fields of concentration, including international environmental law and government procurement. Courses vary, depending upon the area of specialization, but may cover topics such as water pollution, business and environmental issues and crimes against the environment.

Master of Science Degree in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development (JSM)

The JSM in Environmental Law offered by Stanford University falls under the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies. Students enrolled in the fellows program can select from among five areas of concentration. One of these concentrations is environmental law and sustainable development.

In addition to taking courses in the concentration area, a research project is required. Students attend thesis workshops where they use other fellows and professors as sounding boards for their ideas. The coursework for the JSM program in environmental law covers many different aspects of the field, providing a foundation for creation of environmental policy.

  • Water law
  • Clinic for environmental law
  • Workshop for climate change
  • Industry regulation
  • Policy process for regulation
  • Law and policy for biotechnology corporations

Master of Laws Degree in Environmental Law (LL.M.)

The Master of Laws program in Environmental Law can be completed in one year of full-time study. Depending on the program, students may choose their area of concentration within the field of environmental law. Possible areas of emphasis include environmental law, international environmental law, and environmental law and government procurement.

Students enrolled in the program will cover topics such as energy law and policy, global warming, environmental taxation and sustainable development. The curriculum for an LL.M. degree program in environmental science can vary depending on a student's area of concentration. Some general environmental law courses include:

  • Control of water pollution
  • Solid and hazardous waste control
  • Energy regulation and law
  • Sustainable development and trade
  • Crimes against the environment
  • Business and environmental issues

Popular Career Options

Career options for graduates are varied, depending in large part on the experience and goals of each student. Graduates of the JSM programs can work as:

  • Environmental lawyers
  • Environmental policy analysts
  • Environmental advocates
  • Researchers

Career outcomes for graduates of the LL.M. program in environmental law depend largely on the goals and experience of each student. Graduates can work as:

  • Environmental lawyers
  • Environmental analysts
  • Conservation planning associates
  • Climate field directors

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't offer employment and wage data for environmental lawyers, the BLS states that all lawyers are projected to see a 6% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. The median annual wage for all lawyers was $115,820 in May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Students with either an LL.M or a J.S.M. can continue their graduate studies and pursue a Doctor of Juridical Science in Environmental Law (S.J.D.). Students enrolled in the program will apply scientific principles to environmental law. The S.J.D. is the terminal law degree in the United States and takes between three and five years to complete. A thesis is also required to complete S.J.D. programs.

Serious environmental advocates can get a deeper understanding of environmental law by completing the J.S.M., while lawyers already in practice can shift to a focus on environmental law by attaining an LL.M. in the subject.

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