Master's Programs in Environmental Law

In a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program, which is offered to law school graduates, you can learn about the science behind environmental concerns and the finer aspects of researching environmental policies or arguing environmental cases in court. Review the prerequisites for an LL.M. program, explore the typical coursework in environmental law, and check career and salary info for environmental lawyers. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Programs Award a Master's Degree in Environmental Law?

If you're looking for a master's degree in environmental law, you can enroll in a generalized program or one more specific to an area of practice. For example, you can earn your Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in environmental law, environmental and land use law or energy and environment, or a Master of Environmental Law and Policy (M.E.L.P.). Some schools offer dual degree programs that blend advanced study of environmental law with a relevant science field, such as natural resource conservation. These programs usually aren't available online due to research, clinical and other requirements.

Degree Type LL.M or M.E.L.P; dual programs are available
Online Availability Rarely available fully online
Potential Coursework Species protection, maritime law, international law, regulatory law, historical preservation
Admission Requirements Bachelor's and J.D. degrees, plus relevant experience
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (for lawyers)*
Median Salary (2018)$120,910 (for lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Topics Will the Program Cover?

In general, LL.M. programs in environmental law provide you an advanced overview of environmental practice. Regardless of what type of program you enroll in, you can expect to learn about the legal and regulatory concerns of pollution, water resources, land use, ecosystems, energy and species protection. You'll also explore these issues within the context of society and policy development. In some programs, you'll be able to practice litigating these issues under the supervision of an experienced environmental lawyer as part of a clinical experience.

Legal courses will teach you about administrative, regulatory, maritime and international law. Depending upon the program, you may also take courses that address renewable energy, taxation, fisheries or historical preservation.

How Do I Enroll?

The first step toward earning your master's degree in environmental law is completion of a 4-year bachelor's degree. There isn't a specific undergraduate major you should earn, but you should take courses that develop your analytical, speaking and writing abilities. You may also wish to take biology and organic chemistry courses to learn more about environmental issues.

After earning your undergraduate degree, you'll need to enroll in and complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program recognized by the American Bar Association. Some LL.M. programs may accept you immediately after you earn your Juris Doctor. Other programs require experience practicing law in addition to a formal legal education.

Acceptance into an LL.M. program isn't guaranteed. Schools do consider scholarly work, articles published in law reviews, litigation experience, scientific background and academic performance.

What Career Options Exist After Earning This Degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many lawyers with specialized training or experience in environmental law work for federal agencies, state governments, companies that deal with environmental hazards and special interest groups ( Your role as an environmental lawyer can include guiding clients through the process of obtaining permits or licenses. You can also help clients reduce their exposure to litigation, settle an environmental case or argue on their behalf should an issue be brought to trial.

If you choose to work for a government agency or a special interest group, your role may be investigatory. You might be involved with regulatory enforcement or play a role in determining if an environmental issue is cause for concern or has caused damage.

Overall, the BLS reports that demand for lawyers should increase by 8% between 2016-2026. Environmental law is an area of practice contributing to this growth. The BLS also reports that lawyers earned median annual wages of $120,910 in 2018.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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