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Information on Graduate Degree Programs in Environmental Law

Majors Overview September 19, 2015

This article talks about graduate degree programs in environmental law and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and job and wage outlook.

Information on Graduate Degree Programs in Environmental Law

Individuals seeking to learn about the legal procedures and policies used in enforcing ways in which the natural environment of the earth is interacted with and protected by citizens would benefit from enrolling in graduate programs in environmental law. Those seeking graduate law degrees may opt for a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Environmental Law or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) in Environmental Law with an environmental law specialization. In such programs, students are provided with a comprehensive grasp of ways of using the legal system in providing better protection for the environment. Core coursework may cover subject areas such as climate change legislation, energy regulation, and biodiversity protection.

Juris Doctor (J.D.) Programs in Environmental Law

Aspiring lawyers seeking their first professional graduate degree can enroll in a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree program. Those who want to learn about environmental law with an aim of protecting and conserving the environment can choose a JD program with a specialization in environmental law. They learn about basic aspects of the legal system, including federal court systems, constitutional law, legal rights, international law, local government law, state law, and legislation. They can also learn specifically about current environmental policies and laws.

Program coursework involves research and exploration of particular aspects of environmental policy, such as global warming or coastal zone management. Students often get the chance of interning with government agencies, environmental groups, or public interest groups entailing the application of their knowledge of the law towards environment protection.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a baccalaureate degree and meet a relatively high undergraduate GPA standard. Additionally, they must pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) that is available many times a year. Students can take the LSAT more than once.


Program coursework is devised to provide a thorough background in the legal system and law. It also has electives relating wholly to the environment such as:

•Dangerous waste law
•Oceans Law
•Renewable energy
•Land-use law
•Energy regulation
•Environmental law and policy
•Science and regulatory policy
•Climate change
•Environmental Justice
•Environmental law writing seminar
•Biodiversity Law

Career Choices

Program graduates can choose from various career options including lawyer and policy-maker. They may choose from possible job options such as:

•Ethics program manager
•Corporate environmental counsel
•Environmental claims analyst
•Environmental litigator
•Manager of environmental concerns
•Environmental attorney
•Environmental proposal writer
•Director of environmental affairs
•Environmental contract specialist

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth of ten percent has been predicted for lawyers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $113,530 (BLS).

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

Enrollees in a highly-selective Master of Laws (LL.M.) program are often allowed to customize their coursework, and choose a specialization in a particular area, such as environmental law or international law. Program graduates can choose to practice environmental law or to seek careers in research or academia. They learn about the laws and policies relating to a specific environmental issue, such as biodiversity protection or climate change.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or another foreign law degree; alternatively, they may hold a JD degree. Other requirements for admission include completion of an application and submission of a resume, letters of references, a personal statement, application fee, and transcripts. LSAT scores may or may not be a requirement.


Program coursework includes the writing of a thesis or analytical paper. Program graduates are allowed to devise their coursework based on their professional goals and personal preferences. They have to complete common core coursework that covers topic areas such as:

•Administrative law
•Law and natural resources
•Environmental law
•Thesis Seminar
•Federal natural resources
•International environmental law

Career Choices

Program graduates may seek similar professional opportunities as available to graduates of a JD program in Environmental Law. However, they may also choose from available job positions in research, advocacy and academia, such as:

•Clean air and energy advocate
•Environmental advocate
•Associate Professor
•Professor of environmental law
•Director of environmental projects
•Development consultant

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