Environment & Sustainability and Law (M.S. and J.D.)
The School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) and the University of Michigan Law School offer a dual degree program, allowing interested students the opportunity to study concurrently for the Juris Doctor (JD) and the Master of Science (MS) in Natural Resources degrees. The goal of this program is to encourage more effective integration of knowledge of environment and sustainability problems with the methodology and skills of the lawyer. The program is designed so that all requirements for both degrees can be completed in four years.
Career options for program graduates are quite varied. Among the alumni, one has served as an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior, supervising the implementation of environmental laws and regulations; another has been a member of the legal staff of a large power company; and a third has served as director of a major state environmental action council. The dual JD/MS program might also be attractive to students interested in the practice of law for corporate clients who are engaged in the use of natural resources, and to students who foresee careers in trial practice in which use of expert witnesses in the fields of ecology and environment may be necessary.
Students entering the Law School must complete the required first-year law curriculum, including one elective course of three or four credit hours during their second semester. Students must also complete the following before graduation: at least one international or comparative law course of two or more credit hours, at least one upper-level course with a rigorous writing component, one statutory or regulatory course of three or more credit hours, one course in professional responsibility of two or more credit hours, and two credit hours of experiential learning. Separate courses must be taken to fulfill the upper-level course with a rigorous writing component, the professional responsibility course, and the experiential learning course.
The JD requires a minimum total of 83 credits earned between Law School courses and courses through the School for Environment and Sustainability, which is affiliated with the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Students must earn at least 70 credits toward the JD through courses taken in the Law School. Twelve (12) credit hours may be taken from the satisfaction of requirements toward the MS degree. Students must contact the Law School Registrar in the Office of Student Records to request eligible credit transfer toward the JD.
Students admitted to SEAS must complete 42 credit hours along with either a Master's opus (project, thesis or practicum) or faculty approved course work. The 42 credits hours consists of:
SEAS Core Courses 10 credits
- Field of Study Core Courses 3-8 credits
- Analytics 4-7 credits
- Opus 6 credits (or faculty approved course work 6-8 credits)
- Electives 12-15 credits
Up to 9 of the 42 required credits hours may be earned for appropriate environmental law courses taken in the Law School
Applicants must gain separate and independent admission to both the Law School and the School for Environment and Sustainability, affiliated with the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and should contact the admissions office of each school for application and admission information. The applicant’s LSAT score may be used in place of the GRE. However, a valid GRE score is preferable.*
Students must satisfy the requirements of each school for each degree and should consult with advisors in each school for the precise graduation requirements for each degree and for information about course offerings. Students will find very few courses available in the School for Environment and Sustainability during the summer and should not expect Law School courses to be offered in the summer term.
Students will not receive credit toward the JD for coursework taken prior to matriculation at the Law School. Students should consult with the advisor at the School for Environment and Sustainability concerning credit toward the MS for Law course work.
During the third and fourth years of the program, students are permitted to elect courses in both schools. Tuition will be assessed at either the Law School or the Graduate School rate, whichever is higher, when courses toward both degrees are taken in one term.
At the beginning of their final year of study in the combined program, students should consult with the SEAS Registrar and the Law School Registrar regarding forms that need to be completed prior to graduation. Also at this time, students should submit a Dual/Joint Degree Election Form for approval from both the Law School and the School for Environment and Sustainability. Students should consult with the Office of Student Life and the SEAS Registrar if there are any questions regarding completion of this form.
The combined degree is not open to those who have already earned either the JD or the MS. Students who are registered in the first or second year at the Law School or the first year of the SEAS’s program may apply for admission to the dual degree program.
University of Michigan Law School
Jeffries Hall, Suite 2200
701 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091
Dual Degree Programs:
Office of Student Life
University of Michigan Law School
316 Hutchins Hall
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
School for Environment and Sustainability:
1520 Dana Building
440 Church Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1041