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Dual Law-Environment Degree Program

One route to effective advocacy for the environment is to combine training in law with knowledge of environmental science, policy, and history. To make this possible, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES) offers a program combining a master’s degree in environmental management with a JD degree. The program is a partnership with Yale’s own school of law and with two other schools: Pace University School of Law and Vermont Law School. Students learn about the law, hone their analytical skills and build a strong foundation in policy and in the natural and social sciences.

In addition to the information on this webpage, you can learn more about this program through the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy's Dual Degree Handbook.

The Schools

Yale Law School is internationally known as a center for legal scholarship. Founded in 1843, the school has a distinguished faculty and a tradition of emphasizing public as well as private law. Its handsome Gothic Revival buildings are a three-block walk from FES. For a map, see http://business.yale.edu/map/.

Pace Law School established its environmental law curriculum in 1978. The school is known for the diversity of its student body, The Pace campus lies a few miles from the Hudson River in White Plains, New York, a 35-minute train ride from midtown Manhattan.

Vermont Law School is an independent, private law school that emphasizes the public service roles of lawyers. Located in the central Vermont town of South Royalton, the school offers a comprehensive curriculum in environmental law and policy.

The Role of the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy

The Center is the institutional base for dual law-environment students. Regardless of your home law school, the Center provides research, educational, career development, and social opportunities for students enrolled in the joint program.

For more information contact the Center’s associate director, Josh Galperin, with questions: (203) 432 3123 or joshua.galperin@yale.edu.

Students earn a Master of Environmental Management (MEM), Masters of Environmental Science (MESc), or Masters of Forestry (MF) from Yale and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Yale, Pace or Vermont.

Course of Study
Pursuing two degrees simultaneously shortens the period of study from five to four years. Students divide their time between the two schools (1.5 years at FES and 2.5 years at Yale Law School, Pace or Vermont). While it is traditional for students to begin their course of study at their home law school, students may begin at FES and first year FES students are still eligible for the dual degree program. However, all students must matriculate at law school before beginning their second year at FES. This means that any first year FES student considering the joint degree program must apply in the fall/winter of their first year and, if accepted, begin law school the following fall. Current law students may apply to the program in their first or second year of law school and must start at FES before entering their third year of law school

The FES component of the program requires eight core courses and four electives that together are designed to develop a broad multidisciplinary foundation for problem solving. Students will be required to complete courses in the natural and social sciences and in quantitative methods. They will also choose advanced coursework from among nine study areas, which include: ecology, ecosystems and biodiversity; environment, health and policy; forestry, forest science and management; global change science and policy; industrial environmental management; policy, economics and law; the social ecology of conservation and development; urban ecology and environmental design; and water science, policy and management.

All dual-degree students are required to attend three weeks of technical skills training before beginning their studies at FES. These are hands-on workshops, offered every August, that teach plant identification, ecosystems management, land measurement, and urban ecosystem analysis. While at FES, students must also complete a summer internship and an independent capstone project.

All three law schools require students to meet American Bar Association requirements for attendance and curriculum. For more information on the course of studies at the law schools, please consult curriculum information provided by the schools themselves. (Contact information appears below.)

Each school individually admits students in accordance with its own criteria. Prospective students may apply to the program prior to matriculation by submitting a separate application to each school during a single admissions cycle. In addition, current FES students may apply to the law school at Yale, Pace or Vermont during their first year of study. Similarly, law students at any of the schools may apply to FES during either their first or second year of study. Current students at any of the three schools who were not initially admitted to the dual-degree program may reapply.

Students who have matriculated at Yale Law School and hope to seek a joint degree with FES must submit a formal proposal to the Faculty Committee on Special Courses of Study. The committee meets only once each semester. Please contact joshua.galperin@yale.edu for information and advice on this proposal. Students admitted to Yale Law School who wish to begin their studies at FES must petition the dean of admissions at the law school for a deferral.

Tuition and Financial Aid
Students pay tuition and/or receive financial aid from the school that they are currently attending. Transactions are handled by Yale Law School, Pace or Vermont for 2.5 years and by FES for 1.5 years of the program. Any scholarships, grants, or loans awarded will be allocated when the student is enrolled at the granting institution. (For example, a student who is awarded an FES assistantship at the time of admission to the dual-degree program will receive the money when he or she is enrolled at FES and serving as a teaching assistant.) Contact the law school financial aid office to discuss the effects of a joint-degree program on summer funding and postgraduate loan forgiveness, if applicable.

Health Insurance
Students receive medical insurance coverage from the school at which they are currently enrolled.

For More Information

Review the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy's Dual Degree Handbook.

With any remaining questions please contact joshua.galperin@yale.edu or any of the following:

Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Danielle Curtis

Director of Enrollment Management


800 825 0330


Yale Law School


203 432 4995


Pace Law School

Cathy M. Alexander

Assistant Dean for Admissions


914 422 4212


Vermont Law School

Kathy Hartman

Associate Dean for Enrollment Management


800 227 1395 or 802 831 1217

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