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How Do I Get an Environmental Law Degree?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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There are a few different ways to obtain an environmental law degree, based on the school you choose and your career goals. For any type of higher education degree, you will first need to obtain a bachelor's degree; most people who want to go to law school pursue a degree in political science or history, though you might also choose to double major in environmental studies. Then, you can take the LSAT and apply to law school, where you will need to complete your studies to receive a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. Some students will also pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M) specializing in environmental studies, since there is no true environmental law degree.

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It is not possible to obtain an undergraduate degree in law, which is why most people choose to study politics and history, which offer a good basis for further studies in law and history. It is then necessary to receive an acceptable score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) based on the school to which you are applying; different schools may require different scores on the test, but obviously as high a score as possible is preferred. For anyone who wants to become a lawyer, it is necessary to complete a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, which typically takes about three years. This is a general law degree required of all future lawyers; students who want an environmental law degree are often able to complete a certificate program in environmental law simultaneously, or pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in environmental law after completing the JD.

In order to become a practicing lawyer, it will also be necessary to take and pass the bar examination in the state in which you will be working. However, the JD degree to become a lawyer is not the only option for someone who simply wants to specialize in environmental law without practicing as a lawyer. Some people will simply choose to pursue a master's degree in environmental law following a bachelor's degree, which typically takes one or two years.

This type of environmental law degree cannot be used to become a lawyer, but it can be an excellent tool if you plan to have a career in conservation or land-use planning, for example. Land trusts or environmental groups are more likely to hire someone with an environmental law degree because that person will have a better understanding of effective policy development, for example. In addition, it is not necessary to take the LSAT in order to get a master's in environmental law.

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