Environmental law refers to the codes, statutes, rules, laws, and regulations that exist to protect our environment. Laws surrounding gas emissions, water, pollution, hazardous waste, and more all fall under this category. 

Plenty of public interest careers involve protecting the environment. Lobbyists, scientists, government agency advocates, and nonprofit employees are all options for careers in environmental law. The education requirements differ depending on the career you choose. In many cases, you don’t need a law degree. A specialized degree opens doors for you to advance your career, whether you have an established career or are looking to break into the field. McGeorge School of Law offers a MSL in Water and Environment Law for students who range from recent graduates to working professionals.

Environmental Law without a Law Degree

The Online Program

For students interested in environmental law, McGeorge School of Law offers an MSL program. An MSL is a Master of Science in Law, and therefore a bachelor’s degree is the only educational requirement for the program. 

Students graduate with a Master of Science in Law, Water, and Environmental Law concentration. The program has required courses in legal analysis, contracts, lawmaking, environmental law, and more. There are also elective course options such as lobbying, negotiations, and international water resources law. Career aspirations help dictate which elective courses to enroll in.

The program on average takes two years to complete. It is part-time, online, and asynchronous, allowing students to fit their education into their existing schedules. Our courses focus on ensuring that students develop the knowledge, professional skills, and broadened perspectives required for the rapidly changing legal environment.

The Possibilities

Obtaining an MSL opens doors for career advancement and opportunities. Graduates of our MSL program go on to become:

  • Lobbyists focusing on environmental regulations: lobbying is a huge avenue for change in this country, and as a result, receives much attention. According to opensecrets.org, as of this writing, $22,310,192 was spent on environmental lobbying in 2023. Top clients include conservatories, conservation funds, advocacy projects, law centers, and other environmental groups.
  • Politicians 
  • Lawmakers: Lawmakers and legislatures are a critical step in enacting any change. Corporations and often people won’t do it themselves if no laws exist to protect the environment. The landscape shifts with the ebb and flow of elections, but the need never wavers. Drafting and enacting laws that decrease the environmental footprint against opposition is important.
  • Advocates 
  • Other government employees
  • Various position holders at non-profit organizations: Whether you start your own nonprofit or work for one, organizations with specific environmental causes help raise awareness and funds to get the needle moving.
  • Individuals who work alongside attorneys who practice environmental law and compliance officers 

The world is rife with environmental issues. A specialization in environmental law gives you focused knowledge as you head into your career. As this area of law rapidly evolves as our environment shifts, your MSL degree lets you work within the law without having to become an attorney. With technological advances and human impact harming our earth, the fight to limit our destruction becomes increasingly important. 

The Perfect Fit

McGeorge has both a program that allows you flexibility and a distinguished faculty ready to take you on your journey. We have a tradition of excellence that applies to both our in-person and online courses. Students get to learn from and network with field experts, including panels focused on water and environmental law and the changing policies surrounding both. 

If you care for the environment and are considering environmental law as your path, but you don’t want to become a lawyer, McGeorge’s MSL program could be the perfect fit. To find out more and how to get started, contact our admissions office today.

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