Natural Resources & Environment and Law (M.S. and J.D.)
The School of Natural Resources & Environment (SNRE) 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 natural resources and environmental 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 natural resource 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 natural resources may be necessary.
Students entering the Law School must complete the required first-year law curriculum. Students must also complete Transnational Law and Intro to Constitutional Law during their third or fourth semester of law school, in addition to completing a course in professional responsibility and an upper-level writing requirement.
The JD requires a minimum total of 82 credits earned between Law School courses and courses through the School of Natural Resources and Environment, 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. Instructions for requesting Law School credit for non-law courses are posted on the CTools site for dual degree students.
Students admitted to SNRE 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:
SNRE 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 of Natural Resources and Environment, 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 a few courses available in the School of Natural Resources and Environment during the summer, but should not expect any Law School courses beyond first-year 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 of Natural Resources and Environment 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 SNRE 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 (http://www.rackham.umich.edu/downloads/oard/forms/dualjoint6012.pdf) for approval from both the Law School and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. Students should review the completed sample forms on the CTools page prior to filling out the form. Students may also consult with the Office of Student Affairs 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 SNRE’s program may apply for admission to the dual degree program.
Dual Degree Programs:
Office of Student Affairs
University of Michigan Law School
307 Hutchins Hall
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215