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LLM in Environmental Law Curriculum

The LLM in Environmental Law is a 30-credit degree program with three required courses (adding up to 9 credits). The remaining credits allow students to pursue a thesis, research project, teaching practicum, or externship, as well as design a program of classroom study from the law school's large and diverse course offerings.

The required courses include:

The LLM Graduate Seminar, which explores diverse advanced topics in environmental law and policy through discussion and lectures by environmental scholars who make presentations to seminar participants.

The Environmental Law course, which surveys the different approaches to environmental protection and natural resource management followed in the United States and examines major U.S. environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Administrative Law course, which provides students with a working knowledge of the general principles of administrative law; implementation of legislative policy through administrative rules and regulations; the roles of administrative agencies in the governmental process; and judicial review of agency actions.

Apart from these requirements, students can design their own course of study by choosing electives from any of the following subject areas:

  • Energy and Climate Change
  • Environmental Business
  • International Environmental Law
  • Land Use Law
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Pollution Prevention and Abatement
  • Water Law

One-on-one academic advising is available to help students choose courses, identify valuable experiential opportunities, and otherwise take advantage of the extensive environmental program at VLS.

Summer Session

An important feature of the LLM degree program is the Summer Session spent at Vermont Law School studying environmental law and participating in a community of fellow students and scholars exploring the cutting edge of environmental law and policy.   The summer faculty, including regular VLS faculty, scholars from other law schools and other nations, public-interest advocates, experienced government attorneys and lawyers from private practice, teach approximately 35 courses in five two- or three-week terms between early June and early August.

Students typically spend three hours in the classroom four days a week, leaving ample time to enjoy outdoor recreational opportunities in the Green Mountain State, such as tubing down the White River, hiking the Long Trail, or enjoying a leisurely meal in South Royalton or any of the many other picturesque villages surrounding the law school.

During the summer, the law school also hosts four Distinguished Summer Scholars who are leaders in environmental law, energy law and policy, agriculture and food, and international law. Each of these scholars is available to meet with groups of students and individual students during their two-week residencies. In addition, the summer faculty, the Distinguished Summer Scholars, VLS Media Fellows, and other visitors offer several lunchtime Hot Topics lectures each week over the course of the summer term.

Download the LLM in Environmental Law Guidelines (.pdf)

Experiential Learning

LLM students may obtain valuable, hands-on environmental law and policy experience through externships.  LLMs may pursue an externship for academic credit, either on a part-time basis with one of Vermont's many environmental organizations and agencies while continuing to take classes on campus, or full time for a semester after completing their coursework at VLS. Visit the Master's Externships page for more information.

LLM students also may participate in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic to develop skills in environmental litigation, administrative procedures, and client counseling, or the Land Use Clinic, in which students work on land use issues with attorneys in Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources.


Students who wish to pursue a particular specialty within environmental law may obtain a certificate in Climate Change Law, Energy Law, Land Use Law, or Water Resources Law. More information about the VLS environmental certificates is available here.