The Master of Energy Regulation and Law is a 30-credit master's program with four required courses (adding up to 12 credits) designed to provide students with a broad-based understanding of the intersection of energy and law, regulation, policy, and economic analysis in addition to a scholarly research project or externship (up to 10 credits) on an energy topic. The remaining credits allow students to focus their interest from among the 50-plus courses related to energy, land, water, climate, or the general environment.
The core courses include:
A Public Law course taught to all MERLs in the fall semester. This course educates students in the basic design and operations of public law-making systems at the federal, state, and local levels, including the development and implementation of administrative law.
Energy Law and Policy in a Carbon-Constrained World surveys the basic elements of U.S. energy demand and examines the challenges posed by energy production for environmental sustainability. The course explores regulatory strategies for controlling energy demand and meeting energy needs.
Energy Regulation, Markets, and the Environment builds on Energy Law and Policy in a Carbon-Constrained World. This course exposes students to the legal, economic, and structural issues involved in energy regulation and energy markets, focusing on electricity.
Environmental Economics and Markets addresses the fundamental principles of economic theory with a particular emphasis on the economic analysis of environmental problems and the economic aspects of energy regulatory policy.
All MERLs must also complete a project or writing requirement on an energy topic. To fulfill this requirement, students can take the Advanced Energy Writing Seminar, complete an Independent Research Project on an energy topic, engage in a Master of Energy Regulation and Law Externship in energy law, or serve as a Research Associate in the Institute for Energy for the Environment. The IEE is a public policy consulting institute committed to delivering vital services for clients around the world.
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.
An important feature of the MERL program is the opportunity to spend the Summer Session at Vermont Law School studying energy law and policy and participating in a community of fellow students and scholars exploring cutting edge issues in the energy field. 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. Each term normally includes at least one specialized course in energy law and policy.
Students typically spend three hours in the classroom four days a week, leaving ample time to enjoy the considerable 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.
The law school also hosts a Distinguished Summer Scholar in Energy Law and Policy, along with Distinguished Scholars in Environmental Law, Agriculture and Food, and International Law. All of these scholars are available to meet with 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.
The full, current list of environmental and energy courses is available here: Environmental Law Courses by Subject Area.
Experiential learning opportunities with state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and advocacy groups ensure that MERL graduates are prepared for the first day on the job. MERL students may pursue an externship for academic credit, either on a part-time basis in Vermont while also taking classes on campus, or full time for a semester after completing their coursework at the law school. These "fourth semester" externships allow students to gain experience on the ground in the same city or town where they plan to pursue a career. Visit our Master's Externships page for more information.