Law Joint Degree (JD)

Yale’s four-year programs with Yale Law School, Pace University School of Law or Vermont Law School

One route to effective advocacy for the environment is to combine training in law with knowledge of environmental science, policy and history. To make this possible, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES) offers a program combining a master’s degree in environmental management with a JD degree. The program is a partnership with Yale’s own school of law and with two other schools: Pace University School of Law and Vermont Law School. Students learn about the law, hone their analytical skills and build a strong foundation in policy and in the natural and social sciences.

In addition to the information on this webpage, you can learn more about this program through the Law-Environment Dual Degree Handbook.

Yale Law School is internationally known as a center for legal scholarship. Founded in 1843, the school has a distinguished faculty and a tradition of emphasizing public as well as private law. Its handsome Gothic Revival buildings are a three-block walk from FES. For a map, see

Pace Law School established its environmental law curriculum in 1978. The school is known for the diversity of its student body, The Pace campus lies a few miles from the Hudson River in White Plains, New York, a 35-minute train ride from midtown Manhattan.

Vermont Law School is an independent, private law school that emphasizes the public service roles of lawyers. Located in the central Vermont town of South Royalton, the school offers a comprehensive curriculum in environmental law and policy.

Students earn a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) from Yale and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Yale, Pace or Vermont.

Course of Study
Pursuing two degrees simultaneously shortens the period of study to four years. Students divide their time between the two schools (1.5 years at FES and 2.5 years at Yale Law School, Pace or Vermont).

The FES component of the program requires eight core courses and four electives that together are designed to develop a broad multidisciplinary foundation for problem solving. Students will be required to complete courses in the natural and social sciences and in quantitative methods. They will also choose advanced coursework from among nine study areas, which include: ecology, ecosystems and biodiversity; environment, health and policy; forestry, forest science and management; global change science and policy; industrial environmental management; policy, economics and law; the social ecology of conservation and development; urban ecology and environmental design; and water science, policy and management.

All dual-degree students are required to attend three weeks of technical skills training before beginning their studies at FES. These are hands-on workshops, offered every August, that teach plant identification, ecosystems management, land measurement, and urban ecosystem analysis. While at FES, students must also complete a summer internship and an independent capstone project.

All three law schools require students to meet American Bar Association requirements for attendance and curriculum. For more information on the course of studies at the law schools, please consult curriculum information provided by the schools themselves. (Contact information appears below.)

Each school individually admits students in accordance with its own criteria. Prospective students may apply to the program prior to matriculation by submitting a separate application to each school during a single admissions cycle. In addition, current FES students may apply to the law school at Yale, Pace or Vermont during their first year of study. Similarly, law students at any of the schools may apply to FES during either their first or second year of study. Current students at any of the three schools who were not initially admitted to the dual-degree program may reapply.

Students who have matriculated at Yale Law School and hope to seek a joint degree with FES must submit a formal proposal to the Faculty Committee on Special Courses of Study. The committee meets only once each semester. Students admitted to Yale Law School who wish to begin their studies at FES must petition the dean of admissions at the law school for a deferral.

Tuition and Financial Aid
Students pay tuition and/or receive financial aid from the school that they are currently attending. Transactions are handled by Yale Law School, Pace or Vermont for 2.5 years and by FES for 1.5 years of the program. Any scholarships, grants, or loans awarded will be allocated when the student is enrolled at the granting institution. (For example, a student who is awarded an FES assistantship at the time of admission to the dual-degree program will receive the money when he or she is enrolled at FES and serving as a teaching assistant.) Contact the law school financial aid office to discuss the effects of a joint-degree program on summer funding and postgraduate loan forgiveness, if applicable.

Health Insurance
Students receive medical insurance coverage from the school at which they are currently enrolled.

For More Information:
Please contact Josh Galperin, Environmental Law and Policy Program Director at or 203 432 1164, for more information about the dual degree program.

Contact Info

Yale School of Forestry & Environ. Studies

Danielle Curtis
Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

205 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
800 825-0330

Joint Degree Faculty Contact: Josh Galperin

Yale Law School

Yale Law School Admissions Office
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
203 432-4995
Yale Law School Website

Associate Dean: Natalia Martin

Pace Law School

Cathy M. Alexander
Assistant Dean for Admissions

Office of Admissions
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
914 422-4212
Pace Law School Website

Vermont Law School

Kathy Hartman
Associate Dean for Enrollment Management

P.O. Box 96
Chelsea Street
South Royalton, VT 05068
800 227-1395 or 802 831-1217
Vermont Law School Website

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