Law and Environment and Resources


Addressing the ecological and resource challenges of our rapidly changing world requires more than a passion for the environment. It takes a mastery of analytical tools, strong problem-solving skills, and a commitment to thinking and working across disciplines as diverse as law, biology, history, economics, psychology, and engineering.

Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) allows students to combine expertise in the natural and social sciences, engineering, law, and business to address pressing environmental and natural resource problems. Formally part of the School of Earth Sciences, E-IPER offers a rigorous joint degree program that pushes students to understand and use natural and social science approaches, skills, and concepts to re-imagine and address legal and policy questions with a fresh mind-set and novel analytical tools. By giving students the opportunity to delve into both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of environmental issues, course work prepares them to analyze environmental and resource problems from multiple perspectives and use diverse analytical approaches from multiple disciplines. For example, a student interested in exploring the potential for open-ocean fin-fish aquaculture can use classic economic analysis as well as business market studies, coupled with biological risk assessment and legal gap analysis, to understand and evaluate both the potential for and important environmental issues raised by such a venture.

E-IPER students who earn a JD/MS are poised to move into a multitude of potential professional opportunities that merge law with environmental concerns, including academia, policy development, private industry, NGOs, government, or in-house lawyering. There is also be a JD/PhD option for students who want to conduct in-depth, original research in preparation for careers in academia or government, or with an NGO.

Course Requirements

The joint JD/MS degree program requires a total of 130.5 quarter units and may be completed in three years. No more than 31 quarter units of approved courses that originate outside the law school may count toward the law degree. Joint JD/MS degree requirements for the current academic year are published in the Stanford Bulletin and are updated periodically throughout the year on the E-IPER web site. Students interested in learning more about the JD/PhD in Environment and Resources should contact E-IPER.

In addition to requirements for the JD, specific requirements for the Joint MS include the completion of two required core courses: ENVRES 280, Introduction to Environmental Science, and ENVRES 290, Capstone Project Seminar, may be completed with an interdisciplinary team and will be publicly presented to the E-IPER community.

In addition to the two required courses, students must complete a total of 8 additional courses. A minimum of four of these courses should be chosen from one selected Joint MS Course Track: Energy; Climate and Atmosphere; Cleantech; Land Use and Agriculture; Oceans and Estuaries; Freshwater; Human and Environmental Health; Sustainable Built Environment; or Sustainable Design. The other four courses may be selected from the same or another Course Track or from elsewhere in the University. Students are encouraged to take courses at the 200-level or above and must maintain a ‘B’ average. Specific restrictions on courses that may count for the Joint MS are listed in the Bulletin and the E-IPER website.

The student’s program of study is subject to the approval of the student’s advising team, consisting of a faculty member from the applicable professional school and one E-IPER faculty member. The two degrees are conferred simultaneously when the requirements for both the JD and the MS in Environment and Resources have been met.

E-IPER website

Note to applicants: The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program awards full funding to Stanford graduate students from all disciplines, with additional opportunities for leadership training and collaboration across fields. Joint Degree applicants are encouraged to apply to the KnightHennessy Scholars Program.  Please be aware that the Knight-Hennessy Scholars applications are due in early Autumn one year prior to enrollment. View dates and deadlines:

Stanford joint degree programs really do help law students begin to "think like a client." The interdisciplinary background I'm building will help me be a better lawyer and a more effective advocate.

Brian Shillinglaw, JD/MS, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) '08


Deborah A. Sivas 1

Deborah A. Sivas

  • Luke W. Cole Professor of Environmental Law
  • Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program
  • Director, Environmental Law Clinic
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Affiliated Researcher, Center for Ocean Solutions
  • Faculty Advisor, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources
  • Professor, Doerr School of Sustainability
Thomas Heller 1

Thomas C. Heller

  • Lewis Talbot and Nadine Hearn Shelton Professor of International Legal Studies, Emeritus
  • Faculty Director, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance