Master of Legal Studies in Global Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law

The Master of Legal Studies in Global Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law is open to applicants with an undergraduate or graduate degree (non-law). We designed this degree for professionals who want to broaden their understanding of the continuously evolving field of environmental and natural resources law and gain thorough knowledge of the legal issues on a national and global scale.

Both legal and non-law professionals in this active legal environment must understand both domestic natural resources law and how resources are regulated in international jurisdictions.

We recognize the vital need for advanced graduate studies in this complex legal field. Our program offers a comprehensive, multi-level curriculum to help natural resources professionals and government regulators increase their knowledge of the issues, policies and laws that affect resources and the environment worldwide. Students have the chance to take innovative coursework, including Environmental and Natural Resources Law core curriculum, along with innovative courses in renewable energy and sustainable development. Students can also gain hands-on experience through participation in the University of Denver Water Law Review.

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  • Degree Requirements

    Global Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law MLS candidates are required to obtain a minimum of 24 credits; most courses are worth 3 credits. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 2.7 to remain in good standing.

    A full-time student may earn the degree in one academic year (or over 2 consecutive semesters); a part-time student may earn the degree in 2 years. Program time limit is 3 years from the time of matriculation. 

    Required Courses

    All students entering the program are required to complete either:
    Environmental Law (L4220) (3 credits) or Natural Resources Law (L4450) (3 Credits)

    All MLS students must also complete Introduction to the American Legal System (L4064) (2 credits)

    The remaining electives credits (19 credits) can be completed by choosing courses from the over forty courses in advanced degree programs in both international and domestic issues. For the remaining elective course requirement, students will customize their course of study to meet their individual professional goals.

    Capstone requirement

    Students must complete a Capstone requirement by submitting a written product of at least 15-25 pages on an appropriate legal subject and with a significant legal research component, approved by the Program Director (either through an elective course or by registering for a 2-3 credit Directed Research project). Students must submit an approved Capstone Completion form to the Office of the Registrar no later than the last day of the final examination period for the student's term of intended graduation.

  • Specializations

    Students may create an informal specialization within the MLS, in consultation with an advisor and/or the faculty Director, from the following list:

    • Environmental Law and Policy
    • Energy Law and Policy
    • Mineral Law and Policy
    • International Resources Transactions Law and Policy
    • Water Law and Policy
  • External Courses

    While working in the advanced degree program, you may extend your academic credentials by taking additional credited courses offered outside the College of Law. Global Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Program students may take up to six credit hours at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and Daniels College of Business, or at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. LLM, MLS, and JD students may also participate in one of our inter-university exchanges.

    Josef Korbel School of International Studies (Korbel)

    The Josef Korbel School of International Studies has an internationally renowned curriculum of graduate studies programs that attract students from many countries. Korbel prepares students for positions in government service, international organizations, and international business. Students gain expertise in a general area of international relations, such as international politics, comparative politics, political theory, and international economics.

    The Daniels College of Business

    The Daniels College of Business Administration provides programs in business and commercial law. Many Korbel and Daniels faculty members and associates have experience within the field of international natural resources studies.

    Colorado School of Mines

    The University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) have had a long and successful relationship, offering law students interested in a career in natural resources and environmental law the opportunity to pursue a graduate-level degree at CSM jointly with their JD degree at the University of Denver. LLM and MLS students in the International Natural Resources and Environmental Law Graduate Studies program also may take CSMcourses. The Colorado School of Mines is just twenty minutes from the Sturm College of Law campus.

    The Colorado School of Mines was established in the late 1800s and is regarded as preeminent among universities worldwide, offering courses in engineering, economics, geology, petroleum, environment, and other earth science disciplines. CSM’s departments of Geophysics and Resource Economics are considered among the finest in the world. The school maintains its own “working laboratory” mine in nearby Idaho Springs, and a geological and petroleum camp near Pueblo, Colorado.

The environmental master’s program was instrumental in expanding my knowledge of environmental law and provided an important and invaluable foundation and starting point—in my case, pursuing a PhD in environmental policy. I really enjoyed my time in the program and learned a great deal from knowledgeable faculty. I would wholeheartedly recommend this program to anyone looking to broaden or develop their knowledge of environmental law.

Marie Loeffelholz, PhD, MLS (Master of Legal Studies ’16)
Marie Loeffelholz

#19 ranked program in the nation U.S. News & World Report

#6 greenest law school The National Jurist

A+ practical training preLaw Magazine

Message from the Director

Although many law schools have environmental law programs, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law's Global Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Program is one of very few that introduces students to all of the aspects of environmental and natural resources law. In addition to offering courses in traditional areas of environmental law (air pollution, water pollution and hazardous waste law), the program also addresses the environmental aspects of land use law and growth management, Indian law, mining law, oil and gas law, public land law, wildlife law, water law and energy law.

Just as significant, we pride ourselves on providing students with opportunities for hands-on experience in the practice of environmental and natural resources law. The wonderfully supportive Denver environmental and natural resources bar, our legal externship program and environmental law clinic provide unparalleled opportunities for learning what environmental and natural resources attorneys actually do every day and helping students decide what they want to do with their careers.

Come join us. We are confident you will benefit from our program.

Program Director


Annecoos Wiersema

Professor & Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

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