Master of Science in Law, Water & Environmental Law

Master of Science in Law, Water & Environmental Law

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McGeorge’s world-class Water & Environmental Law program is the foundation for the online MSL in Water & Environmental Law. This master’s degree provides the opportunity to learn from McGeorge’s distinguished faculty and program team as well as from panels of experts who are focused on water and environmental law and the changing policies surrounding both. The courses are taught by expert faculty who are chosen for outstanding teaching as well as depth of knowledge in water and environmental law. They emphasize the development of real-world knowledge and practical skills.

The online MSL in Water & Environmental Law provides value to land use planners, engineers, environmental consultants, public information officers, lobbyists, public agency and legislative staff, and others who seek expertise in this continually-evolving field, but who do not require a law degree.

Important Dates



Spring Priority App Deadline



Spring Semester Start Date

Program Benefits

  • Enhance your potential for career advancement, with the development of specialized knowledge in water and environmental law.
  • Gain in-depth legal knowledge in this specific area of law.
  • Build networks with faculty and experts in the area of water and environmental law, as well as with alumni and other students.
  • Distinguish yourself from other professionals with a unique degree and focus.
  • Increase your credibility with a publishable piece of research that, coupled with a research-focused MSL, can be a gateway to Ph.D. work.

What Can I Do With an MSL Degree?

Because the law intersects with every industry in one way or another, it is very likely there is some aspect of your current role that could be enhanced with a MSL degree. Our MSL degree can also open career opportunities by allowing you to pivot your career toward the legal aspects of your field. For example, someone working in government affairs may take courses in lobbying, election law, and statutory interpretation. Individuals working with water and environmental issues may take courses in water resources law, environmental law, and water and environmental justice.


Through our MSL coursework, you’ll be better equipped to:


  • Review and understand agreements such as contracts
  • Review and draft proposed local, state, and federal laws and regulations
  • Understand and comply with regulatory requirements for specific industries
  • Work with attorneys and compliance officers


For more information about specific job titles and how an MSL degree can help your career, see MSL Career Outcomes.

Program Eligibility

A bachelor’s degree is required for admission to the program

Degree Received

Master of Science in Law, Water & Environmental Law concentration

Course Logistics

The Water & Environmental Law concentration is earned through part-time, fully online, asynchronous, courses with the following requirements:


  • A total of 26 units over approximately two years, with students typically enrolling in two 3-unit courses each semester.
  • Fall and spring semesters are 15 weeks long. Summer courses, when offered, run on a four-week semester. One summer course provides students the option to visit the McGeorge. campus over a long weekend in Sacramento, the capital city of California.
  • As with in-person courses, students in online courses interact with their professors and classmates for an average of one hour per week and read/study for an additional two hours per week for every credit unit awarded
  • Courses are asynchronous, meaning that students do not need to be online at any specific time. Students can schedule their coursework around other commitments. Some courses may offer optional videoconference live sessions, which students can either attend in real time or watch via a recording at a time that suits them.

Course Details

The Water & Environmental Law concentration provides the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills that are critical in today’s complex regulatory environment. This master course of study facilitates interdisciplinary excellence within government, non-profit, and private enterprise.

Courses for the online MSL in Water & Environmental Law are designed by a distinguished faculty and academic team. The courses focus on ensuring that students develop  the knowledge, professional skills, and broadened perspective required for the rapidly changing legal environment. McGeorge’s accomplished faculty challenge students with new ideas and push themacademically within a supportive, empathetic environment where faculty and staff are invested in student success.

The Master in Water & Environmental Law is comprised of both required and elective courses.

Below is a sample course schedule:

Water & Environmental Law MSL

First Semester Second Semester Third Semester Fourth Semester Summer Session

Intro to Legal Analysis (2)

The Executive Branch & Administrative State (3)

Environmental Law (3)

Water Resources Law (3)

Leadership in Organizations* (1)

Contracts/Analytical Skills (4)

Legislatures & Lawmaking (3)

Elective (3)
Elective (3)

Persuasive Public Speaking* (1)

6 Units
6 Units
6 Units
6 Units
2 Units

26 Units Total

*only offered in summer 

Required Courses

Introduction to Legal Analysis: This course provides students with an overview of the American legal system, including the sources and development of law as well as the dispute resolution process. The course further focuses on developing an understanding of how lawyers read and analyze cases, statutes, and legal documents and provides an introduction to legal reasoning. A primer on legal research with a focus on locating and evaluating the weight of legal sources is also included.


Analytical Skills (Contracts): This graduate course offers a practical introduction to a foundational area of law, such as contracts, and to the legal method. Students learn best practices for studying law and developing foundational legal analytical skills so that they can read and understand case law, statutes, and regulations. These analytical skills include IRAC rule-based methodology as a structure for legal analysis, case-briefing, outlining, and test-taking. Students also practice negotiating and drafting agreements.


Legislatures & Lawmaking: This online asynchronous course explores legislative institutions and lawmaking processes in state and federal government as well as basic principles of judicial review of legislative action. The course provides opportunities for development of practical skills such as drafting statutory language, preparing and assessing bill analyses, commenting on legislation, and participating in the legislative process.


The Executive Branch & The Administrative State: This online course explores regulatory institutions and processes at the state and federal levels, with a focus on the relationship between the executive branch, the legislature, and the courts. The course provides opportunities for development of practical skills such as drafting regulations and participating in the regulatory process, including commenting on agency action and responding to comments. Focus is given to understanding the role of policy and methods for marshalling and assessing technical information.


Environmental Law: This course is a survey of legal principles and policies relating to protection and enhancement of the physical environment. Particular attention is given to common law doctrines and public rights and remedies; federal and state control programs for the fields of air pollution, water pollution, noise, solid waste management, fish and wildlife resources; and planning for federal, state and local administrative agencies.


Water Resources Law: This course introduces the legal principles that control water allocation for human and environmental purposes, taught via online exercises such as lectures, readings, videos, discussion, and research. Legal principles covered include: categories of surface and groundwater rights, management approaches, allocation for environmental purposes, federal-state relationships, tribal and reserved rights, reasonable use, waste, and the public trust doctrine. Students gain practical understanding of water allocation and use in contemporary society, as well as critically examine the social policies that govern water management.


Leadership in Organizations: This online asynchronous course explores skills necessary for professional competency and excellence in twenty-first century organizations. Working in and with public agencies is emphasized. Topics covered may include teams in organizations, cross-cultural dynamics, professional work product and communications, and professional ethics. Focus is given to case studies and practical exercises.


Persuasive Public Speaking: This online course introduces students to the many aspects of persuasive public speaking, including content, word choice, and delivery. Students study the theory of persuasion through reference to historical and social science sources. Students develop public speaking confidence by practicing their skills and receiving constructive feedback. This course is substantially asynchronous; students meet synchronously online for 12.5 hours over five days, specific dates/times in syllabus.

Elective Courses

Water & Environmental Justice: This course will explore challenges and opportunities in meeting the goal of providing a healthy environment and safe, affordable, accessible, and reliable water supplies to all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, national origin, and education level. Specific topics may include, among others, the human right to water, disparate impacts from facility siting, toxic exposure, climate justice, food security, access to nature, participation in environmental governance, and capacity building in disadvantaged communities. 

International Water Resources Law: This seminar focuses on the theoretical bases and practical application of the law governing international fresh water resources. Students study the principal cases and controversies in the field and analyze the most significant global and regional instruments.

Government Law & Policymaking: This online asynchronous course introduces students to the lawyer’s role in developing, modifying, implementing, advocating, and influencing public policy, including: legislation, regulations, executive orders, court orders, and other policy edicts at the national, state, and local levels. Students learn how to do policy analysis; learn the essential organization and procedures of the various policymaking venues; are able to consider and weigh strategic implications associated with the various venues and processes; conduct research using a variety of sources unique to policymaking in other federal and state settings; learn and develop skills for advocacy, negotiation and compromise in a policymaking setting; and practice applying course knowledge and skills to important public policy matters of the day. Students complete a project on an actual and current public policy problem.

Election Law: This online asynchronous course will cover the main doctrinal concepts that are necessary to the practice of election law, as well as offer practical assignments common in the day to day practice of political law attorneys. Coverage includes constitutional law and principles, campaign finance law, election administration, and the Voting Rights Act, among other topics.

Lobbying & Politics: This course explores how power and influence operate in state legislatures. The first part of the course examines the processes and pressures a legislator typically encounters prior to casting a vote in the Legislature, including campaigns for local and state office,; fundraising, the influence of political parties and partisan leadership, grassroots supporters, and local-based interests. The second part of the course develops theories of legislative persuasion, including a blend of traditional advocacy skills and political strategy.

Negotiations: This course examines the theoretical, ethical, and practical skills essential to being an effective advocate in negotiations involving legal disputes. Students learn negotiation skills through lecture, discussion, video simulations, and extensive interactive exercises and role-plays. Students are introduced to negotiation tools and techniques that enhance negotiation success. This course helps students identify strengths and weaknesses in personal negotiating style. This course is primarily asynchronous; students negotiate synchronously online several times during the semester, details in syllabus.

Directed Research in Water and Environmental Law: This course provides the opportunity for students to engage in a comprehensive individual research project under the supervision of a full-time faculty member. The work product may take the form of a scholarly paper, empirical study, analysis of topical readings, or other creative format that demonstrates in-depth legal research and original analysis.

Master’s Thesis in Water and Environmental Law: This course provides an opportunity for students to write a thesis under the guidance of a full-time faculty member acting as supervisor. The thesis should present an original idea or ideas, demonstrate mastery of research skills appropriate to the field, and be analytical and/or critical, as opposed to merely descriptive. The final product should exemplify high quality academic writing consistent with the professional goals of the student, taking into account the supervisor’s and the student’s vision of the desired target audience for the product.

Engaging and Effective

Our tradition of excellence encompasses the design of our online courses. We make it easy for you to focus on what you need to learn.

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