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Fitchburg State, UMass Law sign articulation agreement

Posted 08/20/14

SigningStarting this fall, students interested in careers in the law will have an opportunity to earn their bachelor’s and law degrees in just six years, thanks to a new articulation agreement between Fitchburg State University and the University of Massachusetts Law School.

The agreement, signed on Aug. 20 by Fitchburg State President Robert V. Antonucci and UMass Law School Dean Mary Lu Bilek, will allow qualifying students to complete three undergraduate years at Fitchburg State before proceeding directly to UMass Law for a three-year juris doctor program (completing their bachelor’s degrees while on the UMass Law campus). Qualified Fitchburg State students will be guaranteed admission to the law school. The agreement is the first of its kind between the law school and a state university.

“The joint three plus three program offers qualified, ambitious, and motivated undergraduate students an accelerated course of study that maintains high academic standards while saving students one year’s worth of tuition and time,” the agreement states. “This partnering academic program allows both institutions to better serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and lend an advantage to their individual efforts to recruit outstanding students.”

“This agreement is about institutional collaboration that puts students first,” President Antonucci said. “We are opening doors that will bring affordable, high-quality law degrees within reach of our students.”

“We want students from this region to know we have a public school law school,” Bilek said, adding the program is designed for students with a clear vision of their future. “A person who gets on a path and stays on a path has the qualities that a good lawyer needs.”

“I wish this program was in existence 30 years ago when I was in school,” said Fitchburg State Board of Trustees Chairman Carol T. Vittorioso, herself an attorney. “It’s a fantastic opportunity, especially for first-generation students.”

Under the articulation agreement, qualified Fitchburg State undergraduates will be permitted to substitute the first year law school for the senior year at the university, thus earning the bachelor’s degree and the juris doctor degree in six years instead of the normal seven. The program is aimed primarily at students who enter the university with a strong interest in law already formed, or who develop such an interest early on, and whose career goals and legal education needs can be well served by UMass Law.

Fitchburg State was founded as a teacher training school in 1894 and has grown into a comprehensive public university offering more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, and professional fields to more than 7,000 students annually, including approximately 3,000 graduate students.

UMass Law was established at the UMass Dartmouth campus in 2010 as the state’s only public law school. The institution, which has its roots in the Southern New England School of Law, is committed to providing access to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to study law.

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