An announcement was made on Wednesday that Fitchburg State University and the University of Massachusetts entered into an agreement that will allow its students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years, according to The Sentinel & Enterprise News.
UMass Law School Dean Mary Lu Bilek and FSU President Robert V. Antonucci signed the agreement earlier this week.
The agreement allows students who qualify to earn an undergraduate degree in three years at FSU prior to going to UMass Law in Dartmouth to earn their J.D. The students will complete their undergraduate degree and earn their law degree at the same time.
"This agreement is about institutional collaboration that puts students first," Antonucci said. "We are opening doors that will bring affordable, high-quality law degrees within reach of our students. It's also a financial incentive for students. If they work hard, keep their grades up, they can reduce their entire debt and financial obligation by an entire year. It makes a significant difference."
Bilek is excited for the agreement because she wants students in the region to know that there is a public law school for them in the area.
"We want the kind of student that gets on a path and stays on a path, knows what they want to do, goes after it. “Such a person has the habits and values that lawyers need. They're self-intentional, they're prepared, they're disciplined, they're motivated.”
When the agreement was signed, Antonucci said the following:
"The beneficiaries of our signatures will be all of the students who take advantage of this opportunity."
The interim vice president for academic affairs, Paul Weizer, said the following:
"We are the first state university to have reached such an agreement with them. I'm sure we will not be the last, but I'm glad we got here when we did and we're going to be able to start immediately providing those opportunities for students entering this fall."An FSU Board of Trustees member and chairwoman, Carol Vittorioso, said "I wish this program were in existence 30 years ago when I was in school. I think it's a fantastic opportunity, especially for first-generation students."