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UMass Law Gets Provisional ABA Accreditation, Promptly Freezes Tuition

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Good news for incoming students at UMass Law: Massachusetts' only public law school has won provisional ABA accreditation, and is freezing tuition and fees for the next three years.

For the school, provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association marks "a major milestone," the University of Massachusetts' president said in a statement.

For students, it marks a major expansion of their potential legal career options.

Without ABA accreditation, UMass Law graduates could only sit for the bar exam in Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Boston Globe reports. That was the case for the school's inaugural class of 53 new lawyers last month.

But now, with provisional ABA accreditation, future UMass Law graduates -- including the school's 325 current students -- will be able to take the bar exam in any state. (Unfortunately, that doesn't apply retroactively to the class that just graduated.)

Current and incoming UMass Law students are also likely cheering the school's decision to freeze tuition and fees for the next three years.

For in-state students, full-time tuition and fees total about $23,000 a year; out-of-state students pay about $7,000 more, according to the Globe. That's about half the cost of Massachusetts' other law schools, all of which are private institutions.

UMass Law's three-year tuition freeze coincides with how long it will take for the school to complete its quest for full accreditation.

The ABA grants provisional accreditation when a school is "in substantial compliance" with law-school standards; such schools are re-evaluated each year, and are eligible for full accreditation after three years.

But UMass Law's accreditation pursuit comes at a cost. The school spent $15 million to meet the ABA's standards, Massachusetts' State House News Service reports. UMass Law was established in 2010 when UMass-Dartmouth acquired the formerly private Southern New England School of Law and turned it into a public law school.

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