May 27, 2018
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The Nation’s First College Dedicated Exclusively to the Study of History has been Created by the Massachusetts School of Law



Contact: Lawrence Velvel (978) 681-0800

The nation’s first college dedicated exclusively to the study of history, including important aspects of American legal history, will open its doors in August 2010.  It will be located in Salem, N.H., and has been created by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover (MSL). 

The American College of History and Legal Studies (ACHLS) will also be a novel senior, or completion, college, offering only the junior and senior years of college.  After their junior year, students who do well at ACHLS will be able, if they wish, to enter law school at MSL and receive their B.A. after the first year of law school, rather than after a fourth year of undergraduate school.

This new senior college is “a revolutionary development in American higher education,” said Lawrence Velvel, MSL dean and cofounder, and a recognized leader in law school education reform. “ACHLS’ curriculum will focus exclusively on general American history and legal history, with attention to U.S. history in the context of world history and the history of constitutional and regulatory law.”

Velvel said professors would teach by the discussion method, rather than by the lecture method; class size will be held to 20 students or fewer; and that focusing exclusively on history will enable ACHLS to hold tuition down to $10,000 a year, “inexpensive by today’s standards.”

The new college “will stress rigor of thinking and analysis, fluent speaking and good writing,” Velvel said, “with students being required to write many short-to medium-sized, heavily critiqued papers in every class on topics raised by the material discussed in the classroom.”

ACHLS’ faculty will be comprised of educators who have a broad interest in all of American history rather than an intellectual focus on limited portions of it,” Velvel said.  “What’s more, their primary interest will lie in teaching and working with students rather than in doing research and writing on narrow slices of our national past.”

“The public and our leaders are too often ignorant of history,” Velvel explained when discussing one of the reasons for founding ACHL. We believe a greater knowledge of the subject can enable this country to avoid repetition of past mistakes and have a more successful future.”

“Further, as a high percentage of elected officials, judges, and corporate executives are lawyers, it is imperative to begin the process of trying to ensure that American leaders, especially its lawyers, have the historical knowledge needed to make intelligent decisions in the national interest,” Velvel said.

Students who wish to do so can concentrate their work in any of four areas: (1) the history of civil rights in the United States; (2) urban history; (3) the history of American foreign affairs; and (4) the lessons taught by history.  Courses offered will include “The History of Women’s Rights”; “Race in American Law”; “American History in the Context of World History”; “The History of American Constitutional Law”; “The History of Economic Regulation in the United States”; “The History of the Growth of Cities in the United States”; “The History of Immigrants in the Northeast”; “The History of American Foreign Relations;” “The History of the Clash Between Ideals and Practicality in the United States.”

Velvel and a group of colleagues established MSL in 1988 to provide an inexpensive yet rigorous legal education that would be a pathway into the legal profession to students from working class, minority, and immigrant backgrounds as well as people in midlife seeking a legal career. MSL’s tuition today is $14,500 annually, or about just 40% of the tuition of otherprivate law schools in New England. Some 85% of MSL’s students pass the Massachusetts bar exam and its moot courtstudent teams have been ranked first in the Northeast region, ahead of all Ivy League competitors, and third overall in the United States. Noted legal scholar Brian Tamanaha of St. John’s University has called for “more law schools (to) look likeMassachusetts School of Law” in that this model “would produce capable lawyers at a much lower tuition, which would be good for the students and good for society.”

Because MSL’s pedagogical techniques have worked so well, and are as applicable to history as to law, many of the practices that have made MSL a successful law school will be employed at ACHLS.


SHERWOOD ROSS ASSOCIATES, Suite 403, 102 SW 6th Ave., Miami, FL 33130

 (305) 205-8281


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