History of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy



Founding and vision: An institution ahead of its time 

In 1933, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy was founded thanks to a generous bequest of Dr. Austin Barclay Fletcher for the establishment and maintenance of a school dedicated to the study of law and diplomacy. Demonstrating remarkable foresight, Dr. Fletcher originally made this bequest nearly two decades earlier, in 1914, before the establishment of the League of Nations or the outbreak of World War I. 

Dr. Fletcher's vision was clear: he aspired to create an institution that would prepare individuals for diplomatic service and provide a comprehensive education in the matters encompassed by foreign relations. This encompassed not only a foundational understanding of international law but also a broad knowledge of the geographical and economic factors that shape the interactions between nations. Fletcher’s roots in diplomacy and international law remain strong.



Early Years: Collaborative from the beginning

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy officially opened its doors in 1933, operating under the joint administration of Harvard University and Tufts College (now Tufts University). The institution's first significant acquisition was Goddard Hall, which was thoughtfully converted into classrooms, offices, and a library to support the academic pursuits of its students. By 1935, Tufts College assumed exclusive responsibility for the administration of the school.



Expansion and Innovation: Redefining the education of tomorrow’s leaders 

From the start, the curriculum was envisioned to be interdisciplinary in nature, encompassing history, economics, law, and political science. Over the years, The Fletcher School has grown and adapted to the evolving landscape of international affairs education to advance the original mission and remain at the cutting edge of global affairs today. Through the decades, Fletcher added fields of study in international business, environment and development, gender and intersectional analysis, and, most recently, in technology.

Fletcher offers an array of multi-disciplinary programs in global affairs. It encompasses several master's degree programs and two Ph.D. programs, providing a robust academic environment for students. Regardless of the degree program they pursue, students benefit from the opportunity to shape their degree by pursuing various fields of study. 

The history of the Fletcher School is marked by a steadfast commitment to its founding vision, an uncompromising dedication to academic excellence, and a pioneering spirit that continues to shape its approach to education in global affairs.