MA in Preservation Studies
For more than 30 years, the Preservation Studies Program at Boston University has provided the interdisciplinary training necessary for successful careers in the analysis and management of cultural resources. More than 200 graduates have gone on to distinguished leadership positions in preservation, and that network of alumni is among the program’s greatest strengths.
The Preservation Studies Program integrates challenging coursework with extensive opportunities for practical, professional experience through group projects, independent work, and internships. Boston and New England have long been at the center of the preservation movement as home to many of its founders and to practitioners and institutions in the vanguard of developments in the field. Class projects take advantage of the tremendous scope of preservation activity in the region, from large-scale regional initiatives to grassroots neighborhood efforts in cities and towns. The program also draws on that community for its adjunct faculty, for internships, and for employment after graduation.
Students in the program engage firsthand with both time-tested and innovative forms of preservation practice and receive essential preparation in preservation planning, adaptive use, building conservation, and preservation law. The program also offers excellent opportunities to study the built environment through courses that examine architecture and the cultural landscape. Together, these provide a broad grounding that emphasizes the variety of historic resources and the diversity of approaches to their preservation.
For further information see General Requirements for the MA as well as the following requirements:
Candidates with degrees in a variety of fields including American studies, history of art & architecture, city planning, economics, history, and business administration are encouraged to apply. The program is selective, with the intent of training a limited number of persons to a high level.
Students must complete 12 courses or 48 credits at the 500 level or above, including five required core courses, distribution requirements, and a major project. The five required courses are: CAS AM 546 Historic Preservation, CAS AM 553 Documenting Historic Buildings and Landscapes, GRS AM 747 Building Conservation, GRS AM 751 Financing Historic Preservation Development, and GRS AM 754 Planning and Preservation. Students are also required to take three courses that address the built environment from those offered by the American & New England Studies Program, the Archaeology Department, or the History of Art & Architecture Department. In addition, students will take three or four electives, depending on their plans for a major project. Selection of courses, definition of the major project, and the overall direction of the student’s program will be designed in consultation with the student’s advisor, normally the program director.
Required for Preservation Studies Students
- CAS AM 546 Historic Preservation
- CAS AM 553 Documenting Historic Buildings and Landscapes
- GRS AM 747 Building Conservation
- GRS AM 751 Financing Historic Preservation Development
- GRS AM 754 Planning and Preservation
- CAS AM 524 New England’s Cultural Landscape
- GRS AM 730 Seminar in American Architecture
- GRS AM 748 Historic Preservation Seminar: Adaptive Building Use
- GRS AM 755 Colloquium in Preservation Planning
- GRS AM 765 American Vernacular Architecture
- GRS AM 780 Problems in Historic Preservation
- GRS AM 867 Material Culture
- GRS AM 901/902 Directed Study
- GRS AM 903, 904 Directed Study in Historic Preservation
- GRS AM 946 Practicum
Courses Offered Through Departmental Curricula
- CAS AH 520 The Museum and Historical Agency
- CAS AH 570 Early American Architecture
- CAS AH 584 Greater Boston: Architecture and Planning
- GRS AH 782 Colloquium in Nineteenth-Century Architecture in Europe and America
- GRS AH 798 Colloquium in Twentieth-Century Architecture
- GRS AH 884 Seminar: Nineteenth-Century Architecture
- CAS AR 572 Studies in Industrial Archaeology
- GRS AR 770 New World Historical Archaeology: Colonial America
- GRS AR 771 New World Historical Archaeology: Post-Colonial America
- GRS AR 780 Archaeological Ethics and the Law
- GRS AR 805 Archaeological Heritage Management
- GRS AR 810 International Heritage Management
- MET UA 515 Urban Planning
Full-time residency over three semesters is desired, but students may also enroll on a part-time basis (two courses per semester) for one or more of their semesters. Some of the core courses are taught in the late afternoon or evening. Students typically finish in four semesters.
A three-month, full-time paid internship in an appropriate public or private agency, firm, or historical commission is an integral part of the program. Placement is approved by the program director. Internships are available with preservation agencies such as the Boston Landmarks Commission, the National Park Service, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and private organizations including the Boston Preservation Alliance, PreservatiONMASS, Historic New England (formerly known as SPNEA), and the Northeast office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In certain cases, prior experience may be considered as equivalent to the internship.
Limited financial assistance is available in the form of graduate assistantships or research fellowships. In addition to the required summer internship, many students hold part-time positions with many of the same agencies and nonprofits. The program assists students in finding these opportunities.
Each year, selected students in the School of Law are admitted to a joint program with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences leading to a Juris Doctor in Law and a Master of Arts in Preservation Studies. The students take one historic preservation course each semester of their second and third years of law school; work in a full-time, three-month internship relating to preservation law; and take an additional four courses (16 credits) in preservation studies after completing their law degree. For further details on the Preservation Law Program, contact the School of Law, 765 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.