MA in Preservation Studies

Selection of courses and the overall direction of the student’s program are designed in consultation with the Program director. Students must complete twelve courses or 48 credits at the 500 level or above, including the five core courses, three built environment courses, and a major project, described below. Students must achieve a grade of B- or above in each course. Course work may be completed in three full-time semesters, but students are encouraged to enroll on a part-time basis for part of their academic program.

For more information on university requirements, see “General Requirements for the MA” in the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Core Courses

Five courses are required of all students in the Program:

  • AM 546 – Historic Preservation. This course is usually the first course taken in the Program and is offered annually during the fall semester.
  • AM 553 – Documenting Historic Buildings
  • AM 747 - Building Conservation
  • AM 754 – Planning & Preservation
  • AM 759 – Financing for Historic Preservation

Distribution Requirements and Electives

Students are also required to take at least three courses in architectural history and the built environment from those offered by the American Studies Program or the History of Art & Architecture Department on the list of Courses. In addition, students take three electives, chosen from related courses offered in allied departments are described on the list of Courses.


Students complete a paid internship during their course of study in the Program. Internships normally consist of ten weeks of full-time paid work or its equivalent. It is commonly completed during the summer between the student’s first and second year, but in some instances may be completed during the academic year. Students who have accumulated extensive experience in preservation prior to joining the Program may have this requirement waived.

Major Project

Students will also complete a major project prior to graduation. This may be an individual master’s project, a master’s thesis, or a group planning project through AM 755 Preservation Planning Colloquium. Generally, the individual master’s project or thesis is tailored to complement the student’s coursework and career goals. The master’s thesis follows University rules for academic research and its presentation, directed by a member of the American Studies faculty; see the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for these requirements. A master’s project may adopt standards and formats of the preservation field, such as those for survey and National Register listing, historic structure reports, preservation plans, design guidelines, economic feasibility studies, or community development reports. Most projects build upon work begun in core or advanced classes, directed studies, internships, or practica.