Academic Programs

Preservation Studies

J.D./M.A. in Law and Preservation Studies

Historic preservation is both a popular movement and a specialized field. Although it may once have represented only an informal, private decision by the owner of an individual building, historic preservation now involves individuals, private agencies, and various government units in the complex issues of zoning, financing, and community planning.

Through a program that was the first of its kind in the country, Boston University is playing a significant role in educating preservation professionals. An interdisciplinary program involving both the School of Law and the American & New England Studies Program of the Boston University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences allows students to complete both programs in seven semesters, instead of the nine semesters it would take if the two degrees were pursued independently.


Program Requirements

The Preservation Studies Program recognizes that an interdisciplinary approach is necessary for effective and judicious management of cultural resources. The program strives for a balance between academic training and field experience. Specifically designed preservation courses in historic building conservation, preservation management, adaptive use of older buildings, and neighborhood conservation are combined with in-depth training in such fields as architectural history, archaeology, material culture, decorative arts, urban history and geography, urban affairs, and law.

Specific requirements of the master's degree program include:

  • Two School of Law courses: either Land Use (JD 855) or Real Estate Finance and Tax Seminar (JD 914); and Seminar in Historic Preservation (JD 891-offered every other year).
  • Three core courses: AM 546 Historic Preservation (GRS course), AM 759 Financing Historic Preservation (GRS course), and AM 754 Planning and Preservation.
  • One course in architectural history.
  • A final preservation project, which may be a Master's thesis, a Master's project, or a group project in AM 755 Preservation Planning Colloquium AND three Preservation electives.
  • A three-month paid Preservation Studies Summer Internship after second year of law school (may be waived by the Preservation Studies program director if the student has extensive preservation experience).

For more information, contact Claire Dempsey, Director, Preservation Studies Program, 226 Bay State Road, Boston, MA, 617/353-9910.


Admissions Requirements

Students first must apply to, and be accepted by, the School of Law before they will be considered for admission to the master's program in preservation studies. Students then apply separately to the Graduate School during their first year of law school, in accordance with the Graduate School's deadlines. The LSAT may be substituted for the GRE. The Graduate School requires:

  • LSAT score (in lieu of GRE)
  • Non-refundable application fee, payable to Boston University
  • Personal statement and GRS application cover sheets
  • Two letters of recommendation (may use copies of law school recommendations)
  • Transcripts (may use copies of transcripts that were submitted to the Law School)
  • GRS application deadline: February 1

For further information, please contact: Admissions, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 617/353-2696.