Dual JD/MA in Preservation Studies

Legal and regulatory frameworks have played an increasingly significant role in the stewardship and conservation of architectural and cultural resources. Local, state, and federal laws seek to balance the societal interest in heritage with individual private property rights. Like zoning and other land-use controls, historic preservation incentives and regulations help negotiate the relationship between the past and the future. The work of lawyers and advocates stands at the center of these processes. This interdisciplinary program involving both the School of Law (LAW) and the American & New England Studies Program in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) allows a student to graduate in seven semesters with both a law degree (Juris Doctor) and a master’s degree in Preservation Studies. The program substantially reduces the time to complete the two degrees by integrating the programs. Pedagogically, work in the two programs enriches the emerging perspective on both law and preservation.

Learning Outcomes


Students will:

  • Possess knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law;
  • Possess the ability to perform:
    • Legal analysis and reasoning
    • Legal research
    • Problem-solving
    • Written communication in the legal context
    • Oral communication in the legal context;
  • Understand the exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system; and
  • Demonstrate the professional skills of collaboration, counseling, and negotiation needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession. All students will also demonstrate a basic understanding of business fundamentals and be able to read and understand basic financial documents.

MA in Preservation Studies

Students will demonstrate:

  • A command of the history, theory, and practice of historic preservation;
  • Knowledge of the history and buildings of the United States;
  • The ability to present narratives of place related to the building landscape and its preservation that can be understood by a broad lay audience;
  • An ability to undertake professional-level work in the historic preservation field; and
  • An ability to conduct research, manage evidence, and construct an argument concerning a topic in historic preservation.

Program Requirements

To earn the JD/MA, law students take law and preservation courses during the second and third years in law school and four additional preservation courses after completing the JD. Students may complete these additional four courses in one additional semester, for a total of seven semesters, but they may also attend GRS on a part-time basis.

Students must take two LAW courses:

  • LAW JD 855 Land Use or JD 914 Real Estate Finance and Tax
  • LAW JD 891 Seminar in Historic Preservation (usually offered every other year)

Suggested relevant law courses include:

  • LAW JD 801 Administrative Law
  • LAW JD 833 Environmental Law
  • LAW JD 855 Land Use
  • LAW JD 889 Introduction to Federal Income Taxation
  • LAW JD 961 Housing Law

Other requirements for the MA include:

  • Required Preservation Studies core courses, which are taken by all Preservation Studies MA candidates:
    • CAS AH 585 Twentieth-Century Architecture and Urbanism (or comparable architectural history survey)
    • CAS AM 546 Places of Memory: Historic Preservation Theory and Practice
    • CAS AM 554 Preservation Planning
    • CAS AM 555 Boston Community Architectural and Urban History Workshop
    • GRS AM 775 Independent Research Project Colloquium (capstone project)
  • Two preservation electives, selected in consultation with the Director of Preservation Studies
  • A three-month paid Preservation Studies Internship taken in the summer after the second year of law school. Internships have been arranged in prior years with organizations such as Historic New England and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as with agencies and firms with an interest in historic preservation. (Note: Persons with extensive preservation experience may be exempted from this internship requirement by the Director of the Preservation Studies Program.)

After the first year of law school, students ordinarily may apply toward the JD up to 3 credits per semester (12 credits total) of graduate-level work taken at GRS. JD/MA students therefore may take four of their required GRS courses while in law school.

Application Requirements

Students first must apply to, and be accepted by, the School of Law. For application procedures for the School of Law, please consult the School of Law website.

Once students are accepted to the School of Law, they then must submit a separate application to, and be accepted by, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Students normally apply to GRS during their first year of law school to begin the master’s degree program during their second year of law studies. Students may also apply to GRS to begin their master’s degree program in January of their second year of law studies; in that case, they would be behind by one master’s degree course, and may need to take more than four GRS courses after completing the JD. These students must contact Associate Dean Gerry Muir at the School of Law and Jan Haenraets at the Preservation Studies Program to plan their programs.

GRS requires:

  • LSAT score (in lieu of GRE)
  • Nonrefundable application fee
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation (may use copies of law school recommendations)
  • Transcripts (may use copies of transcripts that were submitted to the School of Law)
  • The GRS application deadline is February 1 (for September admission)

Tuition & Financial Aid

During their three years of law school, students in the dual degree program pay only one tuition, even though they also are taking courses at GRS after their first year of law school. After graduation from law school, students pay tuition to GRS for the completion of their master’s degree requirements.

Students should not count on receiving financial aid from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences for the period of time after they graduate from the School of Law and when they are completing their master’s degree requirements, since GRS’s small amount of aid is normally allotted to first-year graduate students.