JD/MA in Law & Preservation Studies Requirements

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 seeks 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 Preservation Studies Program in the American & New England Studies Program of 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 (MA). 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.

Program Requirements

Students must first apply and be admitted to the JD program through the BU School of Law. During their first semester, BU Law students may apply to the joint program. See BU Academics for additional guidelines.

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:

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

Within the Preservation Studies Program students are required to take a total of seven additional courses, including these five core courses:

  • AM 546 Places of Memory: Historic Preservation Theory and Practice
  • AM 554 Preservation Planning
  • AM 555 Boston Community Architectural and Urban History Workshop
  • AH 585 Twentieth-Century Architecture and Urbanism (or comparable architectural history survey)
  • 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.)

JD/MA Program Special Credit Considerations

After their first year in the School of Law, students may ordinarily apply up to three GRS courses toward the JD degree, three (3) credits per semester or twelve (12) credits in total. Rules governing the accreditation of law schools require that the School of Law grant credit according to the number of hours a course meets per week. Therefore, Graduate School courses that meet three hours per week earn only three credits toward the JD degree. During their three years of law school, students in the dual degree program pay only one tuition, to the School of Law. After their graduation from law school they pay tuition to the Graduate School for the completion of their MA degree requirements.

Note: Rules governing accreditation of law schools require that the School of Law grant credit according to the number of hours a course meets per week. GRS preservation courses meet three hours per week, and GRS grants 4 credits for those courses. However, the School of Law ordinarily can apply toward the JD only 3 credits for such courses. Check with the School of Law to be certain about course credits.

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.

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