MA in Preservation Studies


Program Description

The Preservation Studies Program trains students for productive careers working in historic preservation and the stewardship of cultural resources and heritage. Boston and New England have historically stood out as leaders of the national historic preservation movement. Drawing upon the traditions of its vibrant preservation locality, Boston University itself has a long history of inventively recycling historic buildings to house its students and faculty; the University was founded in 1869 in two adaptively reused Beacon Hill townhouses adjacent to the Boston Athenaeum and Charles Bulfinch’s Massachusetts State Capitol. In 1883 Boston University moved its College of Liberal Studies into an adaptively reused Baptist Church on Somerset Street. The University subsequently adapted for its own uses the Copley Square building of the Harvard Medical School, key commercial buildings along Commonwealth Avenue’s Automobile Row, the Boston Braves Baseball field, rowhouses and apartments along Bay State Road, and mansions in the Cottage Farm neighborhood; more recently, the University has undertaken a 20 million dollar renovation of the University Law Tower, a landmark of Boston modernism designed in 1962 by Spanish architect Jose Lluis Sert. Successful, environmentally minded, stewardship of historic buildings is part of the institutional DNA of Boston University; the Preservation Studies Program draws inspiration and vitality from the rich context.

Students in the program learn preservation in the classroom and through hands-on preservation planning, historical research, and exploration. They study the built environment and cultural landscape through courses taught by leading experts who teach in departments across the University and numerous professionals who do amazing work in the regional and national preservation 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. Applicants should have a BA and demonstrated an interest in the fields that contribute to historic preservation.

The Preservation Studies Program has educated hundreds of preservation professionals, most of whom continue to pursue these careers in communities across the nation. Graduates of the Program have gone on to distinguished leadership positions in preservation, particularly in Boston and New England. The Program’s network within these communities, through its faculty and alumni, is among its greatest strengths.



Preservation Core (5 Courses)

The Preservation Core is taken by all Preservation Studies MA candidates.

  • CAS AM 546 Places of Memory: Historic Preservation Theory and Practice
  • CAS AM 554 Preservation Planning
  • CAS AM 555 Boston Architectural and Community History Workshop
  • CAS AH 585 Twentieth-Century Architecture and Urbanism (or comparable architectural history survey)
  • GRS AM 775 Independent Research Project Colloquium (capstone project)

Electives (2 Courses)

  • Two elective courses, approved by Director of Preservation Studies, in preservation, heritage, architectural history, urban history, material culture, planning, or related discipline.

One of the Following Concentrations

  • Concentration in Architectural History (5 Courses)
  • Concentration in American & New England Studies (5 Courses)
  • Concentration in History (5 Courses)
  • Concentration in Archaeology (5 Courses)
  • Concentration in Planning (5 Courses)
  • Concentration in Museum Practice (5 Courses)


The Ph.D. program only accepts applications for fall admission, and the deadline to submit your application is January 15. The MA program accepts students for both the fall and spring semesters. The fall deadline is January 15, and the spring deadline is November 15.

There are a variety of additional resources available to students considering a graduate degree in American and New England Studies.

Additional Information

MA in Preservation Studies

Candidates for admission with degrees in a variety of fields are encouraged to apply. Common undergraduate majors include American studies, art history, city planning, economics, history, and business administration. Although many students apply to the program directly from undergraduate work, a significant number of students have pursued careers or post-graduate education before enrolling. We make every effort to accommodate applicants who may be returning to study after a period of time spent away from the academy.


Students complete 12 courses (48 credits) at the 500 level or above; the MA can be completed in three full-time semesters or can be pursued on a part-time basis. For more information on university requirements, see “General Requirements for the MA” in the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Last updated Jan 2020

About the School

Welcome! Arts & Sciences is Boston University’s largest academic division, the heart of a world-class research university. Our faculty in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences are among the w ... Read More

Welcome! Arts & Sciences is Boston University’s largest academic division, the heart of a world-class research university. Our faculty in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences are among the world’s most respected professors, researchers, and professionals in their disciplines. Our alumni are leading innovation and research and making an impact in their fields. Our campus is Boston, a city vibrant with history, culture, and diversity, and teeming with potential for connections and careers. Read less