MA in Historic Preservation

The Master of Arts (MA) in Historic Preservation is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of historic preservation issues and opportunities that promote the protection of historic and cultural resources. Students will gain strong organizational, practical and administrative skills ideal for careers in historic preservation, heritage tourism and/or heritage resource management.

Interested in a Certificate Progam? In addition to the MA program, PSU also offers the 12-credit Historic Preservation Certificate.

  • Historic Preservation Core Component – 18-19 credits
  • 3
    This course provides a foundation to historic preservation. The course will focus on principles and theories pertaining to preservation and restoration practices; recognition of architectural periods, styles, and construction methods in context of the evolution of cultural landscapes; the definition of significance and integrity in buildings and districts; strategies by which buildings and their settings have been preserved and used; and methods of reading and interpreting the cultural environment.
  • 3
    This course traces the evolution of architecture in the British colonies and the United States from settlement to the late twentieth century. The course identifies the major styles and their broad and detailed attributes; changes in technology that had an influence on American buildings and their function; influential theorists and designers. The course will identify major monuments in American architecture but will concentrate on examples that might be encountered in fieldwork and will address vernacular building types.
  • 3
    This course uses the rural countryside as a laboratory to examine the cultural landscape. It will trace the impact of natural, cultural, economic, and technological forces on the "built" environment. The course studies the evolution of buildings and their settings, with emphasis on settlement and rural industrialization. Subjects to be discussed include the evolution of architectural styles and construction techniques, town planning and land division, the evolution of transportation, and the harnessing of water power. Although the course will use specific locales as examples, it is intended to instill general principles by which any human landscape can be examined and interpreted in relationship to natural resources and human culture.
  • - OR -
  • 4
    This purpose of this course is twofold: to introduce students to a variety of locations and historic sites throughout New England; and to allow students to analyze the historical significance of each site and use the knowledge gained to produce papers and projects useful to the student's career while furthering their research and writing skills. Many historical sites are within easy travel distance and convey the nature of change since the earliest settlement in the region. This will allow students the opportunity to explore and interpret the layered historical landscape.
  • 3
    This course is intended to provide an introduction to the field of historic preservation and to instill basic skills in researching and understanding historic structures, especially buildings and bridges. It will provide instruction in assessing the evolution and condition of structures and in recording them by written, graphic, and photographic methods. The course will also emphasize traditional methods and materials of construction, the behavior of structural components over time, and techniques of determining the original condition and subsequent changes of historic structures.
  • 3
    This course identifies the traditional materials of architectural and engineering construction and their methods of manufacture and use. The course outlines the tools and techniques employed in construction from the seventeenth through the late twentieth centuries, and demonstrates how to recognize and describe the materials and techniques that were employed in existing structures. The course employs field study supervised by the instructor.
  • 3
    This course provides instruction in analyzing the origins and evolution of standing buildings and in preparing reports that document evaluation. The course emphasizes the "historic structures report" format developed by the National Park Service, but discusses shorter reports that meet more limited needs and goals. The course employs field study supervised by the instructor. Prerequisites: HPR 5120 and HPR 5310.
    • Elective Component – 9-12 credits

For Thesis option, choose 9 credits from the list below.
For Practicum option, choose 12 credits from the list below.

  • 3
    Once ignored in civic and urban planning, historic preservation is now seen as integral to the definition and protection of the cultural landscape. Historic preservation planning and cultural resource management (CRM) are accomplished through the identification, evaluation, documentation, registration, treatment, and ongoing stewardship of historic properties. This course examines the processes of preservation planning and management that have been established by the National Park Service of the United States and by comparable agencies in other countries, and illustrates the application of these standards at the federal, state and local levels.
  • 3
    This course examines the international, national, and state legal frameworks for the protection and movement of cultural property. Archaeological site looting, transnational antiquities trafficking, and armed conflicts threaten global cultural heritage. The international and American governments' responses to such threats have resulted in the development of major treaties as well as the enforcement of criminal laws and customs regulations. Topics for discussion include the 1954 Hague Convention, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, the ICOM Code of Ethics, the National Stolen Property Act, and the Cultural Property Implementation Act. The course also introduces students to important national heritage laws such as the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the rules governing shipwrecks. State statutes and the common law regulating cultural property are also reviewed.
  • 3
    Students will be exposed to archaeological field and laboratory techniques, and will learn the types of research questions that archaeologists ask while reconstructing past cultures. The course will draw upon prehistoric and historic examples, there will be many opportunities to handle artifacts in the classroom, and both terrestrial and underwater sites will be featured. There will be a minimum of two required field trips to archaeological sites and to demonstrate equipment and techniques in the field. A significant part of the course will be devoted to demonstrating that archaeology is a preservation-oriented field, focused not just upon learning about the past but geared toward protecting and conserving the physical remains of the past for future generations to enjoy.
  • 3
    What is the connection between preservation and sustainability? This course examines the role of preservation in the reassessment of the built environment to create a sustainable future. Topics to be addressed range from historic examples of sustainable cultural practices to current trends of smart growth planning, LEED standards and energy conservation in historic buildings.
  • 1-3
    Examines specialized areas, topics or issues in historic preservation. Taught by a specialist from within the field being studied or as an alternative methodology. Course topics may range from architectural styles, trends or types of construction, to current preservation challenges and developments such as code compliance for historic buildings or "rightsizing" historic sites and case studies of specific endangered properties in the region. Since topics may vary, the course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.
  • 1-3
    Provides a more intense background in some aspect of historic preservation through reading and research, supplementing previous courses or broadening the student's knowledge in some subject area not presently covered by HPR courses. Consent required of the instructor who will supervise the independent study and the Department Chair and the Associate Vice President is required.
  • Capstone Component – 3-6 credits
  • 6
    Students will develop and present a thesis research proposal, conduct detailed research, write a thesis and defend the research before a faculty committee. Signature of the faculty supervisor and the MA Historic Preservation Graduate Program Coordinator is required.
  • - OR -
  • 3
    A supervised internship placement experience in one or several cooperating institutions or agencies. The purpose is to gain meaningful work experience through applying knowledge learned in previous course work to the on-the-job situation. Supervision is by the institution or agency concerned, and by the faculty. Permission of advisor, department chair and Associate Vice President is required.
  • Minimum Total for MA in Historic Preservation – 33 credits

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