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The Master of Design Studies in Historic Preservation is a 4-semester, 33-credit degree that gives students the knowledge, technical expertise, and leadership skills necessary to promote and preserve historical buildings and cultural landscapes. Designed for professionals in the fields of design, planning, real estate, and advocacy, the program addresses the technical, cultural, and policy dimensions of preservation using Boston’s historical built environment as a framework.

The curriculum combines theory and practice, with topics ranging from preservation philosophy, law, and finance to traditional building methods, historic research, documentation, and an in-depth, mentored thesis project. Students have opportunities to travel to destinations with rich history that are doing significant work in the preservation field. The BAC also connects preservation with its nationally recognized curriculum in sustainable design.

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Master of Design Studies Historic Preservation Curriculum

is the program right for me?

The MDS in Historic Preservation is open to design professionals and those in the allied fields of planning, real estate, and advocacy. This gives students direct experience with the kinds of preservation coalitions necessary in the real world. The program caters to everyone, from practicing professionals to those who are embarking on a new career. Our graduates go on to work in architecture, design, public sector planning, federal government, advocacy, nonprofit management, and private consulting.

To learn more about opportunities in the field of historic preservation, explore these resources:

Learn more about our curriculum

Classes that fit your schedule

The Master of Design Studies is delivered in an innovative distance format that allows students to work full time while they study. The BAC uses a range of digital tools to support and enhance online learning, including Skype, VoiceThread, and WebEx desktop sharing. Students can study from anywhere in the world, working at their own pace and on their own schedule.

Students contribute to a vital online studio culture, exchanging comments and critiques with colleagues, working together on projects, and supporting each other throughout the program. Students can continue to advance their careers while earning their master's degree, and their professional work informs their studies as their coursework feeds their professional growth.

In-person intensives bring your coursework to life

Each semester in August, students come to Boston to study in residence for 8 days of in-person instruction, field trips, and hands-on studios. From the BAC’s central urban location, the buildings and neighborhoods of Boston serve as the student's classroom. These innovative intensive weeks give students and faculty the opportunity to build strong relationships, setting up a positive, connected studio culture that enhances the online learning throughout the rest of the semester.

Study at a leading college of design with 125 years of experience in design education

Located in the heart of Boston's historic Back Bay, the BAC was founded in 1889 and is the largest independent, accredited college of spatial design in New England. Joining the MDS places you in a network of colleagues exploring careers in a common field, a cohort surrounded in turn by a faculty of experienced professionals who have established careers in design.