Planning, Development and Preservation

M.S. in Historic Preservation

Download the MSHP Graduate Student Handbook

The 54-credit graduate program is structured in layers, beginning with an initial core semester devoted to the analysis and documentation of historic sites, followed by an advanced studio-focused semester organized around the development of a preservation project. The second year highlights advanced analysis and conservation studies, historic interiors, project administration, and individual research.

Theses are developed and researched in the third semester and multimedia project work is often completed in the fourth semester of the program.  This may include drawings, lab work, oral histories, surveys, and register nominations to supplement the text.

The organizational structure of the degree program and the curriculum have been developed with the guidance of the AIA, the ASLA, CSI, NCPE and the regional professional community in preservation and design, as well as faculty from peer graduate programs.

Students are dual enrolled in Clemson University and the College of Charleston's Graduate School. (As shown below, Clemson courses are in plain text while the equivalent College of Charleston course is in italics.)


Semester 1 (core semester)

Orientation Week: A one-week preparatory session immediately prior to the start of the fall semester that introduces students to the use of AutoCAD and Photoshop, and the preservation, social, and cultural history of Charleston and the Lowcountry.

  • Orientation Week (HP 800-400, HSPV 880)

Documentation and Analysis: A semester of “core” curriculum in Historic Preservation that revolves around developing a deeper understanding of the historic fabric through a connected series of NCPE mandated courses. 15 credits.

  • History and Theory of Historic Preservation (HP 610, HSPV 610) 3
  • American Architectural Styles (ARCH 605, HSPV 605) 3
  • Research and Documentation in HP (HP 611, HSPV 611) 3
  • Materials and Methods of Historic Construction (HP 612, HSPV 612) 3
  • Investigation, Documentation & Conservation (HP 819, HSPV 819) 3

Semester 2 (advanced semester)

Designing a Preservation Project: An “advanced” semester that focuses on putting together an historic preservation project against the backdrop of the legal and economic aspects of the historic fabric. Students must also take an elective seminar. 15 credits.

  • Preservation Studio (HP 805, HSPV 805) 6
  • Legal and Economic Issues in HP (HP 801, HSPV 620) 3
  • Charleston Preservation & History (approved elective) (HP 806-400, HSPV 880-003) 3
  • Cultural and Historic Landscape Preservation (HP 833, HSPV 833) 3

Internship in Historic Preservation: A professional internship offered through a variety of organizations and foundations including HABS, HALS, HAES, The National Trust, ICOMOS, and local museum and foundations as well as preservation practitioners in America and Europe. (No credit)

Semester 3 (conservation semester)

Implementation/Intervention: A semester of more lab-based “conservation” studies focusing on the implementation and intervention of the preservation plan of semester 2. At this point in the curriculum students begin to do research on their thesis focus. 12-15 credits.

  • Advanced Materials and Methods in Conservation (HP 803, HSPV 803) 3
  • HP Research Seminar (HP 802, HSPV 802) 3
  • Conservation Lab in HP (HP 810, HSPV 810) 6
  • Elective (not required*): Historic Interiors/Directed Studies (HP 890-402, HSPV 880-002)

Semester 4 (thesis semester)

Administration, Management, and Research: A final semester focusing on the production of a thesis on the management and administration of the preservation project in its entirety with special attention to the particular research focus of the student. 12 credits.

  • Thesis Research (HP 891, HSPV 891 or HSPV 859) 6
  • Management and Administration of Historic Preservation (HP 804, HSPV 880-004) 3
  • Elective (choose one): Advanced Conservation/Readings in HP (HP 811-400; HSPV 880-004) 3; Advanced Historic Interiors/Directed Studies (HP 890-401; HSPV 880-001) 3; Urban Planning/Readings in HP (HP 811-401) 


54 credit hours required or 57 credit hours with optional elective 
* Elective is optional and not mandatory for graduation