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School of Architecture

Master of Science in Historic Preservation


Historic Preservation in Charleston, S.C.

Our program, which is based in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a two-year course of study that leads to the Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree. Historic preservation is a field that studies, interprets, and protects the past as it is materialized in buildings and landscapes. In our unique program, we emphasize the cultural relationships between people, buildings, and landscapes. Consequently, we teach our students to preserve both the fabric of historic buildings and landscapes and the stories that give those places meaning. Our curriculum is built around hands-on learning because our goal is to produce students with the knowledge and experience they need to be successful in our field. Our students learn preservation by doing preservation with Charleston’s foremost experts in architectural conservation, architectural history, landscape preservation, and urban/preservation planning. We also train our students in the most cutting-edge preservation technology and techniques including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), drone photography, digital photogrammetry, 3D laser scanning, 3D modeling, ground penetrating radar, architectural and object conservation, and mortar and paint analysis. We are also one of a very few programs that have an active conservation laboratory at the center of their curriculum. We apply our skills all over the city of Charleston, which is essentially our living laboratory, and this unique home provides incredible opportunities to explore, first-hand, world-class architecture, museums, and history spanning four centuries.


Alumni Careers

Historic Preservation Theses

Upcoming Events

MSHP Open Houses

  • Friday, March 29, 2024 - Accepted Student Day
    • 10 - 11:30 a.m. | Virtual Zoom Session
    • 12 - 4 p.m. | In-Person Open House

Register Today:

  • Areas of Emphasis

    The curriculum offers students experience in all these major aspects of preservation practice:

    Areas of emphasis include:

    • Architectural History and Cultural Significance
    • Documentation and Interpretation of Landscapes, Buildings, Interiors, and Objects
    • Historic Building Materials, Techniques, and Treatments
    • Contextual Design and Planning
    • Conservation Science and Material Analysis
    • Preservation Policy and Cultural Resource Management
    • Sustainability and the Economics of Rehabilitation

    The program’s experiential curriculum is carried out through community-based preservation projects. Program faculty and students collaborate with a diverse collection of community partners, including federal agencies like the National Park Service and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, state and county agencies like the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism and Charleston County Parks and Recreation, the City of Charleston, preservation advocacy groups such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Charleston Foundation, Preservation Society of Charleston, and the Lowcountry Land Trust, and community heritage groups like the Progressive Club, Seashore Farmers Lodge, and the South Carolina Society.

  • Plan of Study

    The 60-credit MSHP curriculum is structured in layers, beginning with an initial core semester devoted to the acquisition of skills in the analysis and documentation of historic buildings, landscapes, and sites followed by a semester structured around an advanced preservation studio and a conservation laboratory course, both devoted to the development of preservation projects. During the summer between the first and second years, students complete an intensive internship with professional historic preservation practitioners. In addition to gaining valuable hands-on experience and career networking, the internship allows students to gain a first-hand perspective on the professional practice of preservation. The second-year highlights advanced analysis and conservation studies, historic preservation law and economics, elective courses in historic interiors, project administration, and other topics, and completion of an individual research project in the form of a thesis.

    MSHP students complete their theses in their third and fourth semesters in the program. Determined by the specific topic of investigation a student pursues for his/her thesis, these semesters include the preparation of drawings, lab work, oral histories, surveys, and national register nominations to supplement the text. 

    The organizational structure of the degree program and the curriculum have been developed with the guidance of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE), and the regional professional community in preservation and design, as well as faculty from peer graduate programs. The program’s curriculum is certified by the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE).

  • Curriculum

    Master of Science in Historic Preservation Curriculum (60 credit hours required)

    Semester I (Core Semester)

    Documentation and Analysis: A semester of "core" curriculum in historic preservation that revolves around developing a deeper understanding of historic architectural fabric through a connected series of NCPE-mandated courses. 15 credits.

    • HP 8080 History and Theory of Historic Preservation (3cr)
    • HP 8070 American Architecture (3cr)
    • HP 8090 Historical Research Methods (3cr)
    • HP 8190 Investigation, Documentation and Conservation (6cr)

    Semester II (Implementation Semester)

    An "advanced" semester that focuses on acquiring advanced skills in digital recording, pursuing a preservation project through a studio, investigating and analyzing cultural landscapes and broader assemblages of historic resources as well as a conservation laboratory science class. 15 credits

    • HP 8050 Preservation Studio (6cr)
    • HP 8330 Cultural & Historical Landscape Preservation (3cr)
    • HP 8100 Conservation Laboratory Science (6cr)

    Summer (Historic Preservation Internship) 

    Historic Preservation Internship in Historic Preservation: A required non-credit internship offered through a variety of organizations and foundations, including the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) and the Historic American Engineering Survey (HAES), the International Committee on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the National Trust, and local museums and foundations as well as preservation practitioners in America and Europe. 3 credits.

    • HP 8450 Historic Preservation Internship (3cr)

    Semester III (Advanced Semester)

    Implementation/Intervention: A semester focusing on implementation and intervention. At this point in the curriculum, students begin their theses. 15 credits.

    • HP 8030 Building Technology and Pathology (3cr)
    • HP 8020 Historic Preservation Research Seminar (3cr)
    • HP 8010 Preservation Law and Economics (3cr)
    • Approved Elective (3cr)*
    • Approved Elective (3cr)*  

    Semester IV (Thesis Semester)

    Thesis: A final semester during which the focus is on completion of the thesis with additional opportunities to pursue elective courses related to career goals. 12 credits.

    • HP 8910 Thesis in Historic Preservation (6cr)
    • Approved Elective (3cr)*
    • Approved Elective (3cr)* 

    *Approved Elective Courses

    • HP 8040 Management and Administration of Historic Preservation (3cr)
    • HP 8110 Advanced Conservation Science Laboratory (3cr)
    • HP 8210 Historic Preservation and Public Memory (3cr)
    • HP 8220 Vernacular Places and Spaces (3cr)
    • HP 8230 Historic American Interiors (3cr)
    • HP 8250 Sustainability and Historic Preservation (3cr)
    • HP 8260 Historic Structures Report (3cr)
    • HP 8270 Adaptive Use (3cr)
    • HP 8280 Case Studies in Preservation Engineering (3cr)
    • HP 8290 Digital Tools for Historic Preservation (3cr)
    • HP 8920 Special Topics in Historic Preservation (3cr)
    • HP 8930 Independent Study in Historic Preservation (3cr)
  • Certificate in Historic Preservation
    Clemson Graduate Program in Historic Preservation Graduate Certificate
    Fundamentals of Historic Preservation Track
    This track is designed for students without any educational background or professional experience in historic preservation. Students choosing this track seek to acquire a foundation in the fundamental concepts and skill sets of historic preservation. Students in this track typically have or go on to careers in preservation-related fields like community planning, real estate, museum studies, public history, construction management, and architecture. The courses in this track provide intensive instruction balancing theory and skills in architectural description, documentation, and conditions assessment. This track is typically completed in a single semester in the Fall.

    Students can choose HP 8030 OR HP 8090
    HP 8030 Building Technology and Pathology 3 credits
    HP 8090 Historical Research Methods 3 credits
    HP 8080 History and Theory of Historic Preservation 3 credits
    HP 8070 American Architecture 3 credits
    HP 8190 Investigation, Documentation and Conservation 6 credits

    Advanced Applications of Historic Preservation Track

    This track is designed for students who have an established background in historic preservation, either from an undergraduate course of study or professional experience (documented through coursework on a transcript, or a degree, or through a CV and portfolio submitted as part of the application. Pursuing this track, the student works with the MSHP director to construct a 15-hour course plan consisting of a combination of fundamentals courses and/or advanced electives that best suit the student’s educational goals. Students may enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis, and all courses for both tracks are completed at the Clemson Design Center in Charleston, SC.

    A combination of courses totaling 15 credit hours will be chosen from the list below in consultation with the program director.

    HP 8010 Preservation Law and Economics 3 credits
    HP 8030 Building Technology and Pathology 3 credits
    HP 8040 Management and Administration of Historic Preservation 3 credits
    HP 8050 Preservation Studio 6 credits
    HP 8070 American Architecture 3 credits
    HP 8080 History and Theory of Historic Preservation 3 credits


    HP 8090 Historical Research Methods 3 credits
    HP 8100 Conservation Science Laboratory 6 credits
    HP 8110 Advanced Conservation Science Laboratory 3 credits
    HP 8190 Investigation, Documentation and Conservation 6 credits
    HP 8210 Historic Preservation and Public Memory 3 credits
    HP 8220 Vernacular Places and Spaces 3 credits
    HP 8230 Historic American Interiors 3 credits
    HP 8250 Sustainability and Historic Preservation 3 credits
    HP 8260 Historic Structures Report 3 credits
    HP 8270 Adaptive Use 3 credits
    HP 8280 Case Studies in Preservation Engineering 3 credits
    HP 8330 Cultural and Historic Landscape Preservation 3 credits
    HP 8450 Historic Preservation Internship 3 credits
    HP 8920 Special Topics in Historic Preservation 3 credits
    HP 8930 Independent Study in Historic Preservation 1-3 credits
  • Application Information

    Priority application deadline is February 15; applicants who meet this priority deadline will also be considered for merit aid.

    Application Requirements:

    • Personal Statement
    • Two letters of recommendation 
    • Unofficial transcripts
    • Writing Sample (Undergraduate research thesis accepted)
    • Optional: Portfolio
    • GRE is not required

    Contact Amanda Tucker,, 843-937-9596 if you have questions about the application process.

    Submit your application today!
  • Engaged Community Projects

    Johns Island Community Field School: Documenting the Built Environment of a Gullah Geechee Community

    The field school has a website with detailed information, and registration details will be available here.

    Our field school will focus on researching and documenting public buildings and their role within the twentieth-century history of John’s Island - particularly the Jim Crow and Civil Rights periods. Throughout two field seasons, participants will work on four buildings - Moving Star Hall (ca. 1917), one of the few remaining examples of Praise Houses left in the Lowcountry.

    Recognizing that historic preservation and public history have often failed to invest in the recruitment and preparation of first-generation students and/or ethno-racially diverse scholars and practitioners, our field school will offer stipends and zero-cost tuition to make the experience more financially accessible, and our team will strive to employ culturally-responsive pedagogical approaches. We will also focus our recruiting efforts on attracting participants with cultural/historical connections to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (GGCHC), as well as adult residents of Johns Island and adjacent communities within the GGCHC. Residents will also be invited and compensated for participating in one-day workshops with topics including building documentation, preservation advocacy, and preservation/heritage careers.; the Progressive Club (1963), which served as the site for a Civil-Rights period Citizenship School and community center; Hebron Presbyterian Church (1865), built by the local African-American community at the end of the Civil War; and Promise Land Elementary School, where prominent Civil Rights figure Septima Clark taught Esau Jenkins during Jim Crow. In addition to university-affiliated faculty providing hands-on training in historic preservation documentation and research methods (archival research, measured drawing, photography, laser scanning, photogrammetry, and GIS), the field school will include community members as key educators to address the local history of the Johns Island community and the evolution of the local cultural and historic landscape. The field school will also provide community partners with important information that will be used for managing these important buildings, seeking additional funding for preservation, and advocating for government policy changes aimed at mitigating threats to their tangible and intangible heritage.

    The field school will be hosted through a partnership among the Clemson University graduate program in historic preservation (MSHP), the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture (ARC) at the College of Charleston (CofC), the Progressive Club (PC), and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission (GGCHCC). The field school leadership team includes Dr. Jon Marcoux (Director and Associate Professor, MSHP), Amalia Leifeste (Associate Professor, MSHP), Dr. Tamara Butler (Executive Director, ARC, Associate Dean of Strategic Planning & Community Engagement, CofC), Abe Jenkins, Jr. (Board Member, PC), and Victoria Smalls (Executive Director, GGCHCC). “This project is supported by a generous grant from the Vernacular Architecture Forum and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.”

    Black Heritage Resilience Through Community-Based Collections Restoration and Management at the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge Museum and Cultural Center

    Built by members of the Seashore Farmers Lodge fraternal organization ca. 1915, the lodge building served local community members as focal place for religious services, educational programs, civic deliberations, and celebrations. As a museum, the building now houses a large collection of material culture associated with the history of the lodge and the Sol Legare community. Along with our partners at the Lodge and at Warren Lasch conservation center , we are providing collections management training for community members (compensation provided); conducting conservation assessment, and treatment for objects in the Seashore Farmers Lodge collection; and developing manuals for ongoing care and management. The idea is to create a program that the Lodge Staff will share with other communities who currently have object collections or wish to begin curating their own collections. This project is supported by a generous grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.



    Seashore Lodge






  • Facilities and Resources

    The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and its students draw on a wide range of resources during their two-year course of study.  One of the program’s most significant assets is its location in Charleston, arguably the nation’s best-preserved city and the birthplace of many of historic preservation’s most effective tools. 

    The program’s studios as well as its architectural conservation and microscopy laboratories are housed at the new Clemson Design Center located within The Cigar Factory.  The microscopy lab is equipped with digital imaging instruments including a CRAIC photospectrometer.  As students of both Clemson University and the College of Charleston, MSHP students have access to all the laboratories and facilities both schools manage, from the Brick Institute at Clemson to the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center where MSHP students use XRF, XRD and SEM technology to assess the properties and degradation of historic building materials.

    On-site Materials Conservation Lab (Charleston, SC) An architectural conservation lab is available for students' easy access in the program's main building. The lab is equipped to help students better understand building materials and conservation of those materials through, research, examination, testing and treatment. A Nikon Eclipse 80i microscope in the microscopy lab helps students examine materials from mortar, finishes and wood testing. A full complement of essential lab equipment is available for students use in the conservation lab.

    Lab experiments include:

    • Mortar analysis/gravimetric and acid digestion of mortar and stucco samples
    • Surface water permeability/capillary action
    • Wood maceration/identification
    • Wood swelling and shrinking
    • Stone repair treatments
    • Metal identification
    • Paint/finishes analysis

    The Warren Lasch Conservation Lab is located on the North Charleston campus of the Restoration Institute.

    The goal of the Warren Lasch Conservation Lab is to advance the science of metal artifact conservation. The lab is equipped with an x-ray imaging system, XRF spectrum analyzers, remote video devices, precision excavation tools, and various electrical and chemical testing equipment.

  • Historic Preservation Organizations

    The state of South Carolina has a rich heritage that is preserved, interpreted, and sustained by wide variety of non-profit and governmental organizations. The list below represents but a few of these organizations:

    Charleston, SC area South Carolina

“I work as an architectural conservator with John Milner Associates Preservation, a preservation and conservation consulting firm in Washington, DC. I took both the general and advanced conservation laboratory classes, and I know that my laboratory experience was the principal reason I was offered my current position. As an architectural conservator, I perform paint analysis, mortar analysis, and other forms of material testing, including XRF analysis of historic metals. All of these skills were taught in the MSHP program. I also got a solid background in preservation theory and the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, both of which come up on a daily basis as our team determines the most sensitive means of rehabilitating historic structures. The program’s commitment to familiarizing students with modern construction techniques and the preservation of 20th-century architecture has also been particularly useful, as much of my work involves buildings constructed after 1900.”

Meredith Wilson
Architectural Conservator
John Milner Associates Preservation


Amalia Leifeste

Director of Graduate Programs in Historic Preservation

Email: |Phone: 843-937-9596

About Amalia Leifeste
Amalia Leifeste
School of Architecture
School of Architecture | Lee Hall 3-130, Clemson, South Carolina 29634