Historic Preservation


Degrees Offered


Clemson University’s School of Architecture welcomes applications for the Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree offered jointly with the College of Charleston. The program also offers a Certificate in Historic Preservation to students enrolled in other Clemson University graduate programs.

The two year professional degree is based in historic Charleston, South Carolina.  We are seeking a small and selective group of interdisciplinary graduate students interested in building national careers in historic preservation.

The mission of the collaborative Clemson University/College of Charleston Graduate Program in Historic Preservation is to educate future leaders in the documentation, evaluation, interpretation, and conservation of historic structures, sites, objects, and landscapes with the goal of developing appropriate preservation strategies for a sustainable future. Utilizing Charleston and the Lowcountry as a laboratory, students in this professional degree program acquire the diverse skills necessary for rewarding professional careers.

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 Graduate Program works in close collaboration with a number of national and Charleston based initiatives including the American College of the Building Arts,  Colonial Williamsburg, Drayton Hall, Historic American Building Survey of the National Parks Service, Historic Charleston Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Action, the Preservation Society of Charleston, and Warren Lasch Conservation Center as well as local architects and preservation professionals.

This program will consider applicants for conditional letters of admission (CLA’s) pending successful completion of an approved English as a Second Language (ESL) program. More information can be found on the Conditional Language Admission page.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

The 60-credit MSHP program is structured in layers, beginning with an initial core semester devoted to the analysis and documentation of historic sites, American architecture, and research skills, followed by a semester focused on an advanced studio and a conservation laboratory course organized around the development of preservation projects. The second year highlights advanced analysis and conservation studies, historic interiors, project administration, and individual research in the form of a thesis.

Theses are developed and researched in the third and fourth semesters of 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 AIA, the ASLA, and 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).

Students are dual enrolled in Clemson University and the College of Charleston’s Graduate School.


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 birthplace of many of historic preservation’s most effective tools.  The program is housed in the new Clemson Design Center located within The Cigar Factory. Built in 1882 as a textile mill, the large five story brick building at 701 East Bay operated as a cigar factory employing 1,400 through most of the 20th century.  Abandoned and empty for a decade, the Cigar Factory is today a successful rehabilitation that houses retail and commercial offices on the ground floor and offices above.  The MSHP program occupies the second floor of the building with Clemson’s other Charleston-based design programs. The new location is close to the city’s historic neighborhoods, research libraries, archives, and museums.  The collections of the South Carolina Historical Society, now housed at the College of Charleston, are an especially rich source for research in the history of the South, and the Margaretta Childs Archives at Historic Charleston Foundation holds a significant collection of historical maps as well as collections of papers pertaining to the city’s early historic preservation efforts.  The Clemson Design Center houses the program’s studios as well as its architectural conservation and microscopy laboratories.  The latter is equipped with a CRAIC photospectometer.  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.


Research in historic preservation, given its inherently interdisciplinary character, pursues a wide range subjects and employs a wide range of methods.  A thesis is the capstone research experience for all MSHP students, but all students complete a wide range of research projects before they begin their theses.  Charleston and its environs provide unmatched opportunities for archival and architectural field research as well as active engagement with community organizations and groups. 

Follow the program on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on the preservation efforts of our students and faculty.

Our Students

The MSHP program draws its students from across the United States and abroad.  Admission to the program is selective. While there are no specific GPA or GRE cutoffs, faculty members look for evidence of undergraduate achievement and commitment to a career in historic preservation during admissions review.  Submission of a portfolio, while not required, is encouraged. 

Graduates of the MSHP program are well-prepared for the range of careers historic preservation encompasses, among them positions with nonprofit organizations, developers, and architectural firms engaged in the rehabilitation and restoration of historic buildings, structures, and landscapes.  In addition, graduates of the MSHP program are prepared for positions with local, state and federal planning and cultural resources agencies.  Alumni of the MSHP program work for state historic preservation offices, for historic places like Mount Vernon and Montpelier, for architecture firms, for Main Street programs, and conservation studios.  For more on the career paths the MSHP program opened for its graduates, see the program’s website: The National Trust for Historic Preservation highlights private and public sector careers here as well:


Application Information

The MSHP Program is looking for students with diverse undergraduate disciplines from all over the world. Relevant work experience is helpful but not required.

Required Documents


Students enrolled in the joint program with the College of Charleston pay a tuition that is separate and distinct from the University in general. This differential tuition rate supports the program’s activities and projects. 

Graduate fellowships, graduate assistantships, and teaching assistantships are offered competitively on an individual basis.


Program Contact(s)

  • Amanda Tucker
  • Office: 701 East Bay Street Charleston, SC 29403
  • Phone: (843) 937-9596
  • Email:

Program Coordinator(s)

  • Carter Hudgins
  • Office: 701 East Bay Street Charleston, SC 29403
  • Phone: (843) 937-9567
  • Email: