The interdisciplinary Program in Historic Preservation offers masters degree candidates in all of the School of Architecture’s disciplines (architecture, architectural history, landscape architecture and urban + environmental planning) the opportunity to expand their professional studies through specialized training in the theory, practice and ethics of historic preservation.

Preservation has grown increasingly important, both nationally and internationally, in defining a civic sense of place, buttressing sustainable communities, conserving urban neighborhoods, protecting rural and scenic areas, and enriching public understanding of social, cultural, and architectural history. The program provides the opportunity for graduate students to develop the skills and expertise of the preservation practitioner within their own discipline, while at the same time studying the breadth of preservation work in related fields. Faculty from all four disciplines in the School of Architecture and distinguished visiting practitioners teach the preservation courses.

UVA also has the unique status for a university in the United States of being a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, and many UVA students of historic preservation seize the opportunity to study and gain practice experience through engagement with Thomas Jefferson’s “academical village.”  Students also have opportunities for research, study, and internships with Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello (also part of the World Heritage Site), and locally with the homes of Presidents Madison and Monroe.  The University of Virginia has a history that spans 200 years and a preservation ethic that emphasizes methods in future practice; the historic preservation student has the opportunity to both enrich and continue that history.


The Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation requires a completion of 15 credits of coursework distributed over four general categories:  Theory, History, Field Methods, and Specialized Components. A non-credit Internship is also required.

Students wishing to enter the Historic Preservation program must first be admitted to one of the graduate departments in the School of Architecture. In order to ensure proper academic advising and program coordination, students interested in the Historic Preservation program should:

STEP 01: Upon arriving at UVA School of Architecture, file a program application form. This form can be obtained from the Office of Student Services and Academic Records, Campbell Hall 201.

STEP 02: Attend the program meeting at the start of the fall semester.

STEP 03: Work with the Program Director to develop a course plan to obtain the Historic Preservation certificate during your time as a graduate student. 

Students of historic preservation at UVA engage with both American and International heritage theory and practice through coursework, field schools, study abroad opportunities, internships, independent study, and other educational activities.

The program allows significant flexibility for students to tailor their studies in historic preservation to their own interests and the skills needed for practicing historic preservation in their disciplines.  Students are encouraged to discuss their individual goals and objectives for their study of historic preservation with the program director.

There are individual courses that fulfill the requirements of the historic preservation certificate curriculum that also fulfill requirements within a student’s departmental curriculum. Thus, students normally complete the course work for the historic preservation certificate during the same period in which they complete their degree program.

The Theory and Practice of Historic Preservation: 

This seminar surveys preservation from its historical beginnings through contemporary emerging trends, focusing on the changing nature of its ideals and practice in a critical and international perspective.  Students explore the role of historic preservation and heritage in cultural politics, historical interpretation, urban development, and planning and design practice.

Community History, Planning, & Design Workshop: 

The Community History, Planning, & Design Workshop is both an in-depth historical analysis of the architecture, urban form, and planning of a selected community, and a forum for speculative futures and plan-making for the community, informed by the historical analysis. This preservation-focused course explores the historical significance of the built landscape as an element in, and an expression of, the social and cultural life of the community.

Preservation Planning: 

Preservation Planning and Practice analyzes the planning context and economic, legal, political, and cultural issues of historic preservation/conservation. Students examine evaluation, nomination, regulation, and design review at all governmental levels; implementation techniques such as landmark and district zoning, easements, and financial incentives; and private and public initiatives to protect, manage, acquire, rehabilitate, and interpret cultural resources.

Materials & Culture: 

Combining seminar discussions, shop exercises and laboratory exercises, this course explores the material culture of architecture from the perspective of materials science.  Material culture is the physical stuff that is part of human life, and includes everything humans make and use including materials we use to shape the environment. We will explore wood, metal, and masonry from the perspectives of materials science, history, and material culture to better understand the cultural choice of materials in designed environments. 

Field Methods II: 

In this course we develop the skills necessary for work in heritage and preservation practice.  Hands-on practical work at the site is combined with lectures, seminar discussions, and tutorials, to provide students with the toolbox of skills required of professionals in architectural history and historic preservation.  There are units on hand drawing, field recording of historic structures, HABS/HAER documentation, laser scanning (and working with the digital data), drone photography, and digital representation including CAD.  We also develop documentary research skills, conducting survey evaluations, and making determinations of significance.

The Cultural Landscape of Birdwood: 

Through lectures, readings, discussions and on-site tutorials, students in this course learn fieldwork and archival research methodology through a detailed exploration of the historic UVA Birdwood site. Students analyze and interpret the data collected to prepare field reports and formal architectural drawings explicating the meanings and significance of the site.

Historic Preservation at UVA: 

This course surveys the changing ideals, philosophy, and methods that have guided the historic preservation of buildings and landscapes at the University of Virginia. Taught by preservation professionals from the University's Office of the Architect the course explores in case studies and readings the design and conservation decisions made on the Rotunda and other historic buildings and landscapes at UVA.