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Historic Preservation Certificate

Historic Preservation Certificate

Historic preservationists draw on a variety of skills from allied disciplines; such as, architecture, urban planning, history and management, that is focused on the conservation of built and natural heritage for the betterment of our communities, both urban and rural. The Historic Preservation Certificate is designed to introduce students to the fundamental principles of preservation practice through a series of online seminar courses taught by practicing professionals in the field. Topics range from law and adaptive reuse practices to architectural history and placemaking, creating options for students with various backgrounds to gain necessary expertise that suits their professional backgrounds.


The Historic Preservation Certificate is fully online and open to students studying from anywhere in the world. An undergraduate degree is recommended, but not required. Courses in this program are taught at the graduate-level.

Requirements and Courses

The Historic Preservation Certificate program requires the completion of 9 credits – one 3 credit required course and 6 credits of elective courses. We recommend you begin with the required course and then take the elective courses in whatever order you wish.

Historic Preservation Certificate students take the same courses as students in the Online Master of Design Studies in Historic Preservation program.

Courses are offered in the fall and spring semesters. See what Continuing Education Courses are coming up soon.

    Required Course | 3 Credits:

    HSP3001 Historic Preservation Philosophy and Practice**

    This course will explore the history of the preservation movement worldwide, with a special focus on the philosophy and practice of historic preservation in the United States. We will explore and critique the social, historical and cultural roots and contemporary meanings of historic preservation and the future of the profession and examine case studies from around the country.

    **Recommended first course.

    Elective Courses | 6 Credits:

    This course will introduce students to the distinct physical properties of specific architectural materials and their common deterioration mechanisms. Students will study model deliverables, including case studies, condition assessments, and treatment plans, and develop their own conservation deliverables as course assignments. Students will hone skills in observation, critical thinking, and evidenced-based reasoning while exploring individual architectural conservation projects.

    The aim of this course is to examine the world of international heritage conservation practices worldwide. This research based course will start with an overview of international historic preservation and what it means, including the built environment, cultural landscapes and intangible heritage. Then the course will move towards an investigation of major policy and organizations that are involved in heritage conservation on the international level, including UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS. The last third of the course will cover controversial cases in World Heritage and heritage conservation case studies from various countries, ranging from Italy and India to programs here in the United States. The overall goal is to introduce students to new techniques in heritage conservation and placing them in the context of economic development, environmental conservation, tourism and urban growth.

    In this course we will examine the tourism industry and how it connects to historic preservation and sustainable development. Students will learn the history of tourism, the different facets of the tourism industry, economic development and the concepts/methodology of placemaking. Students will have weekly assignments where they have to explore the various themes of the class by visiting local tourist sites and museums and reporting back to the class. Most of the class will focus on heritage tourism and tourism in urban areas, but topics of sustainability and environmental impact will be integrated into each course topic.

    This course examines American architecture from the first colonial settlements through Postmodernism. Because a building’s style is inextricably influenced by its context, architectural developments will be analyzed in relation to their historical, cultural, social, and regional milieux. The lecture and discussion based course will begin with an overview of major themes and developments in American architecture, a discussion of the challenge of identifying architectural styles, and an introduction to the formal, structural, and ornamental characteristics of buildings and corresponding vocabulary to facilitate students’ ability to interpret, analyze, and describe historic buildings. The course will move through an in-depth review of major developments and themes in American architecture with opportunities for questions, discussion, and independent research. Beyond a simple survey, the course will study significant buildings and designers to facilitate a deeper understanding of specific styles, periods of development, relationships between buildings, and architects’ influences upon one another. Major buildings of each period will be used as case studies to illustrate these themes and to examine the formal aspects of composition and construction that define buildings as products of particular places and times. Students will develop the ability to think, read, and write critically about American architecture, with the aim of developing a fluency in the architectural and historical vocabularies required for professional historic preservation practice.

    This course introduces the student to historic building adaptive reuse and the analytical techniques and decision-making processes that shape the certified rehabilitation project. By “certified”, the intent is to meet or exceed the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guideline for Rehabilitation in terms of creating a “synthesis of form” in which a historic property that is listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places is adapted to a new use.

    This course introduces students to the regulatory landscape within which historic preservation practitioners of all types must operate. It examines the legislative hierarchy of federal, state, and local laws that provide the framework to implement historic preservation practices. This course also explores the social, economic, and policy issues that impact the practice of preservation. Such matters including housing justice, sustainability, gentrification, government transparency and the public process, community advocacy, zoning, building code, and local commission powers will be woven throughout the course. The role of the preservation planner and that of preservation planning in the larger context of strategic planning and community development will also be explored. Students will examine current preservation issues and gain a better understanding of how preservation policies impact the historic built environment and the lives of those who live in it.

    This course examines the city, an assemblage of people and their places, as a cultural landscape. As an inclusive practice, this course views the crucial components of the city as understood by variegated groups across time to understand the common themes and elements of the urban experience. Involving several disciplines, including architecture, geography, art and architectural history, anthropology, social psychology, and literature this course explores fundamental typologies and spaces that constitute urban environments. Its purpose is to provide students with the opportunity for immersion in historical scholarship that addresses the social, economic, political, technological, and cultural forces that have shaped the development of cities. This is a reading intensive course and is taught at the graduate level.

    Social, political, and economic power shapes the built environment; however, the historic environment fosters senses of place, and can constitute, sustain, or cause the destruction of collective and personal identities. The stories told about place influences the way sites are remembered, protected, and the way the past is communicated. This course offers a broad, yet selective, study of the ways heritage sites and landscapes have been narrated. Through readings and projects students will critically analyze the landscapes of power, contested landscapes, and the formulation of new meaning and memory at historic sites.

    As the art and science of sensitively adapting historic buildings for continued and new uses, preservation is inherently a sustainable practice. Learn how old buildings were built with features that conserve energy and create a comfortable environment. Develop a framework for evaluating energy-saving options for historic buildings and the special considerations they require. Build your knowledge of current best practices in the field regarding windows, insulation, renewables and more. This course will help you design energy improvements that meet historic preservation guidelines whether you're trying to comply with regulatory requirements in a local design review process or federally funded project, or just want to promote the long term sustainability of historic buildings. Discussion topics will include environmental quality, materials selection, and energy rating systems like LEED.

    The existing building stock is here and much of it is responsible for consuming energy, water and other resources at an unsustainable rate from both the environmental and the economic standpoints. Focusing on non-residential buildings, this course will examine the issues, techniques and processes that are involved in turning these buildings into sustainable consumers, whether through relatively simple retrofits or major renovations. Among the topics to be reviewed will be assessing existing performance, instituting building commissioning, improving energy and water efficiency, limiting (re)construction waste, improving indoor environmental quality, supporting sustainable operations and considering renewable energy sources.

    How to Enroll in a Certificate Program

    To enroll in a BAC Certificate Program, submit the following application materials to Continuing Education and then register for courses during an open registration period:

    Please Note: An undergraduate degree is recommended for the Sustainable Design Certificate, the Real Estate Development Certificate, and the Historic Preservation Certificate. Courses in these certificate programs are taught at the graduate level.

    Certificate students must begin academic coursework in the program within two academic semesters of submitting the application materials. 

    This program has helped me immensely in my understanding of the history of architecture and all the ways and means of the preservation process. The series of courses gave me the intellectual background and history I needed to succeed. This program helped me develop my 'voice' in discussing and writing about preservation. A great education experience!
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