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Master of Science in Historic Preservation in Columbia University

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
New York, New York
United States
History, Theory & Preservation

The Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree is a multidisciplinary two-year program geared towards protecting the world’s architectural, cultural, and historical heritage in the face of profound change. The program relies on the architectural and historic riches of New York City and beyond—using the city as a laboratory to engage other sites and histories throughout the country and the world. As the first historic preservation and heritage conservation program in the United States, founded by James Marston Fitch in 1964, it not only remains a model for preservation programs but continues to set new creative standards and directions for the field. The program insists that preservation is as much a technical, political, and historical practice as it is a creative one.


In many ways, the Historic Preservation program owes its international reputation to the community of qualified students, pioneering faculty, visiting scholars, advanced researchers, and free-thinking professionals it attracts, educates, and sustains. Individuals graduate with the necessary skills and knowledge to advance the rapidly evolving field of preservation and join the vibrant network of alumni redefining the boundaries and practice of heritage conservation around the world. The program’s focus on environmental, social, and technological questions has become increasingly global in scope as well, with faculty and students conducting field research projects on historic buildings not only in New York and New Jersey, but in countries such as Cuba, Norway, Haiti, and Italy.


The program stresses the importance of analytical thinking and effective communication in the preservation of architectural heritage. This emphasis on communication is evidenced in the program’s peer-reviewed journal Future Anterior, which is an international point of reference in preservation theory. It is also fostered in the program’s uniquely studio- and design-based curriculum, which is built on a strong foundation of history, theory, policy, and conservation science. The program is structured around a sequence of three studios that culminate in a year-long independent research thesis.



The Historic Preservation Program offers a curriculum of extraordinary diversity. The curriculum includes a series of core courses, providing each student with basic knowledge of the field, and then broadens, allowing each student the opportunity to develop his or her own focus.


The core curriculum is the focus of a student’s first year. The centerpiece of the curriculum is studio. Students work individually and in groups within a studio environment, meeting one-on-one with each of the studio faculty. Key to the core curriculum is a course entitled “Theory and Practice of Historic Preservation” that provides each student with a grounding in the historical ideas behind the field. Students also take Preservation Planning and Policy, an introduction to planning as a preservation tool; Building Systems and Materials, which introduces building techniques and materials, and American Architecture I, a history of architecture in the United States through the 1880s. Several of the first semester courses continue into a student’s second semester.


During the summer between the first and second year, the Historic Preservation Program strongly suggests the completion of one or more internships or work experiences as part of a student’s education and career development.


During the second year of study, students take Preservation Colloquium, a class that analyzes issues introduced in the first year and prepares students for the completion of a thesis. By the beginning of the second year, students have finalized their thesis topic. Preliminary thesis presentations will be made during the first semester, but the bulk of thesis work will occur during winter break and during the second semester. All other classes during the second year are electives that may be taken from the offerings of the Historic Preservation Program, the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in general, or from classes in other departments and schools at Columbia.


Students are encouraged to focus their work, particularly in the second year, and to acquire depth in at least one of the following areas: Preservation, Design, History and Theory, and Planning and Policy.


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Admission Requirements

1.- Online Application


Create and complete an online application.


A fee of $75 (payable by Visa or MasterCard) is due at the time of application submission.


2.- Letters of Recommendation


Three letters of recommendation are required for all degree program applicants. GSAPP does not have a special form for letters of recommendation. Recommenders may scan and upload recommendation letters to the online application. Letters received directly from applicants will not be accepted.


One letter of recommendation is required for New York/Paris program applicants and Visiting Scholars. Non-degree program applicants (including Introduction to Architecture and Special Students) may include recommendations but they are not required.


3.- Personal Statement


A personal statement is required for admission to each program (with the exception of Introduction to Architecture). In approximately 500 words, describe your background, your past work in your intended field of study and your plans for graduate study and a professional career.


4.- Transcripts


An academic transcript/record from each university attended and credit earned is required for all applicants. All transcripts must be received by the application deadline. Applicants should upload a digital copy or scan of their transcript/s to the online application. We allow digital copies of transcripts for review purposes only.


Please note that the applicant may upload unofficial transcripts at the start of the application process. Once an applicant has been admitted and has indicated acceptance of our offer of admission, certified and secure online official transcripts must be submitted directly to Columbia from the applicant’s prior institution(s)’ Registrar Office. Please note that incoming students for the fall 2019 semester will be contacted with specific instructions on electronic submission from prior institution(s) for receipt of these documents. Only if a prior academic institution is unable to submit certified and secure online official transcripts, an official transcript in a sealed envelope must be sent directly from that institution’s Registrar Office to Columbia. Columbia will use its verification vendor to verify the applicant’s degree and transcript with the prior academic institutions and/or the relevant country’s Ministry of Education. Applicants will be asked to consent to participate in this verification process by submitting an authorization and release form.


5.- Resumé/CV


Resumes or CVs are required for all degree applicants and CVs are required for Visiting Scholar applicants.


6.- GRE


Applicants to the M. ARCH, M.S. HP, M.S. UP, M.S. CCCP, and M.S. RED* programs must take the GRE.


Applicants should contact ETS to have official test scores sent to the GSAPP Admissions Office via Institution Code 2164. GRE scores are valid for five years after the test date. At this time there is no minimum required GRE score for admission.




All applicants whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL scores (with the exception of Introduction to Architecture applicants). At this time there is no minimum TOEFL score required for admission.


International students who have successfully completed two years of study in an English-speaking institution may waive the TOEFL exam requirement provided they can submit relevant transcripts.


Applicants should contact ETS to have official test scores sent to the GSAPP Admissions Office via Institution Code 2164, Dept. Code 12. TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date.


We do not accept the TOEFL ITP. We do not accept the IELTS in lieu of the TOEFL.


8.- Dual Degree Option


The following programs are approved for dual degree within GSAPP: – M. ARCH & M.S. CCCP – M. ARCH & M.S. UP – M. ARCH & M.S. HP – M. ARCH & M.S. RED – M.S. UP & M.S. HP – M.S. UP & M.S. RED – M.S. HP & M.S. RED


The following programs are approved for dual degree with other schools at Columbia: – M.S. UP & Master of Business Administration (with the Business School) – M.S. UP & Juris Doctor (with the School of Law) – M.S. UP & Master of Science in Social Work (with the School of Social Work – M.S. UP & Master of Science in Public Health (with the Mailman School of Public Health) – M.S. UP & Master of International Affairs (with the School of International and Public Affairs)


Program requirements, including suggested course sequences can be found here.


9.- Application Status


Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review application policies and procedures before submitting an online application. The GSAPP only accepts applications online.


Applicants may check the status of their application after submission by logging into their account with their email address and password and reviewing the status page.

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General information
2 years full time
Andrew Dolkart / Jorge Otero-Pailos
Not confirmed
+1 212 854 3414
1172 Amsterdam Ave, New York
Campus Location
The information of this Master's Degree was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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