• Curriculum
  • Degree Requirements
  • Eligibility
  • Apply

The Master of Heritage Conservation/Master of Building Science dual degree program facilitates highly related cross-disciplinary studies in heritage conservation and in building science at the master’s level. The primary objective of the dual degree curriculum is to impart to students a basic familiarity with the origins and development of the philosophies, theories, and practices of building science and heritage conservation. This curriculum has been developed so that students will graduate from this program with a broad practical knowledge of the techniques and strategies for conserving the existing built environment through the lens of science and technology. Students will be expected to understand the critical methodological tools necessary for a professional engaged in the investigation, interpretation, and evaluation of the urban built environment.

RELATED LINKS: Application Deadlines, Faculty,

Upon completion of the Master of Building Science/Heritage Conservation dual degree, students will be conferred a degree from each program. The Master of Building Science is a STEM program in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology (CIP code 04.0902). International students who graduate from USC’s Master of Building Science degree may be eligible for a 24- month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months). The 24-month STEM OPT extension is adjudicated (approved) by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Following is the program curriculum for the 2023-2024 Academic year. For the full course catalog, please consult the online USC Catalogue archive.

72-unit Curriculum
    Heritage Conservation Requirements (Total units: 36)

    The Heritage Conservation requirements of the dual degree are 36 units, including 28 required units and 8 units of general electives from the School of Architecture.


    ARCH 404 Topics in Modern Architecture in Southern California Units: 3

    ARCH 549 Fundamentals of Heritage Conservation Units: 3

    ARCH 550 Heritage Conservation Policy and Planning Units: 3

    ARCH 551 Conservation Methods and Materials Units: 3

    ARCH 552 Introduction to Historic Site Documentation Units: 2

    ARCH 553 History of American Architecture and Urbanism Units: 3

    ARCH 554 Heritage Conservation Practicum — Advanced Documentation Units: 3

    ARCH 555 Global Perspectives in Heritage Conservation Units: 2

    ARCH 556 Readings in Heritage Conservation Theory Units: 2

    ARCH 557 Sustainable Conservation of the Historic Built Environment Units: 2

    ARCH 558 Fundamentals of Place-Making Units: 2

    Building Science Requirements (Total units: 36)

    The Building Science requirements of the dual degree are 36 units, including 19 required units, 12 units of Building Science Thesis and 5 units of electives from a specific list.


    ARCH 511L Building Systems: Materials and Construction Units: 4

    ARCH 513L Seminar: Advanced Structures Units: 4

    ARCH 515L Seminar: Advanced Environmental Systems Units: 4

    ARCH 596 Building Science Thesis Preparation Units: 1


    ARCH 613L Seminar: Structures Research Units: 4 or

    ARCH 615L Seminar: Environmental Systems Research Units: 4

    ARCH 692aL Building Science Thesis Units: 6

    ARCH 692bL Building Science Thesis Units: 6

    ARCH 694 Research Publication Methods for Building Science Units: 2


    Building Science Electives

    Select a minimum of 5 units from this list or with approval by the Director of the Graduate Building Science program.


    ARCH 418 Designing with Natural Forces Units: 3

    ARCH 419 Architectural Sustainability Tools and Methods Units: 3

    ARCH 472 Building Skins: Materials and Methods for Facades and Enclosures Units: 2

    ARCH 507 Theories of Computer Technology Units: 3

    ARCH 512 Material + Process: Material Systems Units: 2

    ARCH 518 Advanced Surface Tectonics: Methods in Material and Enclosure Units: 2

    ARCH 519 Sustainability in the Environment: Infrastructures, Urban Landscapes, and Buildings Units: 3

    ARCH 572 Advanced Building Skins: Designing High-Performance Facade Systems Units: 3

    ARCH 573 Seismic Design Units: 2

    ARCH 574 Parametric Design Units: 3

    ARCH 576 Sustainable Design for Healthy Indoor Environments Units: 3

    ARCH 577L Lighting Design Units: 4

    ARCH 579 Sustainable Building and Environment using LEED Metrics Units: 3

    ARCH 588 Physical Computing: Linking Architectural Computing with the Physical World Units: 3

    ARCH 611 Advanced Building Systems Integration Units: 4

    ARCH 613L Seminar: Structures Research Units: 4

    ARCH 615L Seminar: Environmental Systems Research Units: 4

    ARCH 672 Future Building Skins: Advanced Applications in Architecture Units: 3

Degree Requirements

Requirements for completion of the dual degree program are 72 units, including 36 units in Heritage Conservation and 36 units of Building Science. As a full-time program of study, students are expected to take 18 units each semester during two years of residency.


This degree is intended for students seeking a graduate degree in both building science and heritage conservation as a path to professional careers in the conservation and preservation of the existing built environment. Qualified students who are admitted to the Master of Building Science and the Master of Heritage Conservation program in the School of Architecture may complete both degrees in a highly integrated four-semester program.


The thesis topic chosen must be relevant to both degrees. There must be one thesis committee member from each degree program; the third committee member should be selected relative to the topic selected.