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USC’s Master of Heritage Conservation (MHC) Program prepares students to strengthen communities using existing places and the stories they tell. Offering the only master’s degree of its kind on the West Coast, the program focuses on cultural and intangible heritage, the impact of underrecognized communities on the built environment (and vice versa), and modernism and the recent past. 


Los Angeles as a Lab


There’s no better place to explore these issues than Los Angeles, a postwar metropolis and one of the most diverse, complex, and fascinating cities on the planet. Much of the history we teach was made in Southern California, from an unparalleled legacy of modern architecture to major milestones in the fight for social justice. 


What Is Heritage Conservation?


The global term for historic preservation, heritage conservation more accurately reflects the work we do and the close connections between the natural environment, the built environment, and intangible heritage. 


The MHC curriculum encompasses social and architectural history, planning theory and policy, assessing and documenting sites and materials, climate change and sustainability, and more. (See MHC learning objectives here.)


We offer dual master’s degrees with Heritage Conservation and Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture + Urbanism, and Building Science. Students can study other subjects across the university, including real estate, regional history, and spatial sciences. 


Context and Community 


MHC students envision the future through the lens of the past. They learn about context—what was here before, why and how it took shape, and how it evolved or disappeared over time. How do we use what we already have and sustain the evidence of our past? Why? How do we choose which places and stories matter? Who tells those stories, how, and to what end? 


Our students have a range of backgrounds and interests, but they share some common traits. MHC students: 


  • Love history and relate it closely to people and places
  • Want to tell the stories of their community
  • See heritage conservation as a tool for social justice, community revitalization, housing, and sustainability
  • Want to learn from leaders in the field and from each other


See (and Hear) What They’re Up To


Students conduct innovative research that often aligns with their personal passions. Learn more with:


  • Save As: NextGen Heritage Conservation, our award-winning podcast that interviews students and alumni about their work, their diverse career paths, and their thoughts on the future of the field. 
  • Master’s Thesis Showcase, access to past theses for a deeper dive into student research. Each year, we honor one outstanding thesis. 

I'm not saying no one else out there is doing innovative work, but it does seem that if you want to use preservation or conservation as a tool for social justice or community health or climate, this might be a better place to do it. It's partly who's here, but I also think that's just our perspective. USC’s at the vanguard and has been doing this work for a while.

— Daniel Mata, MHC/MUP ‘20


The Heritage Conservation programs at USC include:


The typical MHC degree program spans two years, though students may apply for advanced standing. The USC Master of Heritage Conservation program is a proud member of the National Council for Preservation Education.


We invite you to learn more and contact USC/MHC Director Trudi Sandmeier for a conversation.

DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS OFFERED


MASTER OF HERITAGE CONSERVATION / MASTER OF URBAN PLANNING

The Master of Heritage Conservation/Master of Urban Planning dual degree program facilitates highly related cross-disciplinary studies in heritage conservation and in urban planning 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 urban planning and heritage conservation. 

 

MASTER OF HERITAGE CONSERVATION / MASTER OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE + URBANISM

The Master of Heritage Conservation/Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism dual degree program facilitates highly related cross-disciplinary studies in heritage conservation and in landscape architecture at the master’s level. Those enrolled in the dual degree program will learn the histories, theories, and practices of landscape architecture and heritage conservation.

 

MASTER OF HERITAGE CONSERVATION / MASTER OF BUILDING SCIENCE

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.


RELATED LINKS: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Podcast, Thesis Showcase, USC Architecture News, USC Architecture in the News, Application Info

 SAVE AS: NEXTGEN HERITAGE CONSERVATION
SAVE AS: NEXTGEN HERITAGE CONSERVATION
Check out our award-winning podcast, now it’s fourth season, which glimpses the future of heritage conservation through the work of our students.
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”Our MHC program is the only program of its kind in California. We seek to celebrate diversity in all the ways you might define it. Just as Los Angeles is a dynamic cosmopolitan urban hub, so, too, is the practice of conservation in this context.”

— Trudi Sandmeier, Director of Graduate Programs in Heritage Conservation

CURRICULUM

Completion of this degree requires 48 units and includes 26 units of specified courses, 5 units of thesis preparation and thesis, and 17 units of elective courses as approved by the program director. 

REQUIREMENTS FOR ADVANCED STANDING

Students must have one of the following: an accredited graduate certificate in historic preservation or heritage conservation; professional degree or professional registration in architecture or engineering; graduate degree in a related field, such as architectural history, planning or history; and at least five years of teaching or practice (may be combined). Each student will be considered individually. Qualified students will be admitted to a three-semester program at the time of review of admission. Students with advanced standing must complete 36 units.

For the full course catalog, please consult the online USC Catalogue archive.

48-UNIT SAMPLE CURRICULUM
36-UNIT ADVANCED STANDING SAMPLE CURRICULUM

The USC Catalogue is the document of authority for all students. The program requirements listed in the USC Catalogue supersede any information which may be contained in any bulletin of any school or department. The university reserves the right to change its policies, rules, regulations, requirements for graduation, course offerings and any other contents of this catalogue at any time.