Los Angeles provides a unique laboratory in which to learn and challenge conservation issues. As a relatively young and diverse global city, it is the ideal place to explore a relatively young and diverse global discipline. Our wealth of recent past resources raise a new set of research challenges and the city’s richly diverse communities woven throughout the tapestry of the built environment push us to acknowledge the many layers of history and meaning revealed in the city. It is also a place forever seeking the new, providing opportunities to protect the best of the past while embracing the landmarks of the future. 

Embedded in the School of Architecture at USC, heritage conservation students are instantly part of a multidisciplinary environment, linking landscape architecture, building science, architecture, and conservation. As such, the program curriculum is designed to expose students to a broad range of topics including materials conservation, policy and planning, conservation theory, global conservation efforts, architectural and landscape history, best-practices in resource documentation and evaluation, sustainability, and historic site management. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the many academic resources in the broader university, including taking courses in real estate, regional history, urban planning, and spatial sciences. Program faculty are leaders in the field, a blend of academics and practitioners that grapple with conservation in real time, seeking creative solutions that balance the integrity of the past with a sustainable future. Through this broad exposure, students begin to formulate their professional path within the discipline.

RELATED LINKS: Application Instructions & Requirements, Application Deadlines, Learning Objectives, USC Heritage Conservation Network FacebookUSC MHC Instagram

The creation of a graduate thesis enables students to stretch themselves in the direction of their choice. Topics are chosen based on the interests of the student and vary from architectural and landscape history to policy analysis, from materials-based inquiry to industrial archaeology, and beyond. Below is a list of theses completed by our program graduates organized by year completed. The typical program length is two years, although students may apply for advanced standing.

View the Master's Thesis Showcase

The USC Master of Heritage Conservation program is a proud member of the National Council for Preservation Education.


The Heritage Conservation programs at USC include:

“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

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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. 


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.

Following is the program curriculum for the 2020-2021 Academic Year. For previous years, please consult the online USC Catalogue archive.


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.