Prominently located on University Place overlooking the University Green, Billings Library is named for benefactor and alumnus Frederick Billings. It was dedicated in 1885 and was designed by one of the country's most influential architects of the era, Henry Hobson Richardson. Billings Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the University Green Historic District.


The Master of Science graduate degree in Historic Preservation is intended to prepare graduate students for broad-based careers in the field of historic preservation. The main educational goal is the development of long-term professional perspectives bolstered by training in appropriate skills. Graduate students are offered an intensive, practical, community-oriented, professional experience. Strong emphasis is placed on hands-on, community-based projects through linkages with local, state and federal groups, organizations and agencies, heritage organizations, museums, and historic sites.

Examples of Positions held by Graduates

  • state historic preservation officers
  • federal historic preservation officers
  • executive directors and field representatives of prominent non-profit preservation organizations
  • executive directors of historic site museums
  • directors of historic preservation revolving funds
  • historic preservation review coordinators
  • certified local government coordinators
  • historic preservation faculty at colleges and universities
  • downtown preservation development managers
  • principals and associates of historic preservation consulting firms
  • cultural resource management companies


Deep rigor, expert mentorship

Students are expected to research and write well in this program and, to achieve this goal, faculty routinely assign a range of innovative assignments that are thoroughly assessed. Faculty provide substantive comments on papers and regularly work with students on research methodologies. Faculty explicitly outline course objectives in their syllabi so that students are aware of what will be expected of them and what they may hope to achieve. In courses that enroll both graduate students and undergraduates, the graduate students are assessed at a higher level of expectations suitable to prepare them for anticipated careers in the field of historic preservation.

Graduate Curriculum

The Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation is a 30-credit hour program. All students complete either a 3-credit internship or a 6-credit written thesis project and must pass a comprehensive examination at the end of the third semester.

Graduate students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds and experiences generally enter the Historic Preservation Program in the fall semester. Most students complete their graduate degree studies after three semesters and a summer internship, but some students choose to include a fourth semester and a thesis in lieu of the internship. Part-time enrollment is also offered as an option for graduate students, with up to five years available for completion of the M.S. degree.

A comprehensive examination must be passed prior to earning this graduate degree. Normally this is scheduled during the second half of the fall semester. This written examination covers broad knowledge in historic preservation. Information on the date, general details, and format of this examination is provided to students in advance.

Learning Goals for the M.S. in Historic Preservation

Students who complete the MS Program in Historic Preservation should have acquired the following outcomes:

  1. Detailed knowledge of the history of the built environment with a focus on the United States and Canada, (including, for example, the history of American architecture, community and rural development, cultural landscapes and heritage sites).
  2. A detailed understanding of the history and theory of historic preservation, preservation law and preservation standards, as well as of methods for researching, documenting and conserving historic resources.
  3. A significant period of practical experience, equivalent to an internship, or as an alternative, the completion of a thesis.
  4. An understanding of the economic, planning, and curatorial issues central to the field of historic preservation.
  5. An ability to apply logic to analyze situations; to test hypotheses and to use appropriate knowledge and tools to solve problems; to develop persuasive arguments; and to evaluate the use of evidence and the effectiveness of arguments in the work of others.
  6. An ability to discuss and present their work orally and in writing in ways that reflect both their grasp of the material and their ability to speak about it in an accessible manner.

Student Assessment

  1. All Historic Preservation graduate students are required to take a set curriculum of courses that allow them to acquire mastery in architectural history, landscape history, and the history of the built environment; preservation planning, law and economics; architectural conservation; and project development and management. These are assessed through papers, exams and projects. (These assessments occur on an ongoing basis. The main faculty members in Historic Preservation meet regularly to assess student performance.)

  2. In addition to course grades, the Historic Preservation Program requires all its graduate students to demonstrate their mastery of knowledge through rigorous written comprehensive examinations offered to the graduating class together towards the end of the final semester. To help insure objective assessments of student performance as anonymously as possible by historic preservation faculty, students only provide confidential identification numbers on their comprehensive examinations. Faculty review the examination essays and make final decisions as a committee on whether each person has passed the comprehensive examination before the actual student identities are revealed. The results are then shared with each student confidentially and with the Graduate College. In accordance with Graduate College policy, the comprehensive examinations must be satisfactorily completed on the first or second attempt in order for a student receive their graduate degree. The main standard for assessing whether student responses to the comprehensive examination questions are satisfactory is whether there is sufficient evidence of mastery of knowledge to be qualified to enter the professional field of historic preservation.

  3. All Historic Preservation graduate students must complete either a summer internship or a six-credit thesis for the M.S. degree. The internships are assessed by internship supervisors and by Historic Preservation faculty (through the mechanism of student reports and formal presentations on their internship experiences). Thesis proposals are formally approved by and are subject to a formal defense, according to guidelines developed by the Graduate College. (This mode of assessment is ongoing and the results are recorded by the Director of the Historic Preservation Program.)

Program Celebrates 40 Years in 2016 

The 2015-16 academic year provided the University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program with the opportunity to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of its founding, brought about through the remarkable foresight of Professor Emeritus Chester Liebs and the faculty of the UVM History Department. As one of the nation’s oldest academic historic preservation programs, the UVM Historic Preservation Program continues to prepare graduate students for a broad range of professional careers with historic preservation agencies, organizations and businesses. Historic preservation course offerings are also available to undergraduate students at the University of Vermont, as well as through Continuing Education.