Master of Science in Historic Preservation College of Design

Program Overview


Heritage has, until recently, been viewed as a narrow and elitist version of our past. By opening accessibility to the professional field and particularly by diversifying it, we hope to contribute to the project of democratizing heritage, bringing multiple perspectives of the past into conversation, as civil society should.


Students in the Heritage Studies and Public History (HSPH) program will be grounded in the following knowledge, skills, and values:



  • Learn the histories of the fields and disciplines that contribute to HSPH to understand how earlier perspectives inform current practice, how interpretations and approaches to the past have changed over time especially related to issues of diversity, exclusion, and expertise
  • Develop a broad understanding of HSPH and pursue a deeper focus in one of three tracks
  • Understand the relationship of American Indian nations to museums, cultural organizations, and associated laws
  • Know the legal and regulatory basis and processes associated with HSPH
  • Understand the structure, goals, and norms of different organizations (e.g., nonprofit, governmental, state-level agencies, educational, etc.)


  • Identify, locate, interpret and synthesize information from a wide variety of primary and secondary sources including not only archives, collections, scholarly publications, and professional reports but also buildings, landscapes, and artifacts
  • Engage and communicate with diverse communities using various media to build inclusive historical narratives
  • Formulate clear goals and evaluate their outcomes in collaboration with, and to build support among, stakeholders
  • Modulate between collaboration and independent work in professional environments
  • Perform in ambiguous situations that arise in diverse and fluid contexts


  • Engage in shared authority and acknowledge community-based knowledge and expertise
  • Practice professional ethics and reciprocity when working with communities
  • Appreciate and respect the divergent, conflicting, and sometimes irreconcilable aspects of heritage
  • Invest in processes as well as outcomes
  • Recognize and accept interdisciplinary collaboration, including the norms, approaches and methods used by different disciplines


Why Study Heritage and Public History in the Twin Cities?

Students will engage in and learn from direct experience in heritage institutions, which the University and the Twin Cities in general have in unparalleled quantity and diversity. The flagship Twin Cities campus is located in a culture-rich urban area with a population of some 2.85 million people. The state has 20 Fortune 500 companies and 600 museums and historical societies (twice the national average per capita). Minnesota (population 4.92 million) is home to seven Anishinaabe and four Dakota reservations, as well as significant immigrant communities, including northern and eastern Europeans who arrived in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Hmong, Mexican, and Somali (among others) immigrants who have made Minnesota home in recent years. We also are within easy driving distance of two national forests, over 75 state parks, some 20 national wildlife refuges and management districts, and classic rural America.

Students will benefit from internships and learning opportunities with Twin Cities agencies, organizations, and community groups working with heritage issues. These include the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), Minneapolis and St. Paul city planning offices, local non-profit preservation groups, and many museums both inside and outside of the University.


Progressive heritage and public history programs policies further enhance educational opportunities.  For example, Minnesota has created an innovative historic building rehabilitation tax credit program and enacted a twenty-five-year "Legacy Amendment" that provides substantial heritage preservation grant funding. The state is also home to a strong community of preservation practitioners, advocates, and organizations including the Preservation Alliance of MinnesotaPreserve Minneapolis, Historic St. Paul, DoCoMoMo Minnesota, and the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. Collectively, these organizations sponsor some type of preservation event nearly every week, including lectures, tours, and social outings. Prospective and current students are strongly encouraged to visit their websites, join their Facebook pages, and get on their mailing lists to take maximum advantage of opportunities for networking and learning outside the classroom.   

Contact Information

College of Design

Saint Paul Offices

32 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-1922

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Minneapolis Offices

101 Rapson Hall, 89 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-7525

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