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Historic Preservation: Graduate Program Overview

SAIC’s dynamic Master of Science in Historic Preservation (MSHP) prepares graduates to revitalize the built environment through the comprehensive exploration of science, history, creative arts, politics, and technology.

Application Deadline: February 1. 

No applications are accepted for the spring semester.

The Master of Science (MS) in Historic Preservation program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is geared toward full-time students, and while part-time study is not prohibited, preference is given to applicants who plan to attend full time. Candidates must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to gain acceptance into the program. Incoming students also must have completed prerequisite courses in architectural history and a survey of art history before beginning the program.

An online application is required for SAIC’s MS in Historic Preservation program. You will need a valid credit card and current email address in order to complete the form. Please review the following requirements carefully before submitting your application:

Nonrefundable Application Fee

When you click the "submit" button on your online application, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information. Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded.

Domestic application fee: $80
International application fee: $100

Application fees will be discounted by 50 percent through December 1.

​Official College Transcripts

Submit one official transcript from each college you have attended. If transcripts are issued directly to you, forward them to SAIC with the seal unbroken and the registrar's signature intact. A transcript request form is available for download from the online application, but is not required. If you are in possession of unofficial copies of your transcripts you are welcome to upload them to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio, but you are not required to do so.

If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable. If admitted to SAIC, you must submit a final, official transcript verifying the completion and award of your degree directly to SAIC's admissions office prior to your matriculation.

Address transcripts to:
SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201 
Chicago, IL 60603

Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds.

Statement of Purpose

Write a 500- to 700-word statement that describes your work or research. Discuss how you came to focus on historic preservation at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work, and finally, describe how the Master of Science in Historic Preservation program is particularly suited to your professional goals. Upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio.

Letters of Recommendation

You are responsible for securing two letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors. 

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via SAIC's ePortfolio. When completing the References section in your ePortfolio, you will be asked to provide the names and other information associated with each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent to each of your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations through the ePortfolio.

If your recommenders prefer they may submit recommendations by mail. Be sure to supply your recommenders with addressed, stamped envelopes and ask them to sign across the seal.

Address recommendations to:
SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201 
Chicago, IL 60603


The Admissions Committee reviews portfolios for clear direction and potential for development. Applicants are required to submit an ePortfolio. You must submit a separate ePortfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. Instructions for submitting ePortfolios will be sent either to the email address associated with your SAIC application, or to the email address associated with your ePortfolio account, if you already have one. You will receive the link to your ePortfolio 24 to 48 hours after you save the first page of the online application.

Applicants with a background in studio art or design are required to submit a visual portfolio of up to 20 images. Applications without a background in studio art or design are required to submit a 10-15 page critical writing sample addressing some aspect of historic preservation in lieu of a visual portfolio.

  • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
  • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

Direct all inquiries regarding the ePortfolio to, 800.232.7242, or 312.629.6100.


After an initial review of all applicants, the Department of Historic Preservation may contact some candidates for interviews.

International Students

Students whose native language is not English, or who do not have a degree conferred by a U.S.-accredited university, are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. Submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results with your application. The Institution Code for SAIC is 1713.

Minimum Required Scores

IELTS: 6.5
For more information about the TOEFL, please visit here.
For more information about the IELTS, please visit here.

Academic Records

Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.


A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC. 

In addition, applicants must demonstrate through a transcript analysis that they have completed a three-semester credit hour course in each of the following areas:

  • Art history survey
  • Architectural history

It is also strongly recommended that applicants have experience in architecture, interior design, or related fields.

For more information on the application and admissions process, visit the graduate admissions website.​

Ready to apply? Complete your online application now.

The Master of Science (MS) in Historic Preservation program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is a two-year, 60-credit hour graduate curriculum that prepares students for careers in revitalizing our built environment.

Courses are offered in four areas:

  1. Architectural design
  2. Physical conservation
  3. Architectural and social history
  4. Preservation planning

Each graduate student in the program completes two years of coursework in each of these areas as part of the required curriculum. The program is geared toward full-time study.

Core Courses Credit Hours
Architectural Design 6  
  • HPRES 5008 Physical Documentation (3)
  • HPRES 5010 Restoration Design Studio (3)
Physical Conservation
  • HPRES 5003 Historic Materials & Technology (3)
  • HPRES 5012 Building Pathology (3)
  • HPRES 6006 Building Conservation Lab (3)
Architectural & Social History 12  
  • HPRES 5006 History and Theory of Historic Preservation (3)
  • ARTHI 4505 American Commercial and Civic Architecture (3)
  • ARTHI 4509 American Residential and Institutional Architecture (3)
  • HPRES 5543 American Interior Design (3)
Preservation Planning 12  
  • HPRES 5002 Archival Documentation (6)
  • HPRES 5014 Preservation Planning (3)
  • HPRES 5015 Preservation Planning Studio (3)
  • HPRES 6008 Preservation Law (3)
Electives From Any Department 15  
HPRES 6010  Thesis I 3
HPRES 6014  Thesis II 3
Completion of Thesis  
Completion of Internship (210 Hours)  
Total Credit Hours 60 


Two Year Sequence Of Courses

First Year Fall 15 
  • HPRES 5003 Historic Materials & Technology (3)
  • HPRES 5006 History and Theory of Historic Preservation (3)
  • HPRES 5008 Physical Documentation (3)
  • HPRES 5014 Preservation Planning (3)
  • HPRES 5543 American Interior Design (3)
    or Elective (3)
First Year Spring 15 
  • HPRES 5002 Archival Documentation (3)
  • HPRES 5010 Restoration Design Studio (3)
  • HPRES 5012 Building Pathology (3)
  • HPRES 6008 Preservation Law (3)
  • ARTHI 4505 American Commercial and Civic Architecture (3) or
    ARTHI 4509
     American Residential and Institutional Architecture (3)
Second Year Fall 15  
  • HPRES 5015 Preservation Planning Studio (3)
  • HPRES 6006 Building Conservation Lab (3)
  • HPRES 6010  Thesis I (3)
  • Electives (6)
Second Year Spring 15  
  • ARTHI 4505 American Commercial and Civic Architecture (3) or
    ARTHI 4509
     American Residential and Institutional Architecture (3)
  • HPRES 6014  Thesis II (3)
  • Electives (9)
Total Credit Hours 60 


Completion Schedule

Students have a maximum of four years to complete the course work and submit a final thesis. This includes time off for leaves of absences. Thesis in Progress: Students who have not submitted a finished thesis for review and approval by the end of the final semester of enrollment are given a Thesis in Progress grade (IP). All students with a Thesis in Progress grade (IP) will be charged the Thesis in Progress Fee in each subsequent full semester until the thesis is completed and approved and the grade is changed to Credit (CR). If the statute of limitations is reached without an approved thesis, the grade will be changed to No Credit (NCR).

Transfer Credit

A minimum of 54 credit hours must be completed in residence at SAIC. Up to 15 transfer graduate-level credits may be requested at the time of application for admission. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.

Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 Credit Hours

Extracurricular Activities

In addition to course work, the two-year, 60 credit-hour Historic Preservationprogram requires students to undertake an internship. The 210-hour internship with a preservation agency, conservator, restoration architect, or designer enables students to work on historically significant sites and to learn firsthand the latest preservation techniques.

SAIC's Historic Preservation program has extensive international contacts and offers students significant overseas study opportunities. The Historic Preservation program's balanced curriculum and emphasis on real-world experience prepare students for a wide range of professional opportunities.

Continue to explore the Department of Historic Preservation’s website to learn more about graduate curricular offerings, faculty, students, alumni, and more or schedule a tour.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or