Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation

Certificate in Heritage Conservation

The art and science of architectural, cultural and landscape preservation.

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Learn to preserve the built and natural environments as part of a comprehensive ethic of environmental, cultural and economic sustainability.

The five-course, 15-unit Heritage Conservation Graduate Certificate prepares students for professional preservation practice.

The Southwestern United States is a unique laboratory within which to explore a range of cultures, architectural styles and landscapes, whether in person or online. And because the certificate is part of the Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, students have access to a wide range federal heritage conservation and historic preservation projects throughout the region.

The certificate stands on its own or may be combined as a specialty with other CAPLA degrees, including the Master of Architecture, MS Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture and MS Urban Planning.

All courses are offered online. Working professionals have the opportunity to take courses at their own pace.

The University of Arizona’s Heritage Conservation program is an active member of the National Council for Preservation Education.


The Certificate in Heritage Conservation provides valuable specialization in skills and knowledge that prepare students to work in the heritage/preservation field and very practically grounds theoretical coursework in a local context.

Alum, Certificate in Heritage Conservation

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Curriculum & Courses

The Certificate in Heritage Conservation provides an immersive educational experience to provide you the skillset you need for a successful career in heritage conservation and historic preservation.

Skills you'll gain from the program include:

  • Understanding of history, economics and legal framework of historic preservation
  • Historic research
  • Documentation and recording of historic buildings, sites, districts and landscapes
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Surveying, recording and analyzing historic data
  • Preservation master plan development
  • Community engagement
  • Interpretation of cultural landscapes
  • Written and oral communications

Five dynamic courses (15 units) are required to complete the certificate:

CAPLA Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation Overview.pdf

This course is an overview of the interdisciplinary paradigms, principles, and programs in the field of heritage conservation ranging from local, state, and federal contexts with some attention to international practice. The course addresses the conservation of cultural resources (tangible and intangible products of human construction) generally, and the built environment specifically, by introducing students to the terms, concepts and philosophical/theoretical foundations of heritage conservation in action. Students will learn how cultural resources are defined in regulatory and legal frameworks, promoted as value-added public amenities using economic development and planning tools and will analyze existing guidelines and standards to document, preserve and rehabilitate them. Implementing sustainability in heritage conservation practice is another focus of the course. 

Typically Offered: Fall
Units: 3

This course deals with the documentation, interpretation and management of cultural landscapes. Cultural landscapes are a heritage resource combining natural and cultural environments, from the local to the global. It is a wide-ranging field that includes protection of smaller, well-defined sites with tangible historic elements, to vast landscapes with intangible associations that embody a sense of place and identities of a people.

This course provides the vocabulary and approaches to the protection of cultural landscapes. Students will be asked to consider the varied challenges and opportunities such landscapes present. These can include the management of ongoing activities that can bring vibrancy but also endanger the landscape’s integrity. There are the challenges of interpreting sites which may have dark and sometimes difficult histories. Interpretations often include the protection of indigenous rights, as well as managing the risks to these landscapes caused by a range of threats from warfare to climate change. The ultimate purpose of cultural landscape conservation is to represent stories of these places that are more equitable, integrated across nature and culture and connected to community. The culminating capstone project will embody some of these stories, and how the student proposes to conserve them going forward.

Typically Offered:
Units: 3

This course familiarizes students with important social, economic, political and technological agendas that have shaped the design of the built environment and public realm. Students who successfully complete this course will learn many of the key debates in recent urban and architectural theory, the distinctive language of contemporary theory, issues of cultural diversity and writing strategies to develop their own critique of concepts relative to the course material and interpretations of existing and emerging themes in architecture and urbanism.

Typically Offered: Spring
Units: 3

This course examines methods and standards to document historic buildings, districts and  cultural landscapes and to interpret their historical and design significance. Students learn how to conduct historic research and survey and record data on historic properties. The course culminates in the completion of an individual building or landscape documentation project to professional standards.

Typically Offered: Spring
Units: 3

A review of preservation policy and jurisdictional issues within community development context, this course addresses complex social equity considerations associated with historic designation, examines economic incentives and explores preservation philosophy, cross cultural values and emerging trends. Students will gain skills to connect technical and policy requirements of historic preservation with pragmatic social and economic concerns of community development.

Typically Offered: Spring
Units: 3


You must submit the following materials when applying for a graduate certificate:

  • One- or two-page statement of purpose
  • Resume/ CV
  • Unofficial transcripts from all colleges/universities attended 
  • 2.75 GPA
  • One letter of recommendation
  • English proficiency score (International applicants only. See International Graduate Admissions Requirements.)


Applications are accepted for spring and fall terms and are due three weeks prior to the start of the intended term. Please refer to the UArizona academic calendar for semester dates.


ONLINE PROGRAM TUITION AND FEES (as a part-time student)
Per unit:
$650/unit + $53 university fees for 7+ units

(7+ units)
$7,369 tuition + $59 university fees

(9+ units)
$16,996 tuition + $59 university fees

Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Career Outcomes

The focus of the Heritage Conservation Certificate is to prepare students for practice in the field of heritage conservation and historic preservation. Our alumni work in the public and private sectors, including employment with the National Park Service, local historic preservation offices and museums, and cultural resources consulting firms.

Students enter the program with a wide range of academic degrees and professional experience, with backgrounds in anthropology, archaeology, history, museum studies, library studies, urban planning, geography, photography and engineering. Regardless of your background, the Heritage Conservation Certificate prepares you for a fulfilling career.

With the Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation, you'll be ready to start your career as:

  • Cultural resource specialist
  • Historic preservationist

Graduates who have complimentary degrees in other fields will be prepared for the careers as:

  • Landscape architect in cultural landscape preservation
  • Historical landscape architect
  • Cultural landscape specialist
  • Historical architect
  • Urban planner in historic preservation
  • Archivist
  • Museum curator
  • Educator
  • Cultural anthropologist

Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit

The CAPLA Heritage Conservation program is a participant in the Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (DSCESU), a cooperative network of federal, university and nongovernmental agencies studying and managing natural and cultural resources across the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

DSCESU membership expands opportunities for students to work on projects with federal agencies. Through the DSCESU, Heritage Conservation students have engaged in service-learning projects and have been hired as research assistants for projects at places such as Valle Caldera National Preserve, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Organ Pipe National Monument and Zion National Park.

Formed in 2000, and encompassing the Sonoran, Mojave and Chihuahuan Deserts, the DSCESU has been involved in more than 400 projects, with funding totaling over $19 million. The DSCESU is hosted by the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona.

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