Juris Doctor/Master of Science of Historic Preservation

Historic preservation law is a unique specialty within the environmental law field. But while there are many environmental law programs at law schools throughout the country, the typical environmental curriculum does not offer great depth in this area.  Drawing on the strength of both Roger Williams University’s School of Architecture and School of Law, this new Joint Degree program seeks to answer this need.

For over three decades the Historic Preservation Program has been harnessing Roger Williams University and community-wide resources to provide in-depth preservation studies and professional practice in the context of a liberal arts education whose diversity mirrors the communities and cultures we help preserve. The Roger Williams University Historic Preservation Program provides classes, community-based work and field expertise specific to preservation.  The program couples a multi-disciplinary approach with a rigorous core of field-based professional preservation offerings.   The program includes preservation history and philosophy, planning, law and regulation, economics and heritage management. In 2012, the School of Law partnered with the Historic Preservation program to develop lawyers trained in this dynamic discipline.

Lawyers trained in Historic Preservation are well equipped to become leaders and advocates in the field.  Graduates of this program will know how to maneuver federal, state, and local regulations while protecting historic resources.  Historic preservation overlaps with constitutional, administrative, and even tort law.  Lawyers equipped with these two degrees can be found specializing in historic preservation at law firms, governmental agencies, advocacy organizations, lobbying firms, and non-profits.  To learn more about what a lawyer can do in the field of Historic Preservation visit the website of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

To earn the degree, students must complete 75 credits at the School of Law and 43 credits in the Historic Preservation Program.  The School of Law will accept 15 transfer credits and the Historic Preservation Program will accept 9.  This means students who enter this joint degree program can complete both degrees in as little as four years (with some course work in the summers/winters).  Students who already have an undergraduate degree in historic preservation may be able to complete both degrees in less time.  Students can apply to enter into this joint degree program after the completion of their first year of either program.

Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.


After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.


Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.


Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.