Graduate real estate education
||This article uses bare URLs for citations. (January 2013)|
The study of real estate and real estate development at the graduate school level has taken many forms, giving rise to various educational models in the United States and abroad. The decision for individuals pursing higher education in this field often comes down to choosing between a traditional degree with a specialization in real estate (e.g., Master of Science in Real Estate) or an interdisciplinary degree (e.g., Master of Real Estate Development) focused wholly on real estate studies.
Historically, graduate level coursework in real estate was limited to a major or minor in business, such as an MBA, or training in architecture and urban planning schools. Business school programs usually emphasize the business side of real estate; financing, marketing or company management. MBA students typically lack adequate understanding of real estate principles and processes. Architecture and urban planning degrees typically lack adequate training in finance.
In the mid-1980s the real estate industry matured to one with great complexity and an increasingly institutional ownership structure. The increased complexity of the industry created a demand for practitioners who possessed a comprehensive real estate education. One and two-year graduate level real estate degree programs originated with the founding of both the MIT Center for Real Estate and the Master in Design Studies in Real Estate at Harvard University in 1983. Columbia University (1985), Texas A&M University (1985) and University of Southern California (1986) soon offered graduate level educations. When these real estate programs were starting around the United States, it was clear that professionals must learn real estate finance and development in a structured program.
During the mid-1990s strong academic interest in real estate development "was never greater, whether it's for repositioning products, redeveloping inner cities, or developing more affordable housing. Students seemed to be acting on the notion that it's a temporary downturn and graduate school is a good place for the moment." During this period, one out of two real estate programs were adding new courses as a result of increased enrollment.
In the early 2000s, prior to the Great Recession, the industry again acknowledged increasing need for graduates with superior qualifications — providing the research-based expertise necessary to solve complex problems in contemporary real estate development. Programs such as the University of Maryland (2006), NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate(2008), New York University and Johns Hopkins University were benefactors of developer donations that raised the bar for real estate education nationally.
The late 2000s saw significant expansion of real estate programs to second and third tier universities, as well as additional coursework added by MBA programs that commonly did not have an emphasis on real estate. To deal with the complexity of the field and its far-reaching effects, today's industry professionals require advanced training to prepare them to operate in increasingly technical and interrelated areas.
As education needs have changed, business schools such as the University of Wisconsin, University of Pennsylvania, and University of California, Berkeley continue to cater to students interested in the flexibility of an MBA. Wharton's real estate program, for example, takes advantage of being housed in one of the top business schools in the United States and having some of the top real estate professionals in the world as advisers.
Today it is a general acceptance that a good education in real estate is needed to succeed in the industry. Real estate programs continue in the future to provide an excellent training ground for professionals. Graduate education is commonly a prerequisite to advancing in many aspects of real estate. Real estate programs have reflected a commitment to creating a conceptual framework for dealing with real estate development issues in a professional forum.
All students considering a career in real estate and development are advised to talk with developers, real estate lawyers, architects, asset managers, corporate real estate directors and city planners to gain a full picture of the career options open to them and all of the educational requirements for those careers. Typically, real estate professionals in the fields of appraisal, residential or commercial sales, property management or leasing do not require graduate education. Real estate is an increasingly complex, highly competitive, fast-paced industry, and its practitioners are often finding that they need to further their knowledge and skills to advance. A graduate degree can open doors to greater job and career opportunities and command a higher salary in the marketplace.
Graduate real estate programs 
At its heart, real estate is an integrated field that draws upon skills and knowledge from a number of related fields. Formal real estate coursework should draw upon investment, finance, design at various scales, project management, land use economics, and policy, among others. Some graduate programs are structured to draw from interrelated coursework at the university (such as business schools or design schools), whereas other programs offer a more streamlined offering through a single consolidated set of courses within the program itself.
The academic study of real estate reflects programs offering an approach weighted toward an interdisciplinary approach, the Master of Real Estate Development, and programs or universities that offer a broader-based degree Master of Science in Real Estate. Programs may award a Master of Science, Master, or Master of Arts, however, the key indicator is to review each degree curricula requirements, as differences in the intellectual offering are not necessarily reflected in the degree name. The Master in Design Studies in Real Estate at Harvard University, for example, is weighted toward economics and investment, but the degree title is simply a reflection of the degree naming procedures particular to Harvard.
Master of Science in Real Estate 
Graduate programs that award a degree of a Master of Real Estate or Master of Science in Real Estate are sometimes the expansion of real estate courses in a MBA program or Business school into a degree of increased specialty. Some of these programs prepare students for careers in brokerage, real estate sales or appraisal as compared to development. Others are geared toward investment and banking, whilst yet others work to offer a broad degree that touches on a diversity of specializations.
Master of Real Estate Development 
The Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) programs generally focus on the four main elements of real estate development: design, finance, investment, and policy. Students are generally exposed to the full range of development functions - design, construction management, market analysis, finance, site planning, and project management and operations, in addition to all real estate product types - residential, retail, office, hospitality, and industrial. Whether in the context of urban redevelopment, historic preservation, or suburban growth, MRED students learn from the developer's perspective the importance of relevant issues in law, economics, finance, market analysis, negotiation, architecture, urban history, planning, and construction project management.
The programs are a full-immersion focusing on the entire real estate and development process-from dirt-to-deal, finance to façade-and include industry topics presented by leading local and national developers. The typical MRED student is a highly motivated individual who seeks to radically alter or enhance their career paths and join the real estate development industry. Students who graduate from the programs are committed to a career in real estate development with skills to also enter asset management, institutional investment or property management. They enter the real estate development industry with an awareness of development projects that are financially viable, economically desirable, politically acceptable, environmentally respectful, socially responsible, and contextually and artfully designed.
The coursework of a real estate program varies slightly between universities, but is generally consistent. Some programs utilize HBS-style case studies of complex projects to heighten the student's knowledge and strategic decision-making skills. Credit hours are typically between 30 and 40 hours, but go as high as 60. Programs that have more than 33 hours typically include additional study in business or finance. A required core curriculum of 5 to 7 classes is typical such as at Arizona State University:
- Real estate development principles
- Market Segmentation and Analysis
- Real Estate Finance and Analysis
- Real Estate Development Project Management
- Advanced Real Estate Finance
- Real Estate Site Analysis and Design
- Public Entitlement Process
- Affordable housing
- Multi-family development
- Public-private partnerships
- Sustainable development
- Urban infill
Some programs, such as the MS in Real Estate Development at George Mason University, offer students the opportunity to combine elective coursework from several disciplines including business management, public policy and civil engineering.
In the final semester a candidate may have to pass a final comprehensive examination, complete a thesis for publication, or a prepare development project. At least one "field study project" is commonly part of programs such as Auburn and Harvard, which requires an in-depth analysis and multi-aspect solution development of a real world development problem. Based upon the realities of a particular development site, students develop a market analysis, a financial feasibility study, and a detailed site design. After extensive reviews and feedback, the student submits a written development proposal which is graded by his or her peers, the faculty, and often industry professionals.
List of United States graduate real estate programs 
|American University||Master of Science in Real Estate ||Washington, D.C.|
|Arizona State University||Master of Real Estate Development||2006||33||Tempe, AZ|
|Auburn University||Executive Master of Real Estate Development||2009||39||Auburn, AL|
|Baruch College||Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate ||New York City, NY|
|Clemson University||Master of Real Estate Development||2004||54||Clemson, SC|
|Columbia University||Master of Science in Real Estate Development||1985||45||New York City, NY|
|Cornell University||Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate ||1996||62||Ithaca, NY|
|DePaul University||Master of Science in Real Estate ||Chicago, IL|
|Florida International University||Master of Science in International Real Estate ||2006||30||Miami, FL|
|Georgetown University||Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate ||2010||30||Washington, D.C.|
|Georgia State University||Master of Science in Real Estate ||Atlanta, GA|
|George Mason University||Master of Science in Real Estate Development||2010||36||Fairfax, VA|
|Harvard University||Master in Design Studies in Real Estate and the Built Environment ||1983||48 to 60||Cambridge, MA|
|Johns Hopkins University||Master of Science in Real Estate ||1989||36||Washington, DC|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Master of Science in Real Estate Development||1983||27||Cambridge, MA|
|New York University||Master of Science in Real Estate ||1967||42||New York City, NY|
|New York University||Master of Science in Real Estate Development||2010||42||New York City, NY|
|Nova Southeastern University||Master of Science in Real Estate Development||40||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|Portland State University||Master of Real Estate Development||2012||Portland, OR|
|Roosevelt University||Master of Science in Real Estate ||2002||31||Chicago, IL|
|Texas A&M University||Master of Real Estate ||1985||38||College Station, TX|
|Texas A&M University||Master of Science in Land Development ||1985||45||College Station, TX|
|Tulane University||Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development ||2010||43||New Orleans, LA|
|University of Central Florida||Master of Science in Real Estate ||2011||Orlando, FL|
|University of Denver||Master of Real Estate and Construction Management ||1938||Denver, CO|
|University of Florida||Master of Science in Real Estate ||Gainesville, FL|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||Master of Arts in Real Estate ||Chicago, IL|
|University of Maryland||Master of Real Estate Development ||2006||33||College Park, MD|
|University of Miami||Master in Real Estate Development + Urbanism ||Coral Gables, FL|
|UNC Charlotte||Master of Science in Real Estate||2012||Charlotte, NC|
|University of North Texas||Master of Science in Real Estate Analysis ||Denton, TX|
|University of Saint Thomas||Master of Science in Real Estate ||St. Paul, MN|
|University of San Diego||Master of Science in Real Estate ||2003||32||San Diego, CA|
|University of South Florida||Master of Science in Real Estate ||2010||Tampa, FL|
|University of Southern California||Master of Real Estate Development ||1986||44||Los Angeles, CA|
|University of Texas at Arlington||Master of Science in Real Estate ||Arlington, TX|
|University of Utah||Master of Real Estate Development ||2010||39||Salt Lake City, UT|
|University of Washington||Master of Science in Real Estate ||2010||Seattle, WA|
|University of Wisconsin–Madison||Global Real Estate Masters ||2010||Madison, WI|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||Master of Science in Real Estate Valuation||Richmond, VA|
List of graduate real estate programs outside the United States 
A number of universities around the world offer graduate degrees in real estate and related subjects. See the list in Graduate real estate programs outside the United States.
Nationally recognized research centers 
Real estate programs and alumni donors sponsor research by real estate faculty in numerous areas of real estate including the economics of property markets, the impacts of regulation, and the sources of equity and debt financing. Additional research, in the form of faculty-supervised student thesis work, contributes to a growing inventory of new information. The research program is essential to promoting new knowledge, advancing teaching techniques, and bridging the gap between theory and practice. Not all graduate real estate programs conduct research.
|Real Estate Academic Initiative ||Harvard University|
|MIT Center for Real Estate ||MIT|
|Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) ||Columbia University|
|The Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF) ||Cornell University|
|Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship ||George Mason University|
|The Richard H. Pennell Center for Real Estate||Clemson University|
|NYU Schack Center for Sustainable Built Environment, NYU Schack REIT Center ||New York University|
|NYU Stern, Center for Real Estate Finance Research ||New York University Stern School of Business|
|The Graaskamp Center for Real Estate||University of Wisconsin-Madison|
|Lusk Center for Real Estate ||University of Southern California|
|Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate ||University of San Diego|
|Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development ||University of Maryland|
|Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies ||University of Washington|
|The Center for Real Estate Education and Research||Florida State University|
|Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies ||University of Florida|
Graduate-level education rankings in the US 
Rankings for graduate level education are not specifically formal as other professional disciplines. MBA programs with concentrations in real estate may be ranked according to organizations such as U.S. News & World Report or Business Week, but are not relative to the depth of the real estate industry studied in a MBA concentration compared with a specialized master's degree in real estate development. Real estate education has increased in recent years to fill the demand for well-educated practitioners in the industry. However, there has been a great deal of debate on what elements should be an essential part of a graduate program in order to help students succeed in the industry. Rankings have been conducted by editorial board representation of faculty members at university real estate departments, however, these results prove to be ineffective in judging the program as a whole. Many graduate programs utilize adjunct professors or guest speakers from the industry, which do not sit on editorial boards of scholarly real estate journals.
Currently there are no rankings of masters degree programs in real estate. The best method to evaluate the various degree programs is through due diligence by individual applicants, including a review of each program's curriculum and how it applies to the students academic and career goals. While there are no formal rankings for graduate real estate education, and programs are subject to greater locational impact factors than are MBA programs (due to regional and local policy influence).
A separate metric to evaluate the success of graduate real estate programs is the review of past winners in the Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Student Competition. Each year graduate-level students form their own multidisciplinary teams (from real estate, urban planning and business schools) and have two weeks to devise a comprehensive design and development program for a real, large-scale site full of challenges and opportunities. Submissions will consist of boards that include drawings, site plans, tables, and a myriad of market-feasible financial data.
|Year||Winner||First Runner-up||Second Runner-up|
|2010||UNC Chapel Hill||Harvard||Maryland|
An additional measure of the reputations of graduate real estate programs is the ARGUS Software University Challenge, which has been held in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In the challenge, participating teams from universities around the world are required to simulate a comprehensive real-life development analysis of a fictitious commercial real estate project by modeling the provided assumptions specifically using ARGUS software. Team submissions are judged by a panel of industry and academic professionals. The winning teams receive cash prizes.
|2009||University of San Diego||Arizona State University and Baruch College||University of Colorado and University of North Carolina|
|2011||University of San Diego||Emory University||University of North Carolina|
|2012||York University||University of San Diego||New York University|
|2013||York University||University of San Diego||Florida International University|
Related graduate program offerings 
Professionals in real estate often hold degrees in related fields such as city planning, construction management, accounting, property management, architecture or law. One of the most common programs continues to be a Master of City Planning, regional planning, or urban planning degree with a real estate emphasis. Planning programs tend to emphasize land use planning, transportation or infrastructure development, land use law and policy and other planning topics; students who take a concentration in real estate development will learn how it relates to planning.
MBA with Real Estate Concentration 
Business degrees with real estate concentrations generally provide students with the opportunity to pursue a general management degree, but to specialize in real estate development or some segment of the real estate industry through a sequence or group of electives. For a long time, those wishing to study real estate had to content themselves with primarily pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree, perhaps with the option of concentration in real estate, and usually with a focus in finance. These MBA programs typically only include one or two courses focused in real estate. Many MBA programs do not specialize in real estate.
For those considering an MBA, there are some issues to consider:
|MBA||MSc Real Estate Development|
|Timeframe||2 years full-time||1 year|
|Curriculum||1st year - Business Basics; 2nd year - Specialization largely focused on finance-related areas||Real estate focus and specialization throughout|
|Specialization||Real Estate in MBA programs is very rare. Specialization tends to be finance focused||Broad-based real estate education in design, management, law, development, economics and significant focus on finance, e.g., real estate finance, capital markets|
|Program size||Typically, the programs are large with real estate students representing a relatively small (2% - 3%) percentage||Small groups, with commonly 25 to 50 students|
|Industry Commitment||Students pursuing a MBA may not be committed to a real estate career; therefore they are seeking a broader base||All students are committed to the real estate industry and many have real-estate related experience prior to coming to the program. An important part of the programs are the learning between students.|
|Career opportunities||Varied but with a heavy concentration in finance-related areas of the real estate industry||Significant representation in project management, development, finance-related areas, acquisitions, entrepreneurship and government|
|Thesis||Generally, not required||Typically required, usually as a professional publication or a real-life capstone competition|
|Alumni network||Usually extensive, but predominantly outside of the real estate industry||Alumni are involved in all facets of the industry and located throughout the world|
|Recruitment||Limited recruitment by real estate companies||Many students seeking employment find opportunities through peers, professors or on-site recruitment|
MBA real estate concentration offerings 
A limited number of MBA programs provide courses in real estate as part of the typical study in business.
|Columbia University ||New York, NY|
|Florida State University ||Tallahassee, FL|
|George Washington University ||Washington, D.C.|
|Hofstra University ||Hempstead, NY|
|Pacific States University ||Los Angeles, CA|
|Roosevelt University ||Chicago, IL|
|University of Georgia ||Athens, GA|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ||Chapel Hill, NC|
|University of Pennsylvania ||Philadelphia, PA|
|University of Texas||Austin, TX|
|University of Texas at Dallas ||Richardson, TX|
|University of Wisconsin ||Madison, WI|
Certificate programs 
|University||Name of Certificate||Credit Hours||Description|
|Boston University||Certificate in Commercial Real Estate ||8 classes |
|Boston University||Certificate in Real Estate and Finance |
|The Catholic University of America||Certificate in Real Estate Development |
|Florida State University||Certificate in Real Estate Development ||12||Offered jointly by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and College of Business|
|University of Louisville||Certificate in Real Estate Development ||18||Offered by the Department of Urban and Public Affairs|
|University of Michigan||Certificate in Real Estate Development ||17 ||Offered by the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning|
|University of Pennsylvania||Certificate in Real Estate Design and Development ||18||Certificate offered by the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, with participation by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.|
|University of Southern California||Certificate in Real Estate Development ||12||Certificate offered by the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.|
|University of Texas at Arlington||Certificate in Property Repositioning and Turnaround Strategies ||13||A unique program offered by the School of Architecture and College of Business. Participants in this graduate-level certification course learn how to reposition distressed properties and participate in workout teams in four months of concentrated sessions.|
Loyola University of New Orleans offers a Real Estate Investment Course as an elective.
Undergraduate real estate education 
As with many MBA programs, undergraduate real estate education is commonly offered as a concentration, or focused area of study. Very few universities with varying academic reputation offer a bachelor degree with a concentration in real estate (typically two courses during the senior year).
Career opportunities 
A sample of careers include large public real estate companies; small private entrepreneurial organizations; regional investors; companies that specialize in a single product (e.g. office/retail/multi-family); non-profits involved in areas such as affordable housing; corporations that own real estate; companies that finance real estate; and companies that provide services such as design and architecture firms, brokerage companies, investment banks, REITs, and various consultancies. Careers in the public sector at the city, county, state, federal or military level offer interesting and rewarding career opportunities related to real estate. The skill sets are also transferable to other industries and sectors of the economy.
Graduate Real Estate Programs outside the US 
See also 
- Urban Land, Teaching Real Estate Today, April 1992, pg. 32.
- Urban Land, October 1991, pg. 38
- USC's Entrepreneurial Real Estate Degree. Urban Land.
- Urban Land Institute. Directory of Real Estate Development and Related Education Programs. Washington, D.C.: ULI, 2008. http://commerce.uli.org/AM/Ecommerce/ProductDisplay.cfm?Productid=1733
- Urban Land Magazine School for Developers, Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute, March 2008
- Ross, Stan. The Inside Track to Careers in Real Estate. Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C. 2006.
- The Urban Land Institute - A professional association for real estate developers and related professions