The Best B-Schools For A Real Estate MBA

Some 4% of 2018 Columbia MBA grads went into the real estate industry. Columbia photo

Columbia Business School

Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate

What better place than New York City to study real estate? Columbia offers a real estate focus to its MBA programs which “emphasizes an interdisciplinary blend of theory and practice, providing students with not only solid real estate fundamentals, but also critical thinking, complex problem-solving, and both written and oral communication skills.” The Milstein Center, meanwhile, brings top academics together with industry leaders to produce a real estate program “that is both comprehensive and rooted in practice.” Global and local themes are woven throughout the curriculum, and many of Columbia CaseWorks’ more than 65 proprietary real estate business cases are taught in class by the very professionals who managed the transactions under discussion.

George Washington University

Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis

Washington, D.C. is a great city for walking, so it’s no wonder the students in George Washington’s MBA program can pursue a certificate in Walkable Urban Real Estate Development. Through the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, MBA students also become proficient in the fundamentals of real estate development and management, but the program isn’t entirely focused on monetary success: it boasts “immersion in social and environmental values,” while being “rigorous in theory and experimental in practice,” according to Robert Valeri, executive director. The 12-credit Walkable Development program gives students a choice from a variety of courses in real estate finance, development, law, urban and regional economics, and the economics of sustainability. Degree students can earn the certificate in lieu of a concentration; non-degree students can complete the certificate in as little as one year. The center also supports research on real estate development in Washington and around the U.S. However, according to U.S. News, no MBAs from GWU’s 2018 graduating class reported taking jobs in real estate.

Chicago is a great place to learn the real estate ropes. Kellogg photo

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management

Guthrie Center for Real Estate 

Northwestern Kellogg’s real estate pathway program has a two-stage curriculum. First, students gain foundational knowledge and develop tools critical to the analysis of real estate transactions. Then they specialize on specific aspects of the industry, including: urban planning, development, entrepreneurship, public policy, finance, real estate tech, and law. The program also features a practicum course that provides industry experience at real estate companies. Kellogg’s real estate program is designed to ensure that students are “ready to meet the challenges of the real estate market” with a comprehensive curriculum that offers 10 different real estate classes, giving students the knowledge and adaptability they’ll need “to excel in high-level professional and managerial careers in the industry.” The real estate pathway is open to all full- and part-time MBA students.

UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business

Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics

Berkeley MBA students can earn a Certificate in Real Estate by completing at least three real estate-focused electives within the Haas School and two from any of the other colleges at UC-Berkeley (Berkeley schools offering additional real estate coursework include Berkeley Law School, City and Regional Planning Department, Center for Environmental Design, and the Goldman School of Public Policy.) Real estate MBA at Haas may participate in activities sponsored by the Berkeley Real Estate Club and the Accelerating Careers in Real Estate (ACRE) while taking such targeted courses as Real Estate Finance and Securitization, Real Estate Development, Real Estate Investment Analysis, and Real Estate Strategy. The Fisher Center, meanwhile, “provides a dynamic context where academics, students and professionals can work together in a stimulating environment that integrates research, teaching and professional development.”

Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management

Only 2% of MBAs graduating from Cornell in 2018 went into real estate, but that number hardly captures what the university offers in the field. Cornell’s motto of “… any person … any study” reflects the vastly diverse offering of course options available to students in the Baker Program in Real Estate, which is similar to an MBA, in which MBA students can choose from some real estate electives or choose to pair their degree with a Master of Professional Studies in real estate. Through electives and concentrations, students “investigate the broader world in which real estate exists, and examine areas that might include foreign-language training, retail management, international economics, sustainable design, or landscape architecture.” Students may choose to create their own concentration, or may select limited credits as true electives.

NYU Stern School of Business

Center for Real Estate Finance Research

NYU Stern’s The Center for Real Estate Finance Research was established in 2012 to foster research in real estate finance, economics, and operations at Stern, and to improve and expand course offerings and career services in the MBA and undergraduate programs. Its mission also includes deepening the relationship between the Stern school and the real estate industry. The Stern School offers a real estate specialization to its full-time MBA students that “Provides rigorous training in the development, investment, and financing of real estate projects. Students learn to think strategically about the workings of real estate primary and secondary markets by understanding the roles of various market participants as well as the legal, taxation, and regulatory environment that these markets present.” Real estate specialization coursework at Stern includes such classes as Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship, Urban Systems, and Real Estate Investment Strategies.

MIT Sloan School of Management

Center for Real Estate 

MIT does not offer an MBA concentration in real estate but the school does have a Master of Science in Real Estate Development, a rigorous, concentrated, multidisciplinary program that is geared toward direct application. The one-year-to-16-month program is focused on development and involves investigating every field that impacts the real estate industry, from design and development to construction, management, finance, and law. MIT draws on resources that include the MIT School of Architecture and Urban Planning, the School of Engineering, the Department of Economics, and the Sloan School of Business Management. Launched in 1983, the MSRED “goes beyond the scope of the traditional MBA” to give students “the research-based expertise necessary to solve complex problems in contemporary real estate.”


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