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Best Online Master’s in Real Estate Programs

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Updated on: 10/24/2018

Earning a master’s in real estate online is a valuable investment for people-oriented individuals who enjoy working on their feet. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects some real estate careers, such as real estate and property managers, to grow 10% by 2026, which is above the national average for all careers. The skills that students learn in real estate programs, such as sales, finance, and negotiation, also apply to many non-real estate careers, offering graduates career flexibility.

Earning a master’s in real estate online provides flexibility to working professionals, allowing students to arrange coursework around work and family obligations. This article introduces prospective students to the best online master’s programs.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Real Estate Program?

Though courses and concentrations vary by school and program, each real estate program teaches students similar core competencies. Students pursuing a master’s in real estate complete foundational coursework in real estate marketing, finance, law, and sales. Students also learn universally applicable skills, including sales, time management, and negotiation.

Most real estate master’s programs require between 30 and 36 credits and take 18-24 months to complete. On-campus and online real estate programs offer similar curricula.

What’s the difference between a master’s in real estate and an MBA in real estate?

In MBA programs, students complete general business courses in foundational areas such as finance, marketing, and management. MBA students pursuing real estate complete a concentration of 12-15 credits of real estate-specific coursework. In a master’s in real estate program, students complete similar foundational coursework to MBA programs but with a greater emphasis on finance, marketing, and management from a real estate perspective. Real estate master’s students complete 30-36 hours of real estate courses.

What common courses are offered in a master’s in real estate program?

Real estate courses differ by school, but most programs offer similar core courses. Below, we explore five common real estate courses.

Foundations of Real Estate Law

This course provides a comprehensive and pragmatic overview of property law. Possible topics include issues that arise during financing, ownership, development, management, or acquisition of properties. Students also study differences in property law at the federal, state, and local levels.

Foundations of Real Estate Finance

Foundations of real estate finance often takes a survey approach to financial topics that future realtors may encounter. Potential topics include commercial lease structures, financial modeling, the time value of money, bankruptcy, debt, and mortgages.

Foundations of Real Estate Markets

This course teaches students how to make data-driven decisions by analyzing the real estate market. Students study decision making and market analysis from many real estate perspectives, including those of lenders, investors, landlords, and developers.

Foundations of Real Estate Accounting

The foundations of real estate accounting takes a survey approach to topics, primarily focusing on real estate taxation and deal structures. Students also study budget analysis. The course often uses case studies to evaluate these topics.

Real Estate Portfolio Management

In this course, students learn the basics of portfolio management, including statistics and modeling. Students create multiple sample portfolios and practice minimizing risk and maximizing return. This course often teaches students how to use Oracle OptQuest and Markowitz portfolio theory.

What exams or projects should I expect?

In most cases, a real estate capstone requirement consists of a culminating project, paper, examination, or portfolio. Most online real estate master’s programs do not include a thesis requirement. Students typically consult with faculty to research a real estate-related topic in-depth and present their findings.

What specializations are available in a master’s in real estate program?

International Real Estate

This specialization focuses exclusively on international real estate. The curriculum examines real estate finance, ethics, law, and marketing from an international perspective.

Real Estate Valuation

This specialization prepares graduates to work as real estate appraisers or assessors. Coursework focuses on valuations and property value, and students gain hands-on experience assigning values and estimates to different properties.

Real Estate Investment

This specialization prepares students to work for investment firms. Students learn how to optimize portfolios and minimize risk through statistics and modeling. Students may also manage sample portfolios to apply their learning.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Real Estate Degree?

While earning a master’s in real estate online prepares you for a variety of careers in the field, you can also apply the skills gained in the program to careers outside of real estate. Many real estate graduates pursue sales positions in health, technology, and other burgeoning industries.

Though earning a master’s degree in real estate online prepares you for many jobs, it does not guarantee employment. You may need to earn a real estate license or additional certification to supplement your master’s degree before you are considered for employment.

Below, we spotlight several career options for graduates with a real estate degree.

Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent

Also known as realtors, these professionals assist clients who want to rent, buy, or sell properties, taking a fee from the final transaction. Realtors spend a lot of time onsite at different properties. Professionals engage in ample client interaction and spend much of the day on their feet. Many realtors work for themselves.

Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager

These managers often work onsite at a property, such as an apartment complex. Their responsibilities include showing apartments to potential tenants, overseeing maintenance, and meeting apartment owners. Many of these positions require a real estate license or a real estate degree.

Real Estate Appraiser or Assessor

Real estate appraisers and assessors provide land and building valuations before a sale or development. Though they often work from a central office, these professionals spend much of their time onsite at different properties. A degree in real estate makes job applicants competitive in the field.

Real Estate Lawyer

Real estate lawyers address legal issues and disputes that arise in the field. They often specialize in property law or a similar field. Though a degree in real estate is viewed favorably by employers, these professionals must also attend law school.

Sales Manager

This position represents a career outside of real estate that professionals with a master’s in real estate online can pursue. Real estate students learn advanced sales skills that can apply to a variety of sales industries. As such, a real estate degree gives candidates a competitive edge for sales manager jobs.

Graduate students benefit from joining professional organizations, which offer meetings, events, and conferences to share research and network with real estate professionals. Many organizations also offer career centers with job postings, career counseling, and other job-seeking resources. Additionally, members enjoy access to the latest real estate research, news, and data.

National Association of Real Estate Brokers

NAREB focuses on advocacy, activism, and action with respect to providing the “dream of homeownership” to everyone in America, particularly African Americans. The organization provides networking opportunities for its local chapters.

National Association of Realtors

NAR provides real estate advocacy, research, and continuing education for its members. At approximately 1.3 million members, NAR is the largest trade association in the U.S.

Building Owners and Managers Association International

BOMA International offers advocacy, access to publications, continuing education through webinars, and networking opportunities for its members. The organization also recognizes members through annual awards.

Commercial Real Estate Women Network

CREW Network aims to advance the role of women in the global real estate market. The organization provides advocacy and hosts leadership summits and an annual convention.

Society of Industrial and Office Realtors

SIOR provides members, which are primarily industrial realtors, with resources such as webinars, indices, and continuing education through elearning.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Real Estate?

In the chart below, we explore salary potential for the five career paths discussed in the previous section. The chart provides median salaries, how much the lowest and highest 10% of the profession make, and the growth rate that the BLS projects over the next decade.

Job Title Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent Less than $24,160 $56,730 More than $151,660 6%
Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager Less than $29,500 $58,670 More than $128,630 10%
Real Estate Appraiser or Assessor Less than $28,440 $54,010 More than $101,710 14%
Real Estate Lawyer Less than $57,430 $119,250 More than $208,000 8%
Sales Manager Less than $57,590 $121,060 More than $208,000 7%

Source: BLS 2018

According to Payscale, a master’s degree in real estate provides increased salary potential over those with a bachelor’s degree. The median annual salary for professionals with a certificate in real estate is $49,225, while those with an advanced degree make an average of $116,997. As such, earning a master’s in real estate online improves job prospects and increases salary potential.

Online Master’s in Real Estate Program Accreditation

Accreditation involves third-party evaluators who visit a school and assess the quality of its programs and services. Three types of accreditation exist: regional, national, and programmatic. Both regional and national accreditation evaluate an entire school, but regional accreditation is considered the most prestigious of the two.

Programmatic accreditation applies to specific programs within a school as opposed to the entire school. The real estate field does not have a programmatic accrediting body, so students should look for regional accreditation when researching real estate programs. Students pursuing a master’s in real estate online should choose an accredited school as accreditation increases financial aid, employment, and education opportunities

How to Pay for a Master’s in Real Estate Degree

Students pursuing a master’s in real estate online can take advantage of financial aid to reduce education costs, such as grants, scholarships, and work-study programs.

  • Federal Financial Aid

    All students should submit the FAFSA application because it’s necessary to receive federal financial aid, such as grants, loans, and work-study programs.

  • SIOR Chapter Matching Scholarship Program

    The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors matches up to $6,000 in scholarships awarded by individual chapters to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate real estate education. Students must apply to their local chapters.

  • P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education

    This program offers one-time grants to women from the U.S. or Canada who experienced at least a 24-month gap in their education and want to continue their studies. The maximum grant amounts to $3,000.

  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

    The federal government awards these grants — which award a maximum of $6,095 — to students whose parents or guardians died from post-9/11 military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • Mildred C. Hanson SIOR Memorial Scholarship

    In addition to matching scholarships from local chapters, SIOR awards the Mildred C. Hanson memorial scholarship — a $4,000 offering — to up to three women pursuing real estate education.