The Best Real Estate Degree Programs Worldwide
From MIT to ESCP: Where To Study To Become A World-Class Professional
In 2019, US real estate professionals earned anything from $55,000 per year as assistant manager to $500,000 per year as chief investment officer (CFO) according to CEL & Associates. A study by Robert Walters Group quotes annual compensations of €45,000 and €170,000 for the same positions respectively in Paris, France. Yet, there’s still demand for competent specialists. The professional community SelectLeaders surveyed real estate employers in 2019, and 59% of respondents reported having difficulties finding qualified people.
In order to be in demand in the international real estate market, young talent can get an industry-specific master’s degree from a leading institution in the USA or Europe. Discover the five most prestigious education degree programs for real estate as ranked by the analysts at Tranio, an international real estate broker.
These programs focus primarily on real estate economics, finance, and investments into real estate, investment assets, market analysis, real estate entrepreneurship and development.
5 most prestigious real estate master degrees
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA)
Degree program: Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the world’s best university according to the QS World University Ranking and has been on top since 2012. 95 Nobel Prize laureates have studied or taught here. The founders of Intel, HP, LinkedIn, Coursera, and Bose are MIT alumni. According to the Financial Times, MIT MBA alumni earned on average $197,000 per year in 2019. 53% of MIT MBA students are foreign nationals.
One distinctive feature of the MSRED program is its courses on leadership, business decision-making, innovative project management, and urban development. In addition, students can take any course offered by MIT or Harvard University.
The MIT Center for Real Estate has a dedicated career development hub that helps students make a resume and get ready for interviews, while also posting exclusive jobs, and holding career fairs with potential employers.
The Master Degree In Real Estate at MIT boasts outstanding graduates. Zac Shore (a 2013 graduate) is in the San Francisco Business Times “40 Under 40” Class of 2020, and Sarah Abrams (MS from MIT, 1985) was named one of Boston Real Estate Times “Top Ten Outstanding Women in 2019”.
2. London School of Economics (LSE)
Degree program: Master of Science in Real Estate Economics and Finance (MS REEF)
The London School of Economics (LSE) ranks 4th among international universities for development studies according to the QS World University Ranking 2020. 68% of LSE students in 2018–2019 were foreign nationals.
The LSE Master of Science in Real Estate Economics and Finance is the number one real estate education program globally in the Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking in 2019. LSE MS REEF students study real estate pricing, investment analysis, and portfolio selection. Students can also enrol for elective courses in big data, GIS and Stata software.
Marjory Yang who started the program in 2019 shared with Tranio why she chose this master’s degree, “LSE is one of the most prominent business schools in the world. LSE REEF has the best team of academic tutors in the UK to provide cutting edge theories and empirical research. It also has extensive insights in terms of real-world practices.”
The students of this academic path can also benefit from a professional development program. Networking events are held several times a year and attended by talent acquisition representatives of the corporate world. Students can also be mentored by LSE alumni, a network that brings together real estate professionals from all over the world.
3. École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP)
Paris (France), London (UK), Madrid (Spain)
Degree program: Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE)
École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP) is the oldest business school in Europe established in 1819. “There is deep academic elitism in France — a degree from a school like the ESCP is a substantial advantage for networking and access to the most compelling jobs, as well as the potential hiring package,” notes Alena Sovetova, HR manager at a French technology company, “Interns from elite schools get better compensation, and graduates salaries start at €65,000 per year on average.”
The ESCP offers a Master of Science in Real Estate. Students study in two European cities: from September to March in Madrid, and in May in London. There is a one-week field trip on the curriculum to a Spanish coastal town where students learn hotel management. Every module is taught in English.
What makes this MS in Real Estate from ESPC unique is its focus on technology and innovation studies. Students take courses about smart cities and urban design, and learn to use Building Information Modelling (BIM). PropTech entrepreneurs are invited to attend training courses to share their practical insights. Yet another feature of this master’s is its soft skill training in business negotiation, problem solving, culture and heritage in real estate.
4. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)
Degree program: MBA Real Estate Major
In 2020, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania was ranked 2nd among business schools by the Financial Times, and first for the best real estate education programs in the U.S. News & World Report. A Wharton graduate earns $211,000 per year on average.
The Real Estate Major can be taken by enrolling on the school’s MBA program. Wharton students study investment analysis, fiscal policy, and real estate law. The program is very flexible: students can choose from many courses to ensure a tailored learning experience. Wharton offers many social and networking opportunities, including business and student clubs.
Donald John Trump Jr., Executive Vice President at The Trump Organization, Edward J. Lewis, founder of the Oxford Development Company, and Peter Rummell, former chairman of Walt Disney Imagineering are Wharton alumni.
5. University of Groningen (UG)
Degree program: Master of Science in Real Estate Studies
The University of Groningen (UG) was founded in 1614, and is the second oldest university in the Netherlands. UG offers a Master of Science in Real Estate Studies. This program teaches students to use in-depth subject knowledge to solve real-world business issues.
The curriculum includes some courses that make this master program unique, such as infrastructure planning, neighbourhood revitalisation, land supply, and advanced research skills. Students also study tourism, migration, and healthcare.
UG offers a combined master and research program MSc in Spatial Sciences for those looking to progress into academic research. This program lasts two years rather than one, and graduates can go on to PhD studies.
“What I found interesting was learning to approach the practice of real estate from a theoretical viewpoint... As a result of this approach you can see that many topics can be reduced to a number of basic theories which are still very relevant when entering the real estate work force. After graduating in January 2014, I immediately started working at the taxation department of Cushman & Wakefield in Amsterdam. After 2.5 years, I was ready to start at a more commercial function, so I switched to the Office Agency team at Cushman & Wakefield,” explains Tim de Vries, a graduate of the MSc in Real Estate program, and “Real Estate Young Talent” award winner in 2018.
Entry and study requirements for international master degree programs
Admission to a real estate master degree program is based on standard requirements: a bachelor’s degree, English language proficiency (IELTS or TOEFL), and GRE or GMAT test scores proving mathematical reasoning and analytical skills. Each application should also include a CV, a letter of motivation, and two or three references from colleagues, managers, or university professors.
Further details differ by program. Some master programs only enrol students with a specific major. For example, MIT admits holders of a bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, business, law, architecture, and urban planning. LSE requires a bachelor’s with an economics major.
In addition, a candidate should often have at least three years of experience in real estate to be admitted. As a result, the average age of 2020 MBA or Master of Science students in the USA is 28 years according to Vincia Prep, a company that prepares students for business school.
These intensive programs last one or two years with on-campus classes every day, which makes it difficult to hold down a job at the same time. Furthermore, student visas for foreign nationals often put limitations on earning income. Curriculums also include a summer internship so students can gain professional experience.
The average tuition fee for a master program is $24,000 per year in Europe, and $80,000 in the USA. Some universities award scholarships that partially cover tuition fees, and student loans are also available. Universities may offer on-campus employment for students as teaching assistants. Large companies, such as Deloitte, BNP Paribas, or JLL, also finance employee education.
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