What is a Real Estate Degree?

Are you self-motivated, dependable, and a people-person? Then you may want to think about exploring the world of real estate.

The real estate industry involves much more than just agents who show houses! You may be interested to know that the real estate industry has a variety of career options to choose from, whether it be in developing, buying, selling, financing, or maintaining property in commercial, residential, or industrial areas. Regardless of whether the housing market is thriving, real estate professionals with education and experience will always be in demand.

There are several educational avenues you can look at pursuing. A real estate license will provide you with a certain level of education and preparedness, but more and more, those who truly want to succeed have full academic real estate degrees.

There are degrees available at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels that focus specifically on real estate. These programs go into great detail about how real estate markets work and can provide you with the knowledge you’ll need to enter the job market with a level of preparedness that was previously only found among experienced professionals.

Choosing which program is best for you is dependent upon what you want to do and what area of real estate you want to work in. Some career opportunities in the field are: property manager, financial analyst, property appraiser, real estate agent, commercial broker, building inspector, mortgage specialist, real estate attorney, and loan officer.

Majoring in real estate involves taking specific courses designed to give you a thorough understanding of the field. You’ll develop critical thinking skills and gain a broad knowledge of virtually everything related to real estate, such as: urban planning and economics, real estate analysis, finance, risk and investment, property and development, and investment.

Program Options

Degrees in real estate are designed to educate students about the housing market. Real estate education has increased in the past few years in order to fill the demand for well-educated professionals in the industry. Some schools offer programs where students can major or minor in real estate. Students may also get certification from professional organizations. Real estate agents and property managers may not need a degree, however it can definitely be an asset and should at least be considered.

Note: Accreditation is one of the most crucial elements when selecting a school, as you will want to know that your work will be recognized if you decide to apply for a higher degree, or if you want to transfer to a different program. Make sure to research the accrediting agencies that have certified your choice of school.

Real Estate License - Four to Six Month Duration
If you would like to work within the real estate industry in any capacity, the minimum requirement is to have a high school diploma and to pass a state licensing exam (you are able to work as a real estate agent after you get your license).

How long it will take to get your real estate license depends on where you live, as educational requirements can vary greatly from one state to the next. In some states, the required coursework is considerable, and may even require completing a college degree. In most cases, however, the educational requirements in a classroom setting can be completed in four to six months. Therefore, it is advisable to ask how many real estate pre-licensing course hours are needed for your particular state.

Course material may include the study of: land descriptions and subdivisions; acquisition and transfer of real property; liens and encumbrances; leases; contracts; unlawful discrimination; agency and business principles; ethics; the business of real estate; the art of pricing and listing; how to find and counsel the buyer; real estate laws; contract clauses; influential agency policies and concepts; and disclosure guidelines and procedures.

You may also want to consider obtaining certification from a professional organization. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers the Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI) designation for real estate sales agents who complete coursework and pass a specialized exam.

Associate Degree in Real Estate - Two Year Duration
Students who earn an Associate Degree in Real Estate learn the required skills to sell properties and are ready to be licensed by the state in which they reside. Students may earn one of the following associate degrees in real estate:

  • Associate of Applied Business
  • Associate of Applied Science
  • Associate of Arts
  • Associate of Science

Associate degree programs in real estate cover subjects like business, management, professionalism, customer service, and sales techniques specific to the real estate industry. The curriculum includes classes in communications, management, public speaking, math, business law, human resource management, customer service, marketing, real estate appraisal, real estate brokerage, property investing, property management, real estate marketing, and real estate law.

Graduates may pursue careers in the real estate industry that involve sales, marketing, finance or management. Possible job titles include: property inspector, real estate appraiser, real estate broker, and property manager.

Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate - Four Year Duration
The study of real estate at this level is offered as one of the following three options:

  • Bachelor of Science in Real Estate
  • Bachelor of Business Administration With a Concentration in Real Estate
  • Bachelor in Real Estate Finance

There are presently only a few universities in the United States that offer a full Bachelor of Science in Real Estate and have real estate departments. However, with the interest and growth of Master of Real Estate Development programs, universities are now looking at also offering specialized bachelor degrees in real estate.

Note: If you are considering a career as a loan officer, you are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate Finance.

Master’s Degree in Real Estate - One to Two Year Duration
Students at this level can choose between a traditional degree (for example, MBA with a concentration in real estate) or a comprehensive degree (for example, Master of Real Estate Development) that focuses only on real estate studies.

Students who choose to study in a Master of Real Estate program can expect to take courses in: financial analysis, market analysis, contracts and deal-making, construction, design fundamentals, asset (property) management, construction management, building technology, and design fundamentals. Some programs offer participation in actual real estate development projects and can also help with access to internships.

There are only a few real estate development graduate programs. These programs offer a full range of real estate development subjects, from property acquisition to planning and permitting, law and finance, design and construction, and culminating in marketing, commercial leasing, property, portfolio and asset management.

Degrees Similar to Real Estate

A business degree helps students develop many of the transferable skills that are needed in a business environment. Some examples of the subjects that will be covered in this type of degree are: accounting, finance, management, and entrepreneurship. This wide range of subjects shows the versatility of business and the importance of understanding what it takes to make a business successful.

Economists research and analyze economic data, issues and trends. An economics degree teaches students specialized analytical skills, and helps them enter multiple industries. An economics degree can be used to study industry trends, labor markets, company prospects, and the forces that drive the economy.

Urban Planning
Coursework in urban planning includes coursework in: history/theory of urban planning, urban design, statistics, land use/planning law, urban economics, and planning practice.

Many planning degree programs allow students to hone in on a specific area of interest, such as land use, environmental planning, housing, community development, economic development, historic preservation, international development, urban design, transportation planning, or geographic information systems (GIS), and real estate. However, graduate real estate education has changed and there are now specialized real estate programs.

Skills You’ll Learn

Real estate degree graduates learn many transferable skills. They are able to use these skills to create a successful career in real estate as well as other industries.

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Knowledge of financial and legal processes
  • Responsiveness
  • Knowledge of real estate market and laws
  • Communication skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Ethics
  • Persistence
  • Passion
  • Respect for diversity
  • Technology savvy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Helpful
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Honesty
  • Dependability

What Can You Do with a Real Estate Degree?

There are many areas in which graduates are able to work, such as:

  • Property management
  • Real estate development
  • Brokerage
  • Lending and finance
  • Law
  • Accounting
  • Sales and marketing
  • Inspection
  • Commercial real estate
  • Residential real estate
  • Industrial real estate
  • Land real estate
  • Mortgages


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