Best online master’s in real estate degrees 2021: Top picks

Real estate professionals help buyers and sellers locate the right residential and commercial properties, negotiate purchase and sale agreements, and close the deal. In many areas, property values have remained strong, even through the pandemic. 

A master’s in real estate can take your career to the next level, qualifying you for managerial roles in property acquisition and sales, construction, development, financing, and urban planning. The range of occupations available to master’s degree-holders attracts both those just starting a real estate career and seasoned professionals.

Check out the information in this guide and the program rankings to explore the possibilities.

The best online master’s in real estate degrees

ZDNet’s ranking methodology uses data compiled by industry experts and scrutinized by our editorial staff to provide readers with the best school and program options. Institutions cannot pay for inclusion in our rankings, ensuring the integrity of our selections. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. Georgetown University

Washington, DC

About the program: Georgetown University’s master of professional studies in real estate program offers 33 credits of online coursework that prepares graduates for real estate careers and associated positions in construction, finance, and sustainability.

  • Acceptance rate: 14%
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Avg. annual net price: $29,000
  • Years to completion: Two to five; part-time study available
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

2. University of Denver

Denver, Colorado

About the program: The master of science in real estate and the built environment program at the University of Denver starts with a business foundation to train integrated project leaders.

  • Acceptance rate: 59%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Avg. annual net price: $32,000
  • Years to completion: 12-18 months; part-time study available
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required 
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery methods: Synchronous

Accreditation: University of Denver is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

What to expect in an online master’s in real estate degree program

Online master’s in real estate programs typically offer asynchronous coursework that allows students to continue working or attend to other responsibilities. Curriculums also include experiential learning through internships and mentoring partnerships, which often require onsite attendance near students’ homes. Programs commonly culminate with a capstone project and presentation.

Online master’s programs come with challenging course loads and deadlines for completing assignments, and successful online students plan their time accordingly. Enrollees take core classes but also choose a concentration area with course content tailored to the skills needed in that specialization. 

Master’s level real estate professionals and students tend to be highly self-motivated and possess strong leadership abilities. 

Master’s in real estate courses

While program course content varies, master’s in real estate online learners can expect to take core courses like those listed here, along with electives in their specific areas of interest.

Real estate fundamentals

With a focus on income-generating commercial property, this course explores the processes and tools needed to evaluate property and make transaction decisions. Topics cover financing, site selection, negotiation, and development.

Real estate law

This introduction to commercial real estate law imparts the foundations of principles, mechanisms, and conventions applicable to developers, contractors, lenders, investors, and owners, along with issue spotting and correlating legal risks.

Real estate finance

Students learn about the business concepts and master the technical skills of real estate finance and, using a case study, prepare a property-level pro forma that analyzes leveraged and unleveraged returns. 

Foundations of real estate markets

This course covers the real estate information analysis process and informed decision-making using theory, analytic tools, and real-life examples. The class culminates in a case study report and presentation.

Real estate degree levels

If you’re interested in learning the basics of real estate to become a broker or agent, an associate degree fits the bill in relatively short time. A bachelor’s degree offers additional real estate training, plus a more well-rounded general education. A master’s in real estate will prepare you for high-level management careers in development, analysis, construction, and investment.

Associate in real estate

  • Length: One to two years
  • Cost: $85-$647 per credit
  • Post-grad careers: Real estate broker, real estate sales agent, certified property assessor

An associate degree leads to entry-level real estate careers that assist buyers and sellers with their purchase and sale of properties. It also provides prerequisites to a bachelor’s degree, which employers may prefer in an increasingly complex real estate market. 

Associate-level real estate students take core courses that prepare them for their state licensure exams. Topics typically include appraisal, real estate law, property management, and business, along with math, computer systems, and composition classes. Some programs include capstone projects or internships.

Bachelor’s in real estate

  • Length: Three to six years 
  • Cost: $322-$419 per credit
  • Post-grad careers: Real estate broker or agent, loan officer, property manager

Bachelor’s-level students complete about 120 credits of core real estate courses, general education classes, and concentration topics, such as commercial real estate, construction management, finance, and property development. Enrollees may complete internships or pair with professional mentors for experiential learning.

Online course delivery may be asynchronous, synchronous, or hybrid. Part-time and accelerated study options are often available. Specialization areas depend on the programs, but graduates commonly earn bachelor of business administration in real estate, bachelor of finance in real estate, or bachelor of science in real estate degrees.

Master’s in real estate

  • Length: One to two years 
  • Cost: $565-$1,758 per credit 
  • Post-grad careers: Real estate developer, real estate investment manager, senior real estate analyst 

Master’s in real estate programs are geared toward professionals aiming for managerial and leadership roles in fields like commercial real estate, construction, property development, finance, and marketing. Programs offer specializations, including integrated product delivery, global real estate, or a self-designed concentration. Students master industry-standard tools and technologies.

Master’s level programs typically include online coursework in an asynchronous format, although some scheduled synchronous sessions may be required. The curriculum also features real-world, experiential learning through case studies, capstone projects, mentoring, and internships.

In conclusion

Whether your goals are to start as a real estate sales agent, an urban planner, or somewhere in between, a real estate degree can get you there. A master’s in real estate prepares you for careers in construction and development, finance, and investment. It can also be combined with an MBA. Explore the websites of the schools listed above for details. 

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