Business Administration

Earning an MBA in Real Estate Online Can Take You Just as Far as Studying On Campus

Earning an MBA in Real Estate Online Can Take You Just as Far as Studying On Campus
Real estate is among the MBA concentrations you can pursue online. It's not the most popular MBA concentration nor the most lucrative—that honor probably belongs to consulting—but it's a great choice for anyone passionate about the business side of property and who can't—or would prefer not to—pursue an MBA on campus. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry June 16, 2020

School choice matters a lot when you're looking at MBAs—regardless of specialization. The good news is that plenty of well-ranked schools have put their real estate MBA programs online.

MBA Programs You Should Consider

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Traditionally, MBAs were immersive, full-time, cohort-based, business-focused programs that involved as much networking as education. Students graduated from the best MBA programs with not only a diploma but also career support, industry contacts, access to thousands of alumni, and maybe even a job offer in hand. If you weren’t located near any of the best MBA programs and couldn’t relocate? You settled for whatever business program you could get to. And if you couldn’t afford to take two years off to earn a degree? Then you were out of luck.

Things are changing, though. Today, students can choose from among hundreds of different MBA concentrations. There are part-time MBA programs, executive MBA programs, and hybrid format programs that offer students much more flexibility, making this valuable graduate degree more accessible. And many colleges and universities have begun offering their specialized MBA programs online—including some of the top-rated business schools.

Real estate is among the MBA concentrations you can pursue online. It’s not the most popular MBA concentration nor the most lucrative—that honor probably belongs to consulting—but it’s a great choice for anyone passionate about the business side of property and who can’t—or would prefer not to—pursue an MBA on campus. Most online MBA in Real Estate programs are virtually identical to on-campus programs when it comes to course lists, capstone and thesis projects, and internship requirements.

However, it’s worth considering that there are some elements of the traditional MBA education that online programs can’t replicate. You may not have access to the variety of networking and recruiting events or internship placements that students on campus have when you pursue an MBA in Real Estate online. The trade-off means you’ll be able to earn this degree from anywhere, and at a pace you can handle.

In this article, we’ll look deeper at what it’s like to pursue an MBA in Real Estate online and cover:

  • Why do some students pursue MBAs in Real Estate online?
  • Are online real estate MBA programs very different from on-campus programs?
  • What kinds of courses will I take when pursuing an MBA in Real Estate online?
  • Which schools have the best online MBA in Real Estate programs?
  • How long does it take to earn a real estate MBA online?
  • Are online MBA in Real Estate programs less expensive?
  • What can I do with a real estate MBA?
  • How will earning an MBA in Real Estate online affect my earning potential?
  • What else do I need to know about earning a real estate MBA online?
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Why do some students pursue MBAs in Real Estate online?

Students choose online master’s degree programs for many reasons, but the most common is probably a need for flexibility. When you decide to pursue an MBA in Real Estate online, you aren’t limited by geographical distance. You can study at a nearby school or enroll in a college or university program thousands of miles away. This means you can apply to prestigious business school programs, regardless of where you live.

Online real estate MBA programs are also more likely to be self-directed and to have schedules designed with working professionals in mind, making it easier to earn a degree while also earning income. In some cases, financial concerns inspire people to look into what it takes to earn an MBA in Real Estate online. Distance learners don’t have to factor the cost of traveling to and from campus, parking fees, housing in a new locale, or on-campus meals into the total cost of a degree. There are also students who, for personal reasons or because they’re more comfortable working alone, prefer to pursue their MBAs online.

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“Should I Get A MBA?”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted an average starting salary for 2019 MBA graduates of $84,580—provided those graduates found jobs in computer science, engineering, science, or business. (source)

Students considering an MBA or graduate business degree can choose from varied career paths, including those focused on financial management, data analytics, market research, healthcare management, and operations management. The analytical skills and problem-solving techniques gained from graduate level business degrees are in high demand across business sectors. (source)

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Are online real estate MBA programs very different from on-campus programs?

Yes and no. Online MBA in Real Estate programs typically differ more from school to school than they do between formats at the same college or university. When you pursue an MBA in Real Estate online, your programs will most likely be offered through your college or university’s school of business, just like on-campus programs. You’ll study with the same professors and guest lecturers as students who enroll in traditional programs. Your schedule will include the same core business courses and real estate courses, and you’ll have to meet the same experiential learning requirements. You may even be able to choose from among the same concentrations and elective courses as your on-campus peers. Before and after graduation, you’ll have access to the same active alumni networks of real estate professionals and post-graduation career support.

Pursuing an MBA in Real Estate online isn’t exactly like studying on campus, however. Students in traditional programs are often invited to attend networking events, recruiting events, seminars led by industry leaders, and conferences. Distance learners typically aren’t able to take advantage of these essential experiences unless they’re enrolled in a program that includes a residency component. As an online student in an MBA program with a real estate specialization, you will be responsible for finding opportunities to make professional connections and gain real-world insights on your own. This can make launching a real estate career more challenging.

What kinds of courses will I take when pursuing an MBA in Real Estate online?

The coursework in online MBA in Real Estate programs varies from school to school, but distance learners typically take the same classes as students pursuing the same degree on campus. Some programs devote more credit hours to general business and management fundamentals than to real estate concepts. Others present those same concepts in the context of corporate real estate markets and the real estate industry. If you pursue a two-year MBA in Real Estate online, you’ll take a mix of courses like:

  • Applied Real Estate Finance
  • Data Analysis
  • Economics for Managers
  • Ethical Issues in Real Estate
  • Foundations of Real Estate Accounting
  • Globalization in Real Estate
  • Integrated Company Analysis
  • Introduction to Financial Management
  • Investment Management in Real Estate
  • Leading and Working in Teams
  • Legal Issues in Real Estate
  • Marketing Management
  • Operations Management
  • Real Estate and Investment
  • Real Estate Capital Markets
  • Real Estate Entrepreneurship
  • Real Estate Portfolio Management
  • Structured Finance
  • Sustainable Development and Construction
  • Techniques in Real Estate Valuation
  • Urban Economics

Programs can be structured in many ways, but it’s common for two-year real estate MBA programs to spend year one on core courses and year two on real estate-specific coursework.

There are also accelerated online MBA in Real Estate programs, which generally take one year to 18 months to complete. These tend to be designed for more experienced professionals who already have a firm foundation in general business concepts like finance and project management. The curriculum in these programs tends to be laser-focused on real estate. You might take classes like:

  • Analyzing Buyers, Sellers, and Financiers
  • Asset Management in Real Estate
  • Commercial Real Estate Management
  • Financing Real Estate Development
  • Foundations in Real Estate Law
  • International Real Estate Law
  • Investing in Real Estate
  • Market Analysis in Real Estate
  • Real Estate Development
  • Real Estate Valuation and Investment
  • Urban Development and Management

It’s worth noting that there are online MBA programs that are generalist in name but allow students to create de facto specializations through elective courses. If you don’t find an online MBA in Real Estate program that supports your professional goals, look into other MBA programs and master’s programs for distance learners and dual-degree programs that grant both an MBA and a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE).

Which schools have the best online MBA in Real Estate programs?

Online MBA degree programs are commonplace now. Some highly ranked colleges and universities offer online real estate MBA programs, including:

Be aware that online real estate MBA programs come in different formats. There are 100 percent online MBA in Real Estate programs, hybrid MBA programs, remote part-time programs, and MBA programs for distance learners that are almost entirely self-directed. As you compare colleges and universities with real estate MBA programs, make sure you understand what your schedule will look like if you enroll.

How long does it take to earn a real estate MBA online?

The answer to this question depends on which program you choose. Most online MBA in Real Estate programs follow a traditional format and take two years to complete for full-time students, longer—usually three years or more—for those who opt to study part-time. There are also accelerated MBAs and executive MBAs in Real Estate that can be completed in a shorter amount of time, and self-directed MBAs in which each student’s availability and drive determine the length of the program. In general, the best online real estate MBA programs follow the traditional two-year MBA format—and cover more ground as a result.

Are online MBA in Real Estate programs less expensive?

Unfortunately, no. Some people are inspired to research online MBA programs in real estate because they are under the impression that online degree programs are less expensive. However, it’s common for colleges and universities to charge students the same in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, whether they study on campus or online. Some schools actually charge online students more in total tuition because they require those students to pay technology fees and other fees on-campus learners don’t have to pay.

At the top business schools, pursuing an MBA in Real Estate online can mean paying anywhere from $500 to $1,000 or more per credit hour. This can add up to anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 per year in tuition, not including extras like books, supplies, fees, and possibly also room and board. The most expensive online real estate MBA programs—like those at George Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—cost more than $100,000 in tuition alone. There are, however, more affordable options. Distance learners typically have access to the same financial aid and scholarship programs available to students on campus.

What can I do with a real estate MBA?

This is an extremely versatile degree, and the career paths and positions open to degree holders reflect that. Keep in mind that a real estate MBA is first and foremost a business degree, which means that earning an MBA in Real Estate online can prepare you to work in roles both in and out of real estate. After graduating with this degree, you might work in:

  • Commercial or residential real estate development, completing real estate valuation and feasibility assessments, and calculating risks for development projects.
  • Investment banking, managing real estate assets as an associate on a real estate coverage team.
  • Lending, managing the capital requirements of real estate projects, and determining which funding sources are best.
  • Real estate advisement, working as a specialized consultant advising clients on portfolio valuation and structuring, commercial property purchase decisions, real estate capital management, and tax issues.
  • Real estate acquisitions, identifying real estate opportunities and real estate assets in line with criteria set by portfolio managers.
  • Real estate finance, working for firms that own, develop, finance, or back property projects.
  • Real estate portfolio management, advising on the purchase, development, and sale of property assets for real estate firms, investment banks, real estate investment trusts, and major corporations.

How will earning an MBA in Real Estate online affect my earning potential?

Rumor has it that earning an MBA can double your salary, but like most rumors, it only contains a grain of truth. Earning an MBA in Real Estate online will almost certainly lead to a salary increase and a boost to your lifetime earning potential. Still, even if you graduate from one of the top business schools, you probably won’t double your current salary if you already work in real estate. PayScale reports that the average MBA in Real Estate salary is about $102,000.

Other sources suggest that the average base salary earned by MBAs in this field is closer to $124,000, but it’s hard to predict what your income will look like after earning an MBA in Real Estate online. That’s because calculating total compensation in real estate can be tricky. Salaries in real estate business often look lower than salaries for graduates in other MBA concentrations because they don’t include bonuses, equity, or other forms of compensation—which can bump your earnings to well over $200,000. That said, salaries for real estate MBAs typically aren’t as high as salaries for consulting MBAs or traditional MBAs from the best business schools.

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What else do I need to know about earning a real estate MBA online?

Finding a great online program in real estate business can mean many things. It can mean enrolling in a program at a top business school where you’ll receive robust career support, make valuable industry connections, and have access to a huge, thriving alumni network. If earning as much money as possible is one of your career goals, where you get your MBA matters a lot. To become a top earner, you’ll need that prestigious name on your diploma and that network.

On the other hand, if you’re looking at online MBA in Real Estate programs because you are passionate about the business of real estate, then the best program might be the one that has the most interesting courses or the one that works with your schedule. The most affordable online MBA in Real Estate might be a better fit if you’re concerned about the high cost of MBA programs.

One more thing you need to consider before enrolling in an online MBA program, however, is that pursuing a business degree online can mean missing out on valuable chances to tap into an already well-connected network. You need to be prepared to find or even create your own networking and internship opportunities if you decide to go the distance learning route. You might not be able to replicate the experience and benefits of a full-time, immersive MBA in an online program. Still, if you’re driven and outgoing, you’ll find that earning an MBA in Real Estate online will open plenty of doors.

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


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MBA Programs You Should Consider

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