University of Cambridge - Mphil: Real Estate Finance

Hi, all -

Currently in my second year as an analyst with a large PE firm (on the real estate asset management side). Graduated in '18. Recently discovered this program and am curious to hear about the overall educational experience, post-grad placement opportunities, admissions process, etc. I will be applying to the program in hopes of using the Cambridge brand to pivot to more of a true investment management type role: UW, acquisitions, and so on. I'm an American, but I have hopes of living/working in London and think this program can help get me there (while also being both shorter and cheaper than a traditional MBA).

Can anyone speak to the quality of the program, or really anything related to it? Not much info online. Just trying to learn more!

Thanks...

 
Most Helpful

Hi,
I did this program recently. In summary: program alright, Cambridge great, job placement decent if you leverage reputation. Would recommend with the following points:

1. Overall educational experience:
* The program is highly academic despite the fact that the majority of students are trying to get into the private sector. A significant portion of your time is spent on academic papers rather than traditional corporate finance.
* The two (full year) core real estate courses are good. They give a good overview of RE finance and corporate finance with pretty good lecture quality.
* They get a lecturer named Mark Mogull (PE founder at Benson Elliot) to teach 4 lectures and one of his Associates to teach four seminars. These are the highlight of the course: super solid modelling training, amazing lecture quality with lots of real world examples. Wish he taught the whole thing.
* When I did the course, there was an additional Financial Modelling. This was very poor quality, I was criticized pretty harshly for using some of the practices that they taugh on my first week on the job. 
* The electives are where the course really fell short but I have heard that they are revamping some of them. Ancient and irrelevant econ professor, incompetent development professor who had never developed himself, etc. Really frustrating.
* That said, Cambridge is an amazing environment: the community of the college system and academic environment in the city are second to none.

2. Post-grad placement opportunities:
* The course website quotes a “100%” employment rate… This might be true eventually but should be quantified with timeframe. I would say that upon graduation, 60% of our class had a job secured. The rest were employed over the next 6 months.
* The Department sets you up with a mentor, which is really useful and produces a resume book that is circulated to potential employers (smaller funds and family office style employers).
* They also do 3-4 networking events over the year, these are pretty good.
* Otherwise, you are relying on Cambridge Career Services like any other student. They have some good networking events but your success will be determined by how well you leverage the Cambridge name and alumni connections.
* The program has a great reputation in London. People in our class took a while to get employed but a high percentage of them have ended up at strong London based PE funds.
* Big plus now is that the degree gives you a 2 year work visa post-graduation (was not case when I graduated)

3. Admissions process:
* CV: should demonstrate trajectory toward RE is possible or at least suitability for program.
* Grades from UG: seems like top 10 – 20% of your UG was competitive
* Two References
* Statement of Purpose (two pages)
* Answers to two/three questions: Why RE, Why Cambridge, Etc.

4. People seemed to fall into two buckets with fairly even split:
* Right from undergrad with strong grades
* Had worked a bit with a more varied academic background

5.Otherwise good to know:
* Admissions are reviewed periodically; they admit stronger applicants in earlier rounds and defer less strong applicants for later rounds.
* CV/story in statement of purpose & questions is very important. Why RE and why this program?
* Apparently the professors look at your Linked in, make sure it matches CV you submit.

All said, I would recommend it. The program opens many doors and I really hope that it develops to get away from some of the issues mentioned above.

 

Thank you! This is an incredibly helpful breakdown. Furthermore, it's way more information than I could find online so I really appreciate your effort here. They must have done away with the "Answers to two/three questions: Why RE, Why Cambridge, Etc." - all there is online is a statement of purpose, research proposal, and a career goals section.

So, being a magna cum laude graduate from a large US state school (towards the top of my class but no actual ranking) - only about 70 people graduate with "honors" (have to write a senior thesis) out of a few thousand that graduated from my undergrad business program - will not deter admissions from my profile? I see "we want a high 2:1 or a 1:1" and don't really understand what it means. Although I was not summa cum laude, I think my overall academic performance would be fairly equal to a first in the UK. I made 1 B... of the 70 that graduated with honors, about 20 get summa (4.0), 20 get magna (3.9+), and the rest get regaular cum laude (3.7+) is this what they are looking for in one's academic profile?

I think having 2 years of RE experience would be seen valuable as well, but I can't say for sure.

 

Academics sound solid, well done. I would approximately read "high 2:1 +" as 3.6+ and "1:1+" as 3.7/3.8+. As an indicator, my grades were definitely in the 1:1 range but my offer was only conditional on graduating with a 3.7. (all of this on 4.0 scale, not 4.3).

Additionally to note, I believe your references need to indicate your estimated class percentile on the reference form.

Ultimately they look at the whole profile so the experience will definitely help. Our class had a mix of people with "1:1+" with just internships and "2:1+" with solid RE/finance work experience. Also a few with really strong experience who I would guess had below 2:1.

 

I was in a similar position a few months ago. American but considered working in London and wanted to use the student visa as a gateway to a work visa. Obviously Cambridge is very prestigious, but my concern at that time was its distance from Central London. I ended up applying to LSE and UCL's real estate masters programs, so I could potentially take up a part-time internship and network while studying. LSE's program is geared towards REPE/RE Finance, whereas UCL's is geared towards real estate development and planning. All three are great schools, but the location was way more important to me.

I was accepted into LSE but actually ended up turning down the offer. A few things I realized through the process: I'm going to have to sacrifice a year of working, pay 20K tuition + a year of living expenses, then find a company willing to sponsor me, live with the uncertainty they may not refresh my visa, take a significant pay cut, then pay more taxes. And after exceeding a certain income level, I'd have to pay taxes both in the US and UK. It just wasn't worth it anymore when I realized could just live on the East Coast and party it up in London on weekends.

Otherwise I'd kill to live in London. Hope this is helpful.

 

Thank you! It's useful to get that perspective, however I won't need a visa for London, and the second part is not relevant to my case. Did you had prior RE experience when applying, and how difficult is to get admitted to the LSE RE MSc course in your eyes?

P.S: I saw that the course at LSE is Real Estate Finance and Economics, and I am assuming that it would be another hurdle if you come from non-econ undergrad.

 

I thought the MSc real estate investment and finance reading henley business school programme is supposed to be better? 

 

I disagree - many more of the big UK real estate players went to Henley. The network there is unrivalled and it is the most established real estate masters programme in the country.

One of the most senior people at Evercore RECA told me they prefer Henley grads above others. I heard the same from Principals at Westbrook Partners and those in senior management at Starwood.

 

That is what I was told by both CBRE investors and several real estate private equity firms in the UK.

The Cambridge Mphil real estate finance seems to attract a lot of people from Asia and North America. Has a small in take and seems to be trading more on the Cambridge brand name. Seems to do well on placing into real estate private equity despite from some stating it is too academic and lacks blend of also offering practical training. Reading university, Henley business school Masters in real estate investment and finance seem to be well known in Europe and from most rankings is placed no 1 in UK. Although, probably not well known in US or Asia - All they seem to know is Oxbridge or Edinburgh. 

 

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