I am lost... is a MSRED worth it for me?

Hi WSO family,

To give some background on myself... I am in my middle 20's and currently employed at a smaller scale RE Developer/Management company

In my current role, COVID has obviously crushed development right now so my role has been more on the defensive side, and I am not learning much about the asset, development or even finance level - a reason I took this job...of course COVID ruins everything.

I have not been happy in my prior two roles and I am considering that maybe I need to sharpen my skillset to add value to a shop. I do not feel like I am learning as much as I should be and this is effecting my confidence to apply to another development/asset management role. I just do not have positive experiences as an employee and have been thinking if its worth staying where I am or leaving. Or even studying for GRE's while I work here.

If I had an undergraduate eduction in real estate, is it worth attending Columbia's MSRED program and spend the ~80k it costs? What is the value here? Mostly credibility? or landing a great job after the fact. I feel like going to Columbia, which is definitely the best real estate program in New York or the country, would even be good to have on resume if one starts their own shop one day. But from a pure ROI standpoint, I am not sure if I am ready to commit such money if I learn marginally more than the courses in real estate I already took etc.

Any advice or insight?

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Comments (7)

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 12:34pm

Go take some Udemy courses on development if you feel you're not learning or go get a development certificate from any reputable school - they are online courses and a fraction of the cost. Grad school is not always the answer when things get tough and throwing away $80k at Columbia doesn't guarantee you land anything when you graduate. 

Times are tough now for everyone. And you said yourself you have an undergraduate degree in real estate, so you'd be going to school solely for the network. At least you have a role you can rely on. I would tell you to take some time and learn some development concepts you don't understand while remaining at your firm, and let's hope by fall there has been a noticeable shift in vaccines/COVID. If your situation hasn't changed by then, perhaps you could consider grad programs for next year. Right now, I don't think leaving a role others would snatch up in a second, to head to school is the best bet. 

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 1:13pm

Value for MSRED to me since you're in the industry is a network.

It seems you don't need it. You're already in development in possibly NYC so why would you need to get it to get into another developer right? Network with colleagues your age or alumni at other shops, people are willing to help. Tell them you want to learn more about their experience, etc, etc. Continue reading news/textbooks/listening to podcasts and make sure your skills stay sharp.

Edit: To be fair some of these schools like Columbia have amazing connections, sons/daughters of generational owners, billionaires, etc. 

  • Partner in IB-M&A
Mar 9, 2021 - 3:51pm

"To be fair some of these schools like Columbia have amazing connections, sons/daughters of generational owners, billionaires, etc. "

tbf, the NYU program is "the" NY program well known historically for having the sons and daughters of the large New York re families (it's almost a cliche in some circles) and a strong array of the local family offices coming through the program each year. I would never recommend the Columbia msred solely for its network unless you are earnestly planning on working, moving to Asia with a focus on China in the near future or over the long term. The Columbia MBA, without question, has that exactly described network, but those results do not confer in any form to the development degree in its separate and distinct, relatively small on a headcount basis, architecture program. The MSRED's placement results would look dramatically different if this was actually the case. 

In your specific instance, I would avoid getting an MSRE/D at all costs since you are already in the industry and gaining experience (and check the formal re education box with your background), possess the foot-in-the door position a msre(d) grad would likely covet or replace you after you left for grad school, and since we live in a time with ubiquitous/democratized online learning that can teach you almost anything for less than pennies on the dollar - with very solid offerings in cre.

If you are open to spending 85k on a formal degree, you could invest 3k to 5k and buy every single online re program (Refm, Adventures in CRE, BIWS, Udemy, Joshua Kahr's YouTube classes at Columbia msred and excel training products and recently released case studies, coursea's construction budgeting/project management and their beginner to expert excel courses, etc; plus the top 3 re textbooks which are often mentioned in these threads and cornerstone any formal master's degree program, and the ULI materials/textbook regarding development. Finally, you could buy a packet of HBS leading real estate case studies with their professor-level answer keys/explanations and make sure you can translate their results into a quantitative/excel medium) and learn every inch of them.  And down the line, if you really want or need a business graduate degree, you can get an M7-T10 MBA which has greater portability and versatility (especially since you have a re degree already) - and would be worth more in terms of learning, general business credibility and especially network (and may take on greater relevancy as you move up the ladder to more leadership centric positions; or as you state starting your own shop one day and wanting to have greater credibility to (assuming institutional) 3rd parties). 

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Mar 9, 2021 - 2:14pm

Since you have UG real estate education and are working in the industry, the marginal value add of the MSRED will be much less than those looking to "switch" into the industry. Sure the Columbia network is great, but you do have to go full time I think. Assuming you are in NYC area, you could do NYU's part-time, if you really felt compelled. You may get more out of an MBA (part-time or full-time), if you want to go that route.

Are you looking for jobs now? Planning on soon? I guess you haven't made the case for why you need the degree other than it's good to have.

To be clear, I do think you increasingly "need" a grad degree to continue with upward career moves these days, but if you are clear as to why you need it or what you want to do with it, I would just wait. COVID's impact has been widespread on NYC projects, but maybe that turns by summer (here is hoping!). In general, I'm always hesitant for people to quit jobs to go to grad school if not 100% part of the plan. 

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