MBA Programs for Real Estate

To all Real Estate Finance professionals out there. I am applying to B-School next year and would like to concentrate in RE. Would you agree these following MBA's have the strongest RE programs with strong RE recruitment for IBRE and REPE?

1, Wharton
2. Columbia
3. NYU - Stern
4. Northwestern - Kellogg
5. Berkeley - Haas
6. Dartmouth - Tuck
7. Cornell - Johnson
8. UCLA - Anderson
9. UNC - Kenan-Flagler
10. Georgetown - McDonough

Thank you for all your help!


Comments (45)

Mar 22, 2018 - 2:36pm

Hi BZ, whoops, looks like nobody chimed in here.... maybe one of these discussions below is relevant:

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  • Master of Real Estate Development anyone else applying for or waiting for a response from a Master of Real Estate program for this upcoming ... What's good, fellow WSO Real Estate people? I made a thread in the business school section ... about the MSRE/MRED/MSRED application but it didn't get many hits among the million MBA
  • MBA Real Estate at Johns Hopkins I'm also reaching for UNC and Cornell Thanks in advance! Thoughts on this? mba real estate ... issue is that I don't know if the newer MBA program at Johns Hopkins is a possible ticket into MBB ... After months of soul searching, I realize that pursuing an MBA with a RE concentration is my best ...
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  • More suggestions...

Or maybe the following pros can chime in... AAAnalyst @Amir-Nour" ecander14

Hope that helps.

Mar 25, 2018 - 9:43am

Wasn't aware Tuck had a RE focused MBA. 6,7,8,10 may not be easiest to REIB as you need to be close to or in NYC for recruiting. Cornell probably fine though. UT also worth looking at. REPE recruiting is very ad hoc at schools ranked higher than Kellogg. Just less on campus recruiting that's all. REIB is very structured and so a top NE school or UNC would be best if you're dead set on that. Otherwise the business is very regional and figuring out where you want to live could help narrow the list down as 10+ applications seems like overkill. 5-6 more doable but that's my $.02.

  • 1
Mar 28, 2018 - 7:09pm

I am thinking about applying to 6 schools, Wharton and Columbia are 2 stretch schools, Northwestern and NYU are 2 competitive schools, UCLA and UNC will be my 2 safety schools. I wasn't aware that UNC's RE program is better than Anderson because I always thought Anderson's RE program is very strong. Thanks for the information cpgame.

Mar 28, 2018 - 8:56pm

You have a good list, but if you're ok going to the west coast as a safety school with UCLA, you should also consider USC, whose RE connections/program/network are far stronger than UCLA's. USC also shot up to 20th overall in the latest US News rankings. Just my 2 cents.

Mar 28, 2018 - 10:51pm

Going REIB from UNC vs UCLA will be infinitely easier assuming you have good grades... think about it. Banks question why a kid who chose CA for school would ever pick his life up for NYC to work 90+ hour weeks with no palm tree in sights it's a very tough sell.

Jul 16, 2018 - 4:19pm

What's your advise on getting into REPE after MBA without previous REPE expereince? For example, landing a REIB, stay for 2 years then network and transition into REPE, is this a good option? Thanks.

Jul 12, 2018 - 1:40pm

Your top 4 are spot on, but UNC is probably #5... very reputable program and places highly in some major RE shops i.e. Greystar, Hines. Eastdil's DC is office has mainly UNC grads. I think Eastdil recruits at only a handful of spots for RE IB... UNC, UVA, Wharton.. but they only have 3-4 spots across their entire platform for internships.

My advice: check to see who formally recruits on campus. Do you see Tishman? Hines? Greystar? TCR? RE PE funds i.e. Carlyle, Fortress? RE recruiting is a pain: primarily networked based.

ALSO: if you do not have prior industry experience, you will be at an advantage if you have prior finance experience i.e. you did credit analysis, consulting, or Big 4 etc... if you did something else, i.e. marketing or a soft-skill job and are not female, you will be at a disadvantage. I mention 'female' because RE is still mostly male-dominated and there are efforts to increase diversity.

Jul 12, 2018 - 3:27pm

Solid feedback. Thank you for all the advice. I finished a 3 years Credit Analyst program within the CRE Group for one of the upper tier banks. Currently, I am a RE Analyst at a middle market private equity advisory and research firm. Technical skills, very comfortable of building a RE model from the ground up. Also, I am a guy. Any feedback and advice on my experience is much appreciated!

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:40am

The Value of a RE MBA (Originally Posted: 01/10/2016)

I am curious to those who have gotten their MBA / are currently enrolled / or in the process of applying for their MBA.

What did / do you see in the value of the MBA? Did you go back to school to pivot your career?

I constantly go back and forth on whether I should eventually go back to school and get my MBA. I currently work in REPE and my long term goal to this point is to stay in REPE or Real Estate. Any advice would be great on whether going back to school eventually is worth the opportunity cost! Both my parents got their MBA from Cal Berkeley and NYU and both seem pretty high on going to get a MBA.

Also how far in advance did you plan / apply for the MBA

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:42am

My quick two cents:

I was a career changer(military officer) so I needed something to set me apart from every other former military officer with ehhhhh grades in a social science. Plus I had no idea what I wanted to really do. If you're in REPE, and planning on staying, I would say go for the MBA as you don't necessarily need the network or specialized knowledge(I don't think) that you'd get from a straight MSRE program, but you may need the actual business and management knowledge later on down the line. It's a broader program that gives you a much more diverse experience. Hell I thought I was going to shoot for W$ or consulting when I finished, and look at me now haha. You never know what you'll learn.

That being said, maybe the network of a straight MSRE program would be better for you in your current role, maybe you don't care about management or growing as a leader, or maybe there isn't a program in your area.

What would honestly influence me the most is cost and location. So if you live in a city that has a part time MBA that's reasonably ranked, or an MSRE that's at least regionally appropriate for you, I'd give that a shot because you can keep working and still get the benefits. If there's neither in your area, well, there are a couple of top 20 MBAs with online programs now(Indiana, UNC, and I think Mellon) that may work for you, and I think Georgetown is the only actually reputable MSRE program that's fully online. Your other online option there is like FIU or something, and don't waste your time. I actually think that for our industry and assuming availability, a part time program in your area would be better because you can network within your cohort, still work on deals, and apply what you learn every day.

YMMV, hopefully that helped a little!

Forgot to mention, for planning purposes I'd start working on GMAT prep before I worried about anything else for an MBA, it can be a kick in the nuts and you may want to take it more than once. The other bonus for MSRE's is that many of them don't require it. Good luck!

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Jul 18, 2018 - 5:43am

I was in this position about a year and a half ago.

I was working at a hospitality company as an analyst. There I worked on everything from acquisitions, developments, and refinances. I did not want to get pigeonholed as the hospitality guy in my 20's, so I took the GMAT and got a good score. I wanted to go into banking, so a month before I was about to apply to B-school, I reached out to a few of my banking contacts.

Those that I reached out to all had RE MBA's and told me that it really depends on where you want to end up with. If you want to switch careers, it is extremely useful because it opens up a lot of doors during recruiting. If you want to expand your business network, go to business school and if you want to work in real estate, then get an RE concentrated MBA to meet other RE people. However, if you want to use an MBA to better your career (ie get the promotion), they all said do not get a RE MBA and instead get a good general/finance one.

I just wanted to do larger and different types of deals, so I was told it would be not be as useful for me. I really liked the loan side of the RE world, and a bank we did business with needed an analyst. They ended up hiring me, and to be honest with you, it was the best move I could have made at the time. I see far more, different, and larger types of deals.

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:46am

Def interesting to see all the different perspectives. I am located in Seattle so I most likely would want to move to attend one of the top RE MBA's such as a Wharton, NYU, Columbia, Berkley, USC, or Cornell.

Are any of these schools more well known for certain industries within real estate. I feel as if USC is geared more towards development. I also have heard the value of the MBA is the networking which maybe hard to replicate with the part-time aspect.

IronChef204 Are you past the point of ever going back to get your MBA?

HFFBALLfan123 Exactly how I feel I don't think I could of said it better. Have you started with any GMAT prep?

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:47am

While I am on track to be promoted, I am only 26 and by no means past the point of getting an MBA. I figured I'd get as much deal experience as I can before and if I go back to B-school.

I would say go B-school if you can get into any of those schools. Columbia was my target school when I about to apply.

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:50am


Def interesting to see all the different perspectives. I am located in Seattle so I most likely would want to move to attend one of the top RE MBA's such as a Wharton, NYU, Columbia, Berkley, USC, or Cornell.

Are any of these schools more well known for certain industries within real estate. I feel as if USC is geared more towards development. I also have heard the value of the MBA is the networking which maybe hard to replicate with the part-time aspect.

@IronChef204 Are you past the point of ever going back to get your MBA?

@HFFBALLfan123 Exactly how I feel I don't think I could of said it better. Have you started with any GMAT prep?

I have the books but haven't started yet. Really tough because i don't feel the absolute need right now.

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:48am

I was recently accepted (and will be attending) at top 10 program, a program that is not known as a a strong real estate program. My recommendation is this: apply (why not?). By applying you are not committing to anything. You are just opening the door to make a future decision. Then if you get in, you can make the final decision. But until you apply and get in, there is really no decision to be made. Does that make sense?

For me, I was really on the fence about enrolling in an MBA program until I started applying, meeting alums, visiting campuses, etc. By doing the legwork of applying, I solidified my decision to go (assuming I was accepted).

Here are my reasons (in no particular order) for getting an MBA:

1) Network: Recent and not-so-recent alums all told me that one of the most valuable aspects of their MBA was the alum network and the relationships they developed w/ their classmates. Many people will say that you can also get a strong network by continuing to work in real estate. However, your MBA network will be a much more diverse set of people from a range of countries, industries, and backgrounds.

2) Optionality: As of now, I want to remain in real estate post-MBA. However, I wanted the option to explore other careers within the finance world. The worst case scenario is I graduate from a top MBA program and go to work for a solid real estate company or a REIB group. I don't see too much risk in getting the MBA from a career standpoint.

3) Credibility: I am not looking for "prestige" or "golden tickets". If anything, it is to prove something to myself. I grew up in a low-income family, neither parent went to college, and went to an extreme non-target. Getting an MBA will add one more notch on my resume and give future investors (I want to raise my own fund one day) slightly more comfort of my background.

There are many other reasons but I'm starting to get lazy and want to go to bed. I'm happy to answer other questions.

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:49am

I had been contemplating the same thing for about two years until I finally decided to pull the trigger. I'm still young in my career (26) and currently working for a REIT. I know that I want to stay in Real Estate however I am not sure as to whether or not I want to make the switch to I-Banking, PE or ultimately open up my own shop. I applied to a handful of programs (kept my search in the T15) and eventually decided to go with the part-time program at the University of Michigan. I chose to pursue a part-time program because I am not necessarily a career-switcher. I think if you know that you want to stay in real estate and can handle going to a top part-time program while working full-time, I would definitely explore that route. I don't start at Ross until May so I can't really give any further advice or insight.

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:52am

I was very selective about where I applied. After much research, visits, etc. I narrowed my list of schools to 2. For me, I didn't want to get an MBA just to get an MBA. I wanted to make sure it was from a program that I was thrilled to be in and one that would provide me the best experience. Ultimately, only two fit the bill. To be honest, I was pretty split between which one I would attend if I were accepted to both. Luckily the decision was made easy when I was accepted to one and wait listed at the other.

I started my prep pretty early. I applied to the schools in September (round 1) but started my research/took the GMAT in Jan/Feb. Because I started early, I was able to narrow my list from 5 to 2. Feel free to PM me if you have more personal questions.

Jul 18, 2018 - 5:53am

I personally believe the MBA experience is a positive one. I met a great network of folks, had a lot of fun, traveled and studied abroad, and was able add a credential to my resume. As mentioned in another post, I was a Naval Officer prior to graduate school, so it made sense for my transition to the private sector, and it aligned with my personal narrative.

That said, I went about it the wrong way. I applied to too few programs, was too myopic in my initial job search, and my timing as far as market conditions goes, was just awful. I incurred substantial debt to attend. This is not ideal. If you are in a major metro area, consider going at night (Chicago/Columbia). See if your firm will help you pay for the program. If you want to go full time, Absolutely go if it is a a top 3/5/7 program. However if it is a second tier program, I would be hesitant. It just doesn't have the cache it did 10/20/30 years ago...

Good luck!

  • 1
Apr 2, 2019 - 10:57pm

Why is Tuck #6? I looked on their website and they offer only two elective courses in real estate. Seems awfully lean course offering for a school ranked #6 on this list.

I am genuinely curious. Can some elaborate?

Jun 26, 2020 - 11:41am

I propose a following revision for the real estate specific rankings:

  1. Wharton
  2. Columbia
  3. [Tie] Chicago - Booth / NYU - Stern
  4. Northwestern - Kellogg
  5. [Tie] Cornell - Johnson (East Coast) / Berkeley - Haas (West Coast)
  6. [Tie] Dartmouth - Tuck / HBS / MIT - Sloan
  7. [Tie] UCLA - Anderson / UNC - Kenan-Flagler / UT-Austin - McCombs
  8. [Tie] Michigan - Ross / Virginia - Darden
  9. [Tie] Georgetown - McDonough / USC - Marshall
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