MIT vs USC with design background

808Irish's picture
Rank: Chimp | 5

I've been admitted into both the MIT MSRED and USC MRED programs and thoroughly enjoyed/respected both when visiting. Coming from a design background, I'd like to transition into development eventually (not necessarily immediately) ending up on the west coast.

MIT:
-prestigious, global brand
-very respectable program with a strong emphasis on finance and economics (my weakness)
-strong network in the northeast

USC:
-best in the west, growing global brand
-solid program covering all facets of real estate/development
-cult-like network particularly strong on the west coast (and growing)

The brief facts I stated above do not give each program their due justice nor do they provide a comprehensive review of each program, but I'm looking for some advice/comment from industry professionals and/or people who have gone through or are currently going through the same process. At the end of the day, I see tremendous success coming out of these two elite programs.

Any and all feedback regarding my upcoming decision is much appreciated. Thanks!

Region: 
United States - West
United States - Northeast

Comments (13)

Apr 12, 2013

I vote MIT all the way. I know people with great development jobs who have graduated from both, though.

Apr 12, 2013

Assuming you don't have an undergrad degree from USC and you are ABSOLUTELY SURE about working on the West Coast, then I would lean towards USC. The network here is, like you said, "cult-like". Go down to Newport and you will see Trojan flags on about half the houses. People call it the "Trojan Mafia". In a relationship based industry like RE, this is especially important.

Beyond getting a job, it will be much easier to make friends when you can cheer for "'ole' SC" because you went there.

Otherwise, I would go to MIT.

"Utter commitment to the task at hand."

Apr 12, 2013

Do you mind dropping an overview of yourself? Stats, experience, etc? Congratulations on MIT, I would love to attend that program in the future. I can't offer great advice to sway you either way, in my eyes you really can't lose.

I'm biased towards MIT because I love Boston and grew up in the northeast.

EDIT: Judging from your "Irish" username you'll enjoy yourself in Boston.

Apr 13, 2013

MIT is unquestionably a better program. It is THE program, if you will.

That being said, you want to be on the west coast? Ugh, that might be the deciding factor for you.

Either way you're good.

Apr 13, 2013

Thanks for the help. It's a tough decision, but a great one to have at the end of the day. There are a few personal factors to consider: significant other in San Diego (though she's supportive about moving), my family in Hawaii (hence my reason to be closer to the west coast--eventually), and the logistics/finances behind a cross-country move.

I'm looking forward to making this decision and moving on to the next chapter of my life. Thanks for the help, everyone.

SureThing: I'm a licensed architect with 5+ years experience. I attended the University of Notre Dame (which makes going to USC...awkward)--graduated with a 3.5 GPA.

Apr 15, 2013

808Irish: Funny, I went to UT Austin for undergrad and then attended the MRED program at USC. They didn't let me where burnt orange on campus (something about some hard feelings from 2005) but it was still worth it. the cardinal and gold grows on you after a while, especially after it helps you land some great jobs.

If you are at all interested in development, SC is the way to go. The program at MIT is pretty focused on finance.

Goodluck.

Apr 17, 2013

Def MIT over USC, unless you are a die-hard west coast guy and want to stay in CA forever.

Best Response
Apr 29, 2013

I had the opportunity to chose between USC and MIT, and I chose USC. It was a hard decision, especially since I am an East Coast guy. The deciding factors were the faculty and the program itself. You get three full semesters of classes at SC which concludes with a comp exam, compared to the thesis at MIT after two semesters. If you are a developer, and you want to get into development, USC is the choice.
Yes, I will agree that SC has very strong ties to West Coast via networking, but I was able to cultivate relationships through the network and had job opportunities open up in the Midwest, East Coast (NYC and DC), and Brazil. So I don't buy the "if you want to end up in Boston or the East Coast, go to MIT."
Hands down it is USC in a landslide if you take into account the board members on the Lusk Center of Real Estate, where you have THE top executives from all major real estate companies in the country, if not some in the world. Based on who you are as a person and what you make of your opportunities, USC can open any and all doors for your future professional goals and aspirations. But no matter the school, a company hires you, so it always falls back to your abilities to do a great job (including interviewing). I left the East Coast, went to USC to obtain my MRED, and ended up in one of the top development firms working on one of the biggest development projects in the country. I can promise you that this "door" of opportunity would not have opened for me if I went to MIT.

    • 9
Apr 30, 2013
jasonbonnet:

I had the opportunity to chose between USC and MIT, and I chose USC. It was a hard decision, especially since I am an East Coast guy. The deciding factors were the faculty and the program itself. You get three full semesters of classes at SC which concludes with a comp exam, compared to the thesis at MIT after two semesters. If you are a developer, and you want to get into development, USC is the choice.
Yes, I will agree that SC has very strong ties to West Coast via networking, but I was able to cultivate relationships through the network and had job opportunities open up in the Midwest, East Coast (NYC and DC), and Brazil. So I don't buy the "if you want to end up in Boston or the East Coast, go to MIT."
Hands down it is USC in a landslide if you take into account the board members on the Lusk Center of Real Estate, where you have THE top executives from all major real estate companies in the country, if not some in the world. Based on who you are as a person and what you make of your opportunities, USC can open any and all doors for your future professional goals and aspirations. But no matter the school, a company hires you, so it always falls back to your abilities to do a great job (including interviewing). I left the East Coast, went to USC to obtain my MRED, and ended up in one of the top development firms working on one of the biggest development projects in the country. I can promise you that this "door" of opportunity would not have opened for me if I went to MIT.

This is awesome. Thanks for the insider advice. Banana for you

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jun 11, 2016

Regarding the comments about USC, with all due respect...give me a break. Sorry but the bias of the post is a bit much for me. If a person only went to one of the schools, how can that person assess what MIT would have done for him or her? I went to MIT's MSRED and did absolutely fine as did my classmates. Some of us are in finance on Wall Street, others in "on the ground real estate" all over the country - both private development and in urban planning roles because of the tie between MIT's Center for Real Estate and its highly ranked Urban Planning and Architecture programs. That gives the program a special aspect that I really liked. It all depends on what you were doing before you came to the program and where you want to go after. MIT only takes people with a fair amount of experience, which helps guide the program and students cross-train each other. Furthermore, my thesis allowed me to highly focus on where I wanted to go after school, far more than having to take several more classes. You will NOT do better than MIT in terms of name brand, especially if you want to work overseas. It gets immediate attention on a resume...sorry, far more than USC's. Maybe not in California since it has its own biases (e.g. "Stanford better than Harvard, Berkeley better than MIT, etc."), but everywhere else MIT is typically going to trump USC in academic recognition. And the academic resources, especially in economics and finance, available throughout the school are second to none. The only honest drawback is that you aren't there long enough to tap into the full potential of a global school. However, I think they now allow people to come back a third semester rather than working on the thesis over the summer, which allows people also to get some added work experience before graduating.

Mar 21, 2015

(posting on behalf of my sig-o)
Hi, I've a somewhat happy but challenging problem, and I wanted to get the forum's thoughts.
I have been admitted to Columbia MRED, MIT MRED with 64% tuition scholarship, and Cornell MRED.
I'm still waiting on USC.
This is good news - but making a choice is hard, esp. since I'm a foreign student and have never worked in real estate and so I know very little about the programs and how to differentiate them.

How would someone compare these programs?
Columbia has the NYC advantage.
I like NYC's energy and it might make part time internships easier to line up.
The MIT scholarship makes it the most economical.
And MIT is a great brand.
And Cornell is the oldest and has an excellent reputation.

I am told MIT is more finance oriented whereas Columbia is more product/development oriented.
And Cornell has both because it runs a bit longer.

A few challenges - English is not my native language so I need to also think thru which program I can actually finish.
(disclosure, I previously was unsuccessful at finishing a grad program b/c of language issues, and I'd hate for this to be a repeat of that experience). So I would prioritize whichever school will support the student best thru the program.
And while none of these programs are easy, I cannot afford to fail out,and I just know my grades may be mediocre/poor if the classes are too hard, due to language issues, so I'd need a more forgiving, supportive program, not a ball-buster program.

Also I'm probably more finance/acquisitions oriented rather than development oriented, but that's conjecture.

Any advice / color on these programs would be super helpful.

Mar 22, 2015

I cannot comment on grad school, but curious what your background.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jul 5, 2016
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