MRED (development-focused grad program) or MRE (broader real estate degree) for someone with design background

rgo's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 21

Coming from a design background and looking to become a developer, should I pursue a focused MRED program (development/design focused), or should I pursue a more general master of real estate? With my design background I could see a benefit to spending more time on financial courses, but at the same time, perhaps the development-oriented programs are more geared towards people with design backgrounds... I could see it both ways.

Background: undergraduate degree in landscape architecture at a top program (Cal Pol), 5 years experience as designer and project manager for reputable firms in the SF Bay Area.

Goal: become an independent developer (in the US, maybe in Texas, but not quite sure)

Programs I've applied to: USC MRED, Columbia MSRED, Harvard MDesREBE, TAMU MLPD

Programs I'm wondering if I should've applied to: MIT MRED, TAMU MSRE, others

Comments (18)

Feb 5, 2020

I would focus less on msre vs. mred and more on getting into the program with the best network in your desired area. USC MRED is pretty much the best non-mba option on the west coast.

As someone who jumped coasts for an MSRE, I can personally attest that the contacts you gain are extremely geographically tied. If your goal is more along the lines of simply gaining education or a credential (me) you can go wherever you want but you'll still miss a bit of the ROI of building a network in the area you want to be in long term. If you really want to be a developer on the west coast, your money would be far better spent on a top program in that part of the country. If you want to work in Texas, I'd pick the best program you can find there. MSRE/MRED value is largely contacts in the market you study.

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Feb 5, 2020

Thanks JVRE, I appreciate the info!

It definitely seems like a regional network is the real value of a MSRE/MRED, at least in the years following school. However I'm thinking as time goes on, it's probably slightly easier to move around (especially if you're running your own business instead of looking for employment). Like, if I worked in Texas for 7 years and then wanted to set up a shop in Northern California, would that be fairly doable? Thoughts?

To elaborate a little on my thoughts on location: I've lived in CA my whole life, and to be honest I'm a bit tired of it. I don't know where I will end up long term, but I've been wanting to give Texas a shot. Texas is appealing because I have a brother there, it's growing rapidly, and a few other reasons. Therefore, it seems a MRE or MLPD from TAMU would be appropriate choices.

For programs, I get that USC MRED is basically THE choice if I want to work on the west coast.

I'm curious though if anyone knows about the comparative reputations between Texas A&M's MSRE program and their MLPD program, since I'm leaning towards Texas. I've applied to the MLPD and not the MRE (didn't know about the MRE until recently) but I can still apply for fall entry into their MRE. Found one thread mentioning this topic but it didn't really have any helpful information.

Feb 5, 2020
reed.gordon:

However I'm thinking as time goes on, it's probably slightly easier to move around (especially if you're running your own business instead of looking for employment). Like, if I worked in Texas for 7 years and then wanted to set up a shop in Northern California, would that be fairly doable? Thoughts?

I would strongly caution you against this plan. Everything is "possible" of course, but as time goes on, it becomes much more difficult to bounce from city to city - not easier. So much of your value as a developer comes from market knowledge and market contacts. You would spend 7 years acquiring both until you are highly competent and connected...only to start over with less knowledge and a smaller network than an analyst.

reed.gordon:

To elaborate a little on my thoughts on location: I've lived in CA my whole life, and to be honest I'm a bit tired of it. I don't know where I will end up long term, but I've been wanting to give Texas a shot. Texas is appealing because I have a brother there, it's growing rapidly, and a few other reasons. Therefore, it seems a MRE or MLPD from TAMU would be appropriate choices.

If you want to give Texas a shot, by all means try it out. Grad school is a good time to do such a thing, and with your local connections back in California you can always come home upon graduation if you miss home or stay if you love it.

reed.gordon:

For programs, I get that USC MRED is basically THE choice if I want to work on the west coast.

Without a doubt in California at least

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Feb 5, 2020

Thank you very much for your input, CRE! I really appreciate it.

I agree with your words of caution about planning on relocating. Changing locations midway through my career is not the plan, perse, but it certainly could be a possibility depending on where life takes me.

I'm definitely leaning towards Texas at this point, because I want to at least give living/working there a shot, and I figure better sooner than later (not to mention low living costs during school, ha).

Do you have any perspective on the reputations of TAMU's MRE program vs their MLPD program? There isn't much information available on the MLPD program outside the university's website, but from what I understand the MRE is considered a top-tier program. I'm thinking I may start emailing TX development firms to get their opinion, since that's what matters most. Who do you think I should email for this info? Big shots? Mid level people? Admins?

Thanks again.

Feb 5, 2020

I second everything @CRE" said.

I'm not personally familiar with TAMU but the little I have heard was that it places really well in the area. It probably won't have as much brand recognition elsewhere. I might be off but I think it is one of the more affordable programs and I also think it might be even cheaper for Texas residents. I would look into that.

If you can afford to pause 6-12 months before you enroll you might consider the following: Find a job and move to Texas. Give yourself a while to see if you like it and want to stay there long term. If you want to stay, establish residency and then enroll (assuming there is in fact a financial incentive to do so). If you find Texas isn't what you had hoped, move back to CA no harm done and enroll at USC with confidence that CA will be home. Definitely research yourself as I'm not certain how TAMU works but I think I recall hearing it is cheaper for residents.

One note: USC will carry weight wherever you go. You won't have the same network outside the west coast but that is a brand you can sell almost anywhere. TAMU might be less marketable outside of the local area. If you really want to jump around geographically, a solid mba program with a real estate focus might also be worth considering...the USC MRED is a comparable commitment of time and money anyway.

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Feb 5, 2020

@JVRE, this is an interesting suggestion.

I hadn't thought of establishing residency first in order to save on tuition (yes, if I recall TAMU is 20k cheaper in-state). Definitely something to consider, although the delta from my current salary for one year would almost certainly balance that out.

At the same time, I don't know if I have it in me to wait another year to switch careers. I'm 27 tomorrow, with the goal to be financially independent by 35, so I have a road ahead of me. I'm thinking maybe I'll just spend a few extended weekends in Texas over the next few months and try to accelerate my decision.

Going back to location, though I don't really know where I'll end up long term, I don't think it will be California. So at this point USC is attractive more just because it will carry weight across geographic lines, and not because I anticipate returning to CA. I do however question whether the MRE at TAMU wouldn't have the same geographic reach, since users here consistently refer to it as a top-tier program, competing with Columbia and USC. Do people on the coasts just write off the middle of the country?

What's the quote... "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week"?

Happy to hear everyone's opinions...

Most Helpful
Feb 5, 2020

A caveat to your situation is it seems there might be a personal motivation for moving to Texas, a place that in my understanding you have never lived. I personally relate to this as it was a factor in my decision also...but there could be value in exploring and addressing that before you pull the trigger on an investment as significant as graduate school. If you can save money in the process by becoming a Texas resident you would have a unique opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by using the residency period to test-fit the area....work, explore the city, and hang out with your bro...see how you like it. If you come to the realization that CA is where you want to be it would be advantageous to have that realization before you invest time and money building a network in an area you ultimately decide to leave. 12 months learning the Texas market before you hit the program also might actually help you in the program, these programs focus on the local market, you'd be a little confused at a minimum without knowing the area. It will also make networking easier. I know this firsthand.

I really don't know about TAMU recognition outside the area....but I went through Georgetown which is a well recognized brand and I still can't state enough how helpful it is to pick a program that is where you want to stay. Job hunting with a master's in an area where it isn't well known is going to require a ton of extra effort unless you get lucky. I could easily leverage contacts from the program for roles in DC or throughout the east coast and southeast. But that is because of the contacts, not the degree itself.

Grad school is a big investment of time and money... It pays to capitalize on every advantage you can. The easiest way to maximize the value is to pick a program that will tie you in to the market you want to work in...but that isn't always the only motivation and that is ultimately a decision you need to make for yourself. 27 is a weird age but bottom line you have a shit load of time, especially in RE. Now is a good moment to really think about what you want long-term. If you know exactly what that is, pull the trigger. If you're not sure, do whatever you need to figure that out and then make your move accordingly.

Feel free to PM if you want, happy to help if/where I can.

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Feb 25, 2020

I've been researching TAMU's program for a while now. Their MRE is separate from their MRED (or as they call it, the MLPD). MRE is in the business school, MLPD is in the Architecture school. Placement for the MLPD is not good. That is to say, you will have to find your own job afterwards; there is little to no career support. The program is also almost exclusively focused on Single Family Residential.

You can get a dual degree for the MLPD and MRE; but it will take a while.

Mar 3, 2020

Update:

Well, I got into Harvard MDes REBE, Columbia MSRED, and Texas AM, and man is this a tough decision. Good problem to have!

Current thinking/assumptions (I welcome everyone's critiques/comments):

  1. Harvard name will carry the most prestige of any program, allowing geographic flexibility for job placement.
  2. Columbia will place slightly better in NYC proper compared to Harvard?
  3. Columbia's primary pro is networking with potential employers in NYC, Harvard's primary pro is networking with the rest of Harvard, HBS, MIT, and alumni

Thanks in advance for your comments!

Feb 5, 2020

Tamu?? I've never even heard of it.

Feb 5, 2020

Oh Texas a&m? Yeah, that's a great school (eye roll) ;)

Feb 10, 2020

Former Agg here from in CRE. Tamu places awesome in Houston & Dallas for RE. As for out of the state ie east coast where I am now & from is an uphill battle against the better connected east coast we'll known schools.

Feb 10, 2020

Thanks @TexAdelphia15. Not very interested in the east coast long term, but good to know. What degree program did you graduate from? Just got accepted to MLPD but wondering if I should also apply to the MRE in Mayes Business School. Do you have any thoughts on one vs the other? Thanks.

Feb 24, 2020

MLDP is a hybrid through the college of architecture & mays : MRE is strictly Mays focused. if you want in more on the dev side do the MLDP. but the program is only a few years old not as establish as the MRE with mays brand and firm Aggie re club connections

Feb 29, 2020
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