MRED/MSRED Questions

ReDev-482's picture
Rank: Chimp | 15

I'm currently working in real estate development at an associate level with a non-business background and am planning to apply to masters in real estate programs with the goals of broadening my understanding of real estate development (interested in shifting from a single asset class to mixed-use), strengthening my financial analysis skillset, and building my network.

I'm looking to move back to the west from the east coast. I'm most interested in the USC MRED and UC Berkeley MRED+D programs which seem the best fit for working in either SoCal (USC) or Bay Area (Berkeley). Aside from California, I'd also be interested in working in Portland, Seattle, and Denver - does anyone have recommendations of strong programs in those cities?

Secondly, are masters in real estate programs aligned with MBA programs in terms of generally preferring the GMAT over the GRE?

Thanks in advance for any info.

Comments (12)

Jan 13, 2019

Hi ReDev-482, the silence is deafening, sorry about that.... Any of the threads below helpful?

  • Master of Real Estate & RE MBA Applications Fall 2016 Kenan-Flagler MBA- Real Estate Concentration Wisconsin MBA in Real Estate Miami Accelerated MBA in Real Estate ... to MBA programs with real estate concentrations, so anyone going down the MBA route with a real ... estate concentration please feel free to contribute as well. Applications I ha
  • Is it worth going in debt for a masters in real estate program? MSRE Masters in Real Estate Real Estate RE debt investment repe private equity ... I don't have a job by May that I will try to enroll in a Masters in Real Estate Finance program at either ... I graduated in August 2015 and am still looking for a job in
  • Career Pivot via Masters in Real Estate at: Baruch MS Real Estate [definitely the most cost effective option and only one offered in an actual ... right direction to get there. Thank you! real estate developer Real Estate Masters ... Hi all, have been a reader of a lot of the RE forums but first time posting. I am currently three ...
  • Why/how did you end up in the type of real estate you're in? label "real estate." So my question is: why/how did you end up in the kind of real estate that ... Or, if you're involved with multiple kinds of real estate, do you have a favorite? ... First thread! Undergrad looking to get into real estate here. There are so many different kinds of ...
  • When we see "MBA or equivalent degree is preferred" for a RE position: is Master's in Real Estate the equivalent? correct in assuming that the "equivalent" degree consists of a Master's in Real Estate ... I have come across this phrase a lot lately in different real estate position postings. Are we ... . What other equivalent degree would there be? master real estate MBA CFA ...
  • AMA- Master of Real Estate a recent Master of Real Estate graduate and I know we have a lot of current and former students on this ... I'm seeing a lot of MSRE/MRED questions lately as people are either choosing between ... programs, getting ready to start programs in a few months, or thinking about applying for 2018. I am ...
  • Masters in Real Estate / Real Estate Development w/ a bad GPA? For someone looking for a career in real estate, would you recommend a MRED or is it better to go ... program? I have 2.5 years of solid hands on internship experience in commercial real estate, I own an ... investment property, and I am currently working in commercial lending (I was offered a job as a commercial RE ...
  • More suggestions...

Fingers crossed that one of those helps you.

Jan 15, 2019

None stronger than the two programs you listed. Given you're already at an associate level and you come from a non-business background, consider an MBA from Cal or USC. Maybe Foster at UW or Marriot at BYU. I've always felt that the people who stand to benefit the most from MBAs are non-business backgrounds. Colorado and Oregon dont have any graduate programs that are worth the money if you're already in development. If you're really interested in Denver, DUs MRED could be good if you get significant scholarship which is feasible since they're private.

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Most Helpful
Jan 15, 2019

I'm currently working in real estate development at an associate level with a non-business background and am planning to apply to masters in real estate programs with the goals of broadening my understanding of real estate development (interested in shifting from a single asset class to mixed-use), strengthening my financial analysis skillset, and building my network.

I would advise you to strongly think about your reason for doing this. I would not dissuade you from doing it, but I think you need to think deeply about it - perhaps more than currently have.

I had 3 years of real estate experience before doing my MRED, none of which was in development. I though that 3 years was a reasonable amount of time to work before graduate school, basing that off of MBA assumptions. What I found was that MRED programs skew much younger. About 1/3 of my class was fresh out of undergrad and barely knew what development was - I'm talking not knowing what a cap rate is because they've never heard "cap rate" before levels of green. About 1/3 of my class were slightly older career changers - architects, construction guys, arguably me - who worked in development-adjacent jobs. The other 1/3 were people who worked for their dad or wanted to work for their dad and needed legitimacy beyond their last name. They usually had 1-2 internships before coming to the program. No one already worked in development.

The first year of the program was painful - learning how to calculate a 4% commission on a 5 year lease or learning how to underwrite a deal only to the level of detail as "A project costs X to build. If income is Y and expenses are Z, and the project has IO construction debt at 70% LTV, at a 6 cap, what is the project yield?" With so much of the class so young and so underexposed to the industry, classes were taught to the lowest common denominator by necessity.

Now, real estate isn't rocket science, and a year of grad school and a graduate-level summer internship did these kids a world of good, so the second year was productive, but man...that first year was an outrageous waste of time and money (that I'm currently paying back with 4.5%-5.8% interest). I can't imagine how painful it would be for someone who is already in development.

On top of that, most of my class graduated with analyst roles in the industry. A few with prior experience who excelled, such as myself, graduated with associate level roles. You're already in an associate level role though. If at the end of the program you expect to graduate into a development manager level role, which is the next step up, there is an argument to be made that you would be better served to just work for another two years, make an increased effort to network (it's too easy to skip industry events when you're busy or tired), and brush up on your modeling skills on your own time.

All of that said, I met one of my best friends in the program, most likely future business partners, and made some high-level connections and mentors who run or have run companies everyone has heard of that I would never have imagined making on my own. I have a masters degree, which won't be taken away from me, in an industry that slowing caring about those things more.

There are tremendous benefits to MRED programs and I am, oddly enough, a massive advocate for them. I just don't think I got anywhere near enough of the benefits because of my experience level, and as your experience level seems to be beyond mine when I entered, I worry that you would gain even less.

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Jan 15, 2019


When I read the original post, I had many of the same thoughts. I was fresh out of undergrad and benefited from "Real Estate 101" and the maturation time during my MRE. The network I gained has been great, and the OP would likely benefit from this as well, but I would expect some of the coursework to be a bit remedial for somebody already working in development at the Associate level. In most cases, I would expect somebody at this level to benefit more from two extra years of hands-on reps and networking than they would from an MRE/D.

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Jan 15, 2019

I was fresh out of undergrad and benefited from "Real Estate 101" and the maturation time during my MRE.

Trust me - I wish I would have known this was even an option. I still would caution most people to try to work for a year before attending (but not applying, since you have to do that early) but had I the opportunity to do everything again, I would 100% go younger like you did.

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Apr 1, 2019

UC Berkeley's MRED+D program lists an average cohort age of 29 yrs, so avg experience is ~7 yrs post undergraduate. The youngest is 25 yrs. So I wouldn't say it's typical for MRED programs to skew younger, but some may do so more than others.

Jan 16, 2019

The caliber of classmates depends on the MRED program. USC and MIT hold fast to requiring at least two years of full-time work experience prior to admission. They also look for experience in real estate, broadly defined - including architecture, construction, urban planning, etc.

Other MRED programs admit directly from undergrad, which in my opinion, removes the benefit of using a graduate degree to advance in your career.

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Jan 19, 2019

I really appreciate the thoughtful responses. You're exactly right that I'm looking ahead to moving into a development manager level role. Having spoken to a good amount of people in the industry, I'm aware that if you work hard and network hard, grad school is not a necessity to move upwards in development. However, I still feel that getting a more formal understanding of the industry and building a stronger network of peers will be valuable in the long-term. Beyond that, it seems that plenty of the job descriptions that interest me still list "advanced degree (MBA) preferred" as a qualification.

I've also been considering real estate MBA programs and recognize that there are pros and cons when comparing it to an MRED/MSRED. To me a big con to an MBA is that it's double the cost and an additional year without income. On the plus side, an MBA provides a little more flexibility to do other things which is important to me with the cyclical nature of development.

I've read a lot of the MRED/MSRED threads on here which are also helpful. I appreciate any other thoughts on the topic.

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Feb 19, 2019

Let me know if you plan on going to the Berkeley program, I am currently in the Cal MRED+D class and I had 3 years of development experience with a non-business background going in.



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Feb 22, 2019

I definitely understand @CRE's frustration with master's in real estate programs. I am in my first semester with Georgetown's MSRE program, finishing my first class in a week. My advice would be to really understand your motives and do a lot of homework when picking an university. Here is why I picked Georgetown (hopefully my thought process helps you clarify yours):

  1. Academic: Georgetown has a great program academically. I have been challenged in my first class, and really enjoy that. Really do your homework here with asking alumni if the program challenged them and what they learned.
  2. Region: I have a lot of friends/family in the Mid-Atlantic, so DC made more sense for than MIT, even though MIT is a little better academically. A degree from Georgetown will carry more weight in this area (alumni network) than MIT probably would.
  3. Reputation: It's Georgetown. This is almost like buying a prestige good, but it helped make this option more attractive to me.
  4. Network: My first class had three basic groups of people - current RE executives looking to take it to the next level, early career people like me who are really dedicated to growing (three years experience), and a few people who aren't very bright or focused. It can be frustrating to be in the same class as the last group, but interacting with the first group makes it worth it for me.
  5. Cost: Assuming you're earning this degree at least partly for the ROI, do run the ROI with different programs. There is a wide variance in program cost for MSRE programs. One of the reasons I chose Georgetown is that the total tuition is around $45k, as opposed to NYU's program at $85k. I may be wrong, but I don't think increased earnings are going to be 89% higher with a NYU degree vs. Georgetown.

I can't really speak to west coast programs, as I primarily evaluated east coast programs. I will say that GMAT/GRE scores aren't as important to MSRE programs because they're not trying to climb third party rankings like MBA programs do. Hope my general comments help.

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Feb 22, 2019

Did anyone here graduate from Columbia's program? Any insight would be great.

Also, is it worth shelling out over 50k on a masters in RE or is a MBA with a concentration in real estate the better move?

Feb 22, 2019
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