Please advise !! Got accepted Into MRED program at Columbia , Cornell and NYU ? Really confused

djbravo's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 4

I applied to the Real Estate Masters program at Columbia, Cornell and NYU for the Fall 2016. And by gods grace got accepted in all three program !! Now I need your help guys as I am really confused.

Some detail about the about the programs -
Program Length - Columbia 1 yr , NYU - 1.5 yrs , Cornell - 2 yrs
Location - Columbia - NYC , NYU - NYC , Cornell - Ithaca ( about 220 miles form NYC )
Program offered in department - Columbia - By Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation ( GSAPP) , NYU - School of Professional Studies ( SPS) , Cornell - Baker Program for Real Estate

Now the dilemma is -
1) Columbia and Cornell enjoy IVY league status whereas NYU is mid tier University. However NYU is ranked above the two in ranking ( real estate masters ranking ) across various websites despite the the fact that NYU accepts far more students than Cornell and Columbia.

2) NYU and Columbia enjoy New York City Advantage as against Cornell . Is NYC advantage big enough to strike out Cornell which I think has the best designed curiculum spread across 2 years ?

What should I do ?? Which university should I go for ?? Please advise

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Comments (20)

Best Response
May 1, 2016

It really depends on your goals and location (as real estate is as local an industry as it comes).

As mentioned many times before on WSO - there are no official rankings for these programs AND employers are never going to use any MSRE as a short-cut to know if you are smart (aka a sorting tool) or not (as is the case with a very limited amount of credentials: ex, US MD, M2-3 MBA (strictly), CFA, fully funded PHD in technical area/science or a Tier 1 US Juris Doctor with bar exam passage esp in NY/CA. To hold these creds you have to be in top ~95+ percentile and beyond of candidates - which correlates fairly reliably with an IQ in top 5%+ or so of national pop).

However, an MSRE does shows a (very) high degree of dedication/commitment to real estate and a substantive level of technical skills in the concentrated area (together with possessing a leverage-able network you individually have sewn together from your program for your benefit and that of future employers and/or partners). Suffice it to say - (your local) network is everything and this is twice/thrice as true for real estate.

In terms of the programs listed, I think the credited response (and supported by anecdotal and objective evidence) here is:

NYU for Finance/Investment (given the depth one concentrates in this area, electives/capstone included, making this as much a bona fide finance degree as it is a real estate one - thus post grad opps swing liberally from finance/direct investment roles to development; and the curriculum known as "technically practical" aims at allowing students to hit the ground running day one at an acquisition shop, fund, etc) and having a more experienced/seasoned student body and adjunct profs who are consistently very local and embedded in every corner/tier of the NYC RE industry (from RE PE to Dev to Inv Banks). There is a very strong commitment to NYC real estate in the NYU program (which is both a pro and a con depending upon your post grad location goals).

Reputationally, and performing LinkedIn searches (of/for all the top NYC programs) this program has the most long-standing entrepreneurial history BY FAR (with students starting their own firms and hiring alums being more of a rule than exception; offering internships; coming back to speak to incoming classes, etc).

One caveat is that the program is relatively long (and thus considerably more costly) with most students taking over 2 years to complete the degree. Best results achieved out of this program by using the "school-internship-school-internship, etc method" (or do it concurrent if you can swing it the workload) giving you ability to graduate with both academic and "real world" experience chops.

Columbia if you want to do development given its strong ties to the NYC architectural and planning worlds, and the programs being housed in the arch school (although am wary of the alumni power these days, as I stated in another long thread, given how much of the msred class are foreign-born students overwhelmingly/especially from Asia ([1] this trend will continue) wanting to "stamp" the Columbia brand on their CV and permanently leave NY/C upon grad or post grad w/e), and be done in a year (a very powerful selling point from a ROI perspective). The new dean (formerly a prof from the NYU ranks) seems sincerely focused on helping create post grad opps for students.

Cornell if you want to get a more broad and MBA-centric MSRE (which makes this degree unique among the array given its connection with Johnson school) and are not immune to spending 2 years or so in Ithaca. I have noticed a trend on corporate bios (of bigger firms) (and on Linkedin) with execs having a Cornell Hotel Undergrad degrees paired with NYU RE Finance degree suggesting some type of (skill-set and networking) synergy or connection between the two.

A final note (!) - each of these programs has proven themselves to open the door to each area of real estate (e.g., pick a program/degree and the position you want, search google/linkedin and you will find John/Jane Doe with said title or company - as i write this a cursory google search shows the present MD of acquisitions at Peebles Development Corp did his MSRE at NYU in Finance and the Associate Director did Columbia's MSRED and both give back to their respective schools; same search shows the Finance Director for JDS Development is an NYU Finance MSRE and their PM is a Columbia MSRED) -- but it will +ALWAYS+ be up to you to pry it the rest of the way and push yourself through. If you don't network, network, network no degree, fancy or not, will help you. And for more color, there are a great many people who have been (wildly) successful in RE without a top tier MBA or a MSRE but knew how to hustle (as an off the cuff example see the founder of ng:


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Apr 7, 2016

Hey thanks for the reply !! Really appreciate it !! Would like to know your opinion on one more thing -
From the job point of view which university among three would have the best placement percentage ?

Sep 13, 2016

This was a great post! thank you! I am considering an MSRE at Baruch? What are your thoughts? I mean its cheaper than nyu and columbia. @Ut_Ameris

Oct 23, 2017

How did you application look?


Apr 5, 2016

Just stepping in to say there are no actual "rankings" of MRED programs, regardless of whatever some random website states.

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Apr 6, 2016

They are all good programs, you can't make a bad choice. I would think Columbia is a no-brainer. It is the shortest, giving you the opportunity to start getting work experience sooner, and it is in NYC, allowing you to maintain easy access to your professional network in the city. I would say take the shortest program that lets you get back into real life work experience every time.

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Apr 7, 2016

Hey thanks for the reply !! Really appreciate it !! Would like to know your opinion on one more thing -
From the job point of view which university among three would have the best placement percentage ?

May 1, 2016

I don't believe the programs release exact placement percentages and I have seen first year salaries ranging from 55,000 to over 200,000 with the variance being an indication of the high percentage of diversity among student pedigree specific to real estate programs (JD's, CPA/CFA's, MBA's or well seasoned professionals getting their grad degree ticket punched so they can go to VP etc like in the case of say a BlackRock sponsoring their high worth Associates to a program so they progress to the next rung within the org together with salary bump which is then reported, etc).

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Apr 7, 2016

A quick search on this forum will yield some very disparaging reviews of the NYU MSRE, I would look towards the other two just based on the fact that Columbia/Cornell do not seem to have this issue. Also, if you have no RE experience I would consider the internship that you could get at Cornell, although you could pull off part-time internships in NYC at Columbia.

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Sep 13, 2016

Question - Columbia MSRED has a fall semester start?

Also, when did you apply what's your background experience?

Sep 14, 2016

Columbia's MSRED starts in the summer. I've heard rumblings that it might be changed to fall sometime in the next few years though.

(PS: You should go to their website before asking questions here. There's an FAQ section that probably answers a lot of your questions.

Sep 14, 2016

I'd do Cornell unless you plan on working through out the program.

Jan 14, 2017

Wharton and Cornell have the best names in the commercial real estate industry.
The MIT program is very good as well, but only valuable if combined with an MBA there. Real estate alone for just a year only works if you basically return to your old job.
In Columbia only the MBA is of value. People doing the MRED have no access to courses at Columbia Business School (which is where the top professors teach and the good alumni network sits).

Wharton MBA is very reputable. Probably the best place to go into Wall Street real estate. More general real estate, less banking focused, the best is in my opinion Cornell's. They have this program called Baker, which is a two year MBA-type program that is run out of the Hotel School (where all their undergrads in the industry come from). The program is independent from the rather mediocre MBA program. Downside is that it's out in the nowhere in Ithaca.

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Jan 26, 2017

If you want to work in development or in value-add/opportunistic type investments at the asset level, then Columbia and MIT and are good choices. I'm not as familiar with NYU and Cornell. There are actually a few classes at Columbia that have overlap with the bschool. Alternative and Distressed Investing is about 50/50 and taught through the MRED program. This class is taught by Donald Sheets, and I believe he teaches a similar class at NYU.

Jan 19, 2017

Just wondering, What program did you pick in the end?

Mar 9, 2019

Hi guys. I'm having the same problem now. Just got into Cornell, Columbia and NYU. I'm not considering NYU anymore because of all the comments ts I saw already, but I'm going back and forth between the other 2.

I know Columbia would be the better choice if you want to end up in NYC, but I'm based in San Francisco already and want to end up back here. Do you think Cornell would be a stronger choice in the West Coast? I know USC would be better, but I didnt get into that program. Thanks

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Mar 9, 2019

Honestly, it depends on what you want to do when you graduate.

In my opinion: Cornell is known for hospitality and well regarded in NYC and elsewhere. Columbia's MSRED program is certainly great and you will take classes will well some of the brightest minds in RE Development, Architecture, and Infrastructure. In my opinion, if you want to work in CRE Finance in any capacity (IB, PE, Debt Fund, REIT, Advisory, Origination), NYU Schack is arguably the better choice with the larger network. I met with a few people who hired Columbia grads that didn't end up working out from a quantitative perspective.

Mar 9, 2019

I'm thinking about going into development after I graduate m, but I want to be in the west coast and not in nyc.

Mar 9, 2019

Ended up accepting Columbias Offer.