Graduate Education in Real Estate

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Hello FW members, I would like to solicit your opinions on the value of pursuing further education in the field of real estate/banking. From what I can tell, it seems that most in this field advance through the use of their connections, however, as my employer offers a very generous tuition reimbursement program, I would like to take advantage of it and further my education. One of the few requirements is that the company must see it as a degree that would benefit the company (so dance and art degrees for instance, would be out...while degrees in business would be acceptable).

I currently work at a bank as a mortgage underwriter and received my BA in Econ 3 years ago. The problem: I have had difficulty finding a graduate degree program that would directly correlate with what I am doing.

UCLA's 36-unit certificate program in Credit Analysis is the closest match I could find, and though the unit requirement exceeds some other Master's degree programs (e.g. prerequisites aside, Masters in Accounting / Taxation programs seem to require only 30 units of coursework for the Master's degree), certificate programs in general don't seem to carry much weight.

That said, I've toyed with the idea of MRED programs (Masters in Real Estate Development)...while it is in Real Estate however, it doesn't quite line up with what I'm currently doing. Additionally, while knowledge of accounting and taxation could be argued as useful in general for those looking to further their career in business, I'm not quite sure I could convince my employer to cover the expenses for a Master's in Accounting / Taxation.

I've also toyed with the idea of an MBA, however, with my limited work experience (2-3 years), I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that. I would also be shooting for a relatively top-tier MBA program, and as the cost for those seems to be more often than not quite high, I doubt my employer would be willing to pay $50k+ in tuition for a "lowly underwriter" (as opposed to a manager or a VP applying for similarly ranked/priced MBA programs).

I'd like to omit discussions about Big 4 talk and transition into a career into Accounting/Taxation for this thread please. That said, input and opinions on what degree you believe would be useful in advancing my career in this field would be much appreciated, thank you FW members.

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In the business world, a degree will not get you a job or an advancement. It will all revolve around your networking/people skills. If that's your only motivation to go to grad school, save yourself the time & money. I got an MBA (100% employer paid) and speak from experience. Pursuing a grad degree as a means to make some new connections may be worth your while, but not simply to attend classes & finish with a degree. You'll receive far more relevant knowledge & skills by working than you ever will in school.

raringvt, MBA

(it doesn't even look that impressive next to my name!

Thank you for the response raringvt, and I completely agree. I just don't want to be stagnant, and I figure since I have time to go back to school, why not? More education is not a bad thing, especially since money is not of concern, and I do have the time to put into it.

I suggest you attend some industry seminars. American Bankers, California Bankers?

Maybe you could have them pay for your hotel and get some extra spending money for the hotel bar.

You didn't mention what mortgages you're underwriting, residential or commercial?

I have a Masters of Real Estate, concentration in Finance from NYU.

Spac3d: I underwrite residential mortgages. Our company does, however, have some long term plans for getting into commercial real estate.

If I may ask, what field are you in and did you find the Masters of Real Estate degree to be useful in advancing your career?

I've built a solid relationship with a handful of MBAs over happy hour, and we mutually benefit from our business contacts. I have made introductions for them that turned into jobs, and they have brought me professionals with excess cash to fund some real estate deals.

Out of pocket expense was approx $10K over 2 years. I enjoyed the process since it was leisure time, and have expanded my circle of professional friends.

Who you know does matter more than what you know. Go out to the places the young professionals hang out and be sociable. It is the best investment you can make in your business education.

CCIM is a good route, but good luck with the volume requirements.

gpandy said:   Spac3d: I underwrite residential mortgages. Our company does, however, have some long term plans for getting into commercial real estate.

If I may ask, what field are you in and did you find the Masters of Real Estate degree to be useful in advancing your career?
I work in Portfolio Management for one of the largest investors in US real estate. The MS served me well and helped me develop some of my weaknesses that led to me getting this job. While it was helpful for me, I know many others that were not able to land the job they wanted, so it is what you make of it.

i suggested to you attend number of seminars and industries

raringvt said:   
raringvt, MBA
(it doesn't even look that impressive next to my name!


Please tell me you don't do that in real life.

OP, generally speaking getting a graduate degree for the sake of getting a graduate degree (which is really what your doing here) is a bad idea. Even if its free. At best its a waste of time, as masters degrees in business are a dime a dozen and you admit you want to eventually go after a top tier MBA. At worst, having real estate development graduate degree will make it seems like you don't know what you want to do when you apply to the MBA.



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