Best Online Master’s Degrees in Real Estate: Guide to Online Programs for 2022

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Real Estate: Guide to Online Programs for 2022
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Real estate professionals usually work directly with clients looking to buy, sell, or rent a property. Individuals who receive an online master’s degree in real estate can deepen their understanding of topics such as real estate law, property markets, and real estate accounting.

Apart from working as real estate agents or brokers, there are many other roles that can fit the skills of a real estate professional. For example, they can take on jobs as financial service agents, sales agents, loan officers, or property appraisers and assessors. Someone who already has a finance degree can also take up a real estate master’s degree and work in the field of property investment as a personal financial advisor. Though the sector has a slower than average job growth (2%), the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that demand for real estate professionals will continue as people turn to them when they are looking for properties that fit their requirements (BLS, 2021).

If you are thinking of pursuing an online master’s degree in real estate, this guide contains answers to frequently asked questions on the subject. You will know the requirements for admission, the advantages of online learning, and what to consider when looking for your online real estate program, among others.

Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Master’s Degree in Real Estate
  5. How much does an Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate?
  7. Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate

Can you get a degree completely online?

It is now possible to complete a master’s degree entirely online. According to a study by the Urban Institute, master’s degrees have increasingly been made available online with 31% of graduate students saying that their program was entirely online (Urban Institute, 2018).

Moreover, obtaining a degree online has become common, especially for graduate students who need to manage work responsibilities while pursuing further studies. Based on the same research, 36% of part-time graduate students were enrolled exclusively online compared to 27% of full-time students.

Source: Urban Institute, 2018

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

Based on a report by Northern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy (CFHETS), online degrees have become mainstream (CFHETS, 2018). In fact, 70% of students indicated that “their most recent prior online learning experience had been completed at a college or university,” and another 52% revealed that if the program they wanted to study was not available via online learning, they would look for it as an online program at a different university (Educationdata.org, 2021).

On the hiring side, the percentage of employers who have a positive view of degrees completed online has also increased in recent years. It used to be that online degrees were deemed inferior to their on-campus counterparts. Today, however, online education standards have become more stringent as well-known higher education institutions start offering their programs online. With that said, it comes as no surprise that among HR leaders surveyed by CFHETS, 61% now view online degrees as generally of equal quality to on-campus degrees (CFHETS, 2018).

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Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

Currently, there is no listing of online degrees that are recognized all over the world. Different countries have different standards, so whether your specific online degree will be accepted or not will still depend on the place or organization. This is also the same with traditional degrees offered in major universities—they are not all automatically recognized. Students may still need to earn extra credits or enroll in additional subjects to meet the requirements of a program.

An increasing number of college students are enrolled in online programs in the United States, so if you decide to take one, you will be in good company. As of the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 37.2% of students across all types of postsecondary institutions were enrolled in distance learning courses in 2019 (Statista, 2021). Private for-profit schools had the biggest share of online students with 73.3%, followed by public schools with 36.2%, and private non-profit with 32.3%.

Source: Statista, 2021

Online vs. Traditional Master’s Degree in Real Estate

Both online and traditional degree programs in real estate provide students with the knowledge they need to work in property management, brokerage and sales, valuation, property development, and mortgage lending. However, these two learning formats also have their differences, among which are:

Delivery of lessons

Online degree programs in real estate are usually delivered via asynchronous learning. Meanwhile, some programs may still be partially synchronous to encourage more participation among students. This method, however, does not seem to be popular among online learners based on the 2020 study by Florence Martin, Brandy Stamper, and Claudia Flowers.

The study “Examining Student Perception of their Readiness for Online Learning: Importance and Confidence” published in the Online Learning journal examined student readiness for online learning through subscales of competencies (technical, communication, online student attributes, and time management) (Martin, F., Stamper, B., & Flowers, C. 2020). Overall, the results of the study showed that the students gave high ratings to their abilities and confidence for online student attributes (ex. self-regulated learning, self-directed learning) and technical competencies. But time management and communication received low ratings.

The authors wrote, “‘use synchronous technologies to communicate,’ competency in the communication subscale, was the lowest-rated competency.” They further explained thatrecent studies have found that students prefer the flexibility to participate asynchronously and not having to set aside specific times for online learning.” Citing Park and Bonk (2007), the authors restated that students viewed time constraints, lack of reflection, language barriers, tool-related problems, and peers’ network connection problems as challenges for synchronous learning.”

Pace of study

Being able to set your own schedule for studying is one of the top reasons why students choose online degrees. With online degrees delivered via asynchronous learning, it also follows that students can study at their own pace. This is an attractive option for many real estate professionals who are juggling work and study. According to the NCES, the number of part-time students is estimated to grow at a faster rate than full-time students. From 2015 through 2026, NCES estimates part-time enrollment to increase by 14.9% compared to 12.2% for full-time enrollment (Wallis, 2020).

Learning experience

A master’s degree in real estate delivered in the classroom provides a more interactive learning experience where students can have face-to-face interaction with a professor or receive on-site training and property tours. They are also more structured, following a set schedule every week, and engaging in hands-on activities.

Meanwhile, the learning experience for online degrees can be well suited to students who like working independently or are good at managing their own study schedules. As for hands-on training, they can receive this through virtual property tours. Meanwhile, face-to-face lessons can be delivered as synchronous sessions through videoconferencing tools.

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Is an online degree cheaper?

Not necessarily. The cost of online degree courses in real estate can vary depending on the type of institution, the program itself, and other fees the school might require of its applicants. However, online students can save more on college costs as they no longer need to worry about transportation expenses, food expenses, and room and board costs.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

Not all online degrees are created equal. Employers, for example, still judge the quality of a degree completed online based on factors such as the accreditation of the school, the quality of its graduate, and the overall reputation of the university or college where the program was completed. Therefore, the quality of your degree—whether online or on-campus—will ultimately depend on the quality of the educators and institution that runs the program.

How much does an Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate cost?

A student enrolled in an online degree program will spend about $100-$400 per credit hour, while traditional master’s degree programs often charge an average of $627 per credit hour. A master’s degree in real estate often requires between 32 and 48 credits, so a graduate student taking an online degree in this field would need to set aside $3,200 to $12,800 for a 32-credit program and $4,800 to $19,200 for a 48-credit program.

There can be other costs associated with your online degree such as application fees and online learning or technology fees. Graduate students also need to consider expenses they could incur for capstone projects that require extensive research, on-site visits, and miscellaneous expenses.

Is an online master’s degree in real estate worth it?

If you have the means and the time to invest in graduate studies, then you can definitely have a competitive edge in the real estate business. This is because employers are raising their qualifications for hiring. CFHETS Executive Director, Sean Gallagher in his research “Education Credentials Come of Age,” wrote a key finding thatnearly half of employers (44%) report that they have increased the level of education preferred or required for the same job roles over the last five years—often due to increased skills demands for these jobs, as well as increased supply in the market.(Gallagher, 2018).

Moreover, obtaining a master’s degree in real estate can qualify you for more high-paying jobs. Based on Salary.com’s data, the median salary of real estate agents with a master’s degree fall between $42,939 and $45,902 (Salary.com, n.d.).

Source: Salary.com

 

What are the requirements of an Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate?

Based on the latest data from NCES, there were more than 6.9 million students enrolled in online courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 2018 (NCES, 2019). This accounts for 35.3% of students in the U.S. If you are interested in taking an online degree, here are some of the requirements you should prepare:

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree. Most master’s programs both online and in-person require applicants to have graduated from a four-degree bachelor’s program. Depending on the college or university, your undergraduate degree may or may not be related to real estate.
  • Minimum grade point average (GPA). The minimum GPA for graduate students will also depend on the program. It usually falls between 3.0 and 3.3. If you do not meet the minimum GPA, do not be discouraged. Admission committees do not just consider GPAs. They often study your transcript as well to understand the context of the GPA. In other words, there are still many factors that come into play when applying to a master’s program.
  • Other admission documents. Aside from academic transcripts, you might also be required to submit documents to supplement your application. These include personal essays, letters of recommendation, and your resume.

General Requirements

  • Communication skills. It is no surprise that you will need good communication skills when working in the field of real estate. Whether you use your degree to become a real estate agent or to take on related jobs, you will still need your communication skills since all these occupations require you to interact with different clients every day,
  • Active listening. Part of being a great real estate professional is having the patience and skills to listen to people and give them your full attention. There can be many inquiries and clarifications when you meet with clients, so you must give them the chance to express their concerns and doubts before you quickly jump to answers.
  • Problem-solving skills. In your graduate program, there can be a variety of research projects and situations that you will need to use your problem-solving skills to come up with innovative and creative solutions to challenges in your industry. In the workplace, these skills are also necessary when dealing with clients who might have unrealistic expectations or if you are managing properties that face many issues.
  • Tech-savviness. There is an abundance of technology designed to make the lives of real estate professionals easier and more efficient. In fact, advancements in virtual tours, lead generation software, and other productivity apps are so fast that it can be hard to keep up. Your tech-savviness will surely come in handy when learning new tech and apps for your work.

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

  • Personal computer or laptop. You will need a desktop or laptop that meets the hardware requirements of your school. This is because you might need to run certain applications and your school’s learning management system. Specifications like the RAM, processor, and disk space are just a few of the technical stuff you need to confirm with your school.
  • Stable internet connection. This is a must when you need to download and access your course materials as well as participate in synchronous learning via video sessions in case your program requires them.
  • Software requirements. Online degree courses in real estate can require students to learn software relevant to the industry. As such, you might be asked to purchase solutions such as CRM tools, lead generation and nurturing software, MLS search and listing tools, and market reports and property valuation software.

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Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate

The advantage of online degrees is that the materials for core courses can be accessed at the convenience of the student. This is of primary importance, especially when you know that 70% of graduate-level students are working full time, while 41% are parents (The Learning House, 2019).

Here are a few core courses you can expect when you take up your online master’s degree in real estate:

  • Real Estate Finance and Investment. This covers concepts and analytical methods used in investment and finance decisions in the commercial property market. Real estate finance courses help students sharpen their skills in financial analysis so they are equipped to handle topics such as portfolio management, structured finance, real estate investment, and entrepreneurship, among others.
  • Real Estate Law. Students learn about topics and issues related to the legal aspect of real estate. These include real estate development, financing, and legal guidelines connected to properties such as structure fixtures and appliances. It also covers legal issues
  • Real Estate Markets. This introduces students to guiding principles and tools used to analyze and evaluate real estate markets. They learn the different factors that can affect real estate markets, such as financial markets, government policies, international capital inflows, and local cost of capital.
  • Real Estate Accounting. Students learn about accounting tools for real estate and the many principles and practices in accounting. The focus of real estate accounting is mostly on property management, especially how to manage big accounts and transactions. Students learn skills in financial analysis, real estate valuation, tax credits, financial statements, and partnership agreements.

Profile of Online Students Working Full Time

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Source: The Learning House, 2019

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Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate

There are an estimated 120 million students globally enrolled in online courses (Class Central, 2019), but the dropout rate reaches up to 96% on average over five years (Reich, J. and Ruipérez-Valiente, J., 2019). With this in mind, students need to realize that not all are successful in completing their online degrees. There are factors to consider to increase one’s chances of completing an online course.

  • Faculty support. Though online degree courses in real estate often do not require students to attend physical lessons, it is still necessary for them to receive support and advice from their professors. Before you choose a program, confirm all avenues of consultation available to online students if you ever need to ask for guidance from faculty.
  • Structure. Online degrees allow more flexibility for students, but this does not mean that they are without structure. Look for an online program that provides specific dates for exams and a projected timeline for a student’s progress. This can serve as your guide and help you stay motivated, committed, and disciplined in your study.
  • Accreditation. Choose an online program that is accredited and from a well-respected college or university as programs offered from accredited schools are more likely to be of high quality. Moreover, getting your online degree from well-known institutions can leave a better impression on employers. As cited in the report by CFHETS,  58% of employers “believe that an institution’s brand and reputation is the main driver of a credential’s value, regardless of whether or not it was earned online.” (CFHETS, 2018).
  • Post-Pandemic Preparation. To better equip yourself as a real estate professional, it is also worth checking online programs that specifically tackle issues related to COVID-19 and how they impact demand, laws, and regulations in the real estate market. For example, it is important to understand the long-term effects of restrictions on businesses and the shift to remote work on office space rentals and housing prices.
  • Technology for Real Estate Industry. Since tech tools have become such an important part of the real estate business, look for programs that incorporate these tools into their curriculum. For example, you can benefit from courses that teach 3D virtual tours software, video editing software, DIY marketing apps, and end-to-end real estate platforms.

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Preparing for Your Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate

An online master’s degree in real estate can be a perfect fit for practicing real estate agents who want to deepen their knowledge of the subject or professionals who are interested in working in the real estate industry. Online programs do not only offer more flexibility to working students but can also be more affordable and practical for many individuals.

However, there are a few caveats though when it comes to online learning.  For instance, there are online master’s programs in real estate that can lack the hands-on, interactive, and on-site training that in-person programs offer. It can be hard to get the student support you need in real-time and there is almost no student collaboration in some online programs. Thus, it is best to practice due diligence before deciding to enroll in a particular online master’s degree in real estate. In doing so, you can ensure that you are investing in a program that is best suited to your needs and preferences as a student. This article on elearning trends can help you get up to speed with developments happening in online learning.

 

References:

  1. Gallagher, S. (2018). Educational Credentials Come of Age. Retrieved from https://cps.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Educational_Credentials_Come_of_Age_2018.pdf
  2. Class Central. (2019). By The Numbers: MOOCs in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.classcentral.com/report/mooc-stats-2019/
  3. Educationdata.org. (2021). Online Education Statistics. Retrieved from https://educationdata.org/online-education-statistics
  4. Martin, F., Stamper, B., & Flowers, C. (2020). Examining student perception of their readiness for online learning: Importance and confidence. Online Learning, 24(2), 38-58.Retrieved from DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v24i2.2053
  5. NCES. (2019). Distance Learning. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80
  6. Wallis, L. (2020). Growth in Distance Learning Outpaces Total Enrollment Growth. Retrieved from https://www.qualityinfo.org/-/growth-in-distance-learning-outpaces-total-enrollment-growth
  7. Reich, J. and Ruipérez-Valiente, J. (2019). The MOOC Pivot. Retrieved from DOI:10.1126/science.aav7958
  8. The Learning House. (2019). Online College Students. Retrieved from https://49hk843qjpwu3gfmw73ngy1k-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/OCS-2019-FINAL-WEB-Report.pdf
  9. Salary.com. (n.d.). Salaries for Real Estate Sales Agent with a Master’s Degree or MBA. Retrieved from https://www1.salary.com/Salaries-for-real-estate-agent-with-a-Masters-Degree-or-MBA
  10. Urban Institute. (2018). The Rise of Master’s Degrees. Retrieved from https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/99501/the_rise_of_masters_degrees_1.pdf

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