What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Real Estate Program?

Earning your online master’s degree in real estate offers a well-rounded education covering nearly every part of the real estate industry and helps you determine your specialty and career path. A master’s degree can also help launch a potentially lucrative career by providing the industry knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a field that’s often saturated with competitors. Online programs offer the same rigorous coursework as on-campus programs with the bonus of completing classes at home, which is ideal for working professionals. When choosing an online master’s degree program, compare the program setup, curriculum and cost to ensure you find the right program to match your needs, budget and career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Real Estate

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Real Estate General focus in residential and/or commercial real estate focuses on the financial analysis, valuation and appraisal of properties. Real estate agent, real estate broker, Realtor®
Property Development Examines the feasibility of properties, including planning and finance aspects and facilities and assets management. Real estate developer
Integrated Project Delivery Covers the preconstruction planning and design phases of property management and construction project management. Compliance officer, regulatory affairs associate
Property Management Learn to evaluate property acquisitions, manage investment properties and building operating and financial plans. Residential, commercial or multifamily property manager

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Real Estate

While comparing curricula, confirm whether the program is offered completely online or if it’s a hybrid program that requires part of the coursework to be completed on-campus. Besides delivery methods, online master’s degree programs in real estate differ from one school to another, and program requirements may also differ by state, based on state licensing regulations. Programs may differ further based on your chosen concentration and whether the school’s program focuses on specific aspects of the real estate industry. However, master’s in real estate programs at most top universities and colleges share common courses that may include the following:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Real Estate Fundamentals Examine the income-producing components of real estate, including how to make property evaluations and transaction decisions. Key study areas include cash flow, site selection, financing alternatives, entitlements, negotiation and brokerage and leasing.
Foundations of Real Estate Law An overview of legal issues that arise in the course of a real estate transaction, including the impact of federal, state and local laws during the acquisition, development, financing and management of real estate properties.
Foundations of Real Estate Finance Grasp the basic and advanced concepts of real estate finance, including lease structures, financial modeling, the use of debt and mortgages, capitalization rates and bankruptcy basics.
Foundations of Real Estate Markets Learn how to analyze market information to make informed decisions based on a variety of property types.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Real Estate?

Several factors impact how long it takes to earn an online master’s degree in real estate. One of the biggest impacts is whether you attend classes full-time or part-time. The format of your program also affects the time it takes to finish. Programs that utilize a cohort learning model, also called synchronous programs, require you log in and take classes at a preset time. Asynchronous programs are self-paced and allow you do your work on your own schedule. These programs can be completed more quickly, if you’re so motivated, or can take much longer if you have time constraints. Online master’s in real estate programs require anywhere from 30 to 60 credit hours to complete your degree and usually take between 18 months and three years to finish.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Real Estate Prepares For

Earning your online master’s in real estate may help qualify you to apply for official licensing as a real estate agent or real estate broker. Requirements for licensing vary by state, so contact the real estate commission in your state to learn about the types of education credits, experience and other requirements you need to fulfill to sit for a licensing exam.

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Certified Commercial Investment Member Through a University Fast Track membership, individuals with eligible master’s degrees from allied universities are exempt from some of the CCIM designation requirements, which means after earning your online master’s in real estate, you may be eligible to apply for Certified Commercial Investment Member status through the CCIM Institute.
Accredited Buyer’s Representative After earning your online master’s in real estate, you may be eligible to apply for the designation of Accredited Buyer’s Representative, which is designed for real estate buyer agents and offered through the National Association of REALTORS®.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Real Estate

Accreditation of the college or university should be a primary factor when you choose an online real estate master’s degree program. Schools may have regional or national accreditation, which should be listed on the school’s website but can be confirmed through the accrediting agency. Accreditation agencies are recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation. To ensure your eligibility for state and federal financial aid, always choose a program offered by an accredited school.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Real Estate Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Real estate agents and brokers must complete real estate courses to become eligible for state licensure, which often requires you to take state-accredited pre-licensing courses. However, some states waive this requirement if you’ve taken college courses in real estate. While a bachelor’s degree in real estate could fulfill this need and help you earn an entry-level position, a master’s degree makes you a more desirable candidate and often allows you to earn a higher salary. Because this profession is easy to get into, the job market is often saturated with real estate agents, so your master’s could also make the difference between your success and failure, especially if you want to pursue commercial real estate endeavors.

Expected Salary

As you move up the ranks in the real estate field, so does your salary. This often means completing continuing education courses, but your online master’s degree in real estate may also give you leg up from the outset. Compare the salary differences between a variety of professional positions within the real estate industry with this table.

Job Title Salary Range
Real Estate Agent $24,049-$103,068
Real Estate Broker $24,806–$118,365
Real Estate Manager $42,322–$116,276
Real Estate Asset Manager $47,969–$142,336
Real Estate Development Manager $55,087–$145,056

Source: PayScale.com

As you gain more experience in your real estate career, you can expect an increase in your salary. The table below demonstrates how real estate agents tend to earn considerably higher salaries as they reach the middle and later stages of their careers, with a marked difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor®.

Source: PayScale.com

Career Opportunities

Based on your specialization, your online master’s degree in real estate allows you to pursue a variety of career paths. Depending on your desired level of responsibility, you can also climb the ladder to more lucrative positions in the field.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Real Estate Sales Agents Real Estate Sales Agents help clients buy, sell and rent residential or commercial properties and may also work with clients looking to buy, sell or rent industrial, agricultural or other types of properties. Real estate agents must work with a broker but often work on contract, earning part of the commission on each property sale. $45,990 per year 6%
Real Estate Brokers Real Estate Brokers also help clients buy, sell and rent residential, commercial or other types of properties but are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses and often have one or more sales agents who work for them. Brokers handle all the business details of running a real estate firm and may also manage properties for a fee. $56,730 per year 5%
Property, Real Estate and Community Association Managers Property, Real Estate and Community Association Managers handle the many aspects of maintaining and leasing residential, commercial or industrial properties to ensure their clients’ real estate investments earn their expected revenues. They frequently handle the financial operations of the property, including collecting rents and paying bills. $58,670 per year 10%
Real Estate Appraisers and Assessors Real Estate Appraisers and Assessors inspect properties and provide an estimated value on both the buildings and land, which is usually done before a property is bought/sold, developed or given a new mortgage, property tax assessment or insurance policy. $54,010 per year 14%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations allow you to network with other professionals in the real estate field. While this allows recent graduates to establish vital connections when they’re first embarking on a potentially new career path, these connections are good no matter where you are in your career. Many organizations offer professional certifications, career development programs, networking events and professional journals. Some prominent organizations for real estate professionals include the following:

National Association of REALTORS®: The NAR’s core purpose is to help its members become more profitable and successful. Members adhere to the association’s strict Code of Ethics and carry the official Realtor® designation. Members must first join a local real estate association, which automatically qualifies you for state and national membership. NAR hosts annual conferences and trade expos, publishes professional journals, provides research reports, offers a benefits program and provides numerous other members-only benefits.

American Real Estate Society: ARES provides real estate industry professionals and scholars with valuable educational and research sources. Its benefits include subscriptions to six professional journals, annual meetings and other networking opportunities with academic and professional industry experts, access to a comprehensive career center and access to a variety of useful industry-related research materials.

National Association of Real Estate Brokers: NAREB is open to any real estate professional, not just brokers, and strives to create an environment for the advantageous exchange of ideas concerning the real estate workplace and marketplace. It offers education and training opportunities, annual conferences, members-only discounts on business and personal services, up-to-date information on policy changes and many other benefits.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Real Estate

Although online programs are usually less expensive than traditional programs, many students still require financial assistance. To apply for assistance, always start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is required for grants, loans and other financial aid opportunities offered through the federal, and sometimes state, government. You may also find awards in the private sector specifically for distance learners, many of which show preference for students in your chosen field. There are many resources to help fund your studies, including the ones listed below.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Thomas F. Seay Scholarship

Award: $2,000

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Any student pursuing a career in real estate, attending any college or university in the U.S.

Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation’s Academic Scholarships

Award: $1,000

Deadline: April 1

Eligibility: Any student pursuing real estate as a career, attending any accredited college or university in Illinois.

Appraisal Institute Education and Relief Foundation College Scholarships

Award: $2,000

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Graduate students concentrating in real estate, real estate appraisals or land economics. Awarded based on academic excellence.

Jonathan de Araujo Real Estate Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: November

Eligibility: Any college student studying for a future career relating to real estate.