The following courses constitute the approved Master in Real Estate degree curriculum. Students who enter the MRE program with advanced knowledge in specific areas may place out of a limited number of courses and substitute others drawn from a curated list. Courses and requirements are subject to change based on ongoing assessments by the faculty.

FALL TERM (20 units)

Real Estate Finance and Development (4 units)

This course teaches the fundamentals of real estate finance and development. All major property types and land uses are covered as well as the various stages of the development process, including site selection, market analysis, financial feasibility, design and legal considerations, construction, lease-up, operations, and ultimate sale. Cases are designed to place students in decision-making situations commonly faced by real estate professionals.

Urban Economics and Market Analysis (4 units)

This course explores urban economics and market analysis as they intersect with real estate practice. Location theory, spatial dynamics, demographic analysis, regional economics, forecasting, and other theories, methods, and subjects provide an armature for how real estate operates within a localized yet global spatial economy.

Design and Design Thinking for Real Estate (4 units)

This course demonstrates how design and design thinking affect real estate development and finance. The processes through which designers conceptualize and represent form and space, respond to programmatic demands, consider the demands of place and context, and generate functional building designs at a variety of scales are emphasized. The growing popularity of design thinking as an out-of-the-box creative method for generating ideas and outcomes by non-designers will be contextualized within the design profession’s foundational use of such an approach. The interplay between developer as client and designer as professional will be explored, along with opportunities for designers to assume more active roles on the development side. Design’s contribution to greater social, environmental, and financial value will be examined.

Real Estate, Society, Environment (4 units)

This course examines the emerging context for real estate practice worldwide that measures success not solely from the financial bottom line but also from the achievement of beneficial spatial, social, and environmental outcomes. Real estate funds worldwide are applying environmental, social, and governance metrics (ESG) to their investment decisions, even as some observers are skeptical about how real this move is. Students will learn how new political and legal mandates for sustainable, inclusive development can be viewed as positive, generative opportunities rather than constraints to be overcome. Understanding and operationalizing ethical foundations for real estate activities can lead to a more meaningful practice for real estate actors, whether engaged in private for-profit, private not-for-profit, or public sectors.

JANUARY TERM (4 units)

Construction Management, Project Management, New Technologies (4 units)

This course examines best practices and newly emerging approaches for managing construction and project completion for commercial, residential, industrial, cultural, and public facilities. New technologies including smart systems for guiding the process will receive special focus.

SPRING TERM (20 units)

Advanced Real Estate Finance (4 units)

This course covers advanced financial analysis and deal structuring for acquisitions, development, capital markets including debt and equity financing, market cycle timing, portfolio structuring, and asset management. Using case studies and lectures, the course reviews advanced real estate topics for all major product types including residential, office, retail, and industrial properties. A key emphasis is placed on financial modeling skills typical of advanced industry practices.

Public and Private Development (4 units)

This course explores the analytic methods, contextual frameworks, and bodies of knowledge required to understand, evaluate, and implement public and private development within cities and surrounding regions. Public and private development includes development originated by private for-profit actors, private not-for-profit actors, and governments. Using lectures, discussions, case studies, and individual/team exercises, the course teaches students how to measure the complex blend of public and private actions promoting growth and change against financial, economic, legal, institutional, political, and other relevant metrics. Techniques specifically explored include direct and indirect public subsidies, public land acquisition through eminent domain, public land disposition through RFPs, RFQs, and sole source methods, strategic provision of capital infrastructure, exactions, inclusionary zoning, linkage, community benefits agreements, and business improvement districts.

Development Studio (4 units)

The course takes a real-life site and asks students, working in small teams, to create fully realized development proposals that meet financial, market, regulatory, design, environmental, and social requirements for a successful development. Presentations during the semester will be attended by professionals who will review projects on the basis of both creativity and viability.

Real Estate Law (4 units)

The course examines how law impacts the development and management of real estate. The course is divided into two parts. Part one utilizes transactional documents to understand a project from securing control of land through refinancing or sale. Option agreements, purchase and sale contracts, ground leases, joint venture agreements, construction and design contracts, construction loan agreements, permanent loan agreements, major tenant leases, and property management agreements will be examined. Part two examines public laws such as zoning, subdivision approval, design review, historic preservation, exactions and impact fees, environmental laws, and associated legal instruments that govern the approval of proposed projects through the public regulatory process. Differences between rule-based and discretionary approaches are emphasized.

SUMMER TERM (16 units)

Negotiation (2 units)

This course combines evolving academic theory with intense simulations to teach the concepts and practice of effective multi-party negotiation among owners, governments, community groups, tenants, lenders, and investors.

Leadership, Entrepreneurship (2 units)

This course explores how to conceive, build, and lead successful real estate organizations. Students learn how to create an initial strategy, craft and implement a business plan, manage an organizational culture, and compete in a world in which the only constant is change.

Practicum (12 units)

Arranged by the MRE degree program and matched to the specific interests of each MRE student, the Practicum involves a two-month field placement in a private or public organization to work on a development project that advances beneficial spatial, social, and environmental outcomes. Following the field portion of the Practicum, students complete a report and return to the GSD for a several-day concluding session during which they reflect critically upon their field experience and engage in discussions and presentations.

Interested in the MRE program?

For general inquiries about the Master in Real Estate program, please email infoMRE@gsd.harvard.edu or call 617-495-6120, Monday-Friday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM EST. If you would like to be entered in our database and receive future mailings, please fill out the Contact Form.