The Master in Real Estate (MRE) degree program teaches students the foundational knowledge, technical skills, and methods of thinking required for any real estate project as well as for real estate that advances beneficial spatial, social, and environmental outcomes.

For nine on-campus months from late August to the end of May, students take a mixture of required and elective courses, including a development project-based course that simulates the multidisciplinary, holistic, collaborative, and transactional environment in which real estate projects are successfully created. The two-month off-campus Practicum places students in a cooperating private for-profit, private not-for-profit, or public organization to work on socially and environmentally beneficial projects. Students subsequently return to the GSD for several days to complete a paper and reflect on their Practicum experience through presentations and discussions. All MRE students will have a faculty advisor to guide them on curricular and extracurricular matters.

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. Cross-registration is available in eligible courses offered by the Harvard Business School, the Kennedy School, the Law School, the T. H. Chan School of Public Health, the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the College. Students may also cross-register in eligible classes at MIT and Tufts Fletcher School.

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, Development, and Management (4 units)

This course teaches the fundamentals of real estate finance, development, and management for all major real estate product types including residential, office, retail, and industrial properties. Both new development and existing real estate are addressed in the course.  How real estate is financed through equity and debt is a core course subject. The various stages of the development process, including site selection, market analysis, financial feasibility, design considerations, legal concerns, construction, lease-up, operations, and ultimate sale are explored. Teaching cases 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, management, 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 CLASS (4 units, counted as part of Spring Term)

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 (24 units including January Class)

Advanced Real Estate Finance, Development, and Management (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.

The Development Project (4 units)

The course takes on real-life domestic and international sites and asks students, working in collaboration with students and faculty enrolled in matching studios, 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 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, Ethics (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)

Scheduled for the summer following the nine months of in-residence education at the GSD, the Practicum places students in a cooperating private for-profit, private not-for-profit, or public organization in the United States and elsewhere to work on socially and environmentally beneficial projects. The MRE program works with students and cooperating organizational partners to create matches that satisfy the interests of both parties. During the Practicum, students meet periodically as a group and individually with MRE faculty to examine their experience. They will also prepare memoranda discussing their work. Following the Practicum, students return to the GSD for a several-day concluding session to reflect on their Practicum engagement through presentations and discussions. Students must also submit a final report. A tuition discount is provided to cover expenses.

Interested in the MRE program?

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