The Directory of Real Estate Development and Related Education Programs, 11th Edition, published by the Urban Land Institute, describes the main features of real estate education programs at 54 universities, all but nine located in the United States. Another 56 university programs, including those of 11 foreign institutions, are listed but not described. (Not listed are the numerous private institutions—some universities sponsor training programs that do not confer degrees—that provide courses needed for realestate sales and other licenses and certificates.)

All 45 U.S. programs described in the ULI directory award university degrees; several offer undergraduate degrees in business and other disciplines that include concentrations in real estate. Some undergraduate real estate programs are robust: in 2007, for example, the University of Northern Iowa had 220 full-time undergraduate students, and Florida State University had 425 full-time undergraduate students in real estate curriculums.

Most common, however, are programs that offer graduate degrees in real estate or in disciplines such as business that include a concentration in real estate development. In addition, eight universities offer doctor of philosophy degrees in disciplines allied with real estate development, the most common being business administration and finance.

The graduate programs tend to fall into two groups: those at schools such as Columbia University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of Colorado that offer real estate as one of several specialty tracks in obtaining a master of business administration (MBA) degree; and other university centers specializing in real estate, such as the University of Southern California (USC) Lusk Center for Real Estate and New York University’s Schack Institute, that offer a master of science in real estate (MSRE) degree.

Diversity reigns, however. For example, Harvard University confers master’s degrees in design with real estate development as a concentration, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a real estate specialization within its master of city and regional planning curriculum. While most programs share similarities in requirements and course content, there is a wide variety of approaches to obtaining degrees in real estate development.

University programs also differ in their proportion of full- or part-time students. For example, all the graduate degree programs cited above, except the one at New York University, attract mostly full-time students. A large proportion of programs in many other universities, such as Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, several universities in Washington, D.C., and Roosevelt University in Chicago, primarily serve part-time students seeking a degree while continuing to work.

Many university programs also offer special lectures and workshops, opportunities for summer tours, and discussion sessions with local developers. Some schools are following the lead of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia by offering “executive” MBA degrees that lure business executives back to catch up on the latest trends. In addition, a few are contemplating expansion of their research agendas, especially for local real estate studies.

Graduate degrees in the programs, especially at the premier schools, are not inexpensive: for 2009–2010, the Wharton MBA program tuition is $51,773, and the University of Southern California set full-time tuition for an MBA at $50,179. However, comparable yearly tuitions for in-state students are $14,882 at the University of Texas at Austin and $10,000 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Even doubling of these tuitions for out-of-state students leaves them well below the Wharton and USC levels.