Web-Only feature
From Site Selection magazine, July 2004

Making the Grade

Real estate education programs are
as varied as the deals they teach you to make.



he Urban Land Institute's Directory of Real Estate Development and Related Education Programs is currently in its ninth edition, and includes 60 programs in the United States and abroad. Of that sample, only a handful mention corporate real estate as an explicit part of their core curriculum.
      There's a reason for that, says Gayle Behrens, vice president of the real estate development practice at ULI.
      "In part, corporate real estate is simply good real estate practice," she explains. "It's a little more complicated in terms of ownership issues and how real estate fits into the corporation's strategy. But it's simply good real estate decision-making. There is no standard corporate real estate curriculum."
      But there is a priceless value to its study.
      "There's a virtue to having studied corporate real estate, as opposed to getting smacked in the face with it your first month on the job," says Roy Black, a professor in the Georgia State University Dept. of Real Estate.
      Sometimes that smack can hurt. Construction industry veteran Pat McKee, co-chair of the Industrial Asset Management Council's Education Committee, estimates that 70 percent of the education comes in the field, and it can come at a price.
  Pat McKee

      "In dealing with an unseasoned corporate real estate [professional], from start to finish there can be as much as 60 percent more time invested with explanations and teaching from the service provider's standpoint," he says.
      Chris Manning, president of the American Real Estate Society and a professor at Loyola Marymount University, has been studying the field of corporate real estate for years. He is currently in the midst of co-authoring a study of real estate course syllabi at universities to determine if these programs are teaching the specific skills indicated as being valuable to corporate real estate executives. It's still early in the review, but "We already know that there are very few, if any, specific courses at universities with "Corporate Real Estate" in their course title," he says.
   In other words, most of the learning comes on the job. But it's also a relatively new area of specialization.
      "It really didn't start to blossom until the late seventies, when facility manag ement actually became a profession," says Roger Beck, former corporate real estate director for Dow Corning, who teaches regularly at Michigan State University in Lansing. "I gave a talk one time on site selection to a college class titled 'Site Selection According to Yoda,' because Star Wars has been around longer than sophisticated site selection."
Roger Beck  

    One program seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongue when it comes to concentration on corporate real estate: Georgia State University, in the heart of metro Atlanta. Such well-known programs can become the drivers of useful research. For instance, two forthcoming publications from Georgia State faculty are "Operational, Organization and Human Resource Issues Facing Corporate Real Estate Executives in the Immediate Future," by Prof. Roy T. Black and "Developing Community-Specific Information for Corporate Plant Site Selection," by Dept. Chair Joseph S. Rabianski with James R. DeLisle and Neil Carn.
      Black, for one, says his department is unique because it is freestanding, not aligned with the school's finance department. It is also constantly fine-tuning its offerings to offer the best in both academic and real-world research. A new graduate course is a case in point.  

Off Campus, On Point

    "Our course is called 'Management in the Corporate Environment,' " he says. "We like to place emphasis on the term 'management,' and real property more than real estate -- rights and obligations rather than the physical asset itself."
      Black and a colleague are also looking at new ways to link human resources objectives with real estate objectives, starting with a study of a prominent and large Atlanta law firm.
      "They don't have an explicit real estate strategy," he says. "Our contention is there are some accounting tyrannies at work. What gets measured gets managed, and often there are separate rewards for human resources and corporate real estate managers."
      The frequent end result -- one not unfamiliar to directors of real estate -- is that a real estate professional may be rewarded for attaining a benchmark and cutting costs, but in the meantime, turnover has gone up by 20 percent.

      "The link is never made," observes Black. "You squeeze the balloon in one place and a lump pops up in another. They don't talk to each other -- not out of hostility, they're just not on the same channel. Most of the benchmarking is cost benchmarking, not productivity benchmarking."

Priority Skills
      The most salient attribute of most top-notch programs is their seamless integration of academia with real deals. Black says his focus is on real management, not management theory. For his program and others, the voices of experience resonate well.
      "People like myself, who have really done stuff, can add a lot to the academic community by bringing reality to the theory," professes Roger Beck, adding that, contrary to some academic opinions, his students like to hear old war stories. "Unlike a lot of professions, there really aren't a lot of cookie-cutter examples, and there are as many variables as similarities," he says.
      Consultant and International Facility Management Association Fellow Ed Rondeau, co-author of The Facility Manager's Guide to Finance & Budgeting (with David Cotts), cites finance, marketing and legal issues as the best general business course topics for feeding into real estate. Asked which skills need more attention, he lists negotiation, human resources and architecture/engineering.
      "Financing and budgeting are a real world reality," he says. "Were you able to buy or lease the property with the funds available and in a time frame which supports the corporate strategic time frame? 'No' and you might not have a job soon. 'Yes' and that is the norm to keep your job."
      "A business education with a strong finance component sure gives a newcomer a leg up," agrees Bill Pearson, director of real estate for BASF Corp. He says negotiation is the topic most lacking in the higher education arena. But he also adds that, in a company where real estate is not core to its business, about 95 percent of corporate real estate education occurs on the job.
      "I am as good an example as any," he says. "I have two degrees in
Ed Rondeau  
chemical engineering and had two decades of experience in chemical manufacturing and general management when I was elevated to my current position. Leasing, sale and leaseback and other typical corporate real estate transactions came with the territory, though, so I basically had to acquire the requisite skills by just diving in and doing the job."

Rubbing Elbows 101
      Pearson and others also see the skill of networking as a key component of learning the ropes. Sometimes, that can be part and parcel of the educational program too.
      Jason R. Koehn, a new development manager with McShane Corp. in Chicago, was the 2003 Top Student, Dept. of Real Estate, at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. He already had plenty of experience in both the military and with Equity Office Properties, but the Kellogg program only whetted his appetite for the industry -- as well as virtually filling up an address book with fellow top-notch performers across the corporate spectrum.
      "One great thing at Kellogg was the professors are, for the most part, practitioners as well," he said in 2003. "As I walk into McShane, in just the first couple weeks, it's stuff I've been talking about with my professors over the past year."
      Koehn says he prefers the broad business education approach.
      "I'd rather have a generalist MBA than a Master's in real estate, because you can push that farther and expand it," he says, while making note of the value of such a broad focus to the business he conducts. "Every program should make you focus on doing what's good for a business. When we're looking for tenants, we have to look at what they do. We need to be able to judge the companies that will tenant our buildings. A lot of real estate companies have taken big hits because they didn't understand the companies they took in."
Bill Pearson  

      His colleague Tony Pricco, promoted in January 2004 to vice president, pursued studies at Kellogg on a part-time basis, building on his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin.
      "I didn't want to concentrate in real estate, because I felt my real estate background prepared me for a lot of that," he says, "so my majors were management and finance."
      Perhaps the best the program offered was its famous course on negotiation, which Koehn says really honed in on a crucial, but often misunderstood, process.
      "Kellogg's is an integrative solution," he says. "What's best for everyone? That mindset that it doesn't have to be a pie -- expand the pie. It's an important skill to have in real estate, and everyone in the industry should at least sit down and take a seminar in that."
  Jason R. Koehn
      Ultimately, though, observes Rondeau, course work and object lessons may occur in separate environments.
      "Providing your company and employees with a safe, secure and financially viable site or facility is a key corporate real estate responsibility," he says, "which is often learned through the school of hard knocks."

Selected Real Estate
Education Programs

      While by no means comprehensive, the following list represents a selection of higher education programs in real estate that make explicit mention of corporate real estate in their curricula. Sources include the ninth edition of The Directory of Real Estate Development and Related Education Programs, published by the Urban Land Institute; a survey of members of the Industrial Asset Management Council; and interviews with experts and academics. U.S. programs are listed alphabetically by state and then institution. International programs are alphabetical by country and then by institution.
      Site Selection and IAMC welcome your comments, as well as updates and additions to this directory. Please send them to Site Selection Managing Editor Adam Bruns.


Loyola Marymount University
College of Business Administration
Los Angeles, Calif.
Real estate is just one component of the university's offerings toward a degree in finance. Professor Chris Manning is president of the American Real Estate Society, an association of academics.

California State University -- Fullerton
College of Business and Economics
(714) 278-2592
The College has the second-largest undergraduate business program in the U.S. The BA degree with a finance concentration includes seven real estate courses. Among other facets, the school offers an extended education certificate program in real estate, as well as publishing the Journal of Real Estate Research, the official publication of the American Real Estate Society.

University of California -- Irvine
Graduate School of Management
Irvine, Calif.
Several elective courses in the school's MBA program address real estate valuation and development issues, and they're taught by the director of the school's program in real estate management, which is operated as an outreach program. Other courses in operations management and decision-making help to round out the school's MBA offerings. In addition to a quarterly breakfast lecture series, GSM holds an annual real estate conference that draws more than 350 professionals in the field. GSM routinely places among Top 50 business school and MBA rankings, and just celebrated the opening of its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

University of Southern California
School of Policy, Planning
and Development
Lusk Center for Real Estate
Los Angeles, Calif.
Among the optional specialties in the Master of Real Estate Development program are Asset Management and International Development. The program is built on the three-legged stool of finance, policy and design, and ranges across the spectrum of product types. Courses like Design History and Criticism, The Approval Process and Building Typologies flesh out the core curriculum.

Colorado State University
Dept. of Finance and Real Estate
College of Business
Fort Collins, Colo.
The program offers an undergraduate degree in finance with a real estate concentration option. International real estate investment is among the noteworthy study areas of the program, an initiative strengthened by Prof. Elaine Worzala, president of the International Real Estate Society.

University of Colorado
CU Real Estate Center
Leeds School of Business
Boulder, Colo.
In addition to BBA and MBA degrees, the center offers a joint Law and MBA degree with a real estate track. The program gains additional clout through its association with the CU Real Estate Council, made up of leading real estate professionals. A two-year mentoring program is offered to graduate students. Among the newest efforts at the center is the formation of the Growth Management Alliance, designed to provide a neutral forum for the discussion of growth and its implications for the state.

University of Denver
Daniels College of Business
Burns School of Real Estate and
Construction Management
Denver, Colo.
As the school's moniker suggests, building is at the core of this program, and has been since 1938, when it was founded as the Building Industry and Real Estate program. As such, it occupies a unique niche, not only as the oldest real estate program in the nation, but one that links planning, finance and execution throughout its many tracks of study. Among the seven degree options is the Executive Master of Real Estate and Construction Management, which makes use of distance learning technology in order to serve its student body of experienced professionals.

University of Florida
Warrington College of Business
Gainesville, Fla.
The one-year MA in Business Administration -- Real Estate program covers finance, investment, appraisal and law at its core. Additional specializations in capital markets and finance, building construction and development and planning are also offered.

Georgia State University
Department of Real Estate
J. Mack Robinson College of Business
Atlanta, Ga.
The GSU program, in existence for 43 years, has long been known for its relevance to corporate real estate, offering BBA, MBA, PhD and Master of Science in Real Estate degrees. With its location in the bustling corporate atmosphere of downtown Atlanta, the opportunities for testing academic ideas in real-world situations are countless. Likewise, fully employed students have a great resource at their disposal for both networking and education. In 2000-2001, the four programs had a total of 47 full-time students and 110 part-time students. Among the course offerings is "Strategic Management of Real Property in a Corporate Environment." The Flex MBA program at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business has been listed in the top ten by U.S. News & World Report for the past eight years. Business Week magazine ranked the College's Executive MBA program 20th in the world and Forbes rated Robinson in the top 20 for return on investment for regional schools.

Northwestern University
Guthrie Center for
Real Estate Research
Kellogg School of Management
Evanston, Ill.
At a school renowned for its management and marketing excellence, this program offers a Master of Management with a major in real estate. Like its New York counterparts, Kellogg's program benefits from the heady froth of activity on the Greater Chicago real estate scene. The first year of the two-year program is formed around the same nine courses completed by all Kellogg Graduate School students. The economic development process, urban issues and negotiation are among the highlighted areas of study.
In May 2004, the Kellogg School announced plans to open a campus in Miami, Fla., in 2005. The campus will offer the school's EMBA program and other executive education to aid executives involved in the Mexican, South American and Caribbean marketplace. As part of its international expansion efforts, the school has also begun offering programs in partnership with Tokyo's Keio Business School and Brussels' Solvay Business School.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dept. of Finance
Champaign, Ill.
Like many university programs, the degree is in finance with a real estate specialty. Unlike many programs, the PhD option is offered. So is the annual Illinois Real Estate Letter, published by the school's Office of Real Estate Research.

The Johns Hopkins University
Real Estate Dept.
Graduate Division of
Business and Management
Baltimore, Md.
With 199 part-time students and six full-time students in 2000-2001, the focus of Johns Hopkins is evident - and so is the excellence for which the university as a whole is revered. Included in the MS program is a four-credit applied practicum, and the period required for completion can range from two years to five years.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Center for Real Estate
Cambridge, Mass.
This one-year midcareer program conferred 30 degrees in 2001, and features an emphasis on case studies and group projects. The schedule includes the bi-monthly Real Deals lecture series. In addition, students waived out of required courses may take any other real estate-related courses at either MIT or Harvard.

University of St. Thomas
Dept. of Finance
College of Business
Minneapolis, Minn.
In its Master of Science in Real Estate Appraisal program, St. Thomas employs a collaborative learning model and works closely with the Appraisal Institute. More than 60 seminars are held at the Shenehon Center for Real Estate Education, and the course work includes executive communication, urban land economics and statistical analysis.

Monmouth University
Real Estate Institute
West Long Branch and East Brunswick, N.J.
This 10-week certificate program, the only executive education real estate program in New Jersey, offers course work across such diverse territory as regulation, appraisal, lease negotiation and analysis and law, utilizing expertise from both the university faculty and the professional community. The program has been steadily expanding, and may soon offer a full slate of classes in Newark as well.

City University of New York
Baruch College
Steven L. Newman
Real Estate Institute
137 East 22nd Street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 802-5940
The Institute's focus is on the New York region, and its scope is comprehensive, including a 16-course certificate program, continuing education, research, seminars and publications. The BS in Real Estate and Metropolitan Development is offered through the School of Public Affairs. The Zicklin School of Business offers a BBA minor in real estate and an MBA concentration.

Columbia University
MBA Real Estate Program
Dept. of Finance and Business
Graduate School of Business
New York, N.Y.
The MBA program at Columbia, in place for more than 32 years, makes ample use of the opportunity to connect with other branches of this top-flight university. Joint programs are available with the Schools of Engineering (construction management), Architecture (planning) and International Public Affairs. In addition to courses like Advance Corporate Finance and Tax Factors in Business Decisions, an emphasis is placed on the writing of case studies.

New York University
The Real Estate Institute
School of Continuing and
Professional Studies
New York, N.Y.
Usually mentioned in the first breath as among the top real estate education programs, the NYU undergraduate and graduate programs offer flexible scheduling and rigorous study in the nexus of the U.S. real estate scene. The program benefits from courses in NYU's Wagner School of Public Administration and Stern School of Business. The Institute also publishes the quarterly Real Estate Review.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Center for Real Estate Development
Kenan Flagler School of Business
Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Kenan Flagler MBA was rated among the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report. The Center for Real Estate Development capitalizes on the professional and academic resources that have made the Research Triangle the phenomenon that it continues to be today. It also focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of the field, blending courses from the university's business and law schools with its planning department classes. Course titles run the gamut: Sustainable Enterprise, Development Impact Assessment, Complex Deals and Business Demographics are just a few. Teams of students culminate their studies with a capstone development project.

Cleveland State University
Dept. of Finance
James J. Nance College of Business
Cleveland, Ohio
Among the options available is a four-course sequence earning a certificate in urban real estate development and finance, offered in conjunction with the university's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.

University of Cincinnati
College of Business Administration
Dept. of Finance
Offering a BBA with real estate integral and an MBA with real estate concentration, the UC program conferred 44 undergrad degrees and 8 MBAs in 2001. Besides MBA electives like negotiation and real estate valuation, the programs offers the UC Real Estate Roundtable events eight times per academic year, affording prime opportunities for networking.

Penn State University
Dept. of Insurance and Real Estate
Smeal College of Business Admin.
University Park, Pa.
Offering five different degrees, the Penn State program emphasizes financial analysis and contracting. Asset and portfolio management is an important component of the BS program, while international and investment angles are explored more fully in the MS and MBA programs.

University of Pennsylvania
Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton
Wharton School of Business
Philadelphia, Pa.
Say the name "Wharton," and you know you're dealing with the upper echelon: the school's real estate program has been rated No. 1 by Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and Financial Times. Focused on quality of life as much as quality of deal, the program's comprehensive approach includes elements of design, entrepreneurship, urban issues and public policy. The top-notch course work is supplemented by the Farash Distinguished Lecture Series and an International Training Program in Housing Finance that educates high-level officials from developing economies around the world.

Texas A&M University
Graduate Programs in
Land Development
College of Architecture
College Station, Texas
This non-thesis Master of Science in Land Development program prepares its students to act on the global stage by taking them there. Studies in Singapore, Thailand, Australia and Hong Kong supplement course work focused on legal, financial and design issues that resonate with the international perspective.

Old Dominion University
College of Business and Public
Center for Real Estate and Economic Development
Norfolk, Virginia
The school's financial management degree offers a real estate concentration. The Real Estate and Economic Development Center headed by Dr. John Lombard, provides information and resources for the Hampton Roads real estate and economic development communities in their quest to improve the regional economy through job creation and investment. The academic program is supplemented by the presence of such university resources as the Bureau of Research, the Center for Asian Business, the Insurance and Financial Services Center, the Graduate Center for Tax Education and the International Maritime, Ports and Logistics Management Institute.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Real Estate Program
School of Business
P.O. Box 844000
Richmond, Va. 23284-4000
Each fall, this school holds a sold-out Real Estate Trends conference, next taking place on October 5, 2004.

University of Wisconsin at Madison
Dept. of Real Estate and
Urban Land Economics
Madison, Wisc.
One of the oldest and most revered real estate programs in the world, this program covers everything from asset management and appraisal to field work around the world. The department is joined at the hip to the Center for Urban Land Economics Research. Courses in the MS option cover land use controls, microcomputer applications and statistics, among other subjects.


University of New South Wales
Faculty of the Built Environment
Sydney, Australia
Full-time overseas students make up about 50 percent of this school's Master of Real Estate program, which includes core courses on IT and data analysis, as well as "softer" subjects like "Generating and Executing Ideas" and "Working with People." Among the requirements is the taking of three courses from the facilities management and corporate real estate group.

University of Toronto
Rotman School of Management
105 St. George St.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The graduate school's MBA program, within the highly ranked Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, offers courses in real estate. Business economics Prof. William Strange, holder of the RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust Professorship in Real Estate and Urban Economics, was honored by Rotman in December 2003 with an award for excellence in research and teaching.
Meanwhile, the U of T Real Estate club, launched by two undergrads in 2003, already has garnered a membership of 130, driven in part by the city's lively commercial real estate scene.

York University
Schulich School of Business
York University
4700 Keele St.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
(416) 736-2100 ext.77971
The Schulich School of Business MBA program offers electives in real property development, including courses on finance and investment, structuring property transactions and comparative international property markets.

European Business School
Real Estate Academy
Oestrich-Winkel, Germany
This program offers postgraduate degrees in real estate management, corporate real estate management and facilities management, all on a part-time curriculum. Although accredited by the royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London, the programs' lectures are given exclusively in German.

Thai Real Estate Business School
55/40-42 Nonsee Rd.
Yannawa Bangkok 10120 Thailand
This school is known for its focus on property valuation, including a series of short-run seminars on the topic.

University of Ulster
School of the Built Environment
Newtownabbey, County Antrim
Northern Ireland
The Corporate Real Estate specialization is an option in this school's Master of Science program. Courses include Corporate Real Estate Strategy, Research Design Methods and Managing Facilities.

City University Business School, London
Frobisher Crescent Barbican Centre
London, England
United Kingdom
This program actually offers a MSc in corporate real estate finance and strategy, as well as other advanced degrees in real estate investment and in property valuation and law. Among the areas covered in the corporate real estaet core curriculum are advanced property investment analysis, European property analysis and valuation, corporate property asset management and real estate securitization.

University of Reading
Dept. of Real Estate and Planning
Whiteknights, Reading
United Kingdom
One of the few that explicitly mentions the profession, the Master of Science in Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Management includes executive development course work. Three different undergraduate programs specialize in land management, investment and finance and urban planning and development.


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