Should I get a Masters in Real Estate?

19 Replies

Hey BP,

I'm thinking of going for a MSRE (Masters in Real Estate), specifically, I'm looking at NYU but I am open to other ideas. I was wondering if anyone has knowledge of that and if its a worthwhile endeavor. I imagine it puts me on a path to have to work at a firm doing acquisitions for a couple of years, but the idea is that would give the background to jump into syndicating larger multifamily buildings down the line. I currently have my real estate license and I am working as a property manager to learn the business from the bottom up. But, I feel like a MSRE will open many doors on the REI front, and what better way to make money to invest in Real estate than from the inside.

Please share your thoughts!

Thank You

Originally posted by @Elliot Vann :

Hey BP,

I'm thinking of going for a MSRE (Masters in Real Estate), specifically, I'm looking at NYU but I am open to other ideas. I was wondering if anyone has knowledge of that and if its a worthwhile endeavor. I imagine it puts me on a path to have to work at a firm doing acquisitions for a couple of years, but the idea is that would give the background to jump into syndicating larger multifamily buildings down the line. I currently have my real estate license and I am working as a property manager to learn the business from the bottom up. But, I feel like a MSRE will open many doors on the REI front, and what better way to make money to invest in Real estate than from the inside.

Please share your thoughts!

Thank You

 Nonsense. Don't fall for it. Caluculate the amount you would spend on tuition, books, fees and lost income and lost time. That is your true cost. Find someone to Joint Venture with and make some money while you learn how to invest in real estate. "Those who can *do*. Those who can't - *teach*." If they were good at it, they would be doing it, not teaching.

Elliot,

I was in the same boat as you a few months ago. It really depends on what your goals are. If you want to work for a large development company or commercial management company (think Cushman Wakefield) then it may be worthwhile to get a masters. But if your getting a masters to purchase real estate with your own funds (possibly with the help of others through syndication) it may be better to abstain from a masters. You just have to decide what your goals are. For example, in my case, I decided not to pursue a masters due to the additional time it would take away from pursuing real estate as my side hobby. There is never a cut and dry response. You have to decide what your ultimate goals are. From the sound of it, you could easily excel without the masters. If you push hard enough, you could get a couple deals under your belt and be onto syndicating in no time, without the masters. You seem to be eager to learn a lot which is the most important trait. Just turn the passion into action.

Personally I think real estate is better learned through experience.  A lot of aspiring real estate investors spend many thousands of dollars and years trying to learn, learn, learn in avoidance of taking the plunge and doing it for real.  Instead of getting your masters, buy a rental property. Just my 2 cents.  I spent years reading as many books on real estate as I could get my hands on.  I went to seminar after seminar (free, not the ridiculous $20K ones).  I was so nervous to buy my first property.... a small townhouse.  Now, 83 rentals later, I feel more confident buying a multi-million dollar building than I did buying that $60K townhouse.  And that’s solely due to experience.... not a degree.

@Elliot Vann unless you are getting a scholarship man, don't do it.  The money you spend on the "education" you can learn from obtaining your real estate license, BP and jumping in head first.  Their are people I know with a GED that are crushing it in their markets.  These are people that teach me things constantly and I own a turnkey company in another state.  You don't need a degree to learn syndication man.  You need to latch on to someone who is doing it, add value to him/her, learn the game then shoot your shot.  Just my $0.02.  All the best.  Always remember to persist and you will WIN!!!!

@Elliot Vann A lot of the value of a graduate program are the relationships that are created while in the program.  I would check with NYU or any other program you are considering to see if you have the ability to speak with alumni.  Ask them why they chose the program,  what kind of work they were doing immediately after their masters and what their career path looks like.  If you like what you hear, it could definitely be a good fit.  Doing a bit of research with previous students could save you time and money.

Experience has always been my best teacher.  I agree with the previous comments that you do not need a masters degree to start buying and syndicating deals.

@Elliot Vann Learning from experience is most likely the better way to get into it. Although it looks good on paper to have a masters, having a great track record looks even better and can take you further if syndication is your vision. Just my opinion. 

You don't "need" it but do you want it. You cannot know too much in this business. Plus it gives you more credibility. 

John Thedford, Real Estate Agent in FL (#BK3098153)
239-200-5600

@Elliot Vann . I think @Benjamin Seibert nailed it.  What are your goals?  

I agree with the consensus here that experience is the best teacher. And you already have a great story working with your RE license and a Property Management company.  If the ultimate goal is to buy and syndicate deals, you don't NEED an MBA to do that.  How much time will it take (and money) to get the Masters degree--and how might you further your cause if you used that time (and money) instead of getting the Masters?  Could you buy your first rental and rehab it?  Will that put you further ahead of where you want to be?  Only you can answer that. 

Good luck!

Degrees open doors. If you want doors opened you first approach employers and find out first hand how they value a Masters and whether it is what they are looking for in future employees. If not then as with most degrees they are highly overrated except by the institution offering them.

When employers state "must have Masters" you have your answer.

@Elliot Vann I agree with @Benjamin Seibert advice. 

There is a difference in being an entrepreneur and working for a major investment bank/REIT/real estate M&A shop/developer/commercial management company. These forums are geared towards people who, mostly, have jobs outside of real estate but are passionate about developing their real estate knowledge. They (and most other people) don't need a masters. 

But if you're looking to work with a major investment bank/REIT/real estate M&A shop/developer/commercial management company, you will in all likelihood get a leg up with the masters program. Does't mean you will suddenly become a better investor, just that it is the baseline expectation for most of these firms. You will also be dealing with a different caliber of investor and a different volume of business for which the "prestige" of credentials are very important. The institutional game is very different.

Going to a top-ranked school also provides a certain level of pedigree that is simply unmatchable. Most cases, you're not paying for the education but for the alumni network. 

Alternatively, as multiple successful people here have pointed out, they've been successful without a Masters. They are probably highly qualified in other areas (have the equivalent of a Masters or Masters level work experience) and gravitated towards real estate over the years. 

The right answer is dependent on what you want. 

As someone who spent a lot of his younger years working to avoid college  I've found that work experience is EXTREMELY valuable. Sure, everyone has their undergrad now and it's more or less required.... but Masters not nearly as much. Jobs are going to look at your work experience and if it's solid you'll be able to substitute it for education. Take some time working and figure out where/what you want to do.

In the future if you're noticing that your work experience has outpaced your education then by all means go get that masters. Chances are though, if you get to that point you'd be able to find an employee to invest in that education for you. If you want to be proactive then max out your tuition reimbursement....

Education is expensive, it doesn't replace real life work experience.... wait until you need it.

@Elliot Vann It depends on what you plan on doing with that masters.  If your goal is to get a job for a major developer, I suggest you call companies you are interested in working for.  Find out what education the companies require to get a job.  FYI, If you are currently working for a company,  you might be able to get them to pay for your higher education.  

If you are getting a masters as an investor to learn the industry, you will learn from experience and places like BiggerPockets.

Depends, but generally speaking yes go do it as it will open doors for you.  You will earn valuable relationships and will immediately earn credit in your local real estate community.  You're in NJ, adjacent to NY, looking to buy large multifamily.... you're investors, competition & colleagues will appreciate the MSRE.

Unfortunately, lot of people have responded that flip homes in BFE and cannot grasp your situation being in a top 10 market with the idea of executing on large transactions.  

@Elliot Vann I am 14 and I was personally thinking of doing that myself when I was going to go to college. After some thought, I switched my mind because I knew that I would be better off actually investing that money that I would be spending to go to instead of using on that college degree. Every situation is different and if yo want to go to college I'd say don't get a real estate degree, look into another topic/degree because you can learn other things like finance, economics, accounting, engineering, etc. which all can be applied to real estate and many other fields. Overall, it's your choice and your situation that matters the most, if you'd like to talk some more, pm me!

@Elliot Vann - You've got some awesome advice already in this thread so you really don't need mine but as someone who got paid to get her MBA, there is simply nothing that I couldn't have learned on the job or taught myself.  Sadly, most programs are taught by people who have never actually worked in the field or if they have it has been so long, any relevant knowledge isn't there.  Unless you need the degree to advance in your field because of someone else's outdated requirement, I always advise against it.

Best of luck!

I got my 'Masters' in REI after the 2008 crash, and am working on my 'PhD' right now watching the feeding frenzy and subsequent crash.

Look at it like this... Would you rather spend $75k-$100k on an education you're going to get anyway, or as a down payment for your first MF property?

The economy has proven professors wrong time and time again. It would be more valuable to get a law degree, or pursue a CPA designation than anything else in RE. I am constantly on the phone with both during my day to day. If you came to me with a Master's degree in RE, I would never hire you unless you can demonstrate that you have been in the thick of it on your own. That includes swinging hammers, going bankrupt, using equity wisely, and accumulating property. All of those to me, are more valuable than a masters degree in RE.

Originally posted by @Elliot Vann :

Hey BP,

I'm thinking of going for a MSRE (Masters in Real Estate), specifically, I'm looking at NYU but I am open to other ideas. I was wondering if anyone has knowledge of that and if its a worthwhile endeavor. I imagine it puts me on a path to have to work at a firm doing acquisitions for a couple of years, but the idea is that would give the background to jump into syndicating larger multifamily buildings down the line. I currently have my real estate license and I am working as a property manager to learn the business from the bottom up. But, I feel like a MSRE will open many doors on the REI front, and what better way to make money to invest in Real estate than from the inside.

Please share your thoughts!

Thank You

 I would work on hands-on experience, get some wealth behind you, make mistakes along the way, take your baby steps in growth - personal MSRE - at the end of the day it all boils down to what you want to do and what you think you will be able to gain from it. I have several masters degrees none in Real Estate  - they have provided me personal and mental growth, discipline and much more, all characteristics that have translated to my personal Real Estate success ... 

Steven Gesis, Developer
440-374-8403

@Elliot Vann I guess if your goal is to work at a large company for the rest of your life and never gain true independence (financial or otherwise) then absolutely you should go throw away a ton of money on a masters degree. If you want to actually make money, control your own destiny and live a life of freedom then be an entrepreneur. Exactly what do you expect a masters will teach you? The 13 people in my company all have college degrees and guess who they are working for? Me. Not saying higher education doesn't have it's place but for the entrepreneur mindset individual its a waste of time and an impediment to success.

@Elliot Vann It's a tough one because I can totally relate to your dilemma. 

Now, I think it's important to never downplay the importance of formal education even though I am of the school of thought of "just do it" and get real-life experiences. 

Let's analyse your situation in-depth:

  • You have a real estate license 
  • You are already working in the real estate industry
  • You are already getting your real-life experience from managing tenants and assets 

So, now let's think of a few questions?

  1. Do you need to work in a large CRE firm to syndicate deals? No
  2. Can you leverage your RE License to work in your local multifamily brokerage to sell Multifamily? Most likely
  3. In the nearest future, are you able to ask family and friends to invest with you in a fantastic multifamily opportunity you came across off-market? This is for you to answer, Elliot 🤭

If your answer was yes to the last question, then I'd advise you start your multifamily syndication journey now, skipping university altogether.  

Hope this helps. Goodluck. Thanks! - Ola 

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.