ISU to Offer Grad Degree in Real Estate Development

Innovative program to start in the fall.

The Ivy College of Business and the College of Design at Iowa State University in Ames, in a first-time collaboration, are excited to open their doors to a new master’s degree program, a Master of Real Estate Development (MRED). The program, first in this part of the Midwest, was approved by the Board of Regents in June and launches during the fall semester in August.

“The program has been in the works for about three years,” says David Spalding, dean of the business college. “We are thrilled this is coming to fruition. The idea is in response to faculty, alumni, and professional sources that have seen a need for this program.”

Spalding says the interest in such a program is understandable. “Land use is fundamental in Iowa, so this is a natural as we move forward.”

Broad range of interest

What type of student might be interested in such a program? The dean says there’s a broad range of interest, from major insurance companies that finance transactions to large real estate owners to architectural firms wanting to broaden their bases to those in financial institutions.

For full-time working professionals, the program will be offered in a blend of online courses and brief one-week campus residencies for concentrated classes. The program covers 21 months from start to finish and calls for a total of 33 credit hours.

Topics included are real estate law, real estate development, sustainable community development, real estate investments, finance, market analysis, leadership and conflict resolution, architecture and sustainable design, construction basics, building systems, and project management. Sample elective courses might include financing historic preservation and revitalizing communities and real estate securitization and portfolio management.

No-thesis program

Spalding says there’s a capstone project, which is a real-life, hands-on project. It’s a coursework-only program, meaning there’s no master’s thesis to complete. Also, he explains that a course or two could be waived. For example, if an architect wanted to take part in the program, he or she wouldn’t have to take the architecture class; instead, credit would be given.

The interdisciplinary program calls on Iowa State’s resources in various areas of expertise—accounting, civil engineering, community and regional planning, finance, management, and architecture.

Spalding says Tracy Turner, an associate professor of finance and Hunziker Graduate Director of the MRED program, has been brought on board for the program. She formerly was at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Task force

A task force of faculty from the Business and Design colleges worked with various ISU alumni and senior management at several real estate investment and development firms and financial services to create the curriculum. The program will include guest speakers and interaction with faculty and alumni in the real estate and investment industries.

An undergraduate program in real estate is available in the College of Business Administration at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. It is the only such bachelor’s degree program in the state.

Iowa State joins only a few universities around the country in the real estate development master’s programs—New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Cornell University, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, and the University of San Diego.