Online Degrees in Real Estate

Reality shows like Selling Sunset, House Hunters and Million Dollar Listing captivate audiences and give people an idea of what they want their dream homes to be like or even set the well-to-do off in search of their next investment. However, unlike most reality shows, buyers often look at more than just three properties in choosing. Additionally, these shows don’t really cover the whole spectrum of real estate careers — real estate agents may deal in commercial or industrial properties too.

The sale or purchase of a property is a complex and sometimes confusing transaction and real estate professionals need to be familiar with zoning laws, sale and tax requirements, and the legal implications of selling and buying real estate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the best candidates for a real estate career are mature, trustworthy, honest and enthusiastic. The College Board recommends having an interest in math and the economy as well as good communication skills. A real estate degree online can offer the advantage of flexible scheduling and working at a comfortable pace, as well as the ease of taking continuing education courses at convenient times.

Real estate agents usually work under the supervision and direction of the real estate brokers. They typically handle real estate transactions from the initial contact through the sale, though attorneys are usually called upon to handle the legal details of the closing. They may take clients to see properties and present purchase offers to sellers. Most sell or rent residential or commercial properties while a small number also deal in industrial, agricultural or other types of real estate.

The following steps outline one way you can become a real estate agent.

  1. Take math, statistics and economics in high school.
  2. Polish your communication skills through classes like English, speech, and drama.
  3. Research your state’s real estate licensing laws.
  4. Research the different real estate degree programs online.
  5. Ask questions about the program’s accreditation, whether the coursework will help pass your licensing exam, what computer programs you will have access to, and if the program focuses more on commercial or residential real estate.
  6. Enroll in a program that suits your lifestyle, career goals and budgetary needs.
  7. Take the real estate licensing exam.
  8. Become a member of National Association of Realtors (NAR) if feasible.
  9. Gain employment in or join a real estate brokerage.
  10. Continue your education with an advanced degree to advance your prospects.

A degree can lead to a wide variety of real estate jobs – from being an estate sales agent to appraising properties for sale. Though real estate brokers and sales agents are not required to have a degree, the increasing complexity of real estate laws is leading employers to seek out those who pursue higher education in the real estate field. While many reality shows may have you believe that real estate agents earn in millions, the BLS has a more sobering assessment on how much real estate agents really do make. It states that as many agents work on a commission basis, their earning can depend on factors like the type of property, economic conditions as well as individual motivation. However, it does state that the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,610 in 2018.

The table below shows different real estate careers, their associated salaries, and the employment outlook for the decade leading up to 2028 using data from the BLS.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Construction Managers293,380$105,0009.8%
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers220,750$71,7207.3%
Real Estate Sales Agents162,330$62,0606.9%

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

There are many different types of online business degrees available for those who want to pursue real estate. The best degrees are the ones that suit your lifestyle, budget and career goals. Associate degrees and certificate programs in real estate are offered through universities, colleges and community colleges. Bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in real estate may allow students to forgo the work experience requirements needed to earn licensure in some states. Though a doctorate degree in real estate is less common, some universities offer this program as well.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program

An online associate degree in real estate can act as an introduction to the field. Students can learn about the procedures behind the sale, purchase and management of real estate.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Core topics may cover sales techniques, real estate financing and real estate law apart from general education classes. Some examples of courses you may take include:

  • Legal aspects of real estate
  • Real estate economics
  • Real estate investment: analysis and financing
  • Real estate practice
  • Real estate principles

Possible electives: Real estate office administration; escrow principles; property management

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in real estate?

An associate real estate degree online may allow you to sit for the licensing examination in your state and help you start gaining work experience as a real estate sales agent under the guidance or mentorship of a real estate broker. Some entry-level roles include:

  • Onsite property manager
  • Real estate sales agent

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Students enrolled in online real estate bachelor degree programs can expect to learn more advanced real estate practices than those in an associate degree program. They may develop their understanding of how real estate markets work along with their communication and negotiation skills.

Typical duration: Four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Topics included in core curricula may cover real estate development and valuation techniques, mortgage lending systems along with sales and property management methodologies. Some examples of courses include:

  • Commercial real estate investment
  • Real estate appraisal
  • Real estate transactions and property
  • Real estate valuation
  • Strategic management of the real estate enterprise

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in real estate?

A bachelor’s degree in real estate may allow you to pursue a number of different careers in the field. You may also be eligible for a career outside of sales and brokerage roles where knowledge of real estate practices and laws are crucial. Potential job titles include:

  • Commercial leasing manager
  • Community association manager
  • Escrow officer
  • Homeowner’s insurance claims adjuster / investigator
  • Mortgage loan officer
  • Real estate investment analyst

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Students enrolled in an online master’s degree program in real estate can study advanced topics in the field. They may learn how to run a real estate business as well as how to start one of their own. They can learn to identify real estate opportunities and apply theory to real-world situations.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in real estate or a related field; some programs may require work experience.

Typical coursework: Topics can cover advanced business practices along with real estate topics including sustainability, global markets and project management among others. Some examples of courses you may take include:

  • Advanced real estate principles
  • Due diligence and entitlements
  • Foundations of real estate markets
  • Real estate marketing
  • Responsible real estate development

Possible electives: Development and construction project management; real estate portfolio management; impact of globalization on real estate

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in real estate?

A master’s degree in real estate can qualify you for leadership positions in the field. Entrepreneurial individuals with brokerage licenses may even start their own firms while others may branch out into other fields that need a working knowledge of real estate. Some job titles include:

  • Construction project manager
  • Real estate developer
  • Real estate entrepreneur
  • Real estate fund manager
  • Real estate investment banker

Online graduate certificates in real estate may be designed for individuals with bachelor’s degrees in other fields who want to move careers. Such programs may also suit professionals in other fields who require a working knowledge of real estate in their current job profiles. Other programs may allow real estate professionals to gain some graduate education in a specific area of the field. Certificate programs usually take less time to complete than a master’s degree.

Typical duration: One to two years of part-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree; some programs may require work experience

Typical coursework: Topics can vary depending on the focus of the program. Some courses that may be included in a certificate program are:

  • Advanced real estate investment and analysis
  • Financial analysis of hotel investments
  • Legal issues in real estate development
  • Real estate transactions and contracts
  • Urban planning and sustainability

Possible electives: Sales and marketing of real estate; real estate economics in urban markets; property and asset management

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Real estate degrees online at the doctoral level can prepare students to conduct research in the field of real estate. Students may learn to develop business strategies and develop practical solutions to contemporary real estate problems. They may be able to conduct their research in an area of their interest.

Typical duration: Four to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master’s degree in real estate or a related field

Typical coursework: Courses can vary depending on your area of research. However, most students also take courses on statistical analysis and research methodologies. Some examples of courses are:

  • Investment analysis
  • Property law
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Real estate development
  • Real estate operations

Dissertation: Students usually spend the greater part of their program conducting research and writing a doctoral thesis on its basis. The dissertation then has to be successfully defended before a panel of experts.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a doctorate in real estate?

Graduates of online doctoral degrees in real estate may be able to enter the fields of research and academia and teach students of their own in colleges and universities. Others may qualify for executive roles in real estate businesses or act as consultants for the same. They may also be invited to sit on policy-making boards. Some job titles include:

  • College professor
  • Commercial lender
  • Commercial property developer
  • Real estate broker
  • Real estate developer

Accreditation

Accreditation is an important criterion to consider when choosing a real estate degree online. It can be a prerequisite for federal financial aid and for transferring educational credits. Additionally, many employers prefer hiring graduates from accredited programs as it can demonstrate that the education they have received meets or exceeds professional requirements. Accreditation can be regional, national, and/or programmatic.

As real estate programs fall under the business category, online real estate degree programs may be programmatically accredited by:

Specializations in Real Estate

Many online real estate degree programs allow you to choose a specialization so you can focus your studies and therefore your future career right from the start. A specialization can allow you to learn the skills you need to carve your niche in real estate. Some specializations you may be able to choose from include:

  • Commercial real estate investment and analysis
  • Property management
  • Real estate association management
  • Real estate investing
  • Real estate sales

Licensures and Certifications in Real Estate

The BLS reports that real estate sales agents and brokers must be licensed in the state they work in. While licensing requirements vary from state to state, most require candidates to be at least 18 years old, complete a certain number of hours of courses and pass a licensing exam. A broker’s license typically needs between one and three years of work experience. Licensing regulations for property and community association managers can vary by state.

The BLS states that appraisers are required by federal law to have state licenses or certifications when working on federally related transactions, such as appraisals for loans made by federally insured banks and financial institutions. You can find more information on the Appraisal Foundation (TAF).

Professional certifications may not be mandatory. However, they can reassure your clients of your competency and commitment to the field. Some examples of certifications are:

Employment Statistics

Real Estate Agents

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Real Estate
  • Land Subdivision
  • Oil and Gas Extraction
  • Residential Building Construction
  • Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas
States with the highest level of employment
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • California
  • Washington
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Midland, TX
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • Providence-Warwick, RI-MA
  • Sioux Falls, SD

Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Real Estate
  • Land Subdivision
  • Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations
  • Oil and Gas Extraction
  • Community Food and Housing, and Emergency and Other Relief Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  • Bremerton-Silverdale, WA
  • Raleigh, NC

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

You may find there are scholarships and grants available for eligible students enrolled in online real estate degree programs which can help reduce the burden of paying for college. These scholarships and grants may be offered by universities, educational foundations, and professional bodies among others. Some scholarships to help you get started on your search are:

Professional Organizations and Resources for Real Estate Professionals:

 

Sources

  • Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/appraisers-and-assessors-of-real-estate.htm, accessed January 2020
  • Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/appraisers-and-assessors-of-real-estate.htm, accessed January 2020
  • B.S. in Business Administration – Real Estate, Liberty University, https://www.liberty.edu/online/business/bachelors/business-administration/real-estate/, accessed January 2020
  • Bachelor of Arts in Real Estate Studies, Ashford University, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/business/bachelor-of-arts-real-estate-studies, accessed January 2020
  • Career: Real Estate Appraisers, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/businessand-finance-real-estate-appraisers, accessed January 2020
  • DBA in Real Estate Development, Liberty University, https://www.liberty.edu/online/business/doctoral/dba/real-estate-development/, accessed January 2020
  • Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Online, Drexel University, https://online.drexel.edu/online-degrees/business-degrees/cert-realestate/index.aspx, accessed January 2020
  • Major: Real Estate, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-real-estate, accessed January 2020
  • Master of Real Estate Development, The University of Arizona Online, https://online.arizona.edu/programs/graduate/online-master-real-estate-development-real-estate-development, accessed January 2020
  • Masters in Real Estate, Realtor University, https://realtoru.edu/masters-real-estate/, accessed January 2020
  • Online Master’s in Real Estate, Georgetown University, https://scsonline.georgetown.edu/programs/masters-real-estate, accessed January 2020
  • Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/property-real-estate-and-community-association-managers.htm, accessed January 2020
  • Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/property-real-estate-and-community-association-managers.htm, accessed January 2020
  • Real Estate (Graduate Certificate), American University, https://www.american.edu/kogod/graduate/certificates/real-estate.cfm, accessed January 2020
  • Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/real-estate-brokers-and-sales-agents.htm, accessed January 2020
  • Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/real-estate-brokers-and-sales-agents.htm, accessed January 2020
  • Real Estate Certificate Programs, eCornell University, https://www.ecornell.com/certificates/real-estate/, accessed January 2020
  • Real Estate RES.S.AAS, Sinclair College, https://www.sinclair.edu/program/params/programCode/RES-S-AAS/, accessed January 2020
  • Real Estate, West LA College, http://www.wlac.edu/Online-College/Online-Degrees-Certificates/Online-Degrees/Real-Estate.aspx, accessed January 2020
 
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