Should I Earn a Real Estate Degree?

Degree Types, Education Options, and Career Opportunities

Professional reviewing a real estate contract with couple
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A real estate degree is a postsecondary degree awarded to students who have completed a college, university, or business school program with a focus on real estate. Although programs can vary by school and specialization, most students earning a degree in real estate study business, real estate markets and economies, residential real estate, commercial real estate, and real estate law. 

Types of Real Estate Degrees

There are four basic types of real estate degrees that can be earned from a postsecondary institution. The degree you can earn depends on your education level and career goals

  • Associate's Degree - Typically a two-year program; designed for students with a high school diploma.
  • Bachelor's Degree - Typically a four-year program, but accelerated programs are available; designed for students with a diploma or an associate's degree.
  • Master's Degree - Typically a two-year program, but accelerated programs are available; designed for students who have already earned a bachelor's degree.
  • Doctorate Degree - Program length varies depending on the school; designed for students who have already earned a master's degree.

Choosing a Real Estate Degree Program

There are a growing number of colleges and universities offering associate's and bachelor's degree programs with a focus on real estate. You can also find master's and MBA level programs at a number of business schools around the world. If you are interested in attending a real estate degree program, you should choose a program that is in line with your academic needs and career goals. It is also important to find a program that is accredited.

Other Real Estate Education Options

A degree in real estate is not always required to work in the real estate field. Some positions, such as real estate clerk and property manager, require little more than a high school diploma or the equivalent, though some employers do prefer candidates with at least an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. A high school diploma is also the basic starting requirement for real estate agents, who also need at least a few hours of real estate courses in addition to a diploma before they can be licensed.

Students who are interested in receiving a formal education in real estate, but do not want to take a degree program, can consider enrolling in a diploma or certificate program. The latter two programs are typically very focused and can normally be completed much faster than a traditional degree program. Some organizations and education institutions offer single classes that can be taken to prepare for a real estate license or a specific position in the real estate field.

What Can I Do With a Real Estate Degree?

There are many different careers open to students who have earned a real estate degree. Obviously, many go on to work in the real estate field. Some of the most common job titles include:

  • Real Estate Clerk - Real estate clerks perform many of the same duties as a general office clerk. They may be responsible for administrative tasks, such as answering the telephone, handling the mail, making copies, sending faxes, typing letters, filing, and arranging appointments. They may also interact with real estate clients and assist agents and brokers with day-to-day duties. Real estate clerks generally need a high school diploma or the equivalent. However, some employers prefer candidates with an associate's or bachelor's degree.
  • Property Manager - Property managers, or real estate managers as they are sometimes known, are responsible for caring for a property. They may be in charge of maintenance, upholding real estate value, of handling interactions with residents. Some property managers specialize in either residential or commercial property. A high school diploma may be enough for some positions. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree.
  • Real Estate Appraiser - Real estate appraisers estimate the actual value of a property. They may specialize in commercial or residential real estate. Education requirements for appraisers vary by state. Some states require at least an associate's degree, but a bachelor's degree is more common.
  • Real Estate Assessor - Real estate assessors estimate the value of properties for taxing purposes. They typically work for local governments and appraise entire neighborhoods rather than select properties. Education requirements for assessors can vary by state or locality; some assessors have only a high school diploma, while others are required to have a set degree or licensing.
  • Real Estate Agent - Real estate agents have many different duties, but their primary responsibility is to help clients buy, sell, or rent homes. Real estate agents must work with a broker. They need to complete at least a high school diploma or the equivalent as well as some college courses in real estate or accredited pre-licensing courses to earn the required licensure.
  • Real Estate Broker - Unlike real estate agents, real estate brokers are licensed to manage their own business. They may help clients buy, sell, rent, or manage real estate. They may specialize in residential or commercial real estate. Real estate brokers need to complete at least a high school diploma or the equivalent as well as some college courses in real estate or accredited pre-licensing courses to earn the required licensure.