Earning a Master's in Real Estate Online

Current trends in the real estate industry point towards an increase in first-time home buying, and people want to deal with more experienced and better-educated agents. Whether you want to get started in real estate or you boast lots of experience, earning a master's degree can help put you ahead of the competition. This guide helps you decide if earning a degree works for you and, if so, how to go about choosing the right school.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Real Estate?

Students need to consider a variety of things when determining whether to enter a master's in real estate online. You may wish to enter the real estate industry or to advance your career within it while enjoying the freedom to continue working or dealing with other obligations. Online programs help you continue your education while getting into the workforce, especially if those experiences build upon one another.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Real Estate?

Pursuing Specialization

A master's in real estate can help you tailor your career path to your interests, whether you wish to work as a real estate agent or take a more creative approach to the industry. A deeper understanding of real estate markets and trends can help professionals in a variety of other fields, from architecture to interior design to law, allowing them to create truly unique career paths.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Earning a master's degree can help lead to more responsibility, higher earning potential, and more advanced positions. Whether you work in the real estate industry already or plan on shifting to it, holding a master's degree can help you land jobs with higher starting salaries and make you stand out from your competition. Some positions or careers may even require a master's degree.

Online Learning Technology

One of the benefits of studying online is becoming more familiar with current technology. While you may not use the specific software from your program in your professional or personal life, it can help give you experience others do not enjoy and can open up doors to unique opportunities, such as brokering international property sales using similar technology.

Prerequisites for Online Real Estate Programs

The following list includes common requirements for admission to an online master's degree in real estate. The details vary from one school to another, but admissions offices typically require these from students.

  • Work Experience: While more common for online programs than those on campus, work experience can make your application stronger, especially if it relates directly to the program. You also generally need to submit a resume with your application, which serves as an opportunity to show off your relevant experience.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Most master's degrees require either GRE or GMAT scores for admission. Most programs you apply to require one or the other, but wait to take them until you decide which schools interest you.
  • Coursework: You may need to take prerequisite courses during your undergraduate experience prior to beginning your master's-level work. Some programs enable students to meet these prerequisites at the school or as a part of the master's degree.
  • Recommendations: You need letters of recommendation written by people familiar with your work. These help admissions committees decide if you fit in their program.
  • Essays: Though the details can vary, you generally need to submit some piece of writing, such as a statement of purpose or an essay clarifying why you chose a given program. Make sure that these address the specific concerns outlined by each program.
  • Interviews: Schools may ask you to participate in an interview, either in person or online, or to submit a video essay answering certain questions. Online programs do this more often than on-campus programs because faculty like to meet their prospective students.
  • International Students: International students need to prove their competency in English. This generally only applies to students from outside the anglophone world, and schools lists a variety of ways to prove fluency, such as passing the TOEFL exam or holding a degree from an American institution.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Real Estate?

Real estate agents on the lowest end of the salary range earn less than $23,130 per year, while those on the high end earn over $109,490 a year. Master's degrees can contribute to higher salaries by giving you more skills and knowledge in the field. While many people with real estate degrees work as sales agents, there are a variety of career paths available, including those listed below.

Traditional Careers for MRE's

Career Stats Description

Real Estate Development Manager

Median Pay: $90,850

Job Growth: 10%

Development managers oversee the planning and execution of day-to-day tasks on a real estate development project, including forecasting, budgeting, and people and task management. These professionals generally work full time, with hours split between the office and the job site.

Ideal for: Skilled customer service professionals familiar with local building codes and regulations.

Property Manager

Median Pay: $58,670

Job Growth: 10%

Property managers perform a variety of tasks to ensure that commercial, industrial, or residential properties are maintained and retain or increase their leasing or retail value. They might show apartments, meet with property owners, or inspect properties.

Ideal for: Detail oriented and organized professionals.

Real Estate Investment Agent

Median Pay: $63,780

Job Growth: 6%

These professionals plan property investments and advise buyers on the best options for purchases, investments, or leases. They monitor property values and other trends in order to help clients expand their portfolios and generate income from their investments.

Ideal for: Investment professionals with an interest or existing specialty in real estate.

Real Estate Market Economist

Median Pay: $102,490

Job Growth: 6%

These professionals combine economics expertise and real estate knowledge in order to study and predict trends in the market. They may work as consultants, in think tanks, or within a company that manages real estate.

Ideal for: Economists with an interest in the complexities of real estate markets.

Non-Traditional Careers for MRE's

Career Stats Description

Merger & Acquisition Manager

Median Pay: $117,915

Job Growth: 19%

These professionals are high ranking members of companies in the position to acquire other companies or otherwise expand business holdings. A knowledge of real estate can prove especially helpful when expanding retail chains or buying new office space.

Ideal for: Business experts with experience and a variety of knowledge.

Urban or Regional Planner

Median Pay: $71,490

Job Growth: 13%

These professionals plan and implement changes to urban landscapes, such as planning for new housing and roads. A knowledge of real estate and housing trends can prove useful when planning for potential expansion and future development.

Ideal for: Urban planners with a knowledge of and interest in housing.

Real Estate Video Producer

Median Pay: $71,620

Job Growth: 12%

Advancements in video and communications technology make it easier to buy or tour real estate without being on the spot, and the production of such videos requires producers and other media professionals to create them.

Ideal for: Media professionals with an interest in and knowledge of real estate.

Master Architect

Median Pay: $78,470

Job Growth: 4%

Architects design and sometimes oversee the construction of buildings with a variety of purposes. Knowledge of real estate and market trends can help them keep their designs relevant and attractive to consumers.

Ideal for: Architects who focus on residential or commercial properties.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Real Estate

Tuition rates vary from one program to another and from one year to the next, so completing your degree faster often proves cheaper. Financial aid, whether in the form of student loans, scholarships, or grants, can help reduce or at least defray the cost of your online master's in real estate. Students can also receive subject-specific scholarships related to real estate.

Tuition Timelines

The time it takes to earn your master's in real estate online can vary by program. Students can follow one of three paths: part-time, full-time, or accelerated.

Part-Time Path

Part-time programs allow students to take their time by taking fewer credits per semester or term, which usually results in a program length of two or more years.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Florida State University
Total Credits Required: 39
Summary: Instructors teach these courses in eight-week sessions over a total of 28 months, enabling students to meet their filial and work obligations while getting their education.

Full-Time Path

Full-time programs expect students to take a full course load each semester. In the case of a master's degree, this usually means completing the program in about two years.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Georgetown University
Total Credits Required: 33
Summary: This program costs about $44,400 at today's rates, and it enables learners to complete their degree at a faster clip and enter the job market immediately upon graduation.

Accelerated Path

Accelerated programs help students move through their programs as quickly as possible, usually through intensive courses and large course loads.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Florida International University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: Students can complete this program in 10 months or one year, depending on whether students choose the fall or spring starts. Though intensive, this program helps students begin their careers as fast as possible.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

Students first need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Doing so allows you to qualify for financial aid from the federal government. Many people qualify for grants, which they do not need to pay back, and filing the FAFSA can also qualify you for student loans, scholarships, and work-study programs.

Students can receive subject-specific scholarships in addition to scholarships aimed at specific schools, programs, or student populations -- such as women or residents of a particular state. Check with your school's financial aid department to find the best scholarship for you.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Real Estate Program

While every degree offers unique classes, your online master's in real estate will likely follow some predictable patterns. The list below includes some important milestones, sample classes, and possible certifications for which your degree should prepare you. The details vary based on where you attend and the kinds of specialties you decide to follow, but this should give you a good idea of what to expect while looking for a school that works for you.

Major Milestones

  1. Apply - two to six months before program start

    Applying serves as the obvious first step, but applicants should ensure that they leave themselves the right amount of time to produce a quality application.

  2. Financial Aid Disbursement - beginning of program

    Depending on the program structure and the kind of aid you receive, you might get funds each semester or just at the beginning of your program.

  3. Capstone Approval - six months before graduation

    Most master's level programs require completion of a thesis or other capstone project to show that you can apply what you have learned.

  4. Capstone Research - last half of last year

    Completing your capstone project will take some time, with many programs allotting one or more semesters to allow you to focus on your project.

  5. Defend Thesis or Present Capstone - just before graduation

    If you have a final project, you will generally need to present it before faculty and even your peers to illustrate what you learned over the course of the program.

  6. Licensure - after graduation

    You must hold licensure to work in real estate. These programs typically prepare students to earn licensure upon graduation.


This section provides five sample courses, variations of which are commonly found in master's level programs for real estate.

Advanced Real Estate Investments and Valuation

These courses address risk taking and risk management in the context of real estate investment. Topics covered include return on investment and taxation.

Real Estate Law

These courses cover the various legal issues that pertain to and can come up in the day-to-day work of real estate professionals. Learners explore case studies in order to help them understand the material.

Special Topics in Real Estate

These courses tend to focus on one or two specific issues within the field, such as management, strategy, or outsourcing.

International Real Estate

These courses focus on the complexities of dealing with real estate across national boundaries. Instructors often use comparative models with examples from specific nations.

Real Estate Market Analysis

These courses address the tools and techniques used to analyze the current market and predict future trends in order to assist in investment and other business practices.

Requirements to Practice

A variety of certifications exist which can help advance your career. Licensure allows you to work in the industry, while certification show that you possess the knowledge and skills needed in that industry. The list below includes examples of both licenses and certifications.

  • Real Estate License: Each state lists its own unique licensure requirements, and you will need to earn a license for any state in which you work. Check with your state government to learn more about its specific requirements.
  • CCIM Designation: The CCIM designation verifies that the holder serves as a leader in real estate sales and professionalism in the country. Earning the credential requires significant career milestones.
  • CRS Designation: The CRS designation focuses on residential real estate and verifies that the holder can boast substantial experience. Those who earn this credential typically possess mid-career experience.
  • Certified Property Manager: This certification verifies that the holder has gone beyond the traditional real estate education requirements to specialize in property management. The Institute of Real Estate Management offers the credential and requires at least three years of experience.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations can not only help you advance your career, but they can also benefit you while you earn your online master's in real estate by providing networking and educational opportunities -- and sometimes even tuition assistance.

  • CCIM Institute: CCIM Institute focuses on the development of real estate professionals and the field itself, offering a variety of educational and networking opportunities.
  • Residential Real Estate Council: Established in 1976, RRC focuses on providing networking and professional development opportunities for real estate agents. They provide continuing education and a variety of other resources to members.
  • Institute of Real Estate Management: IREM works to advance real estate management as a profession, helping to advance its more than 20,000 members through training and collaboration.
  • Real Estate Business Institute: REBI is globally recognized for the group's work in professional development for careers in the real estate industry through courses, certification, and networking opportunities.
  • Real Estate Buyers Agents Council: REBAC focuses on representing real estate buyers and ensuring that those working in real estate think about the consumer's best interests.
  • Women's Council of Realtors: This organization helps advance the careers of women in real estate through networking, continuing education, and events that promote diversity and leadership.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development: HUD is the U.S. federal department that focuses on advancing fair housing and urban development. HUD works to uphold the Fair Housing Act and works with a variety of other groups.
  • National Fair Housing Alliance: The NFHA works to ensure that potential buyers or renters are not denied access to housing based on discriminatory policies or actions. They help to uphold the Fair Housing Act and other protections.
  • Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST: This organization works to ensure that builders adhere to the Fair Housing Act's requirements for construction and accessibility for people with disabilities and other mobility issues.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan Guaranty Services: The VA provides help for veterans, service members, and surviving spouses. It helps with home purchases and education, and its website offers a variety of helpful resources.