The field of real estate offers competitive salaries and strong job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for real estate brokers and sales agents approached $48,000 in 2017, which is $10,000 higher than the median salary for all other occupations. Appraisers and assessors of real estate, as well as property, real estate, and community association managers earn even more, with median salaries of $54,010 and $58,670, respectively.
According to the BLS, the median salary for real estate brokers and sales agents approached $48,000 in 2017, which is $10,000 higher than the median salary for all other occupations.
The demand for real estate managers is projected to increase by 10% through 2026. For real estate appraisers and assessors, demand is projected to increase 14% through the same period. Real estate brokers and sales agents should expect growth more in line with the national average.
A bachelor's in real estate can equip you with the knowledge and professional skills needed to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Real Estate?
A real estate degree can help you enter or advance in the industry. Through these programs, you develop invaluable expertise in areas like brokerage and sales, mortgage lending, valuation, property management, equity investment, and development. Earning your bachelor's can prepare you for state licensure as a real estate appraiser or assessor, or it can boost your competitiveness and earnings potential as a broker, agent, or real estate manager.
Because so many of the students in these programs already work in real estate, many schools allow for online or part-time study to help learners balance their learning with personal and professional obligations. As these programs often do not require an internship or field experience, students can earn their degree entirely at a distance and from the comfort of their own homes.
Courses cover topics like real estate law and finance, the economics of land use, and the analysis of market data. Students learn about basic real estate practice, including how to list, advertise, and establish escrow accounts, as well as more advanced concepts related to management and accounting.
In addition to this in-depth coursework, real estate degree programs offer extracurricular benefits. By working closely with instructors and classmates, students can establish or strengthen their professional network, and many schools also offer internship, mentoring, and job placement programs to support recent graduates.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Real Estate?
With a real estate degree, you can take on any number of professional positions in the field, including commercial leasing manager, real estate broker, and escrow officer. Some graduates work for larger real estate firms, while others prefer to set out on their own or with a small group of employees working underneath them. Some earn licensure and work for government agencies.
Regardless of the career path you choose, you must possess strong analytical, organizational, math, and customer-service skills to succeed in real estate.
- Real Estate Analyst
Real estate analysts manage property holdings. They stay informed on markets and trends in order to guide future investment or identify the proper time to sell currently held real estate. Analysts in these roles must possess strong statistical and financial expertise. Employers typically prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree in real estate, accounting, finance, or business administration.
Median Annual Salary: $58,498
- Land Acquisition Analyst
Similar to the function of real estate analysts, land acquisition analysts monitor markets and trends to determine when to buy and sell parcels of land. Some analysts work for firms that deal exclusively in undeveloped property, while others work as specialists for companies seeking new land on which to build. Most companies require analysts to hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
Median Annual Salary: $60,376
- Property Manager
Property managers focus on the operations of commercial or residential properties like shopping malls or apartment complexes. Depending on the size of the property, they supervise maintenance crews, contractors, accounting and finance departments, and sales teams. These roles do not typically require a specific level of education, but a degree in real estate can give you a competitive edge.
Median Annual Salary: $47,315
Also known as real estate brokers, agents, or salespeople, realtors assist their clients as they buy and sell houses or other pieces of property. They perform a wide variety of functions, including staging and showing homes, setting selling and asking prices, and arranging for inspections. As with property managers, you do not need a specific level of education to become a realtor, though a real estate degree can signal your expertise to new clients.
Median Annual Salary: $51,571
- Real Estate Transaction Manager
Transaction managers oversee all aspects of real estate purchases and sales for their organization. They often work to resolve legal and financial matters related to those transactions and maintain accurate records for tax, banking, and transparency purposes. Generally speaking, transaction managers need at least a real estate bachelor's degree or an undergraduate degree in a related field.
Median Annual Salary: $53,219
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Real Estate Program
Many schools offer real estate degrees, making it difficult for you to know which program best matches your wants and needs. To help clarify your priorities and narrow your search, try asking yourself some of the questions below.
First, do you want to study online or on-campus? Online real estate programs offer tremendous convenience and flexibility, especially for students who need to balance their studies with jobs or family obligations. On-campus learning; however, may better serve students who want the structure and support of a traditional classroom setting.
Do you plan to enroll on a full-time or part-time basis? Many students see a real estate degree as a chance to advance at their company or expand an existing business, meaning schools provide allowances for part-time students who need to keep working while taking classes. Full-time students can earn their degree faster.
How much can you afford? The cost of tuition varies considerably from program to program, and you should remember to factor in expenses like room and board, books, and fees. Online students avoid some of these costs, but schools may require a small technology or distance-learning fee instead.
What exactly do you hope to study? You may want to hone your skills in statistical analysis in order to better understand the marketplace, but not all programs offer coursework in this area.
Finally, where is your school or program located? Online students can log on to classes from anywhere, but on-campus students need to consider the potential length of their commute, the cost and quality of life in their school's community, and the availability of jobs in the area.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Real Estate Programs
Accrediting bodies ensure that schools and programs meet certain educational standards and equip their students with the knowledge and skills necessary to find jobs after graduation. If you attend an unaccredited school, employers may not recognize your real estate degree, and other institutions may not allow you to transfer in your previously earned credit. In addition, you may not qualify for certain sources of financial aid, including federal grants and student loans.
Schools can apply for three kinds of accreditation: regional, national, and programmatic. The majority of nonprofit schools receive regional accreditation, which is generally considered the most prestigious of the three forms. Vocational and for-profit schools often receive national accreditation. Programmatic accreditors work within a particular field, such as psychology or business.
No programmatic accreditors operate in the real estate industry, though some online programs may receive accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, a national accrediting agency.
See the Council on Higher Education Accreditation's online directory for accredited institutions and programs to confirm whether your school holds regional or national accreditation.
Bachelor's in Real Estate Program Admissions
To apply to undergraduate real estate degree programs, you must hold a high school diploma or GED. Some colleges require you to maintain a minimum GPA, but many schools prefer to consider the entirety of your application package.
Depending on the program, you may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores, up to three letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. You may also need to pay an application fee.
Some colleges require applicants to participate in admissions interviews, though online programs tend to rely on this less frequently. After your interview, the school's admissions team decides to either accept you, deny your application, or place you on a "wait-list" -- which may allow you to gain admission if other students withdraw from the program.
To help improve your odds of acceptance, try to apply to at least three different schools. Select at least one "safety school" too: a program that you feel confident will admit you.
- Minimum GPA: Some programs require students to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA during high school. Students can sometimes receive conditional admission, allowing them to enroll with a lower GPA if they meet certain academic requirements in their freshman year.
- Application: More than 700 colleges and universities use The Common Application, which allows students to apply to multiple colleges at the same time. Make sure to confirm that your school participates in the app before beginning your application.
- Transcripts: You must submit your high school transcripts as part of your college application. Contact your high school directly to request that they send your official transcripts to all of the schools to which you apply.
- Letters of Recommendation: Plan to submit at least three letters of recommendation as part of your application. Request letters from former teachers, employers, and community leaders. Give your recommenders at least two months to write your letter.
- Test Scores: Most schools require you to submit either SAT or ACT scores. Schools typically do not require minimum standardized test scores, though they play an important part in the admissions decision. If you received a particularly low SAT or ACT score, consider retaking the exam.
- Application Fee: Schools often charge modest application fees, usually between $50 and $100. Students with demonstrated financial hardship can often request a waiver. Some schools also offer waivers or discounted fees to transfer students or members of the armed forces.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Real Estate Program?
While most bachelor's in real estate programs combine liberal arts instruction with specific training in real estate areas like law and finance, the exact nature of your course of study depends on your school and chosen career path. The cost of your real estate degree also depends on factors such as school location, rank, and mode of learning.
Courses in a Bachelor's in Real Estate Program
If you do not already hold an associate degree or plan to transfer credits from another college or university, you should begin your bachelor's studies with general education courses in subjects like math, science, and communications. As you progress into courses related to your major, you can expect to study topics like economics, taxation, and appraisal. The list below includes five common courses found in real estate programs.
- Principles of Real Estate
This course provides a broad overview of the issues students encounter during their undergraduate studies, including professional ethics, industry terminology, listing and purchase agreements, and property valuation agreements. The class examines these subjects through both a local and national real estate lens.
- Real Estate Practice
Especially for students who hope to become real estate brokers or agents, this class introduces the practical reality of working in the field. It covers subjects such as establishing a client base, listing properties, advertising, holding funds in escrow, and managing sales. To emphasize practical application of these concepts, the course relies heavily on case studies.
- Real Estate Economics
Economics plays a fundamental role in real estate, and successful professionals in this field need a basic understanding of its principles. In this course, students learn about land use, cycles and growth patterns, property and income taxation, and markets. Students also examine how government policies artificially constrain or promote growth as it relates to real estate.
- Property Management
This course serves as indispensable preparation for future property and association managers. It covers topics such as landlord duties and policies, leases, reports, maintenance, insurance, and the role of the property manager more generally.
- Legal Aspects of Real Estate
The law closely dictates the work of many real estate professionals. After an introduction to the U.S. legal system as a whole, this course delves into subjects like wills, zoning, contracts, environmental law, and ownership. It also introduces students to Constitutional issues such as the right of protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Real Estate?
To earn a real estate degree, you must complete about 120 credits. For full-time students, this usually takes about four years. Part-time students may require anywhere from six to eight years to graduate.
You can finish faster in several ways. Most commonly, students enter these programs already holding an associate degree in a related area or with previously earned credit from an accredited college or university. With an associate degree, you can potentially earn your bachelor's in as little as two years. Some schools allow students to transfer in up to 90 credits from another institution, meaning you can potentially graduate in just one year.
In addition, some online programs feature accelerated courses of study. Students in these tracks take a higher number of credits per semester in order to meet their graduation requirements more quickly. Some schools even offer self-paced courses in which students advance through the material as soon as they demonstrate mastery of key concepts. Generally speaking, accelerated tracks and self-paced courses cost the same as traditional approaches.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Real Estate?
The cost of a real estate degree can vary. At a for-profit, online school, for example, you may spend as much as $57,000 for four years of tuition. To attend an online program at a public university, you may only pay approximately $45,000 in tuition. In addition, many schools offer discounted tuition for state residents, current members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families.
You also need to remember to factor in costs beyond tuition. On-campus students should consider expenses like room and board, and distance learners may need to pay technology fees. In addition, all students must budget for books and other course materials.
To begin the process of paying for your education, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out the FAFSA allows the government to determine whether you qualify for grants, work-study positions, or student loans.
You can also apply for scholarships based on your academic performance, community service, and financial need. You do not need to return money received in the form of scholarships, grants, or work-study wages, but you do ultimately need to pay back student loans and any accrued interest.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Real Estate Prepares For
- Appraiser License
Federal law requires that all appraisers hold a state license or certification when working on transactions related to the work of the federal government, including appraisals for the purposes of securing a loan from a federally insured bank or financial institution. Congress authorized The Appraisal Foundation to set standards and qualifications for these roles, and the Foundation's website provides information on how to seek out certification.
- Real Estate Broker or Sales License
Real estate brokers need licenses to practice. Specific requirements vary from state to state, but generally speaking, aspiring brokers must be at least 18 years old, complete postsecondary courses in real estate, and pass a state-administered exam. Some states also require applicants to submit to a background check. Brokers and agents typically need to renew their licenses every two to four years.
- Property Management Licenses and Certifications
Some states require property managers to apply for a certification or a state license, and all property managers working with federally subsidized housing must hold some form of certification. Numerous professional organizations offer property management certifications. For example, the National Association of Residential Property Managers administers six credentials in areas like management, maintenance, and bookkeeping.
Resources for Real Estate Students
To help finance your real estate degree, complete the FAFSA and determine whether you qualify for federal grants, work-study positions, or student loans. The ED also provides information on how to find non-federal scholarships and fellowships.
ICSC works to ensure that the real estate industry receives recognition for its role in shaping social and economic communities. It also offers a career guide for students interested in real estate.
Representing professional appraisers, this institution offers both educational resources for those working in the field and a list of state agencies governing the work of appraisers. It also provides scholarships.
Rent to Own Labs, an online rental property listing site, offers a $2,500 scholarship to one real estate student each year. Students must declare a major related to real estate and maintain at least a 3.5 GPA.
Whether writing a college paper or a property advertisement, real estate students and professionals must know how to write well. Purdue OWL gives advice on all facets of writing, including grammar, constructing an argument, and conducting research.
Professional Organizations in Real Estate
After earning your real estate degree, you should consider joining a professional organization. These groups offer a host of benefits for their members, including online and in-person professional development, continuing-education resources, networking opportunities, and mentorship programs. Many organizations also advertise new job opportunities in the field.