Masters in Real Estate: Harvard / Columbia / MIT / UC Berkeley / Pratt


Hello everyone, 

I've recently been accepted for a Masters' degree in (more or less) the field of real estate at Harvard, Columbia, UC Berekely, MIT & Pratt. When I say more or less, I mean they are generally are the MDes REBE, MRED, programs etc.

I, however, did not receive any financial aid so I'm thinking this would run me between $80,000 - $120,000 to complete. I could finance some of it, but would need a loan of around $60,000+.

- Do you think it's worth the debt? Does anyone have some real experiences at any of those schools and could vouch for any one or the other? 

Is there any other way to seek financial aid? Can I appeal? Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. Naively I counted on receiving FA from the universities and now majority of the deadlines for scholarships have helped. Please let me know your thoughts!

Mar 14, 18 10:33 am

gsd financial aid won't be available for another week or so, iirc from my application

80-120k is the range for your starting salary, assuming you're a desirable candidate and you stick in a major market.  if i was realizing a massive jump in salary--say, 40k pre-degree to 100k post, then yes, ~60k in debt would be worth it.  same thing if the degree gave me a better career trajectory.  this calculus is highly dependent upon your personal situation, obviously.  

Mar 14, 18 10:46 am  · 

The RE programs publish the starting salaries of RE grads which tend to be well above 100k plus signing bonus, you are smart enough to get into these so you can do that research. I would suggest that as long as you went into the RE side of things after it would be well worth it because your starting salary would be higher than your debt load.

MIT and Columbia seem to be the most well know programs. Harvard is Harvard..l I am not as well informed on that program, but I am sure its great.

Pratt not worth the debt, the Berkley program just started this year but I would say MIT,Harvard,and Columbia would be worth the return on investment, plus they are only a year long so you will not be losing 3 years worth of salary like an M.arch.

Mar 14, 18 10:51 am  · 

Could you tell me why Pratt and Berkley is not worth it?


Pratt is fundamentally an art school, not an interdisciplinary research institution that reflects the nature of RE. Columbia and the others have a much more reputable RE program. Berkeley would be the best option only if you want to work exclusively in the bay area or/and have a strong interest in sustainability and social impact. USC would be the best program for west coast placement though.


Yes Pratt brings in RE Finance adjunct professors but there is no finance/economic research happening at Pratt that will give you a more sophisticated/holistic education rather than just learning how to model. In NY, Columbia and NYU are the only schools worth going for a MSRED.


In regards to salary, it depends on prior experience. if you are coming in with no RE experience, you would start out as an analyst and only be making $65-75K. $100K is if you are coming in with 3-5 years of RE Finance experience gunning for an associate level job.


Haha just read through my first post - clearly wrote it half asleep with all the spelling / grammar issues!!

Thanks to those who responded - completely agree with your points. Unfortunately, decisions for GSD financial aid are on the portal and it says that I did not receive any. Wondering if it's worthwhile letting my top choice know that I've received one from the others, don't know if that will help.

Mar 15, 18 8:11 am  · 

You can request an appeal/reconsideration but unless there has been an recent/unreported financial burden that was not in your application don't expect any changes. It wouldn't hurt to bargain with them, it's actually fairly common.


After having interacted with the various students from the programs mentioned above, I would highly recommend MIT or Harvard over Columbia. Columbia's program is a lot larger, in comparison to the MIT program and Harvard programs which are both are smaller and more tight-knit. Also, from my discussions with my friends who have graduated from the Columbia program, the career placement services are not at the level that one would expect due to its hefty price tag. Harvard and Columbia's program are more focused towards design, whereas the program at MIT is the most well known for its focus on Finance. 

At the end of the day, when it comes to the cost of a Masters in Real Estate and if it is worth it, it really depends on your ability to network and make the most out of the program. There are lots of students that go into the top real estate programs with the intent to start their own company after and look to meet classmates that can become their business partners.

Oct 3, 18 2:56 am  · 
1  · 

Completely agree with everything said here^


I tried to appeal my aid decision with GSAPP to no results. They mentioned that if I enter the program in the summer, there's the possibility that they might redistribute aid from students who didn't enroll for the following Fall term.

Mar 18, 19 7:35 pm  · 

"Trust us, the check is in the mail."


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