Strictly speaking, real estate agent is one of the jobs you don’t need a degree to get. However, the modern real estate world is complex and requires plenty of business skills and knowledge of real estate concepts and practices. Bachelor’s degrees in this field are becoming more sought after and more valuable. If you’re thinking about earning a bachelor’s degree in real estate, you should compare the different degree options available and go into your studies with an idea of what to expect from the curriculum.
Types of Real Estate Bachelor’s Degree Options
There are, in fact, several different types of bachelor’s degrees in real estate. Some programs are standalone majors. The Bachelor of Arts in Real Estate Studies, for example, is a distinct program of study. So are the Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development and the Bachelor of Business Administration in Real Estate.
Each of these programs comes from a different type of undergraduate degree. Generally, Bachelor of Arts degrees come from a liberal arts approach, while Bachelor of Science degrees emphasize technical or science coursework more strongly. A Bachelor of Business Administration degree, naturally, comes from the approach of a business school. Besides these distinct majors, there are real estate concentrations and minors in general business administration degree programs. A real estate concentration requires less extensive coursework in this specialized field than a full-fledged major program of study, instead allowing students to complete more courses in the broad business administration curriculum.
There are also important distinctions between the nature of these programs of study. Real estate development has more to do with investing in, developing and managing real estate properties than in helping clients buy and sell homes.
A Curriculum in Real Estate
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What will you study in a bachelor’s degree program in real estate? Even programs that aren’t presented as a Bachelor of Business Administration degree will include some business coursework in the curricula, including studies in accounting, organizational management, business law and marketing principles.
The number of real estate courses you will take varies from just a few in a concentration program to a dozen or more in the most specialized major programs of study. Some of the classes you may take include the Principles of Real Estate, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Practice, Real Estate Appraisal, Real Estate Economics, Commercial Real Estate Investment, Real Estate Law, Property Management and Strategic Management of the Real Estate Enterprise.
One of the requirements to become a real estate agent is taking prelicensing courses required by your state. The real estate courses you take as part of a college degree program may satisfy or waive those requirements, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Some real estate degree programs include limited coursework in architecture, such as Introduction to Design and the Environment and Architectural Representation for Non-Majors.
The Need for a Real Estate Education
Bachelor’s degrees in real estate are still relatively rare. Among real estate sales agents, a bachelor’s degree is not among the top three educational qualifications for the field, which combined account for 77 percent of the workforce. A high school diploma is the highest level of education for 43 percent of real estate sales agents, while 24 percent report having a post-secondary certificate and 10 percent never completed their high school education.
A college degree is more common among real estate brokers, who, according to the BLS, differ from agents because they are licensed to operate their own real estate business rather than working for a broker. The most common level of education for brokers is a bachelor’s degree, which 37 percent of the profession has. Another 24 percent report having some college education but never finishing a degree, and 12 percent of brokers have only a high school diploma.
Beyond the coursework required for licensure, a lot of real estate training happens on the job. Often, newly licensed real estate agents spend some time with a mentor or another experienced agent as they learn the ropes of professional practice. Of course, just because you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to get this job doesn’t mean that the skills you gain won’t be valuable. There’s a certain learning curve in the profession, and the real estate courses you took in the classroom help flesh out your knowledge so you can more successfully decipher market trends and understand and solve problems.
Even if you don’t pursue further education in the form of a college certificate or degree program, you must take some coursework to get your real estate license. These courses may be offered at community colleges, universities and independent real estate schools.