Frequently Asked Questions

What is the MBA Real Estate Program at Columbia Business School?

The MBA Real Estate Program builds upon the strengths of Columbia Business School’s top-ranking MBA program, providing students an unparalleled opportunity to expand their entrepreneurial skills while focusing on real estate finance and investment management.

As real estate is both a physical and a financial product, with transactions taking place in local space as well as global asset markets, the MBA Real Estate Program emphasizes an interdisciplinary blend of theory and practice, providing students with not only solid real estate fundamentals, but also critical thinking, complex problem-solving, and both written and oral communication skills.

What is the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate?

Beyond the classroom, the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate provides a coveted platform for sharing expertise and strengthening networks through stimulating exchange among industry leaders, alumni, faculty, and fellow students. The Center is a vital resource, offering more than 40 annual programs, bookended by the Real Estate Symposium in the fall and the Real Estate Alumni Reception in the spring, both of which are produced in partnership with the Real Estate Circle, a growing community of our alumni. The Center promotes its activities and events, as well as the MBA Real Estate faculty’s intellectual leadership, and the MBA Real Estate Program.

In addition to a rigorous curriculum, the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate runs more than forty programs annually, for alumni, students and industry professionals.  Some examples can be found below:

  • Young Alumni Career Breakfasts: Small groups of MBA real estate students meet with a young alumni over breakfast to candidly discuss career paths, recruiting and the job market, and current trends in the real estate industry.
  • Distinguished Real Estate Speaker Lunches: Real Estate Speaker Lunches are exclusive opportunities for a group of MBA real estate students to hear from and engage with a senior real estate practitioner.
  • Career Panels: Panel series highlighting different careers in real estate. The career panels are led by prominent industry leaders in varying positions and companies within the field, providing students with exposure to different paths within the real estate industry.
  • Real Estate Business Plan Competition: This competition is integrated into the Real Estate Project Class.  Teams of real estate students enter real estate business plans for feedback and cash prizes in this competition.  A core group of dedicated Business School alumni—all working in the real estate industry—make up the team sponsors as well as the judging panel for the competition.
    Students explore entrepreneurial real estate opportunities through the Real Estate Project Class. In the Project Class, students work on group projects with industry sponsors. Under the founding idea of the competition, students working in groups are given an opportunity to take the kernel of an idea, develop it into a comprehensive business plan, and make an oral presentation of the plan to their class. Through their participation, students enhance their research, problem-solving, team work, and presentation skills.
    The Project Class participants present their plans to a group of senior professionals, faculty members, members of the Real Estate Circle, alumni, mentors, and peers. The Project Class Final Presentation event is followed by a reception and awards ceremony. Cash prizes are awarded to top-scoring plans as judged by a panel of Columbia Business School alumni and real estate practitioners.
  • Real Estate International Study Tours: Each year, the student-run Real Estate Association (REA) plans an international study tour to learn first-hand about diverse and emerging real estate markets. Recent destinations have included China & Singapore (2016), Colombia & Mexico (2015), China (2014), Brazil (2013), China (2012), and Mexico (2011). These study tours are supported by the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate and the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business. 
  • Industry training: The Paul Milstein Center along with the Real Estate Association supports student training in Argus software.

How do I apply?

The Real Estate Program does not require a formal application process.  Once admitted to the Columbia Business School MBA program, students may take electives in the real estate area to complement the broad management training offered by the MBA core curriculum.  To specialize in the real estate area at Columbia Business School, students will take Real Estate Finance and at least three additional electives.

Please contact the admissions office directly in regards to the application and admissions process to the Columbia Business School MBA program. Feel free to email admissions at [email protected] or by phone at 212-854-1961. Please note that only students admitted to the MBA program are eligible to take courses in the Real Estate program.

What classes do I have to take?

MBA students generally take their first real estate elective, Real Estate Finance, in their second semester as it is a prerequisite for all other real estate courses. An exemption exam is also available for Real Estate Finance.

Students wishing to complete a real estate related internship between first and second year benefit from having Real Estate Finance completed before beginning the summer work term. 

For a better idea of what a real estate course load might look like, see the courses and curriculum.

Can I take a class if I’m an EMBA student?

EMBA students are always encouraged to take Real Estate classes as long as they meet the prerequisites.  They are also encouraged to join the Real Estate Association and participate in the Center’s programming and activities.  The Real Estate Program falls under the full-time MBA program, and classes are scheduled accordingly; however, Real Estate Finance is offered as an EMBA specific section during the summer term.

What is the REA?

One of the largest and most active clubs at Columbia Business School, The Columbia Real Estate Association (REA) is a resource for MBA students interested in pursuing a career in the real estate industry, from property development and management to real estate finance and investment. The REA holds regular events, site tours, local and international study trips, and hosts frequent real estate industry and alumni speakers. The REA mentoring program seeks to give members the knowledge, experience, and resources that help find a successful career in real estate.  Pairing first-year MBA students who have demonstrated interest in real estate with a young alumnus in the industry, the program fosters networking and promotes the pursuit of careers in real estate. It is not intended to be tied to an internship or job opportunity. The mentor-mentee relationship is designed to last for the entire period of a student’s studies at Columbia Business School.

The Center works closely with the student-run Real Estate Association (REA), one of the most sizeable and active student groups on campus.  More information on the REA is available here.

What kind of jobs are your students getting after graduating?

For information on employment and hiring statistics, please check out the employment page.

Can I speak to a current student?

To connect with a current student, you can reach out to members of the Hermes Society, a student-run organization that works closely with the admissions office, and provides perspective on student life at Columbia Business School. You can reach out to the Hermes society here.

You can also reach out to officers of the Real Estate Association for more information. One of the largest and most active clubs at Columbia Business School, the Columbia Real Estate Association (REA) is a resource for MBA students interested in pursuing a career in the real estate industry, from property development and management to real estate finance and investment. You can find their contact information here.

Read testimonials from students and recent alumni.

Find more information on employment and hiring statistics.


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