RU: Rigorous, Academic—and Very Practical

REALTORS® have their own university now, and it’s both a very real university and a very different one. It’s real in the sense that the first degree-granting program on offer—the Master of Real Estate (MRE)—is a fully recognized degree by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. What makes it different is that it was designed from the beginning to be practical. That means it’s all online, so you can go back to school for your Master’s no matter where in the country you’re located and without having to take time away from selling real estate, because to a certain extent you can do your work when it suits your schedule. It also means its curriculum, while adhering to academic standards for rigor, is also concrete by design, so that what you get is more than theory; you get practical knowledge that translates into practical business know-how for you today.

Al Naticchioni, CCIM, CRS, a 30-year veteran real estate broker in Redding, Calif., who owns his own RE/MAX office, is one of about two dozen graduate students in the program’s 2012 academic year and already he’s taken what he’s learned to save one of his transactions from falling apart. He was working with a buyer who had made an offer on a property that was being sold by a trust. When the trustee passed away, the replacement trustee said the property was being taken off the market. But Naticchioni had just learned about trusts in his Real Estate Law class and, using the research skills he learned, was able to show that the trust had to follow through on the original trustee’s wishes as long as it could be demonstrated that the sale was in the best interests of the trust, which he was able to do. The result: the transaction stayed on track.

Another first-year MRE student, Erica Ramus, who owns Ramus Realty Group in Pottsvile, Pa., applied what she learned in a matter involving mineral rights in a shale-gas contract. Her market is a big shale-gas area and her class gave her the tools to understand the details of these complex leases. “I learned to analyze a shale gas lease, so right way I used something from the class,” she said.

Like any Master’s program, applicants have to have a Bachelor’s degree and meet academic requirements. The school looks for a minimum 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (GPA), although the school will look at test scores as well for students who fall below that. The program requires completion of 36 credit hours (12 classes), although some classes can be waived for students who’ve already taken academically equivalent classes.

The school also has a research arm, the Center for Real Estate Studies, which has already published two academic papers, including one we reported on earlier that looks at the “hurdle rate,” which is the point at which it makes more financial sense for a person to buy rather than to rent. Upcoming papers will look at forecasting housing demand in the decades ahead and the type of housing that different generatons will be interested in in the near future.

It’s an exciting time for the school, and there’s more to come, says the chair of the school’s Board of Regents, Richard Rosenthal, DSA, president of The Rosenthal Group in Marina Del Ray, Calif. As soon as it can, it will apply for academic accreditation with the accrediting body (it takes two years of operating background before it can even consider applying for candidacy) and it will start to reach out to students globally soon.

The 7-minute video above is a REALTOR® Magazine report on how the school’s doing in its first year. If you’re thinking about getting your Master’s degree or know someone who is, the video should be informative. In it, students in the program share their observations about taking classes online and how the curriculum relates to their day job, which is selling real estate.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is director of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at

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  1. What about those of us that do not have our undergrad? I have about 30 percent of my undergrad done and have taken several RE classes including my CRS and Brokers licenses. Can I get crest for all of that toward a degree?