Top Online Real Estate Degree Programs for 2019

Purchasing a home, investment or new business property is not a simple process. Pursuing financing, pricing, obtaining insurance, filing for transfer of titles, and ensuring the property is safe for occupancy are just small parts of buying and selling real estate. There are many professional positions responsible for completing these tasks within the real estate industry, known for fluctuating according to economic health. Home appraisers and assessors, real estate brokers and sales agents, and real estate inspectors saw record highs in the housing market in 2015, with the sector finally back on its feet after the Great Recession. Though careers in real estate vary from state to state, a thriving economy presents ideal conditions for aspiring professionals in the field. Today, Boulder, Colo. and Elmira, N.Y. are among the fastest-growing housing markets nationally.

Careers in real estate require specialized knowledge, which is why individuals pursuing a real estate degree online develop familiarity with the entire process and the roles of each professional therein. Students can earn an online real estate degree from numerous specializations at some of the top-ranked colleges and universities. With employment opportunities rising due to a flourishing economy, obtaining a real estate degree online prepares graduates for a career with longevity and job security. Many employers prefer candidates who have earned a traditional or online real estate degree, like an online bachelor’s degree in real estate, with the expectation that these individuals are better equipped to serve their needs. All states have their own licensing requirements in addition to professional education stipulations. Earning a real estate degree online can be especially convenient for working adults, single parents, and part-time students.

What Are the Best Online Real Estate Programs?


Purdue Global University

Purdue offers a personalized online experience that's tailored to working adults via Purdue Global University. The school's business program includes the 180-credit BSBA degree with a real estate concentration that prepares learners for careers in management. Students receive a comprehensive business foundation with study of finance, business law, organizational behavior, and managerial economics. They use electives to complete a minimum of four 300- or 400-level courses in the real estate concentration. Students learn the foundations of real estate practice, real estate law, professional selling, and real estate finance and ethics. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED.


Herzing University Minneapolis, MN

In today's increasingly challenging business environment, organizations are constantly searching for well-educated individuals to fill critical roles. Whether you’re ready for an MBA, a bachelor's degree, or an associate's degree; Herzing Online has accredited and relevant programs, as well as support teams that can help you succeed. Herzing University offers a variety of nine degree programs in leading business areas to give you the management skills, practical knowledge, and organizational competencies necessary to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. Herzing University works closely with industry leaders and employers to ensure our programs are relevant for our students to succeed at the next level.

[Click here to get free information about online programs at Herzing University]


Marylhurst University Marylhurst, OR

Marylhurst University's online MBA in real estate is designed to provide students with a comprehensive business education. The program provides the strong foundation students need for future success in their career. MBA coursework teaches students to:

  • Achieve a solid understanding of current and emerging business issues and trends.
  • Increase knowledge needed to make effective business decisions and develop key strategies for success.
  • Benefit from learning MBA theory with specialized coursework in real estate, leadership, marketing, business, finance, and ethics.
Marylhurst's MBA degree in real estate helps students develop a core foundation in business while exploring the unique factors that influence the real estate industry. Accelerated online courses are taught by instructors using real-world case studies and professional experience to provide a dynamic business education.

[Click here to get free information about online programs at Marylhurst University]

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Real Estate Program?

For students enrolled in online real estate degree programs, curriculum requirements vary depending on the school. Required core courses or credits needed vary for each program. Students can expect to learn about the foundations of real estate, like property appraisal, brokerage management, and real estate investment.

Curriculum for an Online Real Estate Degree

  • Real Estate Principles: Courses in real estate principles cover the foundations of the industry: marketing, taxation, investment analysis, and brokerage management. Real estate principles courses also go over how to appraise, finance, and maintain property, and they cover the realtor's role in a consumer-driven market with government regulations.
  • Real Estate Appraisal: Real estate appraisal courses teach students how to evaluate home prices with various appraisal techniques and analysis strategies. The course explores the factors that affect real estate appraisal: social and economic conditions, sales price comparisons, home construction and quality, and architecture, among other circumstances.
  • Real Estate Finance: A course in real estate finance trains students to understand how real estate investments and transactions are financed. This course covers sources of real estate funds, the problems arising in financing real transactions, and what role government plays in financing and regulating business undertakings in the industry.
  • Real Estate Law: Students enrolled in the real estate law course learn about legal issues within the industry: acquisition rights, easement conflicts, property sales contracts, land use regulation, the legality of leases, and limited liability corporations, among other topics. Upon completion, students should feel prepared to navigate the oft-confusing legal landscape of real estate.
  • Real Estate Management: Students wishing to work in management within the industry should take a real estate management course. The class instructs students on handling the functions and responsibilities of a property manager, as well as how managers can create and implement strategic plans for future direction and company growth.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Real Estate Degree?

Online real estate degrees have no specific timeline for students. Completing a real estate degree depends on multiple factors: the type of degree, the student’s enrollment status, and whether the student has any transfer credits. Since states determine how many real estate education hours professionals must finish before taking a licensing exam, the requirements for degree program vary by state as well.

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in real estate typically must complete at least 120 hours before graduating, which could take four years to complete. If students have already completed core courses, transfer courses, or an associate degree, they can finish their real estate degree in a year or two. Some programs also allow students to fast track their real estate degree program through specially-structured online courses that can be finished in a matter of weeks.

Certifications and Licenses a Real Estate Degree Prepares For

Real estate agents must have a license to practice their profession. Regardless of location, agents must be at least 18 or 19 years old, complete the required hours in real estate education, and pass a licensure exam. Some states require applicants to pass background checks or complete post-license education after they've taken the licensure exam. Pre-license education hours totals fluctuate greatly by the state; Kansas requires just 30 hours of education, while other states, like Texas, obligate students to complete 180 classroom hours before taking their exams.

Real estate licenses cannot be carried over from state to state. Realtors must typically renew their license every two to four years, again depending on state regulations. If real estate agents want to climb the career ladder to become a broker, they must take a broker license exam.

What Can You Do With a Real Estate Degree?

While formal education requirements vary by state for real estate jobs, the best opportunities to further your career can come with earning a degree in real estate online. Though details of obtaining a license are also unique to each state, real estate professionals must achieve and maintain initial licensure regardless of where they practice within the U.S. Some states require a degree as a condition of licensure for real estate workers. Real estate brokers and sales agents are among the most common positions in the field, requiring skills in sales, negotiation, property taxes, and government housing programs. These multi-functional professionals must also be fluid in financing and mortgage options, as well as keep up with the latest zoning and homeowner laws. Professionals with an education in a particular specialization and/or with an advanced degree in real estate may be eligible for other positions within the field as home appraisers and assessors and real estate inspectors.

Salary Outlook for Real Estate Program Graduates

Real estate professionals can typically expect to make between $40,000 and $60,000, depending on experience and role within the industry. Real estate negotiators make an average salary of about $46,000, while real estate analysts have an average salary of nearly $58,000. If real estate professionals choose to work in management, they may earn six-figure salaries. A vice president of real estate acquisitions, for instance, makes an annual salary of nearly $121,000.

Average Expected Salary
Occupation Expected Salary
Vice President (VP), Real Estate Acquisitions $120,927
Real Estate Analyst $57,936
Real Estate Agent $47,514
Escrow Agent $46,220
Real Estate Negotiator $40,574

Professional Organizations in Real Estate

Real estate agents and brokers often join professional organizations and trade associations, allowing them to connect and network with others within the industry. These organizations provide educational opportunities, release research publications, and host events where professionals can learn from each other and share best practices. Oftentimes, students opt to join professional organizations to get head starts in real estate before graduating and heading out into the workforce.

Below are five professional organizations in real estate:

The National Association of Realtors
Over 1.3 million realtors have joined the National Association of Realtors, making it one of the largest professional trade organizations in the U.S. The NAR offers grants and legal funding for professionals, conducts and publishes research about the industry, and engages in political advocacy at the federal and state levels.
Commercial Real Estate Development Association
The Commercial Real Estate Development Association was specifically created for realtors in the commercial real estate world. CREDA provides networking opportunities through forums and local chapters and education opportunities for professional development.
National Association of Real Estate Advisors
The National Association of Real Estate Advisors gives members access to investment analysis tools and other resources to help realtors improve in their profession. It also provides educational courses and access to private groups and forums.
National Association of Expert Advisors
The National Association of Expert Advisors offers a Certified Expert Advisor certification, and also runs a coaching program for real estate agents who want to grow their businesses.
National Association of Real Estate Brokers
A professional trade organization dedicated to brokers in the industry, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers keeps its members connected through local chapters. NAREB is especially dedicated to fair housing practices for minority racial and ethnic communities.

Financing Your Online Real Estate Program

Online real estate degree programs can be expensive. Students should always submit an application for financial federal aid before pursuing higher education. The FAFSA clues students into how much they can receive in federal student loans. Students should also explore private funding opportunities through professional association scholarships, grants, or fellowships. Students should look into scholarships and grants within their state, as several funding opportunities are tailored to a specific state, region, or locality.

Scholarships for Real Estate Students

Students interested in pursuing real estate and hoping to find financial aid through scholarships can pursue several funding options within the industry. Many professional real estate associations provide generous funding through scholarships. Most scholarship contests require students to meet a minimum GPA or submit an essay, and some are specifically for minority or female students.

Schurgin Family Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship, offered by the International Council of Shopping Centers, requires students to be enrolled full-time in college, have a demonstrated interest in the retail real estate industry, and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also write two essays. Amount: $10,000

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Pension Real Estate Association Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Pension Real Estate Association offers $30,000 in multiple scholarships each year to students majoring or concentrating in real estate. Applicants should be enrolled full-time as a sophomore, junior, or senior and must also write a 500-word essay on why they decided on a career in real estate. Amount: $500 to $5,000

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ISCS Undergraduate Diversity Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is for students interested in real estate or a related field, and are members of an underrepresented minority group. Those minority groups include African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Asians or Pacific Islanders, and American Indians or Alaska natives. Applicants should also have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Amount: $5,000

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The Mildred C. Hanson, SIOR Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship, named for the first woman who earn the SIOR (Specialist, Industrial and Office Realtor designation), offers up to $4,000 to women wanting to work in commercial real estate. Applicants must be either a rising junior or a senior at an accredited four-year institution and must be studying real estate, business, or finance. Amount: Up to $4,000

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Glossary of Common Real Estate Terms

Ad Valorem Tax
This tax is based on the value of the property, determined and charged by local government authorities.
Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage whose interest rate is adjustable throughout the life of the loan and does not necessarily stay the same as when the loan was originated.
A person who is authorized to act on another's behalf. An agent in real estate may represent the seller, the buyer, or act as a dual agent representing both, as well as be a transaction agent that represents neither party but helps broker the deal; all real estate agents must be licensed in their state.
A written estimate of the value of a property by a qualified professional appraiser.
Assum. Fin.
Short for "assumable finance," this means the buyer is eligible to assume the seller's current outstanding loan, typically according to the same terms and interest rate as the original arrangement.
The abbreviation for "comparative market analysis," a CMA is a comparison of the selling prices of similar properties in the same zoning area.
Closing costs
The fees paid at the final closing of a real estate transaction, during which the title to the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer.
A condition in which an offer on a home has been made by the buyer and accepted by the seller, but the final sale is contingent upon specific criteria, such as appraisal, home inspection, and/or mortgage approval, being met.
This abbreviation stands for "for sale by owner."
A contract between a seller and real estate broker or agent to list the seller's property for sale and act on their behalf in order to broker a deal.
This abbreviation stands for "multiple listings service."
This abbreviation often included among listing details describing a property stands for "potential."
A representative who acts on behalf of a buyer, seller, or agency to facilitate the sale and purchase of buildings and property; may be used interchangeably with "agent" in relation to real estate.
Title insurance
A form of indemnity insurance which protects against financial loss from defectors in relation to property purchases, as well as invalid or unenforceable mortgage loans.

*The schools listed above are sponsored. Sponsored school listings are distinct paid advertisements and are clearly marked with a "SPONSORED" or "FEATURED" tag to distinguish them from editorially ranked schools. Learn more about how we rank schools or contact us with questions.

To determine the best online Real Estate programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the 2 best online Real Estate programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.