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The MBA Real Estate Boom: Inside The Schulich Real Estate Program

Schulich Real Estate

Real estate is booming. In fact, according to the Financial Times, commercial property asset values and investment yields have surpassed levels prior to the Great Recession, and there is continued strong demand for offices, urban apartments, and more. It’s all thanks to continued low interest rates and tight supply.

What has this real estate boom meant for business schools? It’s meant a decrease in interest in banking and an increase in interest for real estate study, particularly among MBA students who understand the cycle and want to get involved while they can. The reality is that there are many jobs in real estate, and that’s what MBA students want.

According to Sherena Hussain, an assistant professor in Infrastructure at the York University Schulich School of Business, “The real estate and infrastructure sectors account for a large proportion of a nation’s GDP.” So, it shouldn’t be surprising that many top MBA programs are prioritizing real estate curriculum, specializations, and clubs for their students.

Real Estate and Infrastructure at the Schulich School

Real estate and infrastructure have an indispensable role at the Schulich School. Not only does the school offer a Master of Real Estate and Infrastructure (REI), but MBA students can also specialize their curriculum with a focus on REI. The MBA specialization focuses on “creating and maintaining places for living, working, shopping, learning, recreation and culture, and the critical accompanying support systems ranging from mobility and logistical networks, to utilities and energy supply,” according to the school website.

One of the reasons behind the MBA REI specialization at Schulich is Toronto itself.

“Many of the leading global Real Estate and Infrastructure firms are located in Toronto,” explains Hussain. “If you are interested in a career in real estate and infrastructure, Schulich’s MBA specialization is a rare opportunity to develop your understanding, skills, and network in a way that leverages the specialization’s top-tier reputation and committed faculty and alumni base.”

As part of the REI specialization, students must complete 12 credits focused on real estate including two required courses: Real Estate Finance & Investment and Development Prototypes. Other potential courses include:

  • Partnership Models for Infrastructure Delivery
  • Structuring Real Estate Transactions
  • Commercial Real Estate Asset Management

“The idea behind the REI MBA specialization is to bring students to industry and industry into the classroom,” Hussain outlined in an email exchange with MetroMBA.

“Our faculty and sessional instructors have real-world experience and bring this perspective into the classroom by leveraging experiential learning at its finest. Examples include flying in senior policy officials to judge a capstone assignment about international infrastructure, bringing leading CEOs into the classroom as guest speakers in REI investment classes, or partnering with a leading national-law firm to have our students learn how to negotiate joint venture agreements. This is a small sample of how the REI MBA specialization approaches holistic learning.”

But holistic learning isn’t just regulated to the MBA program and inside classrooms. It can be found throughout the school, including within Schulich’s Real Estate and Infrastructure Club (SREIC).

Schulich Real Estate and Infrastructure Club

SREIC is open to all Schulich business students interested in learning more about pursuing a career in real estate and infrastructure. The club acts as a liaison between students, the industry, and professionals.

“SREIC offers MBA students an opportunity to supplement their learning with real-world, co-curricular programming and unique networking opportunities,” says Hussain. “It’s a student-run group that has the full backing of Schulich’s Real Estate and Infrastructure program faculty, and it is one of the most active student groups at the business school.”

Programming offered by the club includes:

  • Value-Oriented Programming: site visits, breakfast seminars, conference engagements, project panels, case competitions, etc.
  • Deep Industry and Alumni Relations: on a one-on-one and broad basis through speed mentoring, recruitment breakfasts, and keynote events.
  • Leadership Development Opportunities: including the semi-annual resume book circulated to recruiters and senior leaders.

There are also several keynote events that take place each year including Schulich’s Developers’ Den international case competition, ARGUS training, and Schulich’s annual Perspectives Lecture. And one event that just took place in February was the annual New York City real estate study tour.

The study tour is part of a partnership with Columbia University’s real estate program, beginning several years ago. It’s a three-day intensive and transformative real estate experience that takes students to site visits and tours of leading real estate and infrastructure firms all over NYC. Some of those firms include Blackstone, Related Companies, Oxford, Vornado Realty, WSP, Brookfield, and Silverstein Properties. The goal is to give students a glimpse into the future of real estate 

“Schulich students benefit from learning more about a new market, as well as having a basis for global comparative learning,” Hussain explains. “The partnership [with Columbia] offers an opportunity to develop a network of peers engaged in commercial real estate development in New York City and across the U.S. Each year, the club visits a development class held at Columbia University to learn more about their approaches to learning about real estate. In return, the Schulich School hosts an annual friendship dinner in Manhattan to offer more opportunities for students, alumni, and friends of industry from Canada and the U.S. to forge relationships.”

The trek is a unique event that gives Schulich students a chance to explore real estate and infrastructure in a whole new way.

“The 2018 SREIC New York trip was an excellent and well-balanced learning experience for students who are truly passionate about real estate and infrastructure,” says James Chang, an MBA student working to his REI specialization. “A prime example of ‘outside the classroom’ learning with the perfect balance between education, relationship building, and fun. I would highly recommend it to students in the MREI or MBA program to take advantage of this opportunity next year!”

To learn more about real estate and infrastructure at the Schulich School of Business, visit the school’s website.

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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