MRED Class of 2013 graduate Cooper Morrison discusses his team's Capstone Project development plans before Reynolds Plantation executives. / Image by Joe McAdory
Beau Bevis said he wanted to broaden his horizons and his education.
Auburn University’s Master of Real Estate Development program (MRED) did more for him than that.
“It also boosted my confidence level,” said Bevis, a 16-year veteran of the real estate industry who works as President and Qualifying Broker at ARC Realty in Birmingham and one of 13 Auburn MRED spring graduates. “You are exposed to so many different things in this program. You are sitting down with people who are industry leaders and it gives you confidence when you sit down with someone in your local market that you know what you are talking about. It's that confidence level of being exposed to larger projects that boosts your credibility in the eyes of your clients.”
The two-year, six-semester program, a collaboration between the College of Business, and the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, is offered to real estate developers and executives with a minimum of three years of professional experience and an undergraduate degree in a related field. Tuition for the program is currently $54,210.
Students use a blend of distance learning with on-campus residencies, and field studies at real estate projects around the world, to meet with developers, contractors and designers to sharpen their skills.
“We’re the only executive degree-granting program in real estate development in the country,” said Michael Robinson, MRED Chair and Hugh Daniel Professor of Real Estate Development. “There are pure distance education programs in real estate development and there are evening courses for real estate professionals in a few major, urban areas, but we are unique in our educational delivery model.
“By being able to work full-time while they are in school, many of the things students learn in residency or on field trips, they apply the next day or next week in their current practices.”
The program involves 10 courses:
• Principles of Real Estate Development
• Real Property Analysis
• Real Estate Market Analysis
• Building Design and Construction Principles
• Site Planning and Infrastructure Development
• Real Estate Investment Analysis
• Real Estate Project Management
• Contract Negotiations
• Real Estate Securitization
• Real Estate Development Law
Courses are taught by 14 graduate-level faculty members from the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and the College of Business.
“The program was valuable to me because of the real world practical experience gained through classroom and field study assignments,” said Calvin M. Lassere, National Director of Capital Markets of Concordis Real Estate Advisors, LLC, in Atlanta.
“As taxing as it is from a time standpoint, it is geared to be compatible with someone working full time,” Bevis added.
Hobie Orton, Project Manager for Commercial and Residential Development for Biltmore Farms, LLC, in Asheville, N.C., said the program “completely changed my perspective of real estate development.”
“Even with having a diverse background and experience in real estate development, I found I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in areas I do and do not practice every day,” said Orton, who graduated from the program on May 4. “This knowledge resulted in immediate positive impacts to my current projects and will certainly affect every deal in the future.
“Developers are required to be experts in a wide range of fields, and the MRED Program provides valuable insight into all of them. Additionally, the MRED Program combines academic theory with real world applications that adds immediate value for the working executive.”
A cornerstone of the program is the Capstone Project, where teams are formed and in-depth and comprehensive feasibility studies are presented before a review panel of executives in the industry. For the Class of 2013, that entailed creating exhaustive plans to develop a 60-acre continuing care retirement village at the Reynolds Plantation resort in central Georgia, on Lake Oconee. An in-depth story on the Capstone Project and its impact for students can be viewed here.
The Class of 2012 created development plans for the “Big Dig” in Boston, on a 36,000-square foot area of Parcel 9 above Interstate I-93. An urban project in Midtown Atlanta awaits the Class of 2014.
Aside from the Capstone Project, classes take field trips to enhance their educational experience. The program has already visited development sites in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Buenos Aires (Argentina), Auckland (New Zealand), and Melbourne (Australia).
“On a typical field trip we will meet with developers and with their design and construction teams for specific projects,” Robinson said. “We will tour their projects while they are under construction or the lease-up phase. We also meet with construction companies, architects, city planners, and investment fund managers. We go to meet with investment fund managers – all major players in real estate development. We see cutting-edge ‘mixed juice’, high-performance projects all over the world. Many of them are public-private partnerships between municipalities and developers, and often include construction managers and architects.”
Another important aspect of the program is peer-to-peer learning. Students aren’t just students – they are veterans of the field coming together in the classroom.
“Cohorts (classmates), in general, have approximately 10 years in experience in either real estate development or in fields closely related to real estate development,” Robinson said. “You have more experienced cohorts so that peer-to-peer learning that goes on within the program is really unmatched in any traditional degree program in the country.”
“The level of relationship development is enhanced for each individual because everyone brings a high level of knowledge and experience to the classroom,” he said. “Furthermore, I liked the way the professors enhanced these relationships through group projects that were done over the last two years.”
Robinson said changes in the real estate development industry as a whole “in the past 15 years” should encourage executives to consider improving their education in the field.
“First of all, the sources of funding for real estate developments are completely different than they were,” he said. “A lot of real estate developments in the past were funded by banks and country club investors.
“Today, Wall Street is involved in funding everything from suburban residential development to high-rise urban mixed use projects. So the sources and types of funding are much more complex. Project delivery methods have changed substantially. The way in which an owner might procure design and construction services has changed. The way that architects, engineers, contractors, sub-contractors, and material-suppliers, are organized for project delivery has also changed substantially.
“The entire regulatory environment within which real estate development has to function, not just environmental, but also within the political realm, has become much more involved. To begin to understand these changes which create many more headaches at one level, but also many more opportunities, is important. As we see emerging all over the United States, real estate development has been an expanding academic discipline.”
For more information on the Auburn University MRED program, visit http://mred.auburn.edu/index.php, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Jana Smith, Assistant Director of Executive MBA Programs, at (334)-884-5078.