Building on its 30-year commitment to real estate education, the USC Price School of Public Policy has launched a new Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development degree program.
In 1986, USC Price took a leadership role in starting one of the first graduate degrees in the field, the Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development. Now, the school aims to do the same in the undergraduate arena, engaging students to understand not only the finance and investment facets of the field, but also the impact that real estate development has on communities.
Christian Redfearn, Borstein Family Endowed Professor of Real Estate and director of real estate programs at USC Price, helped develop the new undergraduate program that will have a unique focus on urban context.
One of the big trends on the planet right now is a rush to urbanization.
“One of the big trends on the planet right now is a rush to urbanization,” Redfearn said. “After 100 years of spreading out into suburbia, people are moving into cities all over the world. Professionals are needed to navigate that urbanization. With the policy and planning elements added to real estate, this degree will help students understand all the moving parts of an infill project, not just the finance.”
A legacy of innovation
USC Price — which previously offered a real estate development concentration in its policy, planning, and development major — becomes one of only three research universities nationwide with a specific real estate bachelor’s degree.
“Real estate development typically is done as a specialization within a broader degree in business,” said Sonia Savoulian, associate director for USC Price programs in real estate. “What we’re doing is saying the field of real estate development warrants its own distinct program of study.”
USC was at the forefront with its establishment of the Dollinger MRED degree; today, graduate real estate development programs are offered at more than 40 universities across the United States.
USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott sees great opportunity to expand professional real estate education to undergraduates.
This broader approach to education, combined with solid training in the technical core, helps to foster critical thinking and creativity.
Jack H. Knott
“While professional training in a specialized field, such as real estate, is important, there is a growing body of evidence that shows the value of an interdisciplinary education at the undergraduate level — education that also incorporates an understanding of people and their behavior, institutions and policies, and how society functions,” Knott said. “This broader approach to education, combined with solid training in the technical core, helps to foster critical thinking and creativity, essential ingredients in entrepreneurship and innovation.”
A comprehensive curriculum
Redfearn surveyed both Dollinger MRED alums and industry leaders to learn which undergraduates they hire and why they succeed. The result is arguably the most comprehensive undergraduate real estate curriculum in the country. Students will gain exposure to and training in real estate fundamentals, development, real estate market analysis, advanced finance investment, history of planning and development, and designing livable communities.
“The real estate industry is keenly aware of the role of other stakeholders and the impact they have on how real estate is developed and redeveloped,” Redfearn noted. “Our real estate students will understand this because the Price School fundamentally orients itself as interdisciplinary — linking the private, public and nonprofit sectors, as the world does.”
Redfearn added: “Price students are trained to look at the interaction between people and place, and the consequences that may have on development. As such, we believe that the Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development exposes students to the broader context of real estate development, allowing them to launch their careers by grasping the full structure of the industry and its role in society.
“We will require students to master real estate finance, but there’s more to real estate,” he said. “When you make a bet on a property, you’re typically making a bet on a neighborhood and city. Valuing real estate well requires knowing why both change. The context is essential.”
More stories about: Real Estate