Online Real Estate Degrees

You don’t need a degree to work in real estate, but getting an education online while working in the field is a way to advance your career more quickly. Working in real estate while you learn is a great way to apply theories and concepts from the classroom to the real world.


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Online learning opportunities in this field are less numerous than in other areas of business. Still, it is possible to find high-quality options, whether you are looking for an online certificate program, a bachelor’s degree or a master’s. The material is easily accessible online and most institutions will work with you to help you get practical experience locally.

In most cases, you need some background in business, whether in the form of a business degree or experience working in the field, or both. In the case of an online certificate in real estate, the assumption is that you are building on a general business foundation and adding a deeper knowledge of real estate. Online bachelor’s degrees in real estate offer a real estate concentration within a regular business degree. Master’s programs are more focused and require you to choose an area or function of real estate in which to specialize.

Advice from the Experts

We recently interviewed Grant Thrall, President of the American Real Estate Society, and Thomas Bisacquino, President and CEO of NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association). In the interviews, they discuss how their organizations help shape the future of the real estate industry, and share some advice for students preparing for a career in the field.

School Profiles

West Los Angeles College: This institution offers you a certificate or an Associate of Arts degree in real estate, both online. If you are just getting started, the associate degree will give you the background you need and prepare you to potentially sit for your broker’s license. (Be sure to check specific licensing requirements in your state.) You will study the basic principles of real estate, as well as legal and financial issues. Electives include options in property management, real estate tax law and real estate as an investment. The 30-hour program can be completed in less than a year of concentrated study, or can be stretched out to fit your schedule.

DePaul University: DePaul’s online Master of Science in real estate is designed for working professionals. You have the option of working full time and earning your master’s in a year, but the program is flexible enough that you can work at your own pace. The degree brings marketing, law, public policy, geography and economics experts together online for a unique learning experience. The mentoring program is designed to give even distance learners the benefit of building a network.

Introduction to Real Estate Careers

When someone is looking to rent an apartment, buy a house, sell a property or secure a business location, the first step is often to turn to a trusted real estate agent. That real estate agent, is first and foremost a salesperson, with a wealth of knowledge about the property he or she is selling and the general climate of the real estate market. This industry is largely service-oriented, meaning that a good real estate agent will accommodate client needs, not only trying to find the best property match for a client, but also being open to meet clients when they are available.

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Real Estate Job Description

Real estate agents provide services for people looking to buy, rent, sell, lease, or manage commercial, residential or industrial property. The job is split between finding property listings and locating buyers for these listings. At times an agent will work with a buyer, other times with a seller, and occasionally, with both at the same time.

Agents must write up the listings for the properties they handle, create buyer sheets filled with property information, and scour existing listings to assist buyers in locating a property to meet their needs. Once a property sells, a real estate agent must assist in drawing up contracts, filling out forms, and helping to locate financing. In most cases, the agent also advises buyers or sellers on pricing issues and negotiates the best possible deal.

Since real estate agents are typically independent salespeople, they must be self-motivated and able to work well without supervision. They often possess an entrepreneurial spirit, enjoying the freedom that comes from making their own decisions. Though real estate agents do have a lot of independence, they also are subject to their clients schedules, often working long hours, as well as weekends and evenings.

Real Estate Requirements

An advanced degree isn’t always required, but real estate agents must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and must be licensed by the state in which they work. Some states require up to 90 hours of real estate classes, and all states require agents to pass a written test dealing with real estate law and transaction regulations. In addition, continuing education units (CEUs) and licensing renewals are required.

Some real estate agencies prefer an agent to possess an associate or bachelor’s degree, especially when dealing with complex transactions or large, corporate clients. Classes in business administration, business law and finance are helpful, as are sales and marketing experience, strong communication skills, and even clerical abilities.

Deep into the digital age, real estate agents must also be tech savvy, knowing how to market properties on the Internet.

Real Estate Career Outlook

New real estate agents should be aware of two things: competition from established agents and the impact of the Web. While many buyers and sellers now turn to sites such as Craigslist, there are still opportunities in real estate. In fact, the number of real estate jobs is expected to grow faster than average through 2018.

The average annual earnings, including commissions, for real estate sales agents in 2008 were approximately $40,000; ranging from approximately $27,400 to about $64,800. Real estate brokers (those who are licensed to own their real estate businesses) tend to earn more with an average of $57,500.

Real Estate Trends

With the widespread use of the Internet to buy and sell properties, a career in real estate is not what it used to be. To be successful, agents must be savvy marketers and passionate salespeople with a strong desire to succeed.