Working as a real estate agent or broker can be a satisfying and lucrative career, as you help individuals, developers, or others to find properties that are right for their purposes. Overseeing a successful sale can be a rewarding experience that offers a high degree of job satisfaction and an excellent pay rate.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a real estate broker is $62,010, while agents make a median wage of $48,340. The BLS projects that the need for real estate brokers and agents will increase by roughly five percent over the next decade, so there will be a continuing need for new professionals as older agents and brokers retire or leave the field.
In this article, we will look at some of the reasons why you might want to get a real estate degree online and how you can do so in a cost-effective manner.
Why Should You Earn a Real Estate Degree?
While entry-level positions in real estate are attainable by those with a high school diploma, there are definite advantages to earning an undergraduate degree in the field. Having a bachelor’s degree in real estate, or in business with a real estate concentration, makes you a more desirable employee for many real estate firms, even if you are just starting out and haven’t gained on-the-job experience yet.
In some states, having a bachelor’s degree may allow you to bypass some of the training required to earn your agent’s or broker’s license. This is because it will be assumed that you already have a good general knowledge of real estate gained through your academic experiences. You will have a solid grounding in business fundamentals, real estate law, and other topics related to the profession. Depending on your program, you may also have earned specialist knowledge in subjects such as commercial real estate, property development, or construction management.
A degree-bearing program in real estate may also include experiential learning in the form of internships or practicums. This means your resume will include work experience, even as a new graduate. An internship can also allow you to start building a network of professional contacts who can be valuable sources of information and referrals.
How Much Do Real Estate Degrees Usually Cost?
The cost of a bachelor’s degree program at an American college or university varies greatly depending on several factors.
One factor that significantly impacts cost is whether your chosen school is a public or private institution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of annual tuition at four-year public institutions in 2020-21 was $9,400, while at private nonprofit colleges and universities, it was $37,600.
When considering a program at a private college, it’s important to explore all options before assuming it’s unaffordable. Don’t let the initial cost deter you from pursuing your education and potential career opportunities. Most private institutions have a full range of scholarships, grants, and loan options that can help lower the cost of tuition and fees to a reasonable rate.
Another factor to consider is whether your chosen program is at an institution in your state of residence or at an out-of-state college or university. Why does this matter? Many, though not all, schools charge a different rate for in-state students than out-of-state students. Since the increasing popularity of online education means that students are able to attend college anywhere in the U.S., more and more students are choosing to attend college outside of their home state.
The differences can be significant. According to one estimate, the average rate for in-state tuition at a public, four-year undergraduate institution is $9,212, while the average out-of-state tuition rate is a much higher $26,382. However, if you are attending an out-of-state institution, you may be eligible for discounts, scholarships, or other financial aid to mitigate the higher rates.
How Can You Reduce the Cost of Your Real Estate Degree?
No matter what college or university you choose, there are ways to help you reduce costs. To begin with, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form, which can be filled out online, opens the door to federal sources of funding, such as Pell Grants. Your chosen institution may also use the information from the FAFSA to determine school-based financial aid, so be sure to submit it promptly.
You may also want to explore other funding sources, which may come from businesses, professional organizations, or nonprofits. Here are a few to get you started:
- Scholarship Program for Real Estate Excellence: Sponsored by graphic design firm Sprak Design, this scholarship is available for American, Canadian, and Australian students studying real estate at the undergraduate level. Scholarships are for $5,000, and the deadline for application is May 15.
- Real Estate Scholarship Program: Sponsored by AIS Technolabs, this is open to American, Canadian, and Australian students who are studying full-time at an accredited institution and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Scholarships of $5,000 are awarded annually.
- AIERF Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships: Sponsored by the Appraisal Institute Education and Relief Foundation, which offers several scholarships, including two for minorities and women, with a focus on students interested in real estate appraisal.
- ICSC Scholarship Program: Sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers, there are a variety of scholarship options here, including an undergraduate scholarship for $5,000 that also includes an all-expenses-paid trip to an ICSC event and mentorship.
Another way to potentially save money is to see if your school will accept experiential learning experiences for credit. Prior learning assessments (PLA) are popular at many schools, and you may be able to use any past real estate experience to your benefit.
You may be able to earn credit for foundational courses by taking exams offered through venues including the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or DSST (formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Tests). There is a cost for taking these tests, but it is far less than you would pay for a college course and may allow you to earn the credit without taking the class.
This list features some of the country’s most affordable real estate degree programs. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.
We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.
Next, we compared this comprehensive list of the most affordable real estate degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.