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While there are several pathways to starting a career in real estate, earning a degree in the field has its advantages. Having a college education can expedite the real estate licensing process and give students the business skills they need to start their own real estate brokerage company.

Real estate brokers and agents earn a median annual salary of $52,030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, because salaries for real estate agents and brokers depend largely on commissions, external factors like location or economic downturns can affect their income. Therefore, finding an affordable real estate degree program is essential to ensuring you have a strong return on your investment.

Cost Breakdown for a Real Estate Degree Program

Although students typically focus on tuition when considering how much a real estate degree program costs, there are other expenses that contribute to the overall amount a student pays for their program.


Tuition is the most significant cost students must consider when enrolling in a real estate degree program. Every school sets its own tuition rates and policies. For full-time students in undergraduate degree programs, schools typically charge a flat, per-term tuition rate. Part-time students usually pay per credit hour based on the number of classes they take per term. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost for undergraduate programs at all postsecondary institutions is $830 per credit. However, tuition rates vary widely based on several factors discussed below. For the most accurate information about tuition, students should consult with their school’s financial aid office.


Schools also commonly charge additional fees for specific services or resources. For students attending programs in person, this may include fees for on-campus activities, technology resources like computer labs, and parking. There may also be fees associated with your specific academic program, such as background checks or licensing exam fees for real estate students. Fees can be charged on a one-time, annual, or per-term basis. Students should confirm the fee schedule with a financial aid counselor and include those costs in their budget.

Room and board

If you’re attending a real estate degree program in person, you may also consider living on campus. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the annual cost of room and board (on-campus meal plans) was $13,175 for the 2022-23 academic year. Living off campus may be less expensive, but students should still budget for housing and living expenses, including commuting costs like gas, parking, or public transit fees.

Books and supplies

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average postsecondary student spent between $628 and $1,200 for books and supplies during the 2021-2022 academic year. Before starting a real estate degree program, assess the technology you currently have, including your computer and internet access, and determine if you need to upgrade to more reliable tech. Other supplies needed for a real estate degree program may include a professional wardrobe for internships or office furniture for at-home learning space.

Factors Influencing the Cost of a Real Estate Degree Program

Tuition for a real estate degree program can vary widely based on the following factors:

Public vs. private institution

Colleges in the U.S. fall into one of two categories: public or private. Public institutions receive money from federal and state governments to fund their operations and subsidize tuition costs, particularly for students who live in the state where the school is located. Therefore, tuition is often lowest for in-state students at public universities. Out-of-state students who attend public universities typically pay a higher tuition rate. Meanwhile, private colleges, which don’t receive government funding, charge higher tuition rates because they rely more on tuition as a revenue source. Because of this, private institutions charge all students the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.

Nonprofit vs. for-profit

Colleges are also classified as non-profit or for-profit. All public and most private universities are non-profit. Schools with this status must reinvest revenue into the institution through faculty and staff salaries, infrastructure, student services, and more. For-profit schools operate like corporations, with the primary goal of earning a profit. Although tuition rates may be lower at for-profit schools, students should consider the quality of education they’re getting for their money. Because for-profit schools invest less in faculty, infrastructure, and other student resources, students may receive a different quality of education at these schools than at a non-profit. Students considering for-profit schools should carefully review how the institution invests its money and its student outcomes.

Student military status

Many schools offer discounted tuition rates to students who are currently serving in the military or are veterans. Spouses and children of active-duty service members and veterans may also be eligible for special tuition rates. Students who think they might be eligible should consult the school’s financial aid office for more information.

Number of credits and completion time

The more time you spend on your education, the more you will pay. The minimum number of credits for a bachelor’s degree in real estate is 120, which typically translates to four years of full-time study. If you have college credits from an associate degree or previously attended a bachelor’s program, you may be able to transfer those credits to your real estate degree program, decreasing your completion time and costs. If this situation applies to you, seeking out a degree completion program can help make earning your bachelor’s more affordable.

The 50 Most Affordable Real Estate Degree Programs

Most Affordable Real Estate Programs Badge 2024

CUNY Brooklyn College

CUNY Baruch College

UTD Naveen Jindal School of Management

University of North Texas

Middle Tennessee State University

California State University, Fresno

University of Alaska Anchorage

University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at San Antonio

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

How we rank schools

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 postsecondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, 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.

How to Pay for a Real Estate Degree Program


Most students and families have some money that they can contribute to tuition and other school-related expenses. These payments are considered ‘out-of-pocket’ because students and families pay their own money directly to the institution. While some students pay their full tuition out-of-pocket, it’s more common for students to combine out-of-pocket payments with other forms of financial aid. Students paying some or all their tuition out-of-pocket should find out if their school offers payment plans that allow them to make tuition payments throughout the term instead of paying in a lump sum at the start of the term.

Federal student loans

As part of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) program, the U.S. Department of Education offers Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans to undergraduate students. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for student loans. These education loans have interest rates and repayment terms set by Congress and are generally more favorable than private education loans. More information about applying for student loans through the FAFSA is included in the next section.

Private education loans

Students can also borrow money for tuition and other educational expenses from private lenders like Sallie Mae, Ascent, and SoFi. Unlike federal student loans, lenders set terms for private education loans based on current interest rates and the borrower’s credit history. Experts generally recommend that students use private education loans only if they have exhausted other avenues of paying for school. Students borrowing money from private lenders should keep track of interest rates throughout the year to lock in the most favorable terms possible.


Scholarships are a common form of gift aid, or money for education that doesn’t require repayment. Most schools offer scholarships to students based on financial need or achievement in academics, athletics, or extracurricular activities. Students can also find scholarships through professional organizations, nonprofits, community and religious organizations, private endowments, and more. Depending on the scholarship, there may be an application process. For need-based scholarships, students must submit FAFSA information for consideration.


Another type of gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid, grants are typically awarded based on financial need. For example, the federal student aid program offers Pell Grants to undergraduate students with extraordinary financial need. Many state governments and individual institutions also award grants to students with financial need.


Work-study jobs are another component of the FSA program. This type of funding pays students to work at a part-time, on-campus job and is awarded as part of a student’s financial aid package. Work-study positions are available in many departments at colleges. Students with work-study jobs must earn at least the federal minimum wage, although some positions pay higher rates.

Employer tuition assistance

Students who are working while earning their real estate degree should inquire with their employer about tuition assistance benefits. This type of financial aid can come in different forms but typically involves an employer reimbursing an employee for some or all of their education-related expenses after successfully completing a course or degree. Specific policies, eligibility requirements, and payment amounts vary by company.

Applying for Financial Aid

The first step in applying for financial aid is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Schools use the information gathered in this application to determine students’ eligibility for need-based aid, such as student loans, grants, and work-study. Most undergraduate students will use their parents’ or guardians’ income information, as well as their own, for the FAFSA. For an in-depth overview of the FAFSA, visit our Ultimate FAFSA Guide.

Student loan forgiveness and repayment

Borrowing student loans to pay for college is a significant responsibility. Students and families taking out student loans, whether federal or private, should always expect to pay those loans in full with interest. They should also carefully review all loans’ interest rates and repayment options before committing to them.

Payments on federal student loans resumed in October 2023 after being paused since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Biden administration has taken steps to forgive student loan debt for millions of borrowers, the Supreme Court blocked a more comprehensive student debt relief plan in June 2023. Although student loan debt relief efforts are ongoing, students and families who are borrowing money to pay for school should assume they’re responsible for repaying those loans in full, with interest.

To help students and families navigate the financial aid process, Dana Marvin, an independent college counselor, offers the following advice.

“Borrow only what you need and nothing more,” she says. “If you’re eligible for a $12,500 loan but only need $8,000, there’s no need to take out a loan for those extra funds — every dollar you borrow in a loan must be repaid with interest.”

Marvin also advises students to begin paying off their loans as soon as possible, “Even paying off a few hundred or thousand dollars before finishing school can make a huge difference to those loan amounts post-graduation,” she says.

Lastly, Marvin encourages students and families to be realistic about what they can afford in terms of out-of-pocket costs and loan amounts.

“If attending a certain pricy college will put a family into major debt and require potentially dangerous financial decisions, such as taking out a second mortgage or withdrawing from a retirement account early, it may mean a hard conversation of choosing a different school.”

What Can I Do with a Real Estate Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in real estate prepares graduates for careers as real estate sales agents, brokers, developers, and more. Most of the available degrees in real estate are Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees, which also provide students with a solid foundation in business and finance practices that they can use to start their own companies.

Individuals who list property for sale or lease in the U.S. must have a state-issued real estate license in the state or territory where the sale or lease is taking place. Education requirements for this license vary by state, so it’s important to verify that the curriculum for the real estate program you enroll in meets your state’s standards for licensure.

According to the BLS, overall employment in the business and finance industry will grow at a faster-than-average pace through 2032. Over the next decade, this industry is expected to add an average of 911,400 per year. Meanwhile, the sales industry is projected to add roughly 1.8 million new jobs on average during the same time period.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in real estate can prepare you for the following jobs:

  • Real estate brokers and sales agents – Help clients buy, sell, and rent properties. Brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses, while sales agents work with real estate brokers.
    • Median annual salary: $52,030
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 3%
    • New jobs projected: 51,600 annually
  • Property and real estate managers – Oversee the various aspects of managing residential, commercial, or industrial properties, including maintenance, inspections, payment collection, conflict mediation, and more.
    • Median annual salary: $60,670
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 5%
    • New jobs projected: 35,900 annually
  • Lawyers – With a law degree, individuals with a background in real estate can handle the legal aspects of real estate negotiations and disputes.
    • Median annual salary: $135,740
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 8%
    • New jobs projected: 39,100

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