The University of Arizona

New Degree to Prep Students for Real Estate Development Careers

By Alexis Blue, University Communications | June 14, 2013

The Master of Real Estate Development degree program is a fast-track, 12-month program that will be offered at the UA for the first time in the fall.

A new master's degree to be offered in the fall by the University of Arizona's College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, or CAPLA, will help prepare students for careers in real estate development.

The Master of Real Estate Development degree program is a fast-track, 12-month program geared toward individuals who have already had two to five years of post-undergraduate experience and would like to move into a career in real estate development.

"Even with the recession, real estate development has been a central part of the economy of this state," said Jan Cervelli, dean of CAPLA. "The Master of Real Estate Development program reflects the various dimensions of real estate development with a focus on responsible development."

The new degree program will be offered in collaboration with the Responsible Property Investing Center, the UA's Institute of the Environment and the UA's Institute for Place and Wellbeing. 

Students in the program will be exposed to case studies in architecture; landscape architecture and urban planning; finance; marketing and law. They will draw on coursework from the School of Architecture, School of Landscape Architecture and Planning and the Eller College of Management. They also will have the opportunity to work with various municipalities in Southern Arizona on issues related to real estate development, focusing on responsible, sustainable development, said Lucinda Smedley, coordinator of the new degree program.

"We see this as a tremendous opportunity for the University, the industry and the region," said Smedley, a real estate development consultant with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. 

The program's 15-course curriculum includes 10 core courses, plus five courses in one of two focus areas. The first concentration, on health and wellness, will focus largely on real estate development issues as they relate to community health and well-being, a topic central to the mission of the UA's Institute for Place and Wellbeing, a joint venture of CAPLA, the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in the UA College of Medicine and the UA Institute of the Environment.

The second concentration, on public-private partnerships, will explore transit-oriented development, tackling topics such as urban transportation planning, downtown development issues, and more. For students who opt for that degree track, Tucson's Modern Streetcar Project will serve as an important learning laboratory, Smedley said.

Classes will be held at the UA Downtown Campus, 44 N. Stone Ave.

Students in the program also will benefit from a unique partnership recently established with the Pima County Real Estate Research Council. Founded in the early 1970s, the council was established to support a quarterly commercial real estate market study conducted by the UA. 

Today, Smedley said, the council's role will be to fund research and provide leadership opportunities to enhance the academic program and foster mutually beneficial relationships among students and real estate professionals through various networking and professional development opportunities.

Individuals interested in the Master of Real Estate Development program may include those with experience in sales, financial or construction aspects of real estate who are interested in moving toward careers in design and development, Smedley said.

"Real estate development is a growth industry in Arizona," she said, "and we want to provide future talent and leadership for that industry."