The curriculum for the Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) is designed to instill a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of real estate. Courses typically combine lectures with case analyses and assignments that simulate situations encountered in the workplace. Courses may be taught jointly by faculty members and professionals active in the field; guest speakers from the industry provide additional perspective. Students also have opportunities to study “living” projects and real estate companies as part of the courses’ optional field work components. Academic theory and concepts are continually tested against practical realities.

Core Courses

This course is an introduction to the most fundamental concepts, principles, analytical methods and tools useful for making investment and finance decisions regarding commercial real estate assets.  The course will focus on the basic building blocks and the “micro” level, which pertains to individual properties and deals. We will consider investment in both “stabilized” (fully operational) income properties, and development projects. Our perspective will be that of so-called “institutional” real estate decision- making (professional investors, e.g., pension funds, REITs, private equity funds, financial firms), regarding large-scale commercial property.  A key objective of this course is to recognize the unique features of real estate that distinguish it from so-called “mainstream” securities investments and corporate finance. 

VIDEO: Meet Prof. David Geltner and hear about his course

This course applies the latest economic thinking and research to the task of analyzing real estate market fundamentals: understanding urban spatial structure, city fiscal and regulatory policies, forecasting supply/demand and real estate cyclicality. A key objective is developing an understanding of the economic factors that shape and influence the markets for real property. This includes an analysis of housing as well as commercial real estate, and covers demographic analysis, regional growth, construction cycles, urban land markets and location theory. Using exercises and modeling techniques for measuring and predicting property demand, supply, vacancy and prices.

VIDEO: Meet Prof. Wheaton and hear about his course

  • 11.350: Sustainable Real Estate

    This course provides students with deep insight into the tension and synergy between sustainability and the real estate industry. It will answer the following questions: (1) Why does sustainability matters for real estate? (2) How can the real estate sector contribute to sustainability while remaining profitable? (3) What are the investment and market opportunities for sustainable real estate products?  This course integrates the economic analysis and business strategy of sustainable real estate at three levels: (1) buildings as the basic physical assets of sustainable real estate, (2) cities as the context of sustainable real estate where individual buildings interact with the built environment and other urban systems; (3) portfolios as a pool of sustainable real estate investment vehicles in capital markets. 


  • 11.450: Real Estate Development Building Systems

This course provides students with a concise overview of the range of building systems that are encountered in professional commercial real estate development practice in the USA. The course focuses on the relationship between real estate product types, building systems, and the factors that real estate development professionals must consider when evaluating these products and systems for a specific development project. The course surveys commercial building technology including Foundation, Structural, MEP/FP, Envelope, and Interiors systems and analyzes the factors that lead development professionals to select specific systems for specific product types. One or more field trips to active construction sites may be scheduled during non-class hours based on student availability.


This subject provides students with skills and experience in synthesizing mixed-use real estate development projects. It addresses the interaction among design, finance, market and public policy factors. As potential developers, or participants in the development process, students need to understand: steps in conceiving a project, what is good design in the private sector, how to make it financially viable, and how to synthesize a project from multiple constraints. The course is based on the philosophy that real estate development is a creative process. Students are encouraged to innovate as they synthesize all aspects of a project. At the end, we expect students to submit a professional proposal for development that reflects their ingenuity and progress across the term.

This is a capstone subject integrating skills and knowledge in the MSRED program, but is also open to other students interested in real estate development.  

Video: meet Prof. Frenchman & hear about his course

This half term course is designed to give students the tools and information needed to successfully complete a Master’s Thesis at MIT. Topics will include: data sets, types of theses, writing and editing a thesis, and MIT requirements. Faculty will also join the class to share their areas of interest and thesis topic ideas to assist you in choosing an advisor and in some cases, narrowing down your topic ideas. Two classes are reserved exclusively for “Thesis Café”, when each student will present their thesis topic ideas to a panel of professionals.

Elective Courses

In this course, students will look at how entrepreneurship is instituted around the globe. The MIT philosophy of Mens and Manus is used as the tools for MIT’s vision “to advance knowledge and educate students to best serve the nation and world in the 21st century”. This course engages how we develop for profit globally in developed and underdeveloped areas in a sustainable manner. Investigate how to unlock opportunities in the developing world as well as the developed countries. How may we innovate in this market place to produce sustainable businesses that in addition to being profit driven are driven by its effect on “people and planet”. 

Key course objectives (1) Understand what is Entrepreneurship (2) How to apply it to your endeavors going forward in a global sense and in a sustainable manner and (3) Develop the expertise and knowledge to evaluate your place in the entrepreneurial space with confidence.

Video: meet John Kennedy & hear about his course

This course prepares students to negotiate the most important business issues within six of the principal business agreements a real estate developer executes in connection with the site control, entitlement, capitalization, and construction phases of a real estate development venture. More specifically, (i) the site control phase involves negotiating Right-of-Entry and Purchase & Sale agreements with a landowner, (ii) the entitlement phase involves negotiating a Development Agreement with a municipality, (iii) the capitalization phase involves negotiating Equity Joint-Venture and Construction Loan Agreements with capital providers, and (iv) the construction phase involves negotiating a Guaranteed Maximum Price Contract and General Conditions with a general contractor.

Video: meet Tod McGrath & hear about his course

Executives are looking for leadership potential and behaviors in the people they recruit, hire, and promote at all levels of the organization. They know it when they see it, and everyone agrees that we need more of it, but what is “leadership”? The Leadership course provides theories, concepts and tools to craft, articulate and refine a “leadership point of view”. Students converse with leaders in the real estate industry to understand the leaders’ experiences and development. Students complete multiple self-assessments to better understand their strengths and opportunities for growth. At the conclusion of the course, students have a deeper understanding of leadership; a better understanding of themselves and their authentic leadership style; an increased ability to “connect” with others, and a plan for the on-going development of their leadership capabilities.  Enrollment is limited.

Video: meet Dr. Gloria Schuck & hear about her course

This 2-part, half-semester course (offered in Fall and Spring) is intended for students interested in housing development who wish to understand the fundamental issues and requirements of mixed-income housing and the process one undertakes to plan and develop such housing. The course will provide participants with an overview of the process for how one plans, designs, and synthesizes an affordable or mixed-income housing development. Some topics covered include: the real estate development process; Low Income Housing Tax Credit program; community planning and the entitlement process; sustainability and greening affordable housing.

Video: meet Peter Roth & hear about his course

Examines the compatibility of various project delivery methods, consisting of organizations, contracts, and award methods, with certain types of projects and owners. Six methods examined: traditional general contracting; construction management; multiple primes; design-build; turnkey; and build-operate-transfer. Consists of lectures, case studies, guest speakers, and a team project to analyze a case example. Key goal is a strong strategic understanding of how best to deliver various types of projects in the built environment.

Video: meet Chris Gordon & hear about his course

Designed as a continuation of Real Estate Ventures I (11.351), this course prepares students to negotiate the most important business issues within seven of the principal agreements a real estate developer executes in connection with the value creation, financing, and restructuring phases of a real estate venture. More specifically, (i) the value creation phase involves negotiating an Office Lease with a major law firm and a Retail Lease with a national restaurateur, (ii) the financing phase involves negotiating Permanent Loan, Mezzanine Loan, and Inter-creditor Agreements with project lenders, and (iii) the restructuring phase addresses the important financial, legal, and governance issues associated with the venture falling into financial distress and the need to negotiate Forbearance and Loan Modification Agreements to avert foreclosure.


This course investigates the economics of securitization. Securitization is an important innovation in U.S. and global capital markets that allows illiquid assets such as mortgages, automobile loans and credit card receivables to be transformed into liquid financial instruments. Students will apply the tools of economics and finance to provide a thorough understanding of the markets for asset-backed securities. The basic mechanics of structuring deals, including pooling and tranching, will be explored. The course will then consider the numerous challenges that arise in pricing pooled assets using Monte Carlo and option pricing techniques as well as an analysis of the trading strategies that are used in these markets. The course concludes with an investigation of various issues surrounding the use of asset-backed securities to finance business activities ranging from commercial real estate to automobile sales.

Video: meet Dr. Walter Torous & hear about his course

Course provides an introduction to selected analytical tools to support evaluation, design/planning, and management of projects in the context of uncertainty. By showing students how to value flexible strategies for dealing with uncertainty in real estate and infrastructure investment and development projects. Particular focus on identifying and valuing sources of flexibility, to stimulate design ideas, guide planning, and communicate to constituents and stakeholders the rationale for building flexibility into project design. 

The course is for all those interested in the investment, management, development, and design of real estate or infrastructure assets and projects. In addition to real estate professionals, the instructors expect to serve architects and urban planners, business managers, civil and other engineers concerned with construction.


In this course, students will develop a theory of comparative differences in international housing markets, focusing on basic outcomes, valuation, finance, and economics. They will learn about institutional differences in the ways housing expenditures are financed, and about the economic determinants of housing outcomes, such as construction costs, land values, housing quality, and ownership rates. Students will also study the flow of funds to and from the different national housing finance sectors, trying to understand the greater financial and macroeconomic implications of the mortgage credit sector, and how policies affect the ways in which housing asset fluctuations impact national economies. This will lead students to develop a model of housing price fundamentals and fluctuations that is based on recent research.  Students will also consider the perspective of investors in international real estate markets and the risks and rewards involved. While drawing lessons from an international comparative approach, students will try to make them applicable to housing economic and finance policies and investments at the local, state/provincial, and federal levels within the student’s country of choice.

VIDEO: Meet Prof. Albert Saiz and hear about his course

  • 11.962: Field Work: Real Estate

Students will participate in an internship opportunity, as well as submit a written summary of their work experience and present the results of their work (an aspect of the research they did, insight on a deal they helped close, etc., as appropriate and allowed by their employer) to their classmates in a ten-minute presentation.


Special Seminars

Real estate is an ever-evolving field and, as such, new and exciting innovations are a constant. In order to allow a more in-depth study of some topics covered by other courses, as well as provide insight into many of these innovations, the MSRED Program hosts a revolving list of half-semester seminars each fall and spring. Current seminar offerings can be found on the MSRED Degree Requirement Chart.