One of America’s oldest research institutions advances a new find in New Orleans.
Tulane University is launching a dual degree program where graduate students simultaneously earn the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development (MSRED), the first and only such pairing in the nation. The MBA/MSRED program is a formal alliance among the A. B. Freeman School of Business and the Tulane University School of Architecture.
When Tulane announced the partnership earlier this year, the Freeman School underscored an imperative for equipping business students to excel in sustainable real estate development.
“With the exponential growth of the real estate market, prospective real estate professionals must combine business expertise with an understanding of the social and environmental costs of development,” said Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School, in the summer 2019 edition of Freeman Business.
The logic behind dual programs is the intentional coordination between academic divisions for students to earn two degrees in less time and at less expense than if they sought degrees separately, and without watering down disciplines. The benefits for graduate students are enhancing their job placement, greater access to career paths and introduction to entrepreneurial possibilities.
While Tulane’s tandem MBA/MSRED is brand new, the Freeman School’s MBA portfolio consists of at least 10 partnerships. The A-School, too, offers a selection of dual degree programs.
“Dual degrees are excellent choices that round-out an effective education and prepare our graduates for thinking broadly, creatively and responsibly.” said Iñaki Alday, dean of the School of Architecture, in an interview last month in Archinect.
What was the origin of this new find, the MBA/MSRED? How did this discovery take shape at Tulane?
“There is a growing demand for real estate professionals and a demonstrated need for sustainable building practices,” said John Clarke, associate dean for graduate programs and executive education at Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. “Worldwide, the United Nations estimates that 3 million people a week are moving to cities, a massive number. There is an urgent need for sustainable development to accommodate this massive influx. The real estate industry is growing across the globe, and our students are expressing interest in the field.”
Clarke recalled, “We have been teaching courses on real estate finance for many years. Throughout the Freeman School, we incorporate practitioners who can speak to the real-world application of theory so that our graduates are prepared for the challenges they will encounter in the rapidly evolving business world.”
Engagement with Freeman alumni proved a helpful component in program emergence. “With input from the alumni, who were engaged in the real estate finance courses,” said Clarke, “as well as through discussions with the architecture faculty, we saw the potential to collaborate and bring together the two degree programs, knowing that the interdisciplinary knowledge gained would create a better-rounded, effective professional.”
Tulane’s Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development program is maturing into its ninth year. Although sustainability is a burgeoning field of study in academe, with hundreds of courses and programs at colleges and universities, Tulane’s MSRED holds the distinction as the country’s only master’s degree program in sustainable real estate development. To get tapped by Tulane’s B-School to join forces speaks volumes of the confidence in and relevance of its academic associate.
“Tulane University has an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration, and this partnership is a great example of that university-wide commitment,” said Casius Pealer, director of the Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development program.
“Often a real estate program would be entirely housed within a School of Business, or just be a concentration in an MBA curriculum,” Pealer explained. “Tulane’s MSRED program is one of less than 10 such programs nationally that is based in a School of Architecture, and we focus on skills needed to translate a vision into built reality.”
Tulane’s sustainable real estate development program provides opportunities for both graduates and undergraduates to gain core skills and practical experiences in handling development anew. “We teach students to look beyond the physical boundaries of a particular site,” Pealer added, “and beyond the normal time horizon for a particular investor or a lender.”
Applications start this week for the two-year, full-time, dual-degree master’s program in New Orleans, with weekday classes officially beginning in the Fall semester of 2020. Admissions are managed by the Freeman School, with round deadlines on November 1, February 1 and May 1.
To seize the time and tide to educate an extra audience of business students, who previously may not have been reached and whose potential will affect sustainable development for generations, is, as the campaign for an even bolder Tulane intends it, audacious.
“Entrepreneurship and finance are a big part of development,” noted Pealer, “but we need to fundamentally change how we inhabit the planet. It will take innovative and interdisciplinary thinking to get there, and that’s what Tulane is offering in this dual program.”