Since Isenberg first began offering a Master of Finance in Alternative Investments degree three years ago, the program’s focus on managing assets such as private equity and debt, hedge funds, commodit
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Since Isenberg first began offering a Master of Finance in Alternative Investments degree three years ago, the program’s focus on managing assets such as private equity and debt, hedge funds, commodities, and real estate has filled an important niche as one of the first such degree programs of its type in the world. It has focused on the school’s strengths as home of the Center for International Securities and Derivatives Markets (CISDM), which partners with the profession’s organization, the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association.

This year, one of those alternative investments—real estate—has been upgraded to an optional specialization in the newly minted Master of Finance (MF) program. The revised MF offers a core degree in asset management, a field with lucrative career potential. Students in the program can specialize in either alternative investments or real estate. The curriculum of the new real estate track will be guided by the recommendations of a Real Estate Advisory Board, which includes a group of professionals and investors:

Jack Chandler ’81 (industrial engineering), chairman, Shelter Acquisition

David Gaunt ’70 MBA, real estate developer

Jeffery Moelis ’87 (finance), managing director for preservation, L+M Development Partners

Ben Myers ’05 (civil and environmental engineering), vice president, Boston Properties

Erica Wagner, vice president, PepsiCo Global Real Estate

Adam Whitehouse ’98 (HRTA), managing director, CIBC

Victor Woolridge ’79 (legal studies), managing director, Barings (retired) 

Jeffrey Clark

“As the world’s largest asset class, real estate is a significant focus of the Isenberg School of Management Master of Finance program,” says Jeffrey Clark (left), a lecturer and the David Gaunt Faculty Fellow in Real Estate in the Isenberg’s finance department. “The coursework is taught by a combination of research and practitioner faculty, bringing decades of hands-on experience to the classroom.”

The decision to add the real estate specialty to the school’s Master of Finance program was a natural extension of its strengths in asset management more generally, says Traci Hess (below right), associate dean of graduate programs and the Douglas and Diana Berthiaume Endowed Professor of Information Systems. “Since the Master of Finance in Alternative Investments was first offered, curriculum reviews have been undertaken based on employers, industry contacts, and students, and more computational finance courses—such as Data Science for Finance and Business and Application Development (with Python) have been included as a result,” she says. “Based on the steady popularity of this graduate program throughout the pandemic, our faculty were eager to expand the degree offerings by adding a real estate track.”

She adds that real estate is a special type of alternative investment, and that as an area of growth, it acts as a unique investment vehicle with rapid change and innovations.

The Master of Finance remains a one-year on-campus program, covering a curriculum that includes new classes such as Fixed Income Securities, Advanced Real Estate Investment & Analysis, and Corporate Real Estate.

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“Our new real estate track curriculum is guided by our newly formed Real Estate Advisory Board,” Hess says. “It will feature industry speakers and a high level of engagement with the board in highlighting the strengths of the real estate sector, and promoting internship and permanent career opportunities.”

The program accepts applicants with and without business undergraduate degrees, Hess adds, pointing out that it will offer access to a wide range of career opportunities within the finance and asset management industry. Graduates of the existing Master of Finance in Alternative Investments have taken on roles such as private markets research associate for NEPC, an investment consulting firm; global lending controller for Goldman Sachs; assurance associate for RSM; junior acquisition analyst for Vinebrook Homes; technology consultant for Ernst & Young; risk associate for Loomis Sayles; and investment advisor representative at MassMutual.

The new real estate track will only increase the pool of job opportunities open to graduates, says Jeff Clark. “Providing the student with a solid, real-world academic preparation across real estate finance, investment, capital markets, and analytical decision-making, the real estate specialty of the Master of Finance degree creates in-demand professional qualifications for today’s top-level careers.”

Prospective students can learn more about the Master of Finance program by joining Graduate Programs staff for an upcoming Information Session. Register here.