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)
The Real Estate Advisory Board has been pleased to see the growing interest and success of the real estate program,” says board member Adam Whitehouse. “Additionally, the Real Estate Club and Isenberg Real Estate Advisors complement the curriculum by providing exposure to real estate career options and hands-on experience. We continue to see the bar raised in terms of the caliber of students and job placements to top firms across all areas of real estate. Given the continued interest in real estate at the university, it is a natural progression to expand to the master’s program by offering a graduate finance degree in real estate.”
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.”
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 The Practice of Real Estate - Capstone.
“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 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 an upcoming information session. Register here.
The Isenberg Real Estate Advisors Student Club: