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Effective Practices: National University of Singapore MBA Real Estate Specialization

As a way of sharing what works in graduate management education, Graduate Management News occasionally looks in-depth at specific programs in business schools.

Asia today has one of the most dynamic real estate markets globally, with perhaps the best prospects for growth over the next 20 years. Recognizing the power in that trend—and capitalizing on its location in one of the world’s most prosperous countries—the National University of Singapore (NUS) offers its MBA students the opportunity to concentrate part of their study on real estate.

The NUS MBA with Specialisation in Real Estate is the only MBA in Asia with a real estate focus. In addition to taking 22 credits of core MBA courses, students in the specialization take 16 credits of core real estate courses and 20 credits of real estate electives and integrative projects. Those specialized courses cover such fundamentals as real estate investment analysis and finance, the economics of real estate markets, and asset management. Program electives offer students the chance to also focus on such areas as international real estate, the appraisal of commercial real estate, and urban policy.
One particular strength is the Real Estate Field Study Module, in which students immerse themselves in guided internships at top real estate firms such as GIC Real Estate, Capitaland, Far East Organisation, Morgan Stanley Real Estate, Ascendas,  and Henderson Land. “This gives our students hands-on exposure to the real estate business in leading regional and international organizations and has allowed them to be successfully placed in real estate firms throughout Asia,” said Associate Professor Lum Sau Kim, the specialization’s director.

The program was started in 2005 to fill a perceived void for education of professionals with “the requisite integrated business and real estate knowledge to tackle an increasingly growing but complex asset market,” Lum said. To that end, the program integrates business school education with real estate finance and principles of urban economics “in a holistic way that allows our graduates to operate across the entire real estate value chain,” Lum added.

The program is jointly offered by the NUS Business School and the Department of Real Estate of the NUS School of Design & Environment. Leveraging expertise from both schools, the curriculum draws from existing courses in each. In addition, students take four customized core real estate modules that are exclusive for the specialization. Students must interview for the specialization and are admitted to it as part of their initial application to the NUS MBA. Approximately 10 per year enroll.

The program also draws professional expertise from an advisory board composed of real estate experts with diverse international experience.

“While the program draws students, materials, and lessons from around the world and is taught by an international faculty,” Lum said, “we have been Asia-centric, in line with the overall NUS vision. Our focus on Asia sets us apart from other real estate programs elsewhere.”

More Effective Practices

Effective Practices is an occasional feature spotlighting notable programs at GMAC member schools. Previous features include “Cornell’s Customizable MBA Immersion Program,”  “Warwick Business School’s MBA via Distance Learning,” and
Suffolk Makes Global Projects Work for Part-time Students."

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