It’s been said that the best investment on Earth is earth. Starting in fall 2013, students will be taught how to pursue that investment.
On Monday, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved an undergraduate degree program in real estate.
Kevin Boyle, department head of agricultural and applied economics, spearheaded the initiative for the program along with faculty such as Rosemary Goss, a professor in the department of apparel, housing and resource management.
Alumni had a large role in the planning of the program, with members of the industry giving input into what is lacking and what is needed for graduates interested in real estate.
“Some of the alumni that have been involved in shaping the curriculum are saying that there is no one out there preparing graduates who can do or who will know about all the things that will go in a real estate profession,” said Mark Owczarski of University Relations.
Goss added that many alumni are interested in developing students toward the real estate industry.
“Virginia Tech has lots of alumni who are active all over the U.S. in all aspects of real estate,” Goss said. “They’re very excited about this interdisciplinary program and getting involved and supporting. I think our students will have opportunities for jobs and internships.”
The interdisciplinary program is the result of collaboration between six colleges within the university, with classes being taught from professors across the board.
“While there are real estate programs across the country, none are as broad based as this and pull from the expertise of six different colleges,” Goss said. “It's truly an interdisciplinary program that you don't see anywhere else.”
The real estate curriculum will teach students about all aspects of property development, from pre-planning to management, and will include courses on architecture, engineering, property and natural resources management, applied economics and business.
Additionally, an emphasis has been put on practical gains which alumni have noted are needed in the industry.
“We want to put emphasis on communication, both oral and in writing,” Goss said. “We're going to be using a lot of industry people and speakers to give students real world experience.”
The hope is that students will exit with a degree and skills that are very attractive to employers.
The final stage in the process is for the State Council for Higher Education to give its approval for the major. Provided that happens, classes will be offered in fall 2013.
“We're preparing graduates to be extraordinarily relevant in this industry defined as real estate,” Owczarski said.