Real Estate Development and Design

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The development of urban real estate is one of the most powerful forces shaping our buildings, cities, and metropolitan regions.  From finance to design, the choices we make about what to build, where to build, and how to build influence urban sustainability, equity, and resilience — today and for years to come.

Our rapidly urbanizing world faces major challenges, ranging from climate change to social inequality. We need real estate professionals who have a deep knowledge of how development can bring positive benefits to society and the environment, and who understand the power of design to make cities efficient, livable, distinctive, and valued.

The Nancy and Douglas Abbey Master of Real Estate Development + Design (Abbey MRED+D) is an interdisciplinary degree program that trains real estate practitioners to build sustainable, equitable, and innovative large- and small-scale real estate projects.

The curriculum educates diverse students to accelerate their careers in real estate with a firm foundation in finance, law and construction while centering principles of innovative, sustainable design and social equity, enabling graduates to tackle the built environment's pressing challenges, such as climate change, rising inequality and the housing shortage. Through cases, experiential learning, studios, industry-leading practitioner faculty and guest-lecturers, and the diverse perspectives, Abbey MRED+D students continuously improve their leadership, management, communication and foundational real estate skills, with a focus on design + urbanism, sustainability + resilience, and equity + inclusion.

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Master's Degree Requirements

The Abbey MRED+D degree requires students to complete a minimum of 36 units, including a capstone. The curriculum includes twelve (12) required courses and the opportunity to take up to 12 units of electives.

Required Courses 

RDEV 200Construction and Development Project Management3
RDEV 209Integrated Development, Architecture + Urbanism for Real Estate4
RDEV 210Real Estate Economics + Market Analysis2
RDEV 220Foundation Principles for Real Estate Development + Finance4
RDEV 225Applications in Real Estate Finance3
RDEV 235Real Estate Capital Markets3
RDEV 240Professional Practice of Real Estate Development3
RDEV 250Land Development Law and Regulations3
RDEV 260Sustainable Real Estate Development3
RDEV 270Development + Design Studio4
RDEV 277Equitable + Resilient Development2
RDEV 280Capstone Project2

Sample Electives*

Students have the opportunity to customize their program by taking electives in areas of interest to them. Some common electives offered in recent years are indicated below. In addition, students may petition to take electives not included on this list. Note that some elective classes may not be offered each year.

ARCH 242Sustainability Colloquium1,2
CY PLAN 205Introduction to Planning and Environmental Law3
CY PLAN C215Global Urban Inequalities3
CY PLAN 230U.S. Housing, Planning, and Policy3
CY PLAN 235Methods of Project Analysis4
CYPLAN 290An Interdisciplinary Approach to Land Development + Investment3
EWMBA 233Asset Management3
EWMBA 292TClimate Change and Business Strategy3
LAW 257Real Estate Transactions and Litigation1
LD ARCH C110AEcological Analysis4
MBA 212Energy and Environmental Markets3
MBA 252Negotiations and Conflict Resolution3
MBA 280Real Estate Investment Analysis and Sustainability3
MBA 282Real Estate Development3
MBA 283Real Estate Finance and Securitization3
MBA 291CActive Communicating1
MBA 292BNonprofit Boards1
MBA 292IDImpact Startup Disco1
MBA 295AEntrepreneurship3
MBA 295BVenture Capital and Private Equity3
RDEV 290Global Real Estate Intensive1
RDEV 290Small-Scale Real Estate Development3
RDEV 297Internship in Real Estate Development + Design1-3

Note: Subject to space availability (we cannot guarantee enrollment in specific elective courses for everyone). Enrollment in electives is subject to the procedures for the programs and Schools that offer these courses.


Required Application Materials

  1. Transcripts (unofficial)

  2. Two to Three Letters of Recommendation

  3. Statement of Purpose*

  4. Personal History Statement*

  5. Resume/CV (Supporting Materials)

  6. Video Question

  7. Portfolio (strongly encouraged)

  8. TOEFL or IELTS Scores (required for most international applicants)

  9. GRE or GMAT Scores (optional)

*EDL: Emerging Development Leaders. Typically, applicants to MRED+D have at least two years of post-graduate work experience in a real estate-related field. EDL applicants have less than two years of full-time post-graduate work experience at the time of application. They must address why they feel now is the right time to pursue the MRED+D in their essays. No more than 10% of the cohort will comprise EDL students, and Emerging Development Leaders will engage in additional career development and mentorship opportunities throughout the year.


You must hold or expect to hold a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. school accredited by one of the AACRAO regional accrediting agencies prior to the beginning of classes. International applicants must hold a degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a recognized academic institution.

Required Records:

Upload unofficial transcripts from all institutions where you obtained credit toward your undergraduate degree to the application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must include at a minimum the name of the institution, your full name, and a chronological listing of all classes, grades, and credit hours. If your academic records do not include official evidence of the award of your degree, you must also submit additional documents that verify the degree conferral, such as a diploma or degree certificate. We also like to see transcripts from institutions where you received a graduate degree or completed post-graduate coursework, if applicable.

If your transcript is in a language other than English, then you must provide an official translation issued from your university or by certified members of the American Translators Association. Upload the original transcript and translation as one PDF.

Physical copies of official transcripts for college-level work will be required if admitted.

Please note that any discrepancy between uploaded transcripts and official transcripts could result in the denial of your application or withdrawal of your offer of admission.

Letters of recommendation

We require two letters of recommendation that provide the admissions committee with third-party, qualitative accounts of your potential for success.  However, you may submit up to three letters of recommendation if you like. The online application will prompt you for three letters of recommendation; if you are only submitting the required two, just enter your own name and an alternative email address (or into the third space.  

We strongly prefer that letters of recommendation come from a current direct supervisor, former direct supervisor, or other individuals with whom you have had significant professional interaction.* Please select individuals who know you well and who will take the time to write thorough and thoughtful letters on your behalf. The title of those you select is not important. What does matter is how closely your letter writers have worked with you and whether they can attest to your value as an employee, your professional accomplishments, your personal qualities, and your potential for success in the future. We have found the most helpful letters to be recent, relevant, and written specifically for this application, taking into account your goals for post-graduation. We discourage letters of recommendation from subordinates, family, friends, or professors. If you are reapplying to the MRED+D program, please ensure at least one recommendation is from a new reference and was written after your previous application was submitted.

When completing the online application, you will enter the email address of your recommender and click "Submit to Recommender," which sends your letter writer instructions for how to upload their letters directly to your application. You are responsible for ensuring that both required recommendations are submitted prior to the application deadline.  

*Academic references are generally not preferred EXCEPT for EDL applicants.


Applicants are required to complete two essays. Although we do not have a required minimum or maximum word count, the suggested length of each is around 1-to-2 pages single-spaced. 

Statement of Purpose

Our essay question was created to provoke honest, thoughtful responses to help us get to know you. The admissions committee is interested in learning how your professional or other experiences and achievements equip you and motivate you to pursue the Abbey MRED+D degree. 

You should describe what you are passionate about that motivates you to make an impact on the world. What are your short- and long-term career goals, how have your interests shaped these goals, and how will the MRED+D degree enable you to build on your prior professional experience to achieve these goals?

The Statement should demonstrate that you understand the MRED+D program and its goals, and should include discussion of how your interests align with our pillars of equity, sustainability and design.

Personal History Statement

Anything that can give the admissions committee a sense of you as a person belongs here. This may include personal histories that have shaped your interest in Real Estate Development + Design. Any information relating to the context of your achievement or challenges you have overcome would also be appropriate here. We also encourage you to highlight any experiences that show your understanding of historically underrepresented groups, and your commitment to serving them with your Abbey MRED+D degree.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume (Supporting Materials)

We are interested in learning about your work and experience. Please upload your most current resume or curriculum vitae in chronological format. If applicable, please also include honors, awards, languages spoken, and associations you belong to. Note that we do not require submissions in the "Sampling of Relevant Written Work" and "Publications and Presentations" sections.

Video Question

Upload a video to the Audio/Visual page in the application where, in 2 minutes or less, you tell us what drives your interests in real estate development + design and what you see yourself doing after you graduate from the MRED+D program. Please spend about one minute addressing each part of the question. Do not read your essays--there may be overlap in content, but please speak naturally in the video.

Evidence of English Proficiency

All applicants who have completed a basic degree in a country/region in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This requirement applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and countries in Africa in which English is not the official language.

If you have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better in residence at a recognized U.S. institution, you do not need to take a test of English proficiency. Instead, you must upload an unofficial transcript from the recognized U.S. institution. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement: 1) courses in English as a Second Language, 2) courses conducted in a language other than English, 3) courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and 4) courses of a non-academic nature.

If you have questions about whether you must provide evidence of English proficiency, please email us at with a summary of your academic history.


While a portfolio is not required, we strongly encourage applicants to submit images of work, brief writing samples, and/or past projects with your application. It is helpful for us to see work that is representative of your professional experience to date. Please keep these materials to no more than 10-12 pages in length. You may redact any confidential information as needed.

GRE or GMAT Scores

GRE or GMAT scores are not required but may help you demonstrate skills otherwise not present in your application.  If you wish to submit them, please self-report your scores on the application and send the official results to UC Berkeley. For the GRE please use institutional code 4833. For GMAT scores please use institutional code N2V-M5-04.

Professional Development Activities

Career Services:

The Abbey MRED+D program offers an array of workshops, networking and speaking events, and employer presentations to best prepare our students to obtain real estate development positions after graduation. There are also myriad opportunities to network with industry practitioners--including alumni and Doug Abbey--through career events, guest lectures in class, and MRED+D's own lecture series. Students' career journeys are divided into three parts, one per academic term: self-discovery, career discovery, and career placement.


Students may obtain part-time internships while completing their degree. They may receive course credit and/or be compensated by the employer.

Real Estate Competitions:

Students compete in myriad case competitions, primarily in the Spring, that allow them to hone their skills, connect with industry practitioners, and produce tangible work product that they can provide during their job searches. Examples of competitions in which our students have participated include, among others:

*Bank of America Low-Income Housing Challenge
*CASE Competition
*Hack-A-House (Ivory Innovations)
*HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition
*Kellogg Real Estate Venture Competition
*NAIOP SF Bay Area Real Estate Challenge, also known as "Golden Shovel" (direct competition between Berkeley and Stanford)
*Real Estate Joint Venture Mock Negotiation
*ULI Gerald Hines Student Competition
*UT Austin National Real Estate Challenge

Clubs and Professional Organizations:

Students take part in the Berkeley Real Estate Club (BREC), which allows real estate graduate students from across campus to come together for speaking events, networking opportunities and case competitions. Membership is drawn primarily from the College of Environmental Design (the Abbey MRED+D's home school, which also includes architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, and urban design graduate students), Berkeley Law School, the Haas School of Business, and the Goldman School of Public Policy.

The Abbey MRED+D provides students with membership in several professional organizations, such as the Urban Land Institute (ULI), NAIOP (the Commercial Real Estate Development Association), and ICSC (the International Council of Shopping Centers); the cohort attends the ULI Fall Meeting (in Las Vegas for Fall 2024) all together each year. We also offer optional ARGUS training.

Alumni Association:

Berkeley has an extensive network of alumni working in real estate in the Bay Area, nationally, and abroad. Students are encouraged to participate in Berkeley Real Estate Alumni Association (BREAA) activities while enrolled and to join BREAA upon graduation. BREAA includes graduates from the College of Environmental Design (including MRED+D), the Haas School of Business, Berkeley Law School, and other Berkeley schools and colleges, and it maintains active chapters in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York City.


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Contact Information

Real Estate Development + Design

316 Bauer Wurster Hall

Phone: 510-664-5204

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