The GSD MDes REAL ESTATE and the BUILT ENVIRONMENT Program (“REBE Program”) prepares graduates for professional and academic careers in real estate and the built environment as thought leaders and as decision-makers in real estate development, investment, construction and financing of increasingly complex environments and future cities. The Program is anchored by the belief that economic, aesthetic, and sustainable real estate values are created through a thoughtful process to confront, harness and integrate building form, typology, design thinking, financing innovation and development. Rather than address and teach real estate finance and investment skills as a standalone mechanical process, this Program also incorporates design and the overall built environment as key pedagogical focuses, examining the immanent interconnection and value each component dynamically adds to the other.


The GSD MDes Real Estate and the Built Environment Program is distinguished by three pedagogical and program pillars:


Design Focus: Creativity in Real Estate


A. Housed within a design school, the Program embraces an in-depth understanding of building form and structure anatomy as well as the overall urban context, thereby empowering students with new perspectives and a more holistic outlook for value creation and economic thinking throughout the cycle of design, development, construction, and investment. As a consequence, students are better prepared to navigate the economic, physical, environmental and societal as well as political connections to complex built projects.

B. As the competitive thrust for creativity in the formation of the built environment has become the new frontier for real estate profession, how we incorporate design thinking and more importantly creativity in strategies and actions in enduring real estate process, will differentiate our platform as the leading program.


Thought Leadership: Capacity of Abstract Insights & Theorization


Most real estate programs focus one-dimensionally on tactical skills training. While professional skills are essential, the GSD Program addresses the central importance of educating, guiding and nurturing thought leaders for the industry and for the discipline. Rising beyond the commodification of buildings and the built environment, which is often viewed as the visible outcome of the operation of real estate, this Program seeks to elevate students’ ability to conceptualize real estate commercial activities with a deeper understanding of their impact on the larger built context and humanity, as well as student’s capacity to abstract insightful and multi-dimensional linkages between real estate and its other adjacent disciplines.

Our Program graduates will be proficient in real estate financial skills and will be trained to find and, more importantly, create value at the intersection of design, development and finance. Equally important, as our graduates engage other professionals in the design, development, construction and financing of the built environment, they will have the confidence to thoughtfully lead and leverage the intellectual discourse and dialogue on matters that affect their initiatives, projects and the industry’s future direction.


Global Platform: Engaging in the International Realm


With sponsors from India, China, England, the Netherlands, United States and elsewhere, the Program benefits from real time connections to the larger global platform, and is placed at the forefront of new industry practice, modes of experimentation and developments. The Program has an unmatched position to pioneer and lead new explorations globally in real estate development, design, capital markets, investments practice, as well as real estate education. This global orientation will be underscored and realized through a “global leadership” course, invited lectures and linked student field trips.


Social Impact: Aligning Development Feasibility


Private investment shapes the built world in durable ways, producing buildings and other physical improvements that have far-reaching effects during their long useful lives. Broad recognition of the social and environmental impacts of real estate has led to a complex and often challenging overlay of land use planning, policy and regulation in varied settings across the globe, both to address such potential impacts and to harness private investment to produce public goods. As de facto city-builders, developers must understand the public policy arena in which they operate in order to be responsible and successful civic actors.

Through courses at the GSD, the Kennedy School of Government and the Law School on topics ranging from land use regulation and public-private partnerships to affordable housing and infrastructure development, the REBE Program deepens students’ understanding of how to achieve their development objectives while producing positive social impact.



This cross-disciplinary Program draws on a faculty of scholars and seasoned real estate practitioners who actively engage students in a collaborative setting through case study methods, design studios and/or field studies format, as well as by leading independent or thematic real estate research. The GSD Real Estate Program’s core resources are supplemented by a broad, multi-disciplinary offering through cross-registered courses at the Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Kennedy School.