Note from Michael: This profile is part of The A.CRE MBA Real Estate Series highlighting some of the world’s top MBA programs with concentrations in real estate. Each profile has been written by a current or former student of the program and is written from their unique perspective on the school and its real estate offerings. A huge thanks to Jeff Sifen, for taking the time to write this profile of McDonough. Jeff’s bio is provided at the end of the post.
Coming out of undergrad as an engineer I knew in the future I would need a generalist business education to achieve my goals. After I had garnered some professional experience and had a better idea of my career path, it was time to revisit my MBA plans. From conversations and research, I knew to get the most out of my MBA it was important to choose a program with (1) a highly applied curriculum, (2) a student focus, and (3) a gateway market.
My first exposure to the power of McDonough took place at the Steers Center for Global Real Estate semester kickoff at the home of Ed Walter, former President & CEO of Host Hotels and Resorts. I was talking to a recent McDonough alumnus. He told me about his background entering business school as a legal associate, and by the time he finished school he was working for a major east coast developer doing his own deals in a gateway market. His story created a lasting testimonial in my mind – McDonough has perfected a formula for turning career switchers into career leaders in real estate.
McDonough’s real estate roots can be traced back to a 2015 donation made by Robert Steers, Cohen & Steers namesake. Since then the program has grown tremendously influential in the real estate community.
Watch the Student Interview Deep Dive on Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business
In September 2020, we conducted an interview with a current student at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Shannon Comolli. Shannon is a 2021 Georgetown MBA Candidate in Real Estate & Hospitality. In this interview, we discuss the demographics, international experience, extra-curricular, courses, and more at the McDonough School of Business.
A huge thank you to Shannon for contributing her time and experience to help others better understand what Georgetown has to offer graduate real estate students!
McDonough Experiential Curriculum
From day one McDonough preaches a curriculum of learning while doing. Real estate classes are based on the four-quadrant model of real estate capital markets: private equity, private debt, public equity, and public debt. After the academic bedrock has been set, the pinnacle of the curriculum is the Real Estate Clinic, a partnership between Invesco, a leading global real estate company, and Georgetown. This class includes underwriting live deals across the four main asset classes, throughout the country. In addition, the capstone to the MBA program at McDonough is the Global Business Experience. As part of this course, students get to work on an international consulting project, which includes traveling to the international headquarters of the multinational organization. One of the recent real estate focused projects included developing a market entry strategy for a luxury hotel group in the Asia Pacific.
In my experience at McDonough, you’re not just a number. The boutique size of each incoming class (250 students, roughly 10% in real estate) allows more one-on-one time with advisors and professors. Ultimately this manifests itself through the job placement process as the real estate center dials into what you want to do and who you are on a personal level.
Graduate Real Estate Society
The student-run Graduate Real Estate Society (GRES) is one of the largest and most active clubs on campus, boasting more than 75 active members. The quality of students and the activism of the club have greatly expanded my network. Often times this network has proven helpful to past students whether finding a job or starting a company. Throughout the year GRES puts on many events, including Argus and Excel modeling, CRE 101 series, real estate day, regional and international treks, property tours, and networking events.
Gateway Real Estate Market
Because of Georgetown’s location in Washington DC, one of the competitive advantages at McDonough is the ability for students to engage in internships while still a full-time student – unachievable at many other top programs in non-gateway real estate markets.
Washington DC provides a great quality of life and an attractive real estate market to learn in. From the many cultures to the great food scene and the uniqueness of the region, Washington DC has a lot going for it. Partly because of the DC location and partly because of the brand, McDonough Business School is a strong draw for real estate leaders. The Real Estate Roundtable meets several times a year in DC, bringing many of the country’s top executives to the city. Speakers such as Sam Zell, Jon Gray, Ric Clark, David Simon, and Mike Nash have all spoken at McDonough, just to name a few.
McDonough has this proven ability to deliver an uncanny program experience because of its top-tier real estate market, highly experiential curriculum, and a student focus, which together open many doors for a prosperous career in real estate.
McDonough Real Estate Extracurriculars
A seminar series that provides an introduction to Commercial Real Estate topics, including debt, underwriting, JV structures, career panels, and more.
Public Real Estate Fund
A student-run fund to invest in public real estate debt and equity.
Real Estate Lab
As part of the experiential learning curriculum, the Real Estate Lab provides a place for students to touch and feel the investment, analyzing the physical and financial aspects of the building.
Real Estate Luminaries Series
The Real Estate Luminaries Series is an annual series put together by the Steers Center to provide a look at the state of the real estate market from the perspective of leading figures in global real estate. Recent speakers have included Ric Clark, Tom Barrack, and Jonathan Gray.
McBride Lecture Series
An intimate conversation between MBA students and prominent real estate experts on the real estate profession. Recent speakers have included Michael Nash, Debbie Harmon, Timothy Naughton, and Benjamin Jacobs.
Real Estate Mentors
A chance to pair up with a mentor tailored to reflect your area of interest in real estate, and a great opportunity to learn about the industry from an insider, establish professional contacts, and identify career paths.
Each year a select group of first-year students gets the opportunity to travel to London for a week to learn and connect with Georgetown alumni. An immersive experience in the world of global real estate.
Georgetown University Real Estate Alliance
Georgetown University Real Estate Alliance is a community of alumni, parents, and friends engaged in the real estate industry who support McDonough through mentorship and job opportunities for students interested in the profession.
Case competitions at UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Texas give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned while competing for tens of thousands of dollars and bragging rights.
Sustainable Development and Construction is a graduate-level course that builds on the foundation of the Green Building and Construction Management courses and allows students to understand the link between design, construction and ultimately building operations.
Professors: Lydia Charles
The Structured Finance Course examines how large commercial real estate financings are put together. The course will explore the evolution of the real estate finance transaction. Who the players were and who they are now. How have structures changed with the influence of Wall Street as a major player has entered the market in the early ’90s and the issues they faced during the credit crisis of late 2007? We will examine the options available and the problems currently facing both Borrowers and Lenders.
Professor: Robert Rajewski
The management of institutional real estate funds has become increasingly sophisticated since the first fund was launched in the 1970s. This course tracks the evolution of institutional real estate funds including open-end, closed-end, separate accounts, and other structures with core, value-added, and opportunistic strategies in the context of industry performance metrics and benchmarks.
Professors: Alic Kelso
Due Diligence: Acquisitions and Dispositions course will provide an overview of what REITS, developers, investors, and lenders require in terms of due diligence, permitting and underwriting for land and improvements for commercial transactions.
Professor: Scott Price
This course provides an introduction to multiple ethical choices that any real estate leader will encounter throughout his or her career. We will use readings, case studies, and extensive class discussion to help students build an ethical framework for setting priorities and making good decisions, under pressure, from among imperfect alternatives.
Professor: Howard Ways
Real Estate Clinic
In this elective MBA students get to analyze live deals for Invesco throughout the US and across the main property types.
Professor: Matthew Cypher
At a Glance
Primary Location: Washington, D.C.
Class Size: 271 (Enrolled in 2020)
About Jeff Sifen: Jeff Sifen is a part-time MBA student at the McDonough School of Business. While pursuing his MBA, Jeff works full time as a development manager focused on ground-up self-storage development from Charlotte, NC to Washington, DC. Jeff spends his time sourcing, underwriting, negotiating, and entitling projects. Jeff is originally from Naples, FL, and holds a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Central Florida.