The SMU Cox Folsom Institute for Real Estate turns 40 in 2024. Coinciding with this milestone, the Cox School will begin offering its new Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) degree program in fall 2024, with applications already being accepted. To better understand Folsom’s—and Dallas’—storied history of real estate and how the MSRE complements the expanding market, we spoke with the Institute’s Director, Joseph Cahoon, and the Director of the new MSRE program, Wally Boudry.
Take us back 40 years to when the Folsom Institute started—what did Dallas’ real estate landscape look like?
Joseph Cahoon: Go back to Bob Folsom himself, the mayor of Dallas from 1976 to 1981. He built his commercial real estate career and was one of the leading real estate developers in North Dallas in the 1970s. When the Folsom family created this endowment in the early 1980s, Dallas was the land of big-thinking, iconic real estate developers. The can-do spirit of the 1970s and ’80s led the real estate world. But it was also a period—like today—of high inflation. Mortgage rates in 1983 were in the 12-13 percent range. Treasury rates were in the 10-11 percent range, yet the market was resilient in that period. Looking at DFW’s population growth over the past five years and what we anticipate, we will continue to be one of the largest metropolitan regions in the country. The companies that moved here in the past five years have transformed the economic and real estate landscapes. If you look at 1984, when the Folsom Institute was founded, versus today, they’re very similar periods. But 1983 was a generation of homegrown developers. Now, it’s the generation of national firms paying attention and relocating to Dallas.
Someone from New York once asked me, “Why is Dallas where it is? Why does Dallas exist?” It’s not on a major river. It wasn’t originally a major thoroughfare for commerce. My only answer is: It exists because of sheer tenacity because it is business-friendly, and this attractiveness brings people together. I would compare that to SMU. If you were to go back to the 1970s and ’80s, SMU was a Texan-student school. Looking at SMU today, much like Dallas, it has largely become a school that draws students from around the world and throughout the country: 60 percent of our students are not from Texas, and 20 percent of those students come from California. And, frankly, their parents are coming with them. Today, Dallas and SMU are attractors.
Tell us about the new Master’s in Real Estate program. How was the program and its curriculum developed? Why is it important for Dallas students?
Wally Boudry: We asked, “What does the perfect MS in Real Estate look like? Who is that student? How does this help their career?” A program like this always needs to be in service of something. Here, it is in the service of getting these students out into the industry and into their careers.
Leadership, analytics and experiential learning are the three pillars at the core of our Cox graduate and undergraduate curricula. As we crafted the MSRE curriculum, we combined theoretical and practical elements to ensure all of the above. On the theoretical side, students need to know why they’re doing what they’re doing. So, you pull in topics from finance, economics, marketing and accounting.
On the practical side, we ask, “How do we apply that to real estate?” Students need to know how to model finances and how these deals get done. When building out the curriculum, we focused on providing the theoretical underpinnings, then the skills. We will offer electives where students can dig deeper into individual topics after they have the theoretical basis. We can bring in adjuncts to take students through the state of the art of what’s happening in the industry. It’s about leveraging Dallas as this experiential laboratory. What they learn in this environment will prepare our students for successful real estate careers in Dallas, or anywhere in the world.
JC: We’re not only leveraging the full-time real estate faculty, but we’re also leveraging the best of our colleagues’ curricula throughout the Cox School. Returning to why, here in Dallas, we can leverage the best industry professionals as adjunct professors.
MSRE students will be studying and working in the heart of one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. How is the program taking advantage of SMU Cox prime real estate?
JC: The major shift in Dallas over the past 10 years has been between the real estate property markets and the real estate capital markets and how those two have significantly grown in tandem. When you’re teaching a physical asset, you’ve got to be able to experience the assets. SMU and the Cox School can use this city as our laboratory, not only because of the physical, commercial assets we have around us, but also because you have the entirety of the real estate industry within a 15-minute radius of this campus. When you look at the competitive setup of major universities and business schools, that’s one of our distinct advantages.
WB: We really have the whole microcosm of the industry located here, both on the physical side, which gives you great assets to look at, and a rich industry knowledge base: There is someone in Dallas you can find to talk to in each facet of the market.
We don’t want to pigeonhole a student. We have a broad job base in Dallas, and you can pursue many jobs in real estate. We have development courses set up inside of the program if you want to be a developer. We also have courses in asset management, real estate investment banking and commercial mortgage-backed securities. It’s about giving students that fundamental knowledge so they can start exploring the other elective topics available, which opens many career doors in all these areas.
Remaining Application Deadlines for the Fall 2024 Cohort:
(11:59pm CST day of deadline)
|March 5, 2024
|April 30, 2024
|May 28, 2024
Rolling Admissions based on availability after May 28, 2024. March 5 is the final priority deadline for scholarships and fellowships.
To learn more about admission requirements for the SMU Cox School of Business Master’s in Real Estate program, visit: smu.edu/cox-msre.