Real estate agents looking to beef up their academic chops are about to face a whole new scholastic landscape: As of spring 2020, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is discontinuing its Realtor University and launching a whole new degree program.
The new program is the result of a partnership between NAR and Columbia College, a non-profit liberal arts school based in Columbia, Missouri (not to be confused with Columbia University in New York City). According to a statement, the partnership will allow NAR members to get associate, bachelors and masters degrees, and the programs should begin to come online in Spring 2020.
The program has been dubbed the NAR Academy at Columbia College. And while Columbia College is based in Missouri, it has more than 30 campuses across the U.S., and offers online classes as well.
Among other things, Columbia College will now specifically offer a masters of business administration degree with an emphasis in real estate. That degree will be based on the curriculum NAR developed for its masters of real estate (MRE) degree that it offered through Realtor University — which will now be discontinued.
Realtor University first launched in 2012 and was designed to provide agents “a new opportunity to grow through academic achievement,” NAR’s statement explains.
NAR CEO Bob Goldberg told Inman in an email that there have so far been 75 graduates of Realtor University, and that number should climb to 85 by the time the program is shuttered in 2020. According to Realtor University’s website, the program has produced six graduates in 2019.
NAR’s statement characterized the new Columbia College partnership as a fulfillment and expansion of the Realtor University vision.
“Now we have ensured the groundbreaking work we have done for our members continues to provide true and recognized benefits for years to come,” Ron Phipps, chairman of the Realtor University board of regents, said in a statement of the new partnership .
Goldberg added in the statement that his organization is “committed to continuing to add value by providing substantial educational opportunities that help our members grow personally and professionally.”
“As a member’s knowledge base grows, it leads to enhancing and broadening their business, which can increase their profitability and efficiency,” Goldberg said.
In his email to Inman, Goldberg added that NAR opted to pivot away from Realtor University because the Columbia College partnership offers broader opportunities for agents. He also said that “Columbia College provides degree completion paths for Realtors who may have existing college credit.”
“Further, the college is willing to review the curriculum of affiliate organizations and grant college credit where applicable,” Goldberg continued. “We are excited we [are] able to offer a far wider range of options in education for our Members while allowing NAR and our education subsidiary to focus on our core competencies.”
According to Columbia College’s website, the new programs will cost $375 per credit hour for undergraduate courses and $490 per credit hour at the graduate level.
However, NAR’s statement noted that members of the trade organization can receive $100 per course in financial support from NAR subsidiary the Center for Specialized Realtor Education.
Additionally, Realtor University alumni will now become members of Columbia College’s alumni association.
In a statement, Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple expressed excitement about the new partnership, calling it a “game changer.”
“As far as we know,” he added, “this is the largest exclusive educational partnership in the United States.”