McDonough School of Business
McDonough School of Business

MS-GRA Academics

The Master of Science in Global Real Assets (MS-GRA) curriculum focuses on innovation and creativity in tackling challenges in real assets while observing the evolving intersection of real estate, infrastructure, and ESG firsthand through global travel. The 12-month, full-time program is offered in-person in the dynamic Washington, D.C., market in partnership with the school’s Steers Center for Global Real Estate, which is known for its experiential learning opportunities and individualized attention from professors.

Global Real Assets Courses

Opening Residency

You’ll begin with a residency class that explores how to make ESG an integral part of real assets strategies.

ESG Foundations in Real Assets

A critical aspect of any organization’s success is the development of a strategic plan that incorporates all stakeholders united in a common vision. Real assets firms are learning that the definition of their strategic approach needs to be broader to incorporate a commitment to issues of environment, social, and governance (ESG) and to make these principles implicit to who they are as a firm and what they do. In this course, you will learn the strategic planning process for a real assets firm that wishes to make ESG central to its business.

Fall Semester Courses

Accounting for Sustainability Management

Obtain an overview of financial reporting by for-profit and nonprofit organizations and how differences between the two can meet the needs of different constituents. The course discusses two types of non-financial reporting important for sustainability professionals: corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting and sustainability accounting (which focuses on environmental, social capital, human capital, business models, and leadership/governance). You will better understand the financial and non-financial information reported by your future employers and their suppliers, customers, competitors, and strategic partners.


Firm Analysis and Strategy

Gain a conceptual foundation in strategic analysis and design, drawing from the field of microeconomics and applications to competitive strategy. Learn the frameworks, tools, and concepts that enable practitioners to effectively think and act strategically when making critical business decisions. Realizing most business organizations operate in competitive markets, this course enables managers to develop business and marketing strategies that enhance an organization’s performance over that of its rivals and position the firm for long-term success.


Managerial Statistics


Community Development Clinic


Finance for Sustainability Management

Develop analytical capabilities for making financial decisions in corporations and nonprofits by focusing on: 1) the mathematics of time value of money and discounted cash flow analysis; 2) the decision rules corporations can use to determine which projects to accept; and 3) the tradeoff between risk and return and the fundamentals of portfolio theory.

You will take on the perspective of an equity investor to learn how to measure the return-generating potential and risk associated with a real estate transaction. This case study approach to apply course concepts to practical issues will broadly cover the physical and financial aspects of the investment, as well as subtopics including leverage and income tax considerations. Gain a broad understanding of the institutional real estate world and how circumstances in the current market impact the ability to acquire (and dispose of) real estate assets.


Real Estate Private Equity

Prepare to enter the world of private equity real estate investment through a focus on answering the question, “What is the real estate asset worth?” Lectures consider the thought process and mechanics implicit in establishing an asset’s value via proforma statement construction and discounted cash flow methodology.


Decarbonization and Real Assets

In board rooms, c-suites, and corporate compliance, ESG is now a dominant topic in financial success, public policy, and strategic mission. As part of their mandates, corporate officers and entrepreneurs must understand the broad nuances of ESG and integrate them into their planning and core work. According to International Energy Agency, buildings and building construction sectors combined are responsible for 30% of total global final energy consumption and 27% of total energy sector emissions. With investors setting ambitious net zero goals, regulators developing ESG reporting standards, and governments passing laws around greenhouse gas emissions, ESG is climbing to the top of the agenda of real asset corporations and their investors, lenders, and insurers. 

This course investigates what ESG means for real assets, dives into applicable environmental, social, and governance concepts, factors, and metrics. Under each pillar, the class will discuss topics material to real assets in detail with examples of how each key topic applies to real asset sectors and regions around the world. The content also will explore investor perspectives in each topic.


Real Estate Clinic: Multifamily

The Real Estate Clinic is designed to prepare students for graduate-level careers at institutional real estate investment firms by exposing them to the practice of underwriting real estate investments. will have the distinct benefit of being able to underwrite the “Four Main Food Groups,” i.e. office, multifamily, industrial, and retail products across the United States, developing a broad understanding of many different asset types and learning how underwriting is impacted by geography. The clinic also will provide extensive exposure to real estate technical tools in the form of Excel and Argus Enterprise. 

Spring Semester Courses

Digital Infrastructure 

You will explore how the different components of digital infrastructure (fiber, cell towers, and data centers) tie together to form the ecosystem for storing and processing data with a particular focus on the demand drivers for digital infrastructure. Gain a high-level overview of the technology behind each of the components of digital infrastructure with a focus on the underlying business models of these components. For lectures, students take on the role of analysts of a buy-side equity fund considering investing in the digital infrastructure sector. After reviewing each component of digital infrastructure, the remaining classes will focus on ESG in digital infrastructure and international digital infrastructure.


Real Estate Private Debt

Debt financing is an integral part of value creation in real estate. Yet, beyond returns, investors often do not spend commensurate time to understand and analyze financing and capital markets strategies that could add value through risk mitigation and enhanced financial performance. The choices made in financing a transaction (e.g., terms, costs, covenants) should reflect and support the investors’ strategy for maximizing value throughout the hold period (i.e., buying, operating, and exiting).

This course takes a strategic view of the debt financing of real estate, reviewing the fundamentals of debt instruments, learning the various types of debt instruments used to finance real estate assets, and assessing the risks and rewards associated with using various forms of debt.

We will pay particular attention to economic terms (e.g., rate, duration, amortization), covenants (e.g., assumability, recourse, key principal obligations), and the interests and motivations of both the borrower and the lender. You will gain a framework on how to use the various forms of debt and how to balance the elements of a loan when making the financing decision. We will primarily use multifamily properties for case studies, though other property types will be discussed from time to time.


Housing Markets and Social Infrastructure

You will develop an in-depth understanding of the housing market in terms of function and economics through a solid foundation in the fundamentals of housing from a supply/demand perspective and consideration of both single-family and multi-family assets. Our Washington, D.C., location will provide tremendous insight and access to the policy behind housing and the implications to the current housing market. You will gain exposure to issues of affordable housing market dynamics and policy.


Ethical Leadership

Ethical Leadership is designed to deepen your understanding of the ethical and social dimensions of business and corporate leadership. At its conclusion, you should have the know-how to evaluate and lead the ethical performance of organizations—from teams to enterprises and from the top to the trenches. You should have an acute awareness of the heightened social demands on firms and how leaders are anticipating and managing this expanding responsibility. Finally, you will examine and reflect on your profile as an ethical leader and formulate strategies for making the most of your upcoming leadership opportunities.


Global Business Experience: Suitable Infrastructure on a Global Stage 

This capstone experience will draw from your lessons in the program to date and apply them to a real-life, international consulting project. The course will take place in an area of the world seeing the most dynamic intersection of real estate, infrastructure, and issues of ESG. You will learn directly from professionals leading this change with globally relevant firms.


Real Estate Clinic: Commercial

The Real Estate Clinic is designed to prepare students for graduate level careers at institutional real estate investment firms by exposing them to the practice of underwriting real estate investments.  Students will have the distinct benefit of being able to underwrite the “Four Main Food Groups,” i.e. office, multifamily, industrial and retail product across the United States so they develop not only a broad understanding of many different asset types, but they learn how underwriting is impacted by geography.   The Clinic will also provide extensive exposure to real estate technical tools in the form of Excel and Argus Enterprise.  


The Business of Sustainable Energy

Explore how economic value is created in the energy industry across a wide spectrum of sectors, including oil and gas, transportation, and electricity generation. Become familiar with the evaluation of economic and environmental implications of traditional and innovative business models in the energy industry. Focus on the challenges and opportunities associated with the transformation to a renewable energy future using innovative business models that are both economically and environmentally beneficial. Investigate business models for renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, as well as for urban mobility, such as electric vehicles.


Real Estate Public Equity

Taught by a former CFO of a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT), this course will instill a deep understanding of the modern REIT and its role in today’s capital and real estate markets, viewed from the perspective of the C-suite executive. It will cover the different types of REITs, as well as the various statutory requirements. There will be a comprehensive review of REIT valuation metrics and corporate financial structures. We also will examine growth strategies, including merger and acquisition transactions. Finally, we will review the primary factors investors should consider when investing in REITs. The course will combine lectures on the underlying principles and theory with specific case studies of current industry leaders that demonstrate their practical application. Other industry professionals with unique insights will be presenting some of the materials used in the class.


Transportation Infrastructure

Gain an introduction to the breadth of transportation systems owned by typical real assets investors with a heavy focus on the financial asset. Develop an understanding for how key transportation assets are evaluated and analyzed from a financial perspective. Policy implications on transportation will also be incorporated given our Washington, D.C., home.

Summer Term

Infrastructure Finance

The U.S. municipal capital market is unique among those in the world. There is currently over $3.7 trillion dollars of municipal debt issued in the United States. Every year, state, city, and local governments bring to market billions of dollars in new issues to fund all manner of infrastructure be it roads, bridges, airports, sports stadiums, hospitals, low‐income housing, educational facilities, mass transit systems, water and sewer systems, and not-for-profit institutions. This market has shaped the economic development of the United States, its states, and municipalities.

This course will provide an in‐depth understanding of municipal finance both in terms of how it functions and how infrastructure is both developed and financed in America. This course is well‐suited for those who will be working in investment banking and finance, public sector finance and administration, public sector consulting, and related areas such as public policy, project finance, healthcare, sports management, transportation, real estate, not-for-profit management, and sustainable growth.


ESG Investing

Examine issues related to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing through such topics as: ESG Performance (historical risk and return of incorporating ESG factors, costs to ESG investing); ESG Ratings (identifying the different raters, ratings estimations, measurements, and similarities/differences); Investors (interest in ESG, considering the tradeoff between fiduciary responsibility, performance, and other factors); ESG Factors (incorporation in investment and portfolio decisions, impact on performance, role of active managers vs. passive indexing); Companies (response and incorporation of ESG; voting by portfolio composition vs. proxy voting and engagement); and Policy and Regulatory Issues (whether ESG disclosure by companies is needed, what form it should it take).

*Courses and course descriptions are subject to change.

Join Our August 2023 Intake

Our next Master of Science in Global Real Assets intake launches in August 2023. We welcome the opportunity to connect with you throughout the admissions process to learn more about your background and interests, share details about the classes and capstone project, and explore how you can make an impact in this field.

Questions? Contact Our MS-GRA Admissions Team

We can answer questions about making an investment in your future through the Master’s in Global Real Assets program. / +1 (202) 908-6882