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 first hand through global travel.


Opening Residency

Integrating an ESG Real Assets Strategy
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 in the strategic planning process for a real assets firm that wishes to make ESG central to its business.

Fall Semester Courses

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 that corporations can use to determine which projects to accept; and 3) the tradeoff between risk and return and the fundamentals of portfolio theory.

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.

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.

With classes focused on the perspective of an equity investor, you will learn the proper approach to measuring the return generating potential and risk associated with a real estate transaction. This approach will broadly cover the physical and financial aspects of the investment and will delve into a variety of subtopics including leverage and income tax considerations.

You will 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. The course also will employ a case study approach for applying the course concepts to practical real estate problems.


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.


Using Environmental Data & Analytics to Lead Change
Develop the quantitative skills necessary for identifying and analyzing socio-environmental data. Using a hands-on, experiential approach, learn basic methods to build and manage databases. You also will study the basics of descriptive and inferential statistical methods, including exploratory data analyses and basic linear and logistic regressions. Introductions to multivariate analysis and model selection complement the development of analytical skills. Gain experience in the application of statistical methods and the use of open-source statistical software, R. Additionally, you will learn the importance of using such analytics to lead change in the context of an original research project and for the Capstone.


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).


Private Debt
Debt financing is an integral part of value creation in real estate. Yet, beyond returns, often investors will not spend commensurate time to understand and analyze their 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).

In this course, we will take a strategic view of the debt financing of real estate. As such, we will review the fundamentals of debt instruments, learn the various types of debt instruments used to finance real estate assets, and assess the risks and rewards associated with using various forms of debt.

Particular attention will be paid 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 various 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 both in terms of market dynamics as well as policy.

Spring Semester Courses

Accounting for Sustainability Management
You will 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.


Net Zero – A Real Assets Strategy
Firms involved in the real assets industry are starting to make declarations in terms of their net zero ambitions both as a firm, which impacts their business operations, and in the manner that they look at investments. This course will introduce you to the challenges of moving to a net zero reality within a global real assets context. Focus will be paid at the enterprise level, but discussion also will relate to the challenges of migrating to a net zero reality within the context of an individual asset.


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.


Ethical Leadership
Ethical Leadership is designed to deepen your understanding of the ethical and social dimensions of business in general and corporate leadership in particular. 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 have the opportunity to examine and reflect on your profile as an ethical leader and to formulate strategies for making the most of your upcoming leadership opportunities.


Underwriting Real Assets with an ESG Lens I and II
This two-part class will prepare you for an MBA-level career at institutional real estate investment firms by exposing you to the practice of underwriting real estate investments. Through a clinic, you will have the distinct benefit of underwriting the “Four Main Food Groups,” i.e. office, multi-family, industrial, and retail products across the United States. You will develop a broad understanding of many different asset types, and also learn 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.

Half of the first course will focus exclusively on the multi-family asset with dedicated work to model comprehension and underwriting strategy, with the other half involving deal underwriting using three specific deals underwritten by each student. In the second part, the clinic will focus entirely on the commercial asset.


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.


Digital Infrastructure
This course provides an introduction to digital infrastructure (fiber, cell towers, and data centers). You will explore how the different components of digital infrastructure 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. Lectures will be delivered assuming students are analysts of a buy-side equity fund considering investing in the digital infrastructure sector. After each component of digital infrastructure has been reviewed, the remaining classes will focus on ESG in digital infrastructure and international digital infrastructure.

Summer Term – Capstone Project

Public Debt
Learn the mechanics and concepts of pricing risk in traded real estate debt. There will be a particular focus on commercial mortgage-backed securities (“CMBS”) and related securities. This class is designed for use in either (or both) of two professional contexts: 1) Debt issuance, to thoroughly understand the costs and tradeoffs of various capital market options; and 2) Debt investment, to be able to price risk “up and down the capital stack”, and across markets.


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.


Sustainable Infrastructure on a Global Stage
This capstone experience will serve as an emphatic conclusion to a course of study that will expose you to much of what you learned throughout the program, but in a real-life and international context. The courses 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.

*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.

Questions? Contact Our MS-GRA Admissions Team / +1 (202) 908-6882