The College of Charleston is launching several new academic programs for the 2017-18 school year including a new bachelor’s degree in commercial real estate finance and a new master’s degree in community planning, policy and design.

Elaine Worzalaprofessor of real estate and director of the College’s Carter Real Estate Center in the School of Business, explains that the commercial real estate finance degree sounds pretty specialized but the curriculum will provide students with a strong background in real estate and finance and will also allow the students to explore the many other disciplines that align with the field including investment, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, supply chain management, hospitality, planning, development, historic preservation and law. The major is aimed at students interested in careers such as real estate law, commercial lending, valuation, development, investment banking, property and asset management and brokerage.

“The major is designed as a hands-on major with many of the classes using live projects so that students experience during their college years some of the situations they will run in to when they start their career,” says Worzala, who is the director of the new major. “In addition, many of the courses use the tools and skill sets that are currently being demanded in the work setting including ARGUS Enterprise, CoStar and the SNL database.” 

Worzala adds, “We are the first university that we are aware of to offer a freshmen level real estate class, which means our students can start their real estate studies on day one of their College career. This gives them three summers to complete internships and eight semesters to build their resume and their rolodex with a substantial network of real estate professionals before they start their new careers. They will be ready to work and confident when they leave the College, and we are sure that many of them will become leaders of the real estate profession.”  

The master’s in community planning, policy and design targets students who want to advance their career in the world of urban policy and community planning. This 54 credit-hour master’s program will help students become practical community builders and effective placemakers working for organizations like city governments, development companies and architecture and urban design firms, as well as fields that involve public policy, real estate economics and land-use planning. The program will be based within the College’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program and the Riley Institute for Livable Communities.

Professor R. Grant Gilmore III, director of the undergraduate Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program and co-director of the new master’s program, says the new graduate degree is aimed in part at working professionals who are already in fields such as urban design, city planning and architecture. Gilmore says the graduate degree was developed with input from developers across the globe, city planning departments and major architecture firms.

“At the very core of this graduate degree is communication skills and being able to communicate design ideas and economic progress clearly to the range of potential clients or employers,” says Gilmore, noting that the program will focus on blending traditional and modern design elements to focus on “progressive traditional” design skills. “We’re really pressing forward with a global view of traditional architectural design and expanding the possibilities of students using traditional design in a global sense whether that’s using West African elements in their design of an office building or southeast Asian influences in designs of homes or Aztec or Mayan influences for the design of a school.”

Other new academic offerings include:

  • An undergraduate certificate in project management offered through the School of Professional Studies.
  • Graduate certificates in information systems and software engineering both offered through the Department of Computer Science.
  • A new concentration in public policy offered as part of the political science major.
  • A new concentration in hospitality operations management through the bachelor of professional studies program.
  • A new minor in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies.

Feature photo by Mike Ledford.