New grad certificate equips students with real estate finance skills

Buildings in downtown Portland

This fall, The School of Business launched a new graduate certificate program aimed at meeting the demand for real estate finance skills in commercial real estate.

The graduate certificate in Real Estate Investment and Finance is a five-course program that can be earned as a standalone credential or paired with PSU’s Master of Real Estate Development (MRED), Master of Science in Finance (MSF) or The Portland MBA. 

Two students from the program’s inaugural class share their plans for putting the certificate to use.

Skyler Fulton

Skyler Fulton works as the Portland State football team’s offensive coordinator when he’s not pursuing his MRED and MBA.

“I thought the GCREIF was a great compliment to both the MRED and the MBA programs,” he said. “The GCREIF program combined technical experience with comprehensive finance and investment acumen focused specifically on the real estate markets.”

He said he hopes to use what he’s learned to continue to educate athletes and coaches who are investing in and developing commercial real estate around the country. He wants to educate minorities about the commercial real estate space and equip them with the knowledge to make educated decisions in their investments.

“I believe that this certificate will complement my MRED because it really focuses on the intimate details of analysis, private equity & debt financing, public real estate markets, asset & portfolio management, valuation, and market analysis,” Fulton said. “The level of detail in these specific areas has provided me with a platform to learn about aspects of real estate investment finance and has helped develop my skills in these aspects at the highest level. I believe this has allowed me to have a really good understanding of these processes, and therefore, it’s given me the knowledge and tools to educate the athletes and coaches in our B.I.G. Investment Group fund.”

Kelvy Atama

Kelvy Atama, an international student who did his undergrad at PSU in accounting and finance, said real estate is always something he’s been passionate about. Last fall, he took FIN 410 Real Estate Investments to learn more about the real estate industry and decide whether he would want to complete the new graduate certificate alongside the MSF. The class also gave him an opportunity to ask Professor Julia Freybote, who had studied in South Africa, about the future of real estate and its ramifications in the development of Africa.

“I wanted to ensure that my academic plan still aligns with my interest and passion,” he said. “I believe this graduate certificate in real estate finance will make me a well-rounded finance professional, and it can help me utilize finance and business acumen from my undergraduate to achieve my long-term dreams better.”

And he’s got big dreams. Atama hopes to work for the World Bank Group and see the achievement of the institution’s 2030 Development Agenda, which lays out a roadmap for a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy. 

“I believe that having completed my master’s in finance and real estate graduate certificate, I will have been exposed to rigorous academics and immersive technical experience to work in finance back home,” he said.

Atama also has plans to start a small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in his homeland of Congo that would develop eco-friendly houses and revitalize agriculture on underutilized land to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on minerals.

“I believe that with the growing population of Congo, the limited available resources, and climate change, it is primordial that I see how my dreams can be achieved while considering these elements,” he said. “Moreover, as the MSF strives to enhance my technical expertise such as advanced quantitative methods, risk management, and data visualization tools, and sustainability and accounting skills—to name a few, I believe the real estate certificate will subsequently help me leverage these analytical and practical skills to conduct an in-depth market analysis and understand different valuation techniques for different property types.”

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