The Wisconsin PhD Program in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics prepares individuals for careers in research and teaching at the university level. The program is highly quantitative, providing a strong foundation in financial and economic theory, as well as in mathematical statistical techniques. Through a customized program of elective courses and dissertation research, students specialize in a particular area of real estate economics and finance.

Core Areas of Research

Student research is supported by faculty in four core areas:

  • Urban and housing economics
  • Housing and asset pricing
  • Securitization and real estate capital markets
  • Financing and investment of commercial property

Our faculty members contribute to significant advancements in the field, as evidenced by our recently published journal articles.

Academic Requirements

All students must meet the general PhD requirements of both the UW–Madison Graduate School and the Wisconsin School of Business. Ideal candidates for our program have the following background:

  • Introductory coursework in microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Three semesters of calculus, two semesters or mathematical statistics, one semester of linear algebra, and one semester of real analysis*
  • A master’s level course in real estate and an audited course in Real Estate Finance

*Applicants who have not taken a course in real analysis are strongly encouraged to take Analysis I in the mathematics department at UW-Madison no later than the fall semester of the second year.

Program Coursework

Students will complete the following courses:

  • Advanced Real Estate Finance Theory OR Real Estate
  • Advanced Urban Land Economics
  • Theory of Finance I & II
  • Economic Statistics and Econometrics I & II
  • Microeconomics I & II
  • Macroeconomics I

Year 1

  • Students are encouraged to audit the real estate and finance or economics workshops during their first semester.
  • Starting with the second semester in the program and continuing as long as in residence, students take a finance or economics workshop each semester.

Year 2

  • Students propose a set of three advanced courses that form a coherent package and enhance the student’s research skills. You are free to choose elective courses offered by the economics,finance, mathematics, or statistics departments and may consult with your advisor to determine if courses in other areas are appropriate.
  • Students take the real estate workshop. This workshop is designed to help you make progress toward completion of your second-year paper and your dissertation.

During the second summer in the program you will completes a research paper on a real estate economics or finance topic. This paper may be either theoretical or empirical, and should contain elements of original research that extend the existing literature. Real estate faculty members may provide guidance during the paper’s development. Each student also makes an oral presentation of the paper to the real estate faculty.

See Guide for all course requirements.

Faculty Research Interests

Alina Arefeva

Research interests:
  • Real estate economics
  • Finance
  • Macroeconomics
  • Search frictions on housing prices

Yongheng Deng

Research interests:
  • Real Estate Finance and Capital Markets
  • Mortgage and Asset-Backed Security
  • Competing Risks of Mortgage Prepayment and Default
  • Economics of Sustainable Development
  • Asian Real Estate and Housing Market

Lu Han

Research interests:
  • Real estate market microstructure
  • Empirical industrial organization
  • Urban and environmental economics
  • Asset management
  • Housing and mortgage policies

Timothy Riddiough

Research interests:
  • Mortgage finance and securitization
  • Real estate valuation and investment
  • Capital structure and contracting
  • REITs

Abdullah Yavas

Research interests:
  • Mortgage contracts
  • Brokerage
  • Economics of information and uncertainty
  • Experimental economics
  • Monetary policy

Dayin Zhang

Research interests:
  • Household Finance
  • Financial Intermediation
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Macroeconomics

Connect with Current Students

We encourage you to contact our doctoral students in real estate and urban land economics to hear their perspectives on the Wisconsin PhD Program.

View current student profiles