List of College and University Research Centers for Housing Studies in the US

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Now that our pause to discuss current events and our minor site outage are out of the way we can return to our ongoing series about housing and academia. (Part 1, Part 2) Today we'll be exploring the universities that offer programs in the relatively new interdisciplinary field of "housing studies".

Some US colleges and universities have been focusing on housing studies in some form or another since the civil rights era of the 1960s. In most cases the programs started as sub-departments of schools of public policy, urban planning, social work or sociology. They may include coursework in all of those fields along with data science, statistics, business, finance, public health, political science and law. Some even include an overview of architecture and engineering, usually from the perspective of green construction and utility usage. In contrast to the more established schools of real estate that arise out of MBA and programs, housing studies programs will tend to offer MS, MA or MSW degrees along with Ph.Ds. While undergrads can certainly get an early start housing studies, most of these programs are for masters and doctoral students only.

Over the past several years I've done several articles based on research output from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the DePaul Institute for Housing Studies. Their work overlaps heavily with the focus of this blog and RentConfident as a whole. But I have often wondered if there were other schools offering housing studies programs that might have less vigorous marketing departments supporting their work. A rather lengthy survey of search results turned up several other options but no centralized list of them. None of the major review sites for postgraduate programs include Housing Studies or something similar as a keyword. We're going to fix that today. Personally I'm quite excited to have uncovered multiple untapped sources of data for future blog articles.

This list focuses on university research centers and degree programs. To be included the program must be interdisciplinary and at least partially focused on the long view of the rental housing industry. It doesn't include "think tanks" without university/college affiliation as those deserve their own list.

If you're looking for applied real estate degrees you can look at this list of programs that teach you to be a property manager/landlord or this list of schools with a more generalized focus on Real Estate. Of course if you are interested in the architecture and engineering of multifamily housing there are numerous sources for degree programs in these fields.

This list is probably not exhaustive but it could be in the future. Not all of the linked sites offer a list of their recent research but many do. If you know of a housing studies program that should be included here, drop me a note on our Facebook or Twitter accounts (@rentconfident on both sites) and I'll add it if it fits the topic.


Harvard University, MA
Joint Center for Housing Studies

Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy

Penn State, PA
Pennsylvania Housing Research Center

Rutgers, NJ
Center for Urban Policy Research


Depaul University, IL
Institute of Housing Studies

University of Illinois Chicago, IL
Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement

University of Michigan, MI
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Housing, Community and Economic Development Focus Area

University of Minnesota, MN
College of Design, Housing Studies
Note: No longer accepting applicants.

Washington University in St. Louis, MO
Brown School Center for Social Development


University of Florida, FL
Shimberg Center for Housing Studies

University of Georgia, GA
Housing and Demographic Research Center

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC
Carolina Planning, Housing and Community Development

Virginia Tech, VA
Center for Housing Research

Texas A&M University, TX
Center for Housing & Urban Development


Oregon State University, OR
College of Business, Housing Studies option

Portland State University, OR
College of Urban & Public Affairs Population Research Center

Stanford University, CA
Center on Poverty & Inequality

University of California at LA, CA
Ziman Center for Real Estate

University of Colorado at Boulder, CO
Boulder Affordable Housing Research Initiative
Note: short term program ending soon

University of Southern California, CA
Lusk Center for Real Estate

University of Washington, WA
Runstad Department of Real Estate, Housing Studies

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Published by

Kay Cleaves