Columbia College in the biggest exclusive educational partnership in the nation.

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COLUMBIA - The National Association of REALTORS is now partnering with Columbia College to give more opportunities to its members.

Columbia College announced its part in the largest exclusive educational collaboration in the nation on Wednesday.

The NAR approached Columbia College and the two discussed collaborating for a few months. The group said on its website it chose Columbia College for "its successful legacy of providing high-quality distance-learning degree completion programs to military and working professionals, and is second-to-none in their recognition of credit-for-work experience".

The Realtor group is the largest trade association in the nation with over 1.3 million members from the real estate industry. A representative for REALTOR University's Board of Regents, Ron Phipps, said the association values skill development in real estate.

"Ongoing education and the development of skills and competencies is really critical to insuring that that value is delivered in an efficient and effective way to consumers," he said.

Its exclusive partnership with Columbia College will allow members to participate in degree completion and real estate certificate programs by the spring semester of 2020.

"With Columbia College, we're going to be able to offer our members the opportunity to get associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and master of business administration," Phipps said.

Columbia's Public Relations Representative, Sam Fleury, said in a press release, "Columbia College also plans to develop and offer a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in real estate, based on the award-winning Master of Real Estate degree curriculum developed by the association for its members through REALTOR University".

REALTOR University will stop offering its master's program as the NAR Academy at Columbia College starts offering its programs.

Phipps said the school only offered a master's program and wanted to move toward more efficient and comprehensive programs.

"Columbia College was the perfect partner for that. They've got reach across the country, they have a depth of programs and academics, which go really well with our pursuit of professionalism and academic excellence. It was just a particularly effective partnership," Phipps said.

Columbia College President, Dr. Scott Dalrymple, said he expects more members to enroll after NAR's national conference this weekend. 

"We don't expect all 1.3 million to come to Columbia College, but we certainly think it will be a sizeable number of people," Dalrymple said.

REALTOR University has confidence in the program too.

"We actually think that this is going to be one of those self-populating programs for the National Association of REALTORS because our members understand the value of skills, knowledge, and competencies and this program is going to help them better obtain those," Phipps said.

The Center for Specialized REALTOR Education will offer members who enroll in the NAR Academy at Columbia College $100 for each eligible course. NAR's goal is to raise standards in educational real estate programs, starting in Columbia.

"The scholarship is only valid at Columbia College and it could save a student up to $4,000 if they took their entire degree here," Dalrymple said.

He expects the partnership to add value to the already successful Plaster School of Business.

"We'll be the only curriculum in the country that has the NAR stamp of approval so to speak," Dalrymple said.