Colleges Introduce Crypto-Oriented Courses: What Should Students Know

Julia Beyers Jul 18, 2019
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Cryptocurrency is the result of a handful of experiments held by tech geeks and cyberpunks. Nowadays, it has taken center stage across various industries worldwide. There is no denying that this new form of money gained much popularity and awareness after the price explosion in 2017. Then, the world learned about Bitcoin, altcoins, and blockchain at large.

Why to Learn Blockchain?

While some institutions offer courses designed to educate students on blockchain and cryptography in general, others refresh the curriculum with comprehensive cryptocurrency courses covering the tiniest technical aspects.
Surprisingly, the crypto job openings are not limited to financial companies only. Although blockchain is mainly associated with cryptocurrencies, the demand for it is much broader from the sectors like healthcare, logistics, e-commerce and even government services.
SAP, IBM, Deloitte, Accenture, Uber, eBay, Capital One — all these industry whales are looking to expand their blockchain teams. The salaries of blockchain developers are respectively higher than those of general software developers.
The job market has never looked so promising for blockchain enthusiasts. And this is another driver for people to start mastering the distributed ledger technology.

Where to Learn?

The list of colleges offering blockchain courses is increasing and is rather diverse. Almost half of the top 50 universities worldwide offer at least one crypto or blockchain related class.
Probably, the largest demand for crypto courses comes from the USA. The vast majority of the US educational institutions — Stanford, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Princeton, New York University, MIT — now allow students to receive crypto-related education in line with other disciplines like finance, entrepreneurship, etc.
MIT’s class “Blockchain and Money” is an example of non-technical program. The course is designed to cover the fundamentals of smart contracts and blockchain technology plus their practical application in finance.
The professors of the university believe that blockchain can be a strong catalyst for changes in economic sectors. Therefore, they want to teach students to creatively think and make analysis of the impact of blockchain on different spheres.
The same focus is put by New York University. They consider the role of cryptocurrencies in the economy, introducing lectures on Bitcoin futures, ICOs, blockchain, payment systems, legislative issues, etc.
This class doesn’t involve computer science or coding, instead it is more business-oriented. For those who want to become a blockchain geek, the institution offers another course that covers smart contracts, consensus mechanisms, proof systems, and all that tech-savvy stuff.
America isn’t the only country where you can obtain a master degree in crypto. For example, the University of Nicosia, has been providing an educational program on digital currencies since 2014, and is proud of its contribution to the rise of blockchain.
Some other colleges that promote crypto-related courses internationally are Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, European University of Madrid, National University of Singapore, the Australian University RMIT, and so many more. They are already one step ahead of other colleges as they are “early adopters” of new technology.

Education or Capitalization on the Crypto Rush?

Since the educational sector has no lack of crypto-oriented courses, the question about the cost of such classes arises. The average tuition across the US universities grows by 3-4% annually. In 2019-2020, the tuition and fees in the public college for undergraduates amounts to nearly $50,000.
The universities have been left with low public funding and are forced to find revenue streams by themselves.
In this regard, it’s safe to suggest that some universities introduce courses on cryptocurrency and blockchain partially for commercial purposes. The cost of such classes varies among colleges.
For example, for a six-week course on Blockchain Technologies at MIT, you will pay $3,500, and for the master’s 18-month program at the University of Nicosia you will be charged €12,960.

How Valuable Are the Courses on Blockchain and Crypto?

Most courses are intended for either entrepreneurs, who haven’t yet decided whether or not they need to integrate blockchain in their business, or people from the finance sector who want to understand the principles behind technology.
In this view, some classes cover only basic knowledge about technology. This suggests that the educators can’t yet create a comprehensive curriculum to include the latest information, recent upgrades, and innovations as the world of cryptocurrencies evolves really fast.
Also, it seems that colleges still introduce crypto courses for profit mainly, and not because of their confidence in blockchain’s bright future. Anyway, the unremitting demand for crypto-oriented classes and positive feedback from the graduate students imply that such courses are helpful and have some value.

The Bottom Line

Of course, some employers claim that graduates lack the crypto skills they were looking for. Still, many companies don’t require that you have in-depth knowledge of cryptocurrency technology because the industry is rather young and fast-paced.
More likely, the company experts will train you on the job. Furthermore, not all crypto-related positions require coding skills, so the understanding of the key concepts will be enough.
Nevertheless, absorbing as much knowledge as you can during the course will increase your chances in the job market. The higher the level of expertise you have, the higher your competitive advantage is. Although the introductory classes won’t make you the new Vitalik Buterin, you will still be ready to adopt the technology.