In August 2018 Coinbase published a fascinating report examining the rise of blockchain and cryptography in higher education. The digital currency exchange partnered with Qriously, a London-based ad-tech company, to conduct a survey of US student sentiment and also researched the number of undergraduate courses offered by each of the world’s top 50 universities as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
- 42% of the 50 universities examined offer at least one undergraduate course on blockchain or cryptocurrency.
- Stanford University offers the most blockchain and cryptocurrency courses (10), followed by Cornell University (9) and the University of Pennsylvania (6).
- Blockchain and cryptocurrency courses are most prominent in the U.S.
- Students from a range of majors are interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency courses.
- Universities are adding courses across a variety of departments, including Business, Finance, and Social Science.
“Students are flocking to classes on cryptocurrency and blockchain … motivated in part by a hot job market for graduates with training in those fields. Universities, in turn, are forming research centers and adding more crypto-related courses, in part to meet rising demand and also because they now see cryptocurrency as an area worthy of serious academic study.”Coinbase Report, August 2018
The report gives the example of New York University’s course on Digital Currency, Blockchains and the Future of Financial Services which attracted just 35 students when first offered in 2013, but attracted 230 enrolments by spring 2018 and is now offered in both fall and spring semesters.
Higher Education Trends
The research underpinning the report’s conclusions was limited in scope as it only focused on a specific list of universities and did not consider graduate-level only courses. But it provides a useful snapshot and two trends are already clear.
First, as the demand for blockchain skills increases – driven by both curious students and industries on the lookout for talent – more universities are offering relevant courses. Blockchain is increasingly making its way into the academic curriculum of the top universities around the world.
Second, the approach towards blockchain from universities is increasingly interdepartmental and multi-disciplinary in nature.
If Coinbase repeats this research periodically (e.g. annually), it will be interesting to track the (assumed) increase in blockchain courses at leading universities.