The term Ivy League refers to a collegiate athletic conference officially founded in 1954 and consisting of eight private north-eastern universities: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Princeton University, and Yale University. However, as some of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the U.S., the term has become synonymous with these universities’ reputations for academic excellence.
In the U.S. News & World Report 2019 National University Rankings, all eight Ivies are ranked in the top-20, with Princeton taking the top spot ahead of Harvard, while Columbia and Yale join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago in a tie for third.
As with other leading universities, the Ivies have directed increasing resources towards blockchain and have incorporated it into their academic programs. As a result, there is a growing number of Ivy League blockchain courses.
Ivy League Blockchain Courses
In August 2018, a Coinbase report examining the rise of cryptography and blockchain in higher education found that Cornell offered nine courses on blockchain and cryptocurrency, second only to Stanford (10 courses) of the 50 universities examined. UPenn, Harvard and Princeton were also highly ranked. Back in 2017, Trustnodes.com ranked Cornell as the best university at which to study blockchain technology.
In addition to offering a number of introductory blockchain courses to its MBA students (such as B8776-001 and B8462-001), Columbia Business School hosts an annual two-day educational summit and primer course on Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies & Digital Tokens Demystified. This course is intended for participants with no prior knowledge or technical background.
Beginning in summer 2019, the university will also offer a three-week summer immersion program for high school students (grades 11 and 12), entitled Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, AI, & Beyond. Columbia is serious about blockchain – in July 2018 it announced it had partnered with IBM to open a center dedicated to research and innovation in blockchain and data transparency.
In Fall 2018, the Wharton School at UPenn began offering its first full-credit blockchain course for undergraduate and graduate students, entitled Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, & Distributed Ledger Technology.
Along with 16 other universities, including Princeton, UPenn has also launched a strategic partnership with the San Francisco-based currency exchange Ripple, under the banner of the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI). UBRI aims to “support and accelerate academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments,” with Ripple so far contributing over $50 million in funding.
However, you don’t need to be be a matriculated student in order to enroll on a blockchain course at an Ivy League university. For example, the top ranked Ivy in 2019 currently offers a free online blockchain course.
Princeton’s Free Blockchain Course
Since 2015, Princeton has offered a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on blockchain. Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Technologies is an 11-week course taught (and co-created) by Arvind Narayanan, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Princeton who co-authored a seminal textbook on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies.
According to the course materials, upon completion students should “know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects.”
Requiring approximately 18-hours of study to complete, teaching methods consist of videos, articles, and quizzes. The curriculum is organized as follows:
- Introduction to Crypto & Cryptocurrencies
- How Bitcoin Achieves Decentralization
- Mechanics of Bitcoin
- How to Store & Use Bitcoins
- Bitcoin Mining
- Bitcoin & Anonymity
- Community, Politics, & Regulation
- Alternative Mining Puzzles
- Bitcoin as a Platform
- Altcoins & the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem
- The Future of Bitcoin?
Cornell’s Blockchain Certificate Program
Cornell also offers a 100% online certificate program to students around the world, via eCornell, the university’s online learning platform. Unlike Princeton’s offering, the Blockchain for Business program awards a certificate upon completion but this comes at a cost of $3,600.
Aimed primarily at business leaders and entrepreneurs, the program promises you “will walk away with a proposal for an application of blockchain technology in your organization.” It consists of four courses, each lasting two weeks, meaning the course can be completed in two months (or 32 professional development hours):
- Cryptocurrencies & Ledgers
- Cryptography Essentials
- Blockchain Fundamentals
- Applications of Blockchain Technology
Harvard Online Blockchain Courses
Harvard Extension School offers an Introduction to Blockchain & Bitcoin online course, costing $2,750. Previous experience of programming in Python is listed as a prerequisite.
“This course covers the mathematical, computational, and economic foundations of blockchain, and exposes students to the societal and legal implications of a decentralized monetary system based on consensus. Students learn what bitcoins are, why it is possible to make money using bitcoins, and why it is so volatile. Through practice with bitcoin and Ethereum-based software platforms, students build decentralized applications, develop an understanding of cryptographic principles, and revisit critical economic questions, such as what is money, what is a transaction, and who should authorize a transaction.”Harvard Extension School
The university’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL) also offers a Financial Technology (FinTech) online short course, through the GetSmarter platform. Lasting six weeks, the course examines the shifting nature of the financial sector, including a module focusing on blockchain and cryptocurrency.
You can watch a course trailer on YouTube. The course costs $3,600 and a certificate is awarded by Harvard upon completion.