UPenn’s Blockchain and FinTech Online Courses

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The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as UPenn or Penn) has announced a number of new online courses in Financial Technology (FinTech), including cryptocurrency and blockchain. The university is to offer four courses via the Coursera platform, each of which can be taken individually or combined as part of a new online program – FinTech: Foundations & Applications of Financial Technology Specialization.

An Ivy League University

UPenn is a private university located in Philadelphia. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the U.S. and one of the eight Ivy League universities. The Wharton School of Business claims to be the world’s first collegiate school of business.

UPenn has a strong record in blockchain, offering its first full-credit blockchain course for undergraduate and graduate students in Fall 2018. It also launched the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) along with 16 other universities and the currency exchange Ripple.

In March 2019, UPenn announced the establishment of the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance, which aims to encourage collaboration, discovery, and impact in FinTech.

FinTech Specialization

Wharton’s FinTech Specialization is designed to provide students with a foundation in financial technologies and their real-world application. Students will be expected to be able to:

  • Explain cryptocurrency and blockchain in financial contexts.
  • Identify the regulatory concerns presented by the most common financial technologies.
  • Evaluate investment products using Modern Portfolio Theory.

We are proud to launch this program as part of our multi-faceted approach to defining FinTech for the world. The FinTech Specialization is an important new component of Wharton’s powerful FinTech portfolio.”

Anne Trumbore, Senior Director of Wharton Online

Like other ‘specializations’ offered on Coursera, the program consists of a series of courses and a hands-on capstone project. Upon successful completion of these, a shareable certificate will be awarded. Each course features lectures and case studies from both UPenn faculty and industry experts. 

The four courses that make up the FinTech Specialization are:

  • Course 1 – FinTech: Foundations, Payments, & Regulations
  • Course 2 – Cryptocurrency & Blockchain: An Introduction to Digital Currencies
  • Course 3 – Lending, Crowdfunding, & Modern Investing
  • Course 4 – FinTech Specialties: InsurTech, Real Estate Tech, & Artificial Intelligence

The program is offered 100% online and can be completed on a flexible, self-paced schedule – 16 weeks is suggested as a typical timeframe. It is run on a subscription basis costing $75 per month, although Coursera provides financial aid to students who cannot afford the tuition fees. You can also audit the program to view the course materials for free.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Course

If you’re interested in blockchain but don’t want to pursue the entire FinTech Specialization, the Cryptocurrency & Blockchain: An Introduction to Digital Currencies course provides a good alternative.

Led by Wharton Professors Jessica Watchter and Sarah Hammer, the course will ensure students learn “how to define a currency, analyze the foundations of digital signatures and blockchain technology in cryptocurrency, and accurately assess the risks of cryptocurrency in a modern investment portfolio.”

The course consists of four modules, each consisting of videos, reading, and a quiz, and estimated to take approximately one-hour to complete:

  • Module 1: Introduction to Cryptocurrency
  • Module 2: Rules & Structure of Bitcoin
  • Module 3: Cryptocurrency as an Asset Class
  • Module 4: The Blockchain Ecosystem

As with the FinTech Specialization, the course can be audited for free if you simply want to access the course materials, rather than completing the graded assignment and receiving a certificate.

An Affordable Option?

Although designed for working professionals, these new courses will appeal to anyone interested in gaining a foundational knowledge of blockchain or FinTech. And no background knowledge is required prior to enrollment.

They are a welcome addition to the blockchain courses already offered by the other Ivy League universities – filling a space between Princeton’s online 11-week Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Technologies course (free) and the significantly more expensive Blockchain for Business certificate ($3,600) offered by Cornell, and the Introduction to Blockchain & Bitcoin ($2,750) and FinTech ($3,600) courses offered by Harvard.

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