Want to study Bitcoin (BTC)? Actually, now you can major in cryptos.
New York University has become the first U.S. college to offer a major in cryptocurrencies through the Stern School of Business. Stern was the first school to offer undergraduate courses in crypto and blockchain — doing so in 2014 in which only 35 students signed up. This school year, NYU has doubled its course offerings that now cater to hundreds of students.
These days, professors have been moving classes to bigger auditoriums to accommodate a surge of interest among college students, with enrollment climbing to 230 by Spring 2018. An Aug. 2018 study by Coinbase and Qriously found that 42% of the world’s top 50 universities now offer at least one course on crypto or blockchain in a survey of 675 U.S. students and review of curriculum at 50 international universities.
“There’s a few people who graduated some years ago but have come back to sit in on this just because of the novelty and the edginess of the topic,” NYU Finance Department Chair David Yermack told CBS New York.
Blockchain Jobs Are Booming
The pay isn’t bad either. While there has long been a talent gap in blockchain, those who can get experience can see a big boost in earnings after a few years.
Blockchain engineering is the second-most demanded skill after robotics and automation, according to freelance platform Upwork. Blockchain engineers in the U.S. can earn up to $130,000 annually, according to ComputerWorld, and up to $160,000 in major U.S. cities.
One-Fifth Of Students Own Cryptos
The same Coinbase survey found that one in five students (18%) own Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Moreover, 34% of computer science majors and engineering majors said they were interested in learning about cryptocurrency; the figure is 47% for students in social sciences.
In an interview with CryptoDaily, University of Texas at Austin business professor Dr. Kate Gillespie says she shares PowerPoint presentations about the questions that Bitcoin and other cryptos pose to Generation Z. Her slides ask, “Is Bitcoin an efficient way to avoid foreign exchange fees?” And does it offer “a protection for people disappointed by central banks and politics, a way to store value and avoid risky home currencies?”
Academics are also pointing to potential disadvantages. “Is Bitcoin also a great way for criminals to launder money?” asks Dr. Gillespie. “And a way to hide transactions from governments trying to enforce sanctions?” She observes that if a cryptocurrency becomes too widely used in a country, it’s likely the government will attempt to outlaw it or at least curb it in some way.
Top Colleges Teaching Cryptos
Stanford and Cornell currently lead the pack in most course offerings that involve cryptocurrencies and blockchain. But other universities are updating their curriculum to reflect the subjects’ growing popularity among students. These include University of Pennsylvania, National University of Singapore, University of California at Berkley and University of California at Los Angeles. Blockchain at Berkley is an example of a pioneering program that lets students, alumni and community members learn and potentially work in the field.
Prominent academics are also conducting research into blockchain, increasing the technology’s standing with researchers. Earlier this month, blockchain security firm Cryptic Labs announced that two Nobel Prize winners in economics will conduct research into incentive mechanisms, game theory and macro-economic policies. Dr. Eric Maskin and Sir Christopher Pissarides are joining the Palo Alto, Calif. firm.