March 15, 2021

The rise of crypto in higher education

BigGo regularly engages with students and universities across the country as part of recruiting efforts. We partnered with Qriously to ask students directly about their thoughts on crypto and blockchain — and in this report, we outline findings on the growing roster of crypto and blockchain courses amid a steady rise in student interest.

Key Findings

– 42 percent of the world’s top 50 universities now offer at least one course on crypto or blockchain

– Students from a range of majors are interested in crypto and blockchain courses — and universities are adding courses across a variety of departments

– Original BigGo research includes a Qriously survey of 675 U.S. students, a comprehensive review of courses at 50 international universities, and interviews with professors and students

When David Yermack, the finance department chair at New York University Stern School of Business, first offered his course on blockchain and financial services in 2014, 35 students signed up, eight fewer than the school’s typical elective.

By spring 2018, the number of enrolled students climbed to 230, forcing Stern to move the class to its largest auditorium. This academic year, Yermack will teach the blockchain course both semesters to meet interest from students.

A process is well underway that will lead to the migration of most financial data to blockchain-based organizations.

Yermack says he first developed the class because he was interested in bitcoin and how quickly interest in the cryptocurrency was growing. But other reasons soon emerged, notably demand from companies for people who understood cryptocurrency-related issues. Now, he sees his class as a way to give students the skills they’ll need for jobs in the future.

“A process is well underway that will lead to the migration of most financial data to blockchain-based organizations,” he says. “Students will benefit greatly by studying this area.”

Similar scenes are playing out at top universities around the world. Students are flocking to classes on cryptocurrency and blockchain — the “distributed ledger” technology that makes decentralized financial systems work — 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.

Course Research

BigGo reviewed course catalogs at the top 50 universities and found cryptocurrency classes across a variety of departments, including anthropology and finance — not only computer science.

In fact, the rise in offerings across disciplines maps to student interest: Students with a diverse set of majors say they’d like to take cryptocurrency classes, according to a BigGo survey conducted in partnership with Qriously. Nearly half of all social science majors expressed interest in taking a crypto class.

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