Driven by rising awareness of cryptocurrencies and increasing demand from students, colleges and universities around the world are increasing blockchain and cryptocurrency education, according to an annual report.

The 2nd Annual Coinbase Report on Higher Education, from Coinbase and Qriously, outlines findings about rising student interest in cryptocurrency education, and highlights an increasing number of courses focused on blockchain, cryptocurrencies, or bitcoin taught across a range of disciplines.

Related content: How will blockchain transform higher ed?

Fifty-six percent of the world’s top 50 universities now offer at least one course on cryptocurrency or blockchain, according to the report. That’s up from 42 percent in 2018.

Computer science classes still are the most common for cryptocurrency education, accounting for 32.2 percent. But finance, business, and economics classes collectively tally 19.8 percent, and law-school classes add another 10.7 percent.

“The increasing interest in studying cryptocurrency at colleges and universities speaks volumes about the future of money,” says Nina Willdorf, director of content and editorial for Coinbase. “What’s most exciting about these findings is that they show interest far beyond computer science and programming to law, economics, finance, and social sciences. As students from a wider and wider cross-section of majors express interest in learning about the burgeoning field of cryptocurrency, some of the world’s best universities are exploring how they can meet surging demand to sate curiosity about the technology and set their graduates up for success.”

What’s more, twice as many students report having taken a cryptocurrency or blockchain course than they did in 2018. Nearly 70 percent of blockchain and cryptocurrency education classes are in departments outside of computer science, including law, the humanities, and economics.

Among students, distrust in the current financial system is feeding an increasing curiosity around cryptocurrency, and it cuts across disciplines, the report notes. Two-thirds of students describe the current financial system as “unstable,” “inefficient,” “unequal,” or “slow-moving,” according to a survey of 735 U.S. students age 16 and older commissioned by Coinbase and conducted by Qriously.

“This is a genration [of students] that sees inequities and inefficiencies with the current financial system. They’re not OK with it. It doesn’t make sense to them. They see cryptocurrency and blockchain as a new path they can build from the ground up to solve for some of those problems,” Willdorf says. “This kind of technology doesn’t come around all the time. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and I think they recognize it as such. They’re curious, motivated, and they see the potential and want to get involved. That, to me, is really motivating and inspiring.”

Cornell University’s cryptocurrency education journey

Cornell University tops the report’s list of 2019 leaders in cryptocurrency education. The report outlines the evolution of Cornell’s cryptocurrency eduation journey.

In 2017, Joseph Ferrera, a Cornell undergraduate wanting to learn more about cryptocurrency and blockchain formed a club with a classmate, advised by Emin Gün Sirer, a computer science professor and co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts.

The Cornell Blockchain club soon grew to more than 100 students from across all disciplines.

“The blockchain domain’s interdisciplinary nature makes it very different from any traditional field,” says Dawn Song, a University of California Berkeley computer science professor, in the report.

The quest for ethical and regulatory answers about how to manage blockchain and cryptocurrency is reflected within the intense interest among the Cornell University student community.

“We’ve had so many professors reach out to to learn more about blockchain and see how it applies to their field. It’s really cool to be part of a community where there’s so much engagement,” Ferrera says in the report.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


Add your opinion to the discussion.