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Bitcoin Hype is Ushering in Demand for Cryptocurrency Education


Cryptocurrencies are riding high this year. Bitcoin surpassed a $10,000 valuation yesterday. Initial coin offerings have raised over $2 billion this year (see “What the Hell Is an Initial Coin Offering?”). In this era of money being thrown at companies for just for using the word “blockchain” in their name, there’s plenty of bad advice out there. But several academic and financial institutions are trying to fight back by properly educating people on how cryptocurrencies are changing the world.

In 2014 David Yermack at NYU helped launch the first cryptocurrency class at a major university. The course, run by the Stern School of Business, at first had only a few dozen students. In 2018, it will have over 300. Stanford, Duke, Princeton, and others have also launched cryptocurrency courses.

The lack of available professors has limited the spread of courses to more universities, despite demand for the material. Stanford had to end its cryptocurrency class after losing key staff members. “I’m pretty sure that every university will have a blockchain course in five years,” Joseph Bonneau, a blockchain professor who left Stanford to teach at NYU Corrant, told the Financial Times. “More institutions would like to teach it now, but it’s a question of having a professor around to do it.”

For those who can’t get into the courses still on offer, online education tools could help fill the gap. Online courses being offered through Coursera and specialized platforms like the online Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship are meant to help financial professionals get comfortable enough with the technology to work with and manage those directly interacting with cryptocurrency. As Huy Nguyen Trieu, a former managing director at Citi and a lecturer in financial technology at Oxford University, told Quartz, there are simply not enough people in finance—particularly older employees—with the right skills to take advantage of the technological changes transforming their industry.