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Blockchain is the paradigm-disrupting technology that is on everyone's mind, dominating the headlines in tech publications, and making investors get that tingly feeling. But if you are an accounting student wondering where and how you can add blockchain expertise to your resume, you may feel a tad out to sea. Where are the university blockchain courses?
The Evolution of Blockchain Education
Universities in the past have been notoriously slow to pick up on new technologies; by the time committees are formed, programs are designed, and courses are listed, the technology they are teaching is often already obsolete. It took long enough for universities to establish accounting information systems degrees, and even those are still rarer than conventional tax, finance, and auditing specializations.
But some universities are better prepared than others to move with the quickness and confidence to keep up with contemporary technology. They have the resources, the expertise, and the entrepreneurial drive to get out there and do what needs to be done for their students. Those colleges and universities that get out in front of the blockchain train, establishing their names with courses, certificates, and programs, will be the ones that set the standard.
Do Accounting Students Need Blockchain Training?
Any university business school or computer engineering school that does not offer blockchain technology courses — or, ideally, entire programs — is going to be left behind. More importantly, their students will be left behind in the job market. According to some estimates, the number of jobs related to Bitcoin or blockchain technology grew by 200% in 2017 and have grown by more than 600% since 2015. Indeed has seen job postings mentioning blockchain at a rate of two per day, and 15 out of the 18 most-searched postings have explicitly included the word "blockchain." These are not scientific numbers, of course, but they are a clear sign that a sea change is occurring.
Do you want to have a job as an accountant in the future? According to MarketWatch, it is entirely possible that blockchain will make contemporary accounting practices obsolete — and make accountants who do not know how to work with blockchain technology unemployable. It may not happen tomorrow, but if current trends continue, it will happen eventually.
In colleges that have not kept up with the times, students are taking matters into their own hands, establishing clubs like Blockchain Education Network (BEN) and building research groups from the ground up. Other students are just jumping in headfirst on their own volition. Some universities' blockchain education activities have been grassroots, like the student-led research centers at Duke University and the University of California at Berkeley. With new technology, it is often the students who have to lead.
Our list of ten universities offering blockchain courses is not a ranking. It is simply a guide to show current and prospective students which schools are staying on top of new technologies. The programs below are presented in alphabetical order.
The youngest of the Ivy League universities, Cornell University intended from the beginning to be dedicated to the most current modern technology — unlike the other schools that began as seminaries and liberal arts colleges. Since 1865, Cornell has never wavered from that commitment, growing into one of the most influential research universities in the world and an historic leader in business and computer science.
Cornell is continuing its tradition of innovation and pathfinding with Cornell Blockchain, a project supported by Cornell's Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3). Cornell Blockchain is intended to provide education, certification, and application of blockchain technology for students and corporate clients. With Cornell Blockchain, Cornell University is shaping the future of a critical technology, and preparing leaders for that future.
An international leader in medical, business, and technological research, Duke University has one of the highest levels of research spending and one of the most productive faculties in the world. From AIDS research and theology to oncology and economics, Duke has been at the center of innovation for nearly a century — ever since the Duke Endowment turned a small southern college into a global powerhouse.
The Duke Blockchain Lab is a specialized, student-led research center designed to bring students and faculty alike up to speed on the newest developments in blockchain technology. Through lectures, interest groups, and workshops, the students at the center of the Duke Blockchain Lab are dedicated to making Duke a hub of blockchain discovery and a global leader in evolution and adaptation for industry, finance, banking, and more. With Duke's resources, it is certainly capable of achieving that goal.
The oldest Catholic university in the United States and one of the most prestigious private research institutions in the world, Georgetown University has been a vitally influential institution since its founding in 1789. Much of that influence comes from Georgetown's location in Washington, DC, where it maintains deep connections to the government, as well as access to some of the most powerful individuals in politics, industry, finance, and policy analysis.
In recent years, Georgetown's McDonough School of Business has become one of the most notable voices in academic study of the blockchain. The Center for Financial Markets and Policy has sponsored an annual international Blockchain Summit in years past, and has also published white papers and analysis of blockchain's impact on finance and investment. With Georgetown's authority, they are set to be one of the prime institutional movers in the future of blockchain.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Any overview of innovation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is going to include Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the private research university in Cambridge, MA, that is frequently ranked as the best in the world. From its founding in 1861 as one of the first modern research universities in the U.S., MIT has been central to the development of technology, especially since the dawn of the digital age. MIT has been a pioneer in artificial intelligence, open-source programming, and even the development of hacker culture.
MIT is emerging as one of the world's authorities on blockchain technology through the Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative. The Digital Currency Initiative is working to push development in blockchain with research projects, papers, and support for blockchain groups, while raising awareness of the risks and potential of blockchain technology. MIT, the institution that helped make internet technology possible, is continuing to lead the way.
New York University
New York University (NYU) is central to New York's identity as a city, as it was intended to be. When it was founded in 1831, NYU was conceived as a symbol of New York's growing power and influence. Today, NYU is recognized as one of the most prestigious private research universities in the world — fitting for the Big Apple, the heart of finance, business, and culture in the U.S.
NYU's Stern School of Business — regularly ranked in the top 20 business schools nationally — has made blockchain education an integral part of the FinTech MBA program. Specializations offered within the full-time MBA program focus on technology's impact on finance, including analytics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. Graduates will go on to influence investment banking, international finance, entrepreneurship, and more.
One of the oldest universities in the U.S. — founded before the American Revolution — and New Jersey's member of the Ivy League, Princeton University remains one of the world's most innovative and authoritative universities. Princeton has long been a leader in engineering, business, and public policy, educating generations of leaders in every field and earning recognition as one of the world's greatest schools.
Princeton is sharing its expertise with the world through open courses like Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies on Coursera. Princeton's cryptocurrency course, taught by professor Arvind Narayanan, teaches the basic technical foundations of how blockchain and cryptocurrency work, dispelling misconceptions and pointing to the future of the technology. While it is not a full program in blockchain, it is a start — and a start that carries Princeton's reputation with it.
One of Australia's oldest universities, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is one of the most prestigious institutions on the continent. Beginning as a night school in 1887, RMIT was founded with an emphasis on practical education, helping to guide Australia into the Industrial Revolution with education and research. Today, RMIT remains Australia's premier STEM university.
RMIT is the first university in Australia to offer courses in blockchain technology. Several short courses, designed in partnership with Accenture, a blockchain company, and Stone and Chalk, a leading fintech nonprofit, are available. These blockchain and cryptocurrency courses not only teach students about the technology of the blockchain, but help professionals learn to use blockchain technology to benefit their business. The demand for programs like the RMIT blockchain courses shows students that RMIT is on the right track, and it is a fast track straight into the future.
The world of the 21st century, in large part, exists because of Stanford University. This is an overstatement, but one that reflects how influential Stanford has been since its founding in 1885. In the mid-20th century, Stanford's dedication to entrepreneurship and its support of its students, graduates, and faculty, helped form the nucleus of Silicon Valley. Stanford remains at the head of technological innovation which is one reason the university is the dream college of more American students than any other institution.
Stanford Online is known for its free online courses and massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the most cutting-edge, in-demand topics in technology, business, economics, and more. Stanford Online offers courses in cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, and blockchain technologies which can also be completed as a part of its graduate certificate in cybersecurity. Few other institutions in the world are as qualified as Stanford to provide education in blockchain and cryptocurrency, making its online courses a model for the field.
University of California at Berkeley
Long ranked the best public research university in the U.S., the University of California at Berkeley is the flagship of the UC system and a model of what public education is capable of. Founded as a land-grant university, UC Berkeley has technology and practical learning and research in its DNA. From computer processing to sustainable energy, Berkeley has been a tech innovator, and its alumni have gone on to found some of the most important modern companies, including Apple and Tesla.
Blockchain at Berkeley is a student-led organization that is helping Berkeley pioneer blockchain technology, just as it has pioneered numerous technologies in the past. Students, alumni, and community members come together to offer education, research, and consulting in blockchain, cryptocurrency, and future uses of technology. Workshops, lectures, seminars, and meetups at Berkeley and across the East Bay help connect the community and further the future of blockchain. If it is new and revolutionary, expect Berkeley to be front and center.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the leading public research universities in the nation, founded as an original land-grant institution in 1867. With its land-grant status, UI was built on engineering and technology, and in the 20th century the university was a pioneer in computer science. UI built some of the first digital computers, and is the home of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. In the world of film, it was also the birthplace of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey (a clever nod at UI's centrality to computer science in the 1960s).
The University of Illinois Decentralized Systems Lab (DSL) is continuing UI's longtime commitment to innovation in computing. This multidisciplinary research center is educating and extending the academic conversation with research projects and papers, but the DSL is also creating blockchain technologies as well. DSL's applications and programs are providing ways for industries like finance and healthcare to make practical use of the blockchain. With UI's heritage and the Decentralized Systems Lab's forward momentum, UI stands to stay at the forefront of computing.
University of Nicosia
The University of Nicosia (UNIC) is the largest university in Cypress, and one of the world's most innovative, forward-thinking colleges. Founded in 1980, UNIC's original purpose was to provide local students with the education to pass British professional exams, giving them a stronger job market advantage. But the university's focus on distance education has served it best. Today, UNIC is best known for its emphasis on modern digital technology, making headlines in recent years by becoming the first university to accept bitcoin as payment for tuition.
UNIC has also become known as the first university in the world to offer a graduate degree in blockchain and digital currency technology. While other schools offer only courses, certificates, or concentrations within a conventional master's program, UNIC has developed a full, three-semester long master's degree program that immerses students in the current technology, the potential for the technology, and the means to apply it to their own lives and work. It is a game-changing program for a university known for being one of the most entrepreneurial and innovative in the world.
Additional Blockchain Training: B9LAB Academy
B9Lab is not a college or university, but their role in providing education on blockchain technology is too important to leave out. An independent firm in London and Hamburg, B9Lab provides courses and certifications in blockchain for students all around the world. B9Lab also consults with businesses that want to make use of blockchain technology and publishes crucial research on developments and applications of the technology.
Through the B9Lab Academy, groups can arrange to offer free courses to their members in blockchain designed by some of the most innovative experts in the field in a fully online format, using multiple media approaches. Students have access to experienced tutors, including a dedicated slack channel.
The work of organizations like B9Lab, in collaboration with private industry and higher education, will see the blockchain reach its full potential and transform education along with every other sector. This is just the beginning of a revolutionary new technology, and anyone has the chance to get in on the ground floor.
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