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're 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?
Getting the Universities Up to Speed
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're teaching is already obsolete. It took long enough for universities to establish accounting information systems degrees, and even those are still a lot more rare 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. Those colleges and universities that get out front of the blockchain train, establishing their names with courses, certificates, and programs, will be the ones who set the standard.
Do Accounting Students Need Blockchain?
Quite simply, any university business school or computer engineering school that doesn't offer courses, and eventually whole programs, in blockchain, are 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 2 per day, and 15 out of the 18 most-searched postings have explicitly included the word "blockchain." These aren't 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? Obviously, you do. According to MarketWatch, it's entirely possible that blockchain will make contemporary accounting practices obsolete – and make those accountants who don't know how to work with blockchain technology unemployable. It won't happen tomorrow, obviously, but if current trends continue, it will happen, inevitably. All of the Big 4 are aggressively researching how blockchain will fit into their business, and the writing it on the wall.
In colleges that haven't kept up with the times, students are taking matters into their own hands, establishing clubs like BEN (Blockchain Education Network) and building research groups from the ground up. Other students are just jumping in headfirst on their own volition, like the students profiled in a recent Forbes article. Some universities' blockchain activities have been grassroots, like the student-led research centers at Duke University and UC Berkeley. With new technology, it's often the students who have to lead.
Accounting Degree Review is working to keep accounting students posted on the most up-to-date developments in the field, and blockchain is one of the biggest. Our listing of 10 Universities Offering Blockchain Courses is not a ranking – it's simply a guide to show students and prospective students who is on top of the technology. Programs here are presented simply in alphabetical order, not in any scientific or statistical ranking.
1. Cornell University
The youngest of the Ivy League universities, Cornell University was intended from the beginning to be dedicated to the most current modern technology – unlike the other Ivies which 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.
2. Duke University
One of the renowned Southern Ivies, and 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 to theology, oncology to economics, Duke has been at the center of innovation for nearly a century, since the Duke Endowment turned a small Southern college into a global powerhouse.
Duke's 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, becoming 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.
3. Georgetown University
The oldest Catholic university in the US, 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 its 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 for the past three years, as well as publishing 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.
Any overview of innovation in STEM education is going to include 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 US, 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 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 for the US, and America's representative to the world.
NYU's Stern School of Business – regularly ranked in the top 20 business schools nationally – has made blockchain technology an integral part of the FinTech MBA program. This specialization offered within the full-time MBA program focuses 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.
6. Princeton University
One of the oldest universities in the US – 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 by staying innovative. 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 universities.
Princeton is sharing its expertise with the world through open courses like its Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technology program 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's not a full program in blockchain, it's a start, and a start that carries Princeton's reputation with it.
7. RMIT University
One of Australia's oldest universities, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University) 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 a course in blockchain technology. The 8-week, fully online short course is designed in partnership with Accenture, a blockchain company, and Stone and Chalk, a leading fintech nonprofit. This short course not only teaches students about the technology of the blockchain, but helps professionals learn to use blockchain technology to benefit their business. The demand for a program like the RMIT blockchain course shows students that RMIT is on the right track, and it's a fast track straight into the future.
8. Stanford University
The world of the 21st century, in large part, exists because of Stanford University. It's 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, 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 MOOCs in the most cutting-edge, in-demand topics in technology, business, economics, and more. Stanford Online offers a course in Bitcoin and Crypto Currencies, which can also be completed as a part of its graduate certificate in Cyber Security. Few other institutions in the world are as qualified as Stanford to provide education in blockchain and cryptocurrency, making the online course a model for the field.
9. University of California at Berkeley
Long ranked the best public research university in the US, 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 the 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's new and revolutionary, expect Berkeley to be front and center.
10. 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 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.
11. University of Nicosia
The University of Nicosia 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 Cyprian 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 full graduate degree program in blockchain and digital currency technology. While other schools have only courses, certificates, or concentrations within a conventional master's, UNIC has developed a full, 3-semester long master's degree program that steeps students in the current technology, the potential for the technology, and the means to apply it to their own lives and work. It's a game-changing program for a university known for being one of the most entrepreneurial and innovative in the world – and it's fully online, to boot.
B9Lab isn't 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 – more than 10,000 to date, in 112 different countries. B9Lab also consults with businesses who want to make use of blockchain technology, and perform and publish crucial research on developments and applications of the technology.
Through the B9Lab Academy, students can take courses 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, and students who complete their program with an 80% or higher pass rate receive a certificate in blockchain, backed up by the Ethereum network – impossible to counterfeit or falsify.
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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