7 Universities Offering Online Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and FinTech Education

7 Universities Offering Online Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and FinTech Education
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Blockchain has gone from being a cult hit, with the explosion of Bitcoin in 2017, to a viable means of conducting financial services today. In fact, the entire financial technology (FinTech) sector has grown to become a multibillion-dollar industry that furnishes solutions to financial organizations, corporate outfits, and healthcare units. With this, many higher education institutions across the globe are further expanding this fast-growing field by furnishing FinTech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency courses as well as dedicating a portion of their research to these topics.

This article explores the universities offering blockchain courses, the types of programs they offer, and what those institutions are known for. In browsing through the write-up, students who plan to enter the FinTech industry will know of their ideal options. Furthermore, professionals from the FinTech industry who wish to enter the academe will have an idea of where they can find teaching jobs.

Universities Offering Online Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and FinTech Education:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Cornell University
  3. Harvard University
  4. University of California-Berkeley
  5. University of Oxford
  6. National University of Singapore
  7. University of Nicosia

Although FinTech is generally associated with modern platforms like blockchain, digital currencies, and online payment systems, financial technology has been around since the 1950s, with the arrival of credit cards and subsequently, automated teller machines (Desai, 2015). Over the decades, the industry has experienced an astronomic leap in value and relevance, heightened by the sudden popularity of Bitcoin.

In 2018, the FinTech industry was valued at $127.66 billion with a compound annual growth rate of 24.8% (The Business Research Company, 2019). By 2022, that value is projected to jump to $309.98 billion. Moreover, four big financial companies that leverage FinTech solutions (Visa, Paypal, MasterCard, and Square) have a collective market value of $1.07 trillion, larger than that of the United States’ six biggest banks combined ($880 billion) (Delouya, 2020).

Given the staggering growth of financial technology, gaining knowledge about the FinTech industry is certainly a profitable choice. And 56% of the most highly regarded universities offer blockchain programs and fintech courses online (Coinbase, 2019). Typically, these programs are eLearning certificate courses that introduce blockchain and financial technology, and how they affect various industries. Most of them do not necessitate admission requirements and there are some that can be taken for free. As for the institutions, we present seven of the leading options in this article.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the top universities in the world and among the most recognized. It is known for its high level of research, strong academic programs, and exemplary instruction. In regard to financial technology, this private institution has one of the highest numbers of blockchain publications released (Coindesk & Youngblom, 2020) and conducts a prestigious annual FinTech conference, featuring more than 30 distinguished speakers from the finance industry.

MIT offers more than 10 blockchain courses under its Digital Currency Initiative, two of which are free online programs, and a FinTech graduate course. Among the most notable programs the university offers is called “Entrepreneurship Without Borders,” a graduate course that delves into how blockchain technology figures in global entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges and also focuses on the creation of new ventures. Another unique offering is the Blockchain Ethics course, which centers on the impact of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Programs and courses offered:

  • Blockchain Lab
  • Blockchain Ethics: The Impact and Ethics of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology
  • Blockchain and Money
  • B Digital Frontier: Emerging Blockchain Havens
  • Crypto Finance
  • Shared Public Ledgers: Cryptocurrencies, Blockchains, and Other Marvels
  • Cryptocurrency Engineering and Design (free online course)
  • Entrepreneurs without Borders (free online course)
  • Cryptocurrency
  • FinTech: Shaping the Financial World

2. Cornell University

Cornell University

Cornell University is an Ivy League university known for its high academic standards and the strength of its research. It is also highly regarded in the realm of FinTech as it offers the most number of blockchain courses among all universities (Coindesk & Youngblom, 2020). Having blockchain luminary Emin Gün Sirer in its roster of professors (Trustnodes, 2017), Cornell offers two certificate programs on blockchain and FinTech, with the two having eight courses between them. Besides those, the private university also offers 12 blockchain courses and nine FinTech courses.

Cornell works with big names in the financial technology sector for its seminars and workshops. Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, has conducted a “Crypto Boot Camp” with the university’s students. He also has a free online seminar open to the public on Cornell’s Video on Demand portal. Other luminaries like Casey Detrio, Andrew Miller, and Dr. Ittay Eyal have been featured in the blockchain seminars.

Programs and courses offered:

  • Blockchain Essentials
  • FinTech
  • Cryptocurrencies and Legders
  • Cryptography Essentials
  • Applications of Blockchain Technology
  • FinTech Disruptions
  • Trends in FinTech
  • Introduction to Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies, and Smart Contracts
  • Distributed Consensus and Blockchains
  • Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains
  • Systems and Analytics
  • Financial Markets and Institutions
  • Law of FinTech
  • Internet Transactions
  • Introduction to FinTech, Finnovation, and Finalytics
  • Demystifying Big Data and FinTech
  • Entrepreneurship and Alternative Finance in Emerging Economies
  • International Finance and Macroeconomics

3. Harvard University

Harvard University

Harvard University is one of the world’s most prestigious universities and the oldest higher learning institution in the U.S. It also has produced the most living billionaires, U.S. presidents, Nobel laureates, and Fields Medalists among all U.S. universities. In regard to FinTech, it has the highest percentage of students who established careers in the blockchain industry (Coindesk & Youngblom, 2020).  This private school offers a six-week course on FinTech that underscores the impact of financial technology on banking, real estate, and other industries as well as a course on blockchain and bitcoin under its computer science program.

Harvard has also partnered with Coursera to provide six free online courses on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The programs range from beginner courses that introduce blockchain technology to intermediate programs that showcase the technology’s various applications. Furthermore, the university’s cyberspace research center and business school devote a portion of their studies to financial technology. Law students can also join a student organization dedicated to understanding blockchain and FinTech called the Harvard Law School Blockchain and Fintech Initiative.

Programs and courses offered:

  • Introduction to Blockchain and Bitcoin
  • FinTech
  • Blockchain Specialization (free online course)
  • Blockchain:  Foundations and Use Cases (free online course)
  • Blockchain Foundations for Developers (free online course)
  • Blockchain Essentials (free online course)
  • Blockchain Fundamentals (free online course)
  • Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies (free online course)

4. University of California-Berkeley

University of California-Berkeley

As a Public Ivy, the University of California-Berkeley (UC Berkeley) is one of the most sought-after public universities in the world, known for its high research activity and strong academic programs. It also has one of the highest reputations in the global blockchain industry (Coindesk & Youngblom, 2020). The school has devoted an entire initiative to blockchain technology that offers two to three courses per year as well as dedicated research on blockchain and FinTech. The research features deep dives on the regulatory landscape of blockchain, the technology’s impact on government and medical sectors, and the incentives in emerging networks.

UC Berkeley’s three programs are focused on lattice-based cryptosystems, emerging systems, and blockchain fundamentals, respectively. In addition, it uploads free lectures on FinTech, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies on its “Blockchain at Berekely” YouTube channel (Blockchain at Berkeley, nd). The Blockchain Fundamentals program is conducted in partnership with Edx and is open to all learners.

Programs and courses offered:

  • Lattices: Algorithms, Complexity, and Cryptography
  • Emerging Technologies and Social Impact Challenge Lab
  • Blockchain Fundamentals
  • Blockchain, Cryptoeconomics, and the Future of Technology, Business and Law

5. University of Oxford

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is one of the world’s leading universities and the oldest among all higher education institutions in the English-speaking world. This public university is known for its prestige, strong academics, and impactful research. In regard to financial systems, Oxford publishes numerous articles on blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and financial technology. It also offers several FinTech and blockchain courses that touch on subjects like software engineering and management.

Oxford has notable starter programs for FinTech and blockchain. Ideal for beginners, the blockchain program explores the technology’s potential to change the face of multiple industries, including pharmaceuticals, energy, and telecommunications. Meanwhile, the FinTech starter program navigates themes like digital platforms, banking networks, the digitization of currencies, and cryptocurrencies. Both programs run for six weeks and are administered in cooperation with Esme Learning.

Programs and courses offered:

  • Oxford Blockchain Strategy Program
  • Oxford Fintech Program
  • Blockchain for Managers
  • Blockchain Software Engineering
  • FinTech for Managers

6. National University of Singapore

National University of Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is one of the leading higher education institutions in Asia, known for its dynamic research, diverse areas of study, and academic excellence. It is also one of the leading destinations for cryptocurrency education in Asia (Coinbase, 2019). The school has a dedicated lab for financial technology that conducts studies on FinTech applications for various industries, as it aims to build a virtual banking ecosystem within NUS. In addition, the university has a blockchain research community that has research and entrepreneurship initiatives.

NUS has a two-month certificate program for FinTech that features professional certification and special traineeship upon completion. It also offers an array of courses that focus on different areas relevant to financial technology, such as payments, distributed ledgers, banking and enterprise applications, and innovation in financial services. Moreover, it conducts seminars on blockchain technology each year.

Programs and courses offered:

  • NUS FinTechSG Programme
  • SGUS: Professional Services (FinTech)
  • Fintech: Innovation and Transformation in Financial Services
  • Leveraging Fintech for Business
  • Fintech for Real: AI in Banking and Finance
  • Fintech for Real: Payments and Alternatives
  • Blockchain, Digital Currencies, and Distributed Ledgers Starts from Here
  • Enterprise Blockchain and DLT for Executives

7. University of Nicosia

The University of Nicosia (UNIC) is the biggest higher education institution in Cyprus and one of the largest in  Southern Europe. This private university is also one of the most progressive in the region when it comes to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. UNIC offers a program in digital currency that carries 10 courses, two of which are formal graduate degrees. The master’s degree in digital currency is the first of its kind in the world, covering topics like the basics, money and banking, financial systems, and disruptive innovations. Meanwhile, the master’s degree in computer science touches on the relevance and application of blockchain technologies.

UNIC also furnishes a free FinTech course online, which takes in more than 30,000 students from over 80 nations. This is open to the public and serves as a starter to the university’s master’s, certificate, and professional courses. The topics covered include digital currency basics, bitcoin, blockchain applications, and tax regulations. Upon completing the free course, credits will be received should a student pursue one of the two blockchain-oriented master’s degrees.

Programs and courses offered: 

  • Master’s in Digital Currency
  • Master’s in Computer Science
  • Blockchain Financial Analyst Certification
  • Blockchain Business Analyst Certification
  • Blockchain Developer Certification
  • Blockchain Law, Regulation and Policy
  • Applied Forecasting
  • Security Token Strategy
  • Blockchain Regulatory Academy Masterclass
  • Introduction to Digital Currencies (free online course)

Why Take Up Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and FinTech Education?

FinTech, despite its huge impact on modern society, is still an emerging industry, which explains its staggering annual growth (The Business Research Company, 2019). The industry is in the stage of maturation as new technologies like artificial intelligence, data science, and cybersecurity continue to advance (Ketabachi, nd), and blockchain gradually proliferates in various sectors. As a learner, it makes sense to enter this lucrative industry be it as a professional, investor, entrepreneur, researcher, or educator.

Financial technology is universal (Axios Holding, 2019) and has been thriving in emerging markets, which make up 86% of the world’s population, like developing economies and sectors with untapped potential (Rodstrom, 2020). With the demand for FinTech on the rise, learners with certification can find plenty of high paying opportunities (Shashank, 2020). Furthermore, while FinTech is maturing, the potential of blockchain technology has yet to be harnessed in full. This means that it will inevitably offer solutions to various sectors and cause more disruptions, which open up more opportunities for income, research, and investment.

To illustrate the growing acceptance of financial technology, the global adoption rate of FinTech services has leaped from 16% in 2015 to 64% in 2019.

Source: Ernst & Young 2019

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies, after losing some of their luster in 2018 and 2019, are back on the rise. In fact, Bitcoin broke its previous highest valuation, set in December 2017, in December 2020 with 1 bitcoin valued at $19,850 (Coindesk, 2020). With this, investors who capitalized on the then-speculative growth of digital currencies early on have been reaping a lot of profits.

Of course, there is no denying the fact that cryptocurrency is a volatile investment, but should learners receive proper education on how it works and what factors influence its fluctuations in value, they can leverage their knowledge to commit to fruitful investments. Furthermore, big players like Facebook are set to launch new digital currencies, which could prove to be worthwhile acquisitions.

FinTech Education in the Future

Like financial technology, the FinTech and blockchain courses offered by institutions of higher education have yet to mature.  They will continually evolve as technologies advance and more solutions are realized. Most of the FinTech and blockchain programs come as certificate courses that can be taken online (Willemse, 2019), but there’s a particular program that endows an actual master’s degree in digital currency (University of Nicosia, n.d.), which could pave the way for the future of FinTech education.

There have been talks on the need for formal academic programs in FinTech and blockchain, and some experts do not really see them as a necessity (Wilser, 2020), based on the current landscape at least. But in the foreseeable future, when the FinTech industry has fully matured and blockchain becomes a more formally accepted technology, a more diverse set of FinTech-oriented degree programs are likely to appear.

However, this does not mean that the degree programs offered by the University of Nicosia are better than their certificate counterparts outright. The programs offered by other universities are praised by industry experts, recognized by international ranking groups, and backed by research initiatives (Coindesk & Youngblom, 2020), which make them equally attractive options. But in regard to structure, it is not far-fetched to speculate that there will be more degree programs that will cover the other aspects of financial technology or encapsulate FinTech as a whole in the near future. After all, the growth of an industry may lead to concrete jobs (Shashank, 2020) that correspond to degrees.

All that said, it is wise to leverage the free FinTech courses online before committing to any paid program. They impart more than enough knowledge for a learner to speculate a bright future from the industry, akin to hedging finances for a potential bitcoin investment.

 

References: 

  1. Axios Holding. (2019, September 9). 6+ reasons why fintech is important. AxiosHolding.com.
  2. Blockchain at Berkeley. (2020). Blockchain at Berkeley. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/c/BlockchainatBerkeley
  3. Coinbase (2019, August 28). The 2019 leaders in crypto education. Coinbase Blog.
  4. Coindesk, & Youngblom, R. (2020, October 26). The top universities for blockchain. CoinDesk.
  5. Delouya, S. (2020, September 16). Market value of big fintech companies rises to $1 trillion, more than the largest banks. CNBC.
  6. Desai, F. (2015, December 13). The evolution of fintech. Forbes.
  7. EY (2019). Global FinTech Adoption Index 2019. Ernst & Young.
  8. Ketabchi, N. (2020). State of the fintech industry (with Infographic). Toptal.
  9. Rodstrom, C. (2020, March 30). Why fintech is thriving in emerging markets. Nasdaq.
  10. Shashank (2020, July 13). Top 10 reasons why you should learn blockchain. Edureka.
  11. TBRC (2019, September 26). Global fintech market value is expected to reach $309.98 billion at a CAGR of 24.8% through 2022. The Business Research Company.
  12. Trustnodes Editors (2017, June 9). The best universities to study blockchain technology. TrustNodes.com.
  13. UNIC (n.d.). Master’s in Digital Currency. University of Nicosia.
  14. Voell, Z. (2020, December 10). Bitcoin price sets new record high of $19,850. CoinDesk.
  15. Willemse, L. (2019, February 24). 7 universities offering online blockchain, cryptocurrency and fintech education. HackerNoon.
  16. Wilser, J. (2020, October 9). Blockchain goes to college. CoinDesk.

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