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30 MAR 2022
Bitcoin stormed onto the scene in 2009 boasting an alternative, decentralized store of value. It later exploded onto the front page of every news outlet in 2017 with stories of so-called Bitcoin millionaires emerging from the unprecedented wild valuation increase (and subsequent decrease) of the currency.
At the time, many thought it was a farce, a quick burn that had no economic or financial value. Even some of the high-flying financial gurus like Warren Buffet and JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, called it ‘worthless’ and a ‘fraud’.
But, just five years later, the home stadium of the Los Angeles Lakers has just been renamed the Crypto.com Arena. The cryptocurrency market is worth an estimated $3 trillion USD, and you can’t walk down the street without hearing someone talk about NFTs.
Even Jamie Dimon has admitted to regretting making his statement. Whether we like it or not, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is infiltrating our daily lives.
It seems now more than ever that you can’t evade the popularity of cryptocurrency or blockchain, and you can’t deny its domination. Crypto.com, the world's fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchange platform has hit the mainstream, partnering with some of the biggest events, organizations, and sports leagues across the globe. Notably, Crypto.com has recently become the official partner of Formula One, UFC, AFL, and the Philadelphia 76ers NBA team. This powerhouse also claims the naming rights for the famous LA entertainment venue, formally known as the Staples Center.
So, what does this mean for students? Will finance and computer science majors need to learn about cryptocurrency? How are blockchain technology and practices being integrated into universities? What are the best universities in the world for students who want to study cryptocurrency and blockchain?
Let's dive into the world of ones and zeros!
If you're a student interested in jumping into this exciting new technology, you should consider studying at one of the universities that offer the best learning environments for students interested in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. A comprehensive study was conducted by the blockchain news site CoinDesk and a researcher from MIT and Stanford, in which 230 universities from across the globe were analyzed and ranked based on the following criteria:
|1||National University of Singapore|
|2||Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology|
|3||University of California Berkeley|
|4||University of Zurich|
|5||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)|
|6||Hong Kong Polytechnic University|
|7||University College London (UCL)|
|9||Chinese University of Hong Kong|
|11||Nanyang Technological University, Singapore|
|14||City University of Hong Kong|
|15||University of Oxford|
|16||Shanghai Jiao Tong University|
|18||Delft University of Technology|
|19||University of Hong Kong|
|20||University of Sydney|
|21||École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland)|
|22||University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign|
|23||University of Cambridge|
|24||Hong Kong University of Science and Technology|
|25||University of California Los Angeles|
It’s not surprising that many of the universities featured in the list are located within the top global financial cities, including London, Singapore, Zurich, and Hong Kong, and tech hubs like California’s Silicon Valley. Universities in Hong Kong alone were featured four times in the list, while California universities claimed three spots inside the top 25.
However, you may be surprised that universities like Harvard and Cambridge were not featured higher on the list. Because the list factored in the ‘cost of attendance’ metric and the sticker price at these universities is comparatively high, it cost them points in the rankings.
In their data, the researchers used the sticker price of each university, not the average price that students actually pay after factoring in financial aid and scholarships. For example, the base price of Harvard is $73,800. If financial aid, grants, and scholarships are taken into consideration, the average price that students actually pay is $14,898.
In fact, because of their need-based financial aid system, 20% of Harvard families pay nothing for their child's college education, and in the 2020 fiscal year, Harvard granted $645 million in financial aid and scholarships. So if you’re disappointed in where your favorite school ended up in the rankings, don’t be! Just take the order with a grain of salt.
If you want to explore the rankings for top crypto universities in the US without the ‘cost of attendance’ metric, check out the results of the 2020 Coinbase study. Spoiler alert: Harvard is in the top five. If you want to learn more about the actual price vs sticker price of US universities, read our financial aid breakdown.
Now, let’s unpack why these universities ranked so high!
Let’s take a look at UC Berkeley, one of the top-ranked universities in the study, and explore what makes it a world-class environment for students interested in cryptocurrency and blockchain.
The University of California, Berkeley, came in at 3rd place according to the Coinbase study. With their blockchain degrees, clubs, facilities, research, and multi-million dollar crypto partnerships, it’s little wonder the university ranked so high.
If you want to study cryptocurrency at a university, look no further than computer science and industrial engineering. Berkeley offers students in these majors cryptocurrency and blockchain courses that contribute to the degree!
Berkeley also offers online courses in blockchain and crypto, some of them a few weeks long, others a few months long. These courses aim to improve blockchain literacy, detail the mechanics and properties behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and share practical and business applications of blockchain technology.
As an added bonus to your core curriculum, you can also take a plethora of classes offered by the Blockchain at Berkeley association, including:
Blockchain Fundamentals Decal: A course for enthusiasts and entrepreneurs that “covers the history of digital currency and the laws, organizations, trends, and communities that compose the ecosystem.”
Blockchain Development Decal: A course designed for students with backgrounds in programming. Students learn “how to prototype, test and deploy [blockchain] using industry-relevant tools — giving you the experience necessary to become a full-stack blockchain developer.”
Since digital currency is a relatively new field that has exploded very quickly, qualified graduates are in a powerful position with a lucrative outlook. Thanks to the early implementation of blockchain classes, partnerships, grants, clubs, and incubators, UC Berkeley is where you'll find these soon-to-be graduates.
According to Forbes, Blockchain engineers in Silicon Valley can expect an average salary of $158,000 USD. Due to the shortage of qualified professionals in the space and the increasingly high demand for their skills, blockchain developers are reportedly getting paid up to $250,000 USD for graduate roles.
In fact, according to TechCrunch, for every blockchain developer, there are 14 jobs available, making jobs related to blockchain the second fastest-growing in the labor market!
UC Berkeley (Freshman Move-In Day)
The student-led B@B (Blockchain at Berkeley) Grant provides students with early-stage funding for their blockchain innovations, startups, R&D, and open-source projects. As one of the leading blockchain student organizations in the world, B@B provides financial support alongside creating an ecosystem of enthusiasts and professionals to support students to bring their ideas to life.
According to B@B, “Financial barriers should never hinder the proliferation of groundbreaking ideas. Early-stage funding gives students the financial stability to create freely.” Many B@B alumni have gone on to create their own startups in the blockchain space including Evmos, Osmosis, and Opyn.
Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative
You've probably heard of Ripple if you’ve heard of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Etherium. Since 2018, the popular cryptocurrency Ripple (token, XRP) has been partnering with a number of prestigious universities from around the world, including UC Berkeley Haas Business School, to accelerate research and developments in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
This multi-million dollar partnership provides funding for undergrad students, postgrad students, and faculty to tackle “academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments.” Besides funding academic research, the initiative also provides on-campus networking events, educational seminars, and official academic courses at Berkeley such as “Building With Blockchain for Web 3.0.” Since its launch, Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative has spread far and wide, including collaborating with top universities like MIT, Princeton, UCL, UPenn, and Duke.
Berkley’s Blockchain Xcelerator
In a combined effort between Berkeley Engineering’s Sutardja Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology, Berkeley Haas Business School, and Blockchain at Berkley (B@B), what emerged was the ‘Berkley Blockchain Xcelerator’ - a holistic incubator for blockchain startups.
The purpose of the Xcelerator is to encourage student entrepreneurs to “pursue ventures in the blockchain space, tap into the vast resources of UC Berkeley and Silicon Valley, and receive expert industry guidance to create high-value blockchain startups.”
Xcelerator is one of the best blockchain startup incubators in the country. Teams receive intensive mentoring from industry leaders across every stage of the start-up journey and access to an exclusive resource-dense ecosystem. In the three short years, the Xcelerator has incubated over 40 companies, cumulatively raising $25 million in seed and early-stage funding. These companies have since raised more than $422 million in overall funding!
Besides the highly renowned student-run club B@B, you can join countless other crypto and blockchain clubs at Berkeley and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Some groups are built with educational intentions while others provide unmatched networking opportunities.
For example, with nearly 3,000 members, the Berkeley Bitcoin Meetup group organizes on-campus, off-campus, and online events for students with any level of interest - from investors and enthusiasts to blockchain developers. The events score impressive speakers who talk about everything from industry news to new technology developments.
The cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX recently finalized a sponsorship with UC Berkeley for naming rights to their college football stadium. According to Yahoo Finance, the 10-year naming rights deal came at a $17.5 million dollar price tag - which will be put towards UC Berkeley sports developments and community-based charitable projects. Once again proving their early-adopter philosophy, Berkeley’s deal marked the first-ever cryptocurrency sponsorship in US collegiate sports.
While many have only conceded to its potential longevity, some early adopters made some pretty radical institutional changes soon after the inception of cryptocurrency. Many of these changes were made within top universities. Let’s take a look at some of these crypto-uni synergies!
Did you know you can pay for some universities with Bitcoin? In 2013, The University of Nicosia in Cyprus allowed students to pay for their university fees using Bitcoin. It became the first university in the world to accept digital currency for tuition payments.
The University of Nicosia even provides a 5% discount for those who pay in crypto! Some notable universities across Europe and the United States quickly followed suit including the University of Cumbria in London and King's College in New York.
In 2021, UPenn became the first Ivy League university to accept cryptocurrency for their new online Blockchain course at the Wharton School of Business. To process the payments, they partnered with crypto exchange service Coinbase, which waived the 1% processing fee for all UPenn transactions. If the trial is successful, many believe that it won’t be long before cryptocurrency is accepted for more courses at UPenn and many other universities!
Since 2014, students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at Georgia Tech have been able to load cryptocurrency onto their campus debit cards or use Bitpay payment terminals to purchase food, books, and other goods on campus. The integration was remarkably fast considering the terms “cryptocurrency” and “Bitcoin” didn't exist before 2009.
It’s not uncommon for top universities to receive donations from successful alumni. This money is typically put towards research centers, facility upgrades, academic advancements, or philanthropic endeavours. What was uncommon was that before 2017, universities received most donations in USD.
That all changed in 2017 when the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) received the first crypto donation, amounting to $50,000 USD worth of Bitcoin for its Blockchain Lab. In May 2021, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) received an anonymous cryptocurrency donation equivalent to $5 million to develop courses in the Stevens Centre for Innovation in Finance.
In the not-so-distant past, college athletes were only eligible to play sports at the collegiate level if they did not receive endorsements or sponsorship payments. That changed on July 1st 2021 when it was announced that college athletes could now profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Since the announcement, teams and students have been brokering lucrative sponsorship deals with companies across multiple industries, including cryptocurrency.
The University of Kentucky Basketball Team, for example, partnered with crypto exchange behemoth ‘FTX’. In exchange for being brand ambassadors of the FTX platform, players are individually compensated in USD, and given the option to create and sell their own non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
In addition to the financial benefits, players are educated in digital financial literacy by FTX. In an interview on Kentucky Sports Radio, Avi Dabir, Vice President of Business Development at FTX said, “Outside of the well-deserved financial compensation, we will be assisting in the student athletes’ education of digital assets so that they can make informed investment decisions as they look to enter the space.”
If you’re in high school and already dreaming of a career in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, it’s time to start making a plan! Learn more about how to apply to top cryptocurrency and blockchain universities in the US, UK, & Europe.