Feb 21, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

“Bitcoin” may well have been the most buzzworthy word of 2017. And with good reason. The cryptocurrency’s value spiked from below $1,000 to nearly $20,000 over the course of the year. Given its vast potential, it’s hardly a surprise that one demographic is particularly interested in learning more about it: College students. In order to meet growing demand, colleges and universities are adding courses on Bitcoin, blockchain, and all things cryptocurrency. Here’s a closer look at the phenomenon.

Coming to a University Near You?

According to a recent report by The New York Times, many top US schools are finding new, graduate-level cryptocurrency classes debuting to overbooked lecture halls. Said one student of attending a packed lecture on cryptoeconomics and the future of technology, business and law, “This is a very precious opportunity for you to be able to sit in this class. There are a bazillion other students who are waiting for your spot.”

While blockchain is inherently technical, its applications are diverse -- with profound business and economical implications. Proposes The New York Times, “For economists and business school professors, Bitcoin and other digital tokens have raised questions about the nature of money….Several business school classes are also focusing on the decentralized methods of record keeping and decision making introduced by Bitcoin.”

Becoming a Disruptor

As one business school professor told The New York Times of teaching in this emerging field, “The students in my class are from every possible discipline. They understand that this is going to disrupt many different areas of business, and they want to be the disrupters, not the disruptees.”

Factor in that job sites are reporting skyrocketing interest in blockchain skills, and those looking to land the best jobs may find blockchain competencies are more need than nicety when it comes to wow-ing potential employers.

Meanwhile, universities are in such a rush to deliver on demand that instructors are also feeling the pressure to keep up in this fast-moving field. One professor told The New York Times, “We aren’t waiting until we perfect it. Don’t compare it to the perfect blockchain course. Compare it to having no blockchain course at all.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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