Stanford will teach its first comprehensive class on blockchain and cryptocurrencies in spring 2018.
A growing number of students at America’s elite business schools say they plan to pivot away from conventional jobs in finance for the lure of blockchain, the underpinning of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Robbie Mitchnick is one of those students.
“We’ve got a lot of people who came from traditional finance backgrounds that are forgoing the chance to go back into that world to get involved in blockchain,” Mitchnick, a MBA candidate at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, told CNBC.
Following graduation next spring, Mitchnick, who previously interned at the payments network Ripple, hopes to find work making cryptocurrencies more accessible to a mainstream audience.
Blockchain is a global online database that allows millions of users to exchange cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and litecoin, securely and anonymously. Wall Street has grown enamored with the technology even as some prominent bankers downplay the staying power of bitcoin, the price of which as soared to over $11,000 this year.
Students in the graduate business programs at Harvard, Stanford and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School have pressed for more on-campus opportunities to learn about blockchain, and schools are responding.
Last summer, a group of Stanford MBA students including Mitchnick, wrote a letter to Yossi Feinberg, the senior associate dean for academic affairs, arguing that blockchain is of fundamental importance to business and the economy and listing reasons a course should be developed for business school students.
This spring, Stanford’s first comprehensive class on blockchain and cryptocurrencies will be taught by Kathryn Haun, a former federal prosecutor for the Justice Department, where she often focused on digital currencies and financial fraud.
A similar story is playing out at Harvard Business School, where current students Sahil Dewan and Edith Shi recognized that there wasn’t a central group or place for students interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies to unite so they co-founded the Blockchain, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Club.