Interest in crypto remains high among MBA students, professors say

MBA professors from various universities have reported that students' interest in the crypto industry remained high despite market valuation crashes and layoffs.

Gregory LaBlanc, who teaches at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, explained that the volatility of the crypto market did not interfere with students' interest in the market. He said understanding crypto was necessary for his students to enter the business world nowadays.

Various have businesses started to explore the crypto market in recent years. LaBlanc explained that the incorporation of blockchain in traditional business would be a norm in the future.

Kevin Werbach, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said that students in MBA programs needed to be well-educated in decentralized finance.

Werbach added that the crypto industry offered plenty of “uncertainty and immaturity and hype.” The Wharton School professor also stressed the need for business schools to incorporate crypto study into their curricula.

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Some top-ranked schools have introduced crypto courses in their programs. These courses might be provided by business, engineering or law schools—or collaboratively as the materials overlap.

Berkeley Engineering offers an accelerator program for people interested in creating a crypto startup. This program is a joint venture with the Haas School of Business. The school invites practitioners in the crypto industry to provide mentoring for the program participants. Additionally, it also raises funds for various crypto projects.

LaBlanc said some students did not necessarily learn crypto to enter the industry. Instead, students took crypto courses to study other domains such as contract execution, payments infrastructure and data architecture.

“Crypto really serves as a clearinghouse for a whole bunch of areas of business,” LaBlanc said.

Werbach suggested students obtain a basic understanding of the traditional barter system, modern checking accounts and gold standard regardless of the program they chose. He said that the knowledge could help students to understand decentralized finance as technical knowledge alone was not sufficient.

Haas School of Business, for example, does not offer specific crypto courses. However, it has a fintech course that delivers knowledge related to the crypto industry.

David Yermack from New York University’s Stern School of Business likened teaching crypto to students to hitting “a moving target” as the industry continuously evolves. Stern is among the first schools offering crypto courses in the U.S. Yermack added that crypto-related programs should be provided by schools that are strong in technology, marked by ongoing studies on the topic.

Opportunities for MBA graduates in crypto industry

Tight competition is waiting for people looking to start careers in the crypto industry. After graduating, MBA students are required to broaden their skill sets if they want to enter the conversation.

“A field as fast changing as crypto—no matter how much you learn in an educational program, you’re going to have to learn a tremendous amount on the job,” Werbach said.

In addition to developing expertise in the crypto market, MBA graduates also need to cultivate a “personal knowledge network.” It includes participating in a crypto community, which will allow them to keep up with the latest developments within the industry. However, Werbach warned students they had to equip themselves with “a healthy skepticism.”

“In order to succeed, you need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff,” he said.