The Top Universities for Blockchain 2020

CoinDesk's 2020 blockchain university rankings are the most nuanced, rigorous, and defensible rankings of their kind. See the winners here.

AccessTimeIconOct 6, 2020 at 8:57 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 9, 2023 at 1:22 p.m. UTC

Colleges and universities – from small, local schools to elite research heavyweights – perform a number of vital functions in American society. These institutions, because of their size and resources, are often fertile ground for new technologies and research advancements.

Blockchain technology benefits massively from university influence, and much of the evolution within the field has roots in institutions of higher education. As the space matures and finds a foothold in public consciousness, it is worthwhile to ask which schools are leading blockchain development.

To find out, CoinDesk researched and assembled a ranking of universities impacting the blockchain space in 2020.

The sample

We conducted an in-depth analysis of 46 of the top colleges and universities in the United States, evaluating their blockchain presence and leadership.

The methodology

Our primary goal was to create the most nuanced, rigorous and defensible blockchain university rankings to date. We used a mix of quantitative and qualitative data, relying on existing databases, university-provided information and public archives. We factored in more than 550 individual responses to a survey (sent out over the last few weeks), looked at more than 12,000 employees at more than 100 blockchain companies and pored over pages and pages of online search results. Ultimately, we organized all of our data into one of four umbrella categories, weighted as follows:

Of course, each category includes several subordinate subcategories. Each additional metric is designed to target a specific, unique facet of the value that universities are capable of bringing to the blockchain space. Some of this data was broken down even further, often for the purposes of normalization or to draw out additional nuance.

For those who are interested, a more in-depth explanation of our methodology is available here. This chart gives an abbreviated visual of the weighted breakdown within each of the umbrella categories:

The top schools on our list display a combination of academic strength, community respect, and measurable positive outcomes. These schools are located across the country and are held in high esteem for everything from their prowess in engineering, business, arts or the social sciences, to their political connections, to the quality of life afforded to their students and faculty. In most cases, it is a combination of factors.

The rankings

Six of the schools are public, 14 are private. Each institution is an excellent place to study and offers a litany of intangibles well beyond what can adequately be put down on paper. We hope that our final rankings will stimulate discussion, raise awareness of blockchain in the university setting and, above all, add value to the existing body of data surrounding this important topic.

Of course, these rankings paint an accurate but necessarily incomplete picture of the current state of blockchain in higher education. A targeted look at each individual school – or even at our data set in full – will provide a richer picture that can be obscured by a reductive ranking.

Each data point serves as a building block, helping to flesh out a complete and complicated image. For example (one of many we could proffer), our rankings consider but don’t explicitly single out the two blockchain-related certifications available at two schools placed on our list (the minor in blockchain technology from USC and the fintech MBA specialization from NYU Stern). While rankings distill a large amount of data into an easily digestible list, the broader landscape is both complex and fascinating:

Check out the rest of the CoinDesk 2020 University Package. As always, our commitment is to transparency, integrity and advancing the blockchain space. If your favorite school wasn’t considered this time, we appreciate your patience while we work to expand our research to cover more schools both in the U.S. and globally.

A more in-depth look at our methodology is available here. We encourage thoughts, comments, criticisms and questions. Stay tuned for the 2021 CoinDesk University Rankings and other educational content in the future.



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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

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Lecturer/researcher, Stanford University/MIT