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November 02, 2021

Penn accepting Bitcoin payments for Wharton School's new cryptocurrency program

Students can just fork over the $3,800 tuition in U.S. dollars, too

Education Business
Penn cryptocurrency Bitcoin Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Wharton School of Business announced it will accept cryptocurrency to pay the tuition of its new six-week certificate program, Economics of Blockchain and Digital Assets.

The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business will accept cryptocurrency as tuition for its online blockchain and digital assets program. 

The six-week certificate program, Economics of Blockchain and Digital Assets, is designed for business and tech professionals who want to learn more about cryptocurrency and blockchain protocols.

Wharton will use Coinbase Global Inc., the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum and USD Coin to cover the $3,800 tuition. Regular U.S. dollars will be accepted, too.  

The new program, which starts in January, will go beyond the basics through case study examinations, as well as regulation and policy, and how to value digital assets. 

"Blockchain and digital assets are not going away," Program Director Kevin Werbach said. "We hope to equip business leaders, consultants and entrepreneurs to identify the value drivers of these innovative technologies and to give them the practical understanding to build solutions."

There are currently more than 5,000 cryptocurrencies currently in circulation, according to Forbes. Most people invest crypto into assets like stocks and precious metals, but they can be used to buy everyday goods and services, too. 

Cryptocurrencies are digital and encrypted currencies that are distributed over a large number of users, according to Investopedia. They generally are not issued by a central authority, protecting them from governmental interference. Blockchains are digital ledgers that record and verify transactions, ensuring the integrity of data. 

An anonymous donor gifted Wharton $5 million in Bitcoin earlier this year to grow programs within the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance at Wharton. 

The cryptocurrency program will involve about 8-10 hours of work each week over six weeks. Programs are set to begin every two months through June, led by Werbach and Cathy Barrera of Prysm, a leading economic consulting firm in the blockchain and digital asset industry.

Wharton is not the first university to pilot cryptocurrency payments. Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave out Bitcoin to its students in 2014, and other colleges have started letting students use crypto to pay tuition, Bloomberg reported.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who graduated from Wharton in 1997, has been actively involved in the cryptocurrency world. Earlier this year, he influenced the mass purchase of meme coins like Dogecoin

Another Wharton alum, Arthur Hayes, who started the BitMex exchange, is facing charges for allegedly failing to put in place sufficient anti-money laundering protections. 

Wharton does not have any other plans to accept crypto beyond this program.

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