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Bitcoin Blockchain: Elite B-Schools Set To Launch New FinTech MBA Programs

New courses highlight enthusiasm for financial tech

Thu Feb 11 2016

Two top-ranked US business schools are developing fintech programs for MBAs, BusinessBecause has learnt — highlighting the growing enthusiasm at elite schools for the business world’s sexiest topic.

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business this year introduced a new course on fintech for MBAs that explores topics such as payments and the blockchain — the record of asset ownership that underpins bitcoin.

A stone’s throw from Silicon Valley fintech groups such as Square, Stripe and Coinbase, the school has moved away from the finance department’s roots in investment banking.

A number of students are now flocking to the San Francisco school because they are keen to join start-ups shaking up finance in the Bay Area.

“There is a lot of demand from employers and the start-ups here for people who understand fintech,” said Adair Morse, assistant professor for the Haas Finance Group.

“The big banks are very interested in integrating more technology,” she said, adding that students have a lot of opportunities to be part of a new wave of innovation.

MIT Sloan School of Management plans to significantly expand its fintech offering. It is developing content to extend its FinTech Ventures program into a semester-long course.

It has been approached by financial institutions including BlackRock, the world’s largest fund house, which are interested in involvement in the course, potentially sponsoring student teams.

“Existing players are really interested in this space,” said Antoinette Schoar, MIT Sloan professor of entrepreneurial finance.

MIT Sloan’s FinTech Ventures program focused on helping participants build fintech businesses and explored payments, trading and the blockchain. “A number of students are launching start-ups in fintech [sectors], from peer-to-peer lending to ‘roboadvisors’,” Antoinette said.

Elite students are surging into the nascent industry, lured by the promise of MBA jobs, fast-growth and disruption of the world's biggest banks.

“Fintech — apps and digital services for banking and making payments — is a growing area,” said Sue Thorn, director of careers at Warwick Business School in the UK.

In Hong Kong, the fintech industry is forecast for “relatively positive hiring”, said Tina Lee, director of CUHK Business School’s Career Management Center.

The frenzy has seen a number of business schools dive into the topic over the past year. They are following the lead set by NYU Stern and Duke Fuqua, which offer MBAs programs focused on bitcoin and the blockchain.

USC’s Marshall School of Business in January launched a formal fintech course. Themes being explored include alternative lending platforms, big data, bank disintermediation, innovation in payments, and digital currencies.

Top fintech executives have also been lined up as guest speakers, including from SoFi, the $4 billion peer-to-peer lender founded by a throng of Stanford business school students.

USC Marshall is “at the forefront of fintech education” said James Healy, VP of business development at FastPay, the payments start-up, who will be a course instructor.

Wharton Fintech, thought to be the first fintech professional club at a business school, has hundreds of members, who have secured jobs at companies in the space such as Apple Pay, Wealthfront, and Nerdwallet.

“Fintech has graduated to buzzword now,” Paulynn Yu, a Wharton MBA candidate, recently wrote in a blog post. Wharton School could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile IE Business School of Spain and Imperial College Business School in the UK have recently teamed up with large financial services firms including Citi and Santander to explore the impact of the blockchain and to help fintech start-ups raise venture capital.  

“There has been a very recent increase in interest amongst MBA students in fintech,” said Mark Davies, employer relations manager at Imperial College.

Student Reviews






One of a kind

I studied Bioinformatics at CUHK last year. It was the only Master's degree in Hong Kong in this field. This program developed my analytical skills and equipped me to be a Bioinformatician in a very practical way. I enjoyed my year here and met classmates from different parts of the world. If you are thinking to enhance your profile, this degree program would be a good option.




On Campus

general education courses, unique college system, large campus

The university facilitates multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning. In social science faculty, we need to choose courses as our faculty package from other departments (architecture, psychology, sociology, etc.) to learn more than our major required courses. We are also required to finish general education courses, which aid our critical thinking and humanistic sensibilities. I do recommend the social science broad-based program, and the professors I met so far are all responsible and erudite.





The faculty of law is relatively new. You do not need to have a LLB to pursue a LLM, which is special. The taught programme is great for mature students who want to obtain legal knowledge. CUHK has good teaching staff too.




Amazing Campus and Great Educational Environment

Not only is CUHK's main campus breathtaking, it provides for a good educational environment for students. The university is well-equipped with modern and up-to-date facilities to help students with their study. We have 8 libraries in total around the campus; one for media, one for architectural studies, the medical library and the law library. The Professors are always helpful and are happy to talk to students when needed. Moreover, the college system within the university brings forth the uniqueness of CUHK. Each student belongs to a different college, and in that students are able to meet different peoples from different countries and students from different faculties. I think CUHK provides for a well-rounded university life for all students.





One of the most down to earth places in HK. A great opportunity to learn and embody the local culture. Also had one the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong up on the hillside. Glad to have graduated here.




Innovative and Supportive

My university provided me with all the support I needed, and encouraged me to be up to date with all the new developments in the world. They also provided me with the incentive to excel at what I do, and they take much pride in my achievements. I have had a very rewarding university experience.




Small, New But Friendly Law School

To being with, I think the campus of CUHK is the best and the biggest in Hong Kong, with fresh air and trees everywhere. I am an undergraduate Law student at CUHK and I think the teaching here is great, with very friendly and nice professors and the new Lee Shau Kee Building. In terms of the courses offered by CUHK, as one of the largest universities in Hong Kong, CUHK is an all-rounded university, offering a wide range of courses to students. Students may take the introductory courses of discipline other than their own major, or even declare a minor. For law electives, due to the small amount of intake, the variety of law electives are not that huge. However, the Faculty is offering some international programmes, which can be treated as law electives, but at the same time, provide us with an opportunity to travel and know more about the legal system of another country. The career support from the Faculty of Law is also amazing. The Faculty will organise CV Sessions and talks on how to get an internship from law firms or mini-pupillage from barrister's chambers. Each student will also have a Distinguished Professional Mentor, which is a current legal profession, providing us with practical advices and updates of the legal field. Finally, from my personal experience, I think the students in CUHK are friendly and genuine. As Law students, competition is inevitable for grades, GPAs, vacation schemes and training contract. However, I think the competition in CUHK Law School is a positive one, in a sense that help us grow together, instead of fighting with each other no matter what. That is the biggest reason why I am having a very good time here in CUHK Law School.




A place to explore your interests

As a law graduate from CUHK (both undergrad and post-grad), I realise that I had many opportunities to explore my areas of interests (legal and non-legal both). The faculty/university requires us to take a certain number of non-law electives, and offers a plethora of courses to choose from. Personally, I took 3 modules in Korean --I can't say it's made me highly proficient, but it's definitely given me a good foundation (I can walk into a Korean restaurant and confidently order food, at the very least). The fact that language courses are offered also provides students who are more financially constrained an opportunity to learn a language without having to shell out a premium for a decent language course. On top of that, we have a range of law electives as well. I know of classmates who have developed lasting interest in different areas of law because of the electives they took in school. The two electives that I would say have changed me is (i) mooting and (ii) family law. I think my experience in an international commercial arbitration moot competition has helped tremendously in formulating legal arguments and legal writing. On the other hand, taking a family law elective has made me very interested in the family law practice, especially in terms of child rights. For these experiences which I have gained, I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by the school. One main issue most students I know have is with the way our GPA is calculated and the lack of transparency in terms of how the honours system works. As our GPA is marked on a curve. it's highly unrepresentative of what we have achieved as individuals. Given that our GPA is the only criteria that is looked at when we apply for the compulsory post-graduate law course (mandatory should we want to practise law and/or be trainees in Hong Kong), it will put our own students at a distinct disadvantage when we compete for limited spaces with students from schools where GPA is not on a bell curve.




On Campus

Valuable time in CUHK

I like the learning environment and people at CUHK. Surrounded by hills and Tolo Harbour, CUHK provides a balance between nature and hustle. You can always escape from the busy study life and meet your friend around the big campus for different activities.