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The end of my university studies is getting closer and closer.

I'm sure I want to do a Masters degree, but I have some doubts.

About a month ago my university released a Masters degree completely on blockchain (especially Ethereum, although it also deals with Hyperledger and Bitcoin).

It's been quite a few months since I discovered blockchain technologies and I am very happy to learn about the cryptography they use, their consensus algorithms and all their possibilities.

In fact, it is towards where I am also orienting my work life.

The problem is that I do not know if a Masters that only deals with blockchain and cryptography technologies will be very useful (obviously yes now, but maybe in a few years, when the fashion goes by, it will not have much value).

Considering the money that costs a Masters degree in Spain (that at least for an ordinary student is a lot) I do not know if it will be an intelligent option to do it. Instead of opting for more general Masters degree in Cyber Security or Network Architecture.

What do you think about it? Not about whether or not to do a Masters degree, but about doing it in blockchain or not.

EDIT: I'm actually working and studying, and I will do the same while doing Masters so no "profitable years of working experience" are lost by doing it.

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    Note that if you're explicitly looking for opinions, as stated in the bounty, then it might fall under the "primarily opinion-based" off-topic category. The idea is that SE isn't for inviting discussion, but rather for objective questions that have a specific answer that would be apply to everyone else as well. In this case, what might be an accepted answer for you wouldn't necessarily be an accepted answer for someone else. (ethereum.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) The main Reddit board is often a better place to discuss this sort of thing. (And you'll get more answers there too!) – Richard Horrocks May 29 '18 at 17:23
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    (reddit.com/r/ethereum or even reddit.com/r/ethdev might be good.) – Richard Horrocks May 29 '18 at 17:24
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    In order of what you said about the correct answer, I won't accept any. So the community votes will decide. I think it's more reasonable. – CPereez19 May 29 '18 at 20:11
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    That's a good suggestion - thanks for being understanding :-) – Richard Horrocks May 30 '18 at 18:19
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    To add to @RichardHorrocks ‘s comment, the academia stack exchange may be appropriate, too. – lungj May 31 '18 at 12:27
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+25

A blockchain masters, as of now, would only be worth your time and money if it's from a school with a lot of time under it's belt working on bitcoin(It's been around longer) or taught by Nick Szabo.

Something I feel would carry over more would probably be a Masters in Cybersecurity as security in smart contracts is paramount and with your ability to work as well as study, you would have very unique opportunities coming out. It is also a more established field of study.

The only reason I'm hesitant about a blockchain masters is very few, I assume, are qualified to give you that degree and if they could, would you really benefit from it?(It's a new technology and by the time you graduate a lot would have changed)

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In my experience as a professional software developer since 2006, the companies are not hiring based on your diploma.

They're hiring based on what you can do.

I've had colleagues who were outstanding developers, well respected within the company and highly appreciated by the customers, who didn't even finished their college. And I also had colleagues with master's degrees finished with top marks, but who were almost unable to produce anything useful in commercial projects.

During those 2 years the whole blockchain ecosystem will move A LOT. Do you think the teachers will upgrade the curricula of their courses to be up to date with the latest technology? Or will you end up with stale knowledge by the time you finish?

Wouldn't it be more pragmatic if you'd find a job in the crypto currency space and develop your skills in production? Instead of spending money, you'll earn some. Also, you'll end up with 2 years of working experience and the chances are bigger that by the end of these 2 years, you'll be more up to date with the current technologies.

That's what I'd do instead of a master's degree.

  • You can develop DApps, that's true, but to understand how blockchain really works, A LOT of crypto knowledgement is needed. With ZKSnarks and all that stuff comming. All the consensus protocols, sharding, there are lots of things on this wolrd not just developing apps. I know everyone can develop Dapps with Solidity. I'm not talking about software development, i'm talking about study how this really works. Not develop apps over it. – CPereez19 May 29 '18 at 17:42
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    Add that i will not lose years of working experience, i've always worked while studied and I'll keep doing it. Also mention that the question is about doing the blockchain master or another one, NOT ABOUT DOING OR NOT A MASTER. – CPereez19 May 29 '18 at 19:27
  • Your original question was about master's profitability. Given the current state of crypto world, nobody could tell you for sure. I believe that yes, it would be profitable in the long term. On the other hand, if we deconstruct the thesis logically, it might be more profitable to invest those master's money in ETH and sell them by the time you expect the master to cover itself (ie in about 5 years). Because, if it's profitable, it means that blockchains got a wider adoption, meaning the price also increased. – Tudor Constantin May 31 '18 at 13:48
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Blockchain is new and very fast moving field.

If there is an university that claims to offer a degree in blockchain it is probably not worth of much. It takes 10-20 years for academics to come up with a solid body of knowledge for a field.

If you want to have a useful academic degree, where studies contribute towards your knowledge and your degree is not just for signaling on jobs markets, study mathematics and cryptography. Cryptography is a well established branch of science.

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I would say it all depends on what this master provides. What classes do they offer and who teaches these classes. For instance if they offer basic Solidity programming by an unexperienced blockchain developer it wouldn't really give your Master any value. I would say that you can't evaluate the Master without knowing the programme outline.

  • They give probably the best professors and mathematics of my country (Spain). Which have been many years envolved on the technology – CPereez19 May 31 '18 at 14:14
  • That answers if they are classified, but the programme outline is still unclear. – Gabe Jun 1 '18 at 8:41
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All the blockchain at the moment are a big proof of concept, they're not scalable at all and far away to be something that someone would use in daily basis (other than speculation purpose) but on the other hand there is a huge potential and there are a lot of business applications that can benefit from a blockchain based solutions. But, at the same time, there's a lot of hype sometimes also over justified.

So said what they would teach you might be outdated after an year or so and that would be useless if the course would be too specific for a single blockchain since that probably we would live with different blockchain basing on the applications that they're more suitable for.

If you are curious about the decentralisation concept then you can study something about Networks and Distributed Systems if you're more keen on the security aspects then you can choose something related to the Cryptography. But you are the only one who have the program, so if this master is actually focusing on all this aspect it might be worth to follow it. At the end of the day what would be really useful you might study in just a few lectures.

I personally suggest you to decide basing on the lectures that the master will provide you, maybe compare the program with the other masters that you would do and see if its worth or no to take the blockchain master or another one.

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I did a Masters in Advanced Security & Digital Forensics back in 2014-15.

The core focus of the Masters was cyber security: penetration testing, host and network based forensics, network security, Security Audit & Compliance, Malware analysis & incident response.

My Masters Dissertation was titled: Threat Mitigation & Digital Forensics in Software Defined Networking

A core part of this research was using blockchain (i used multichain) as a solution to assist in digital forensics investigations in dynamic SDNs. Simply any events on the SDN were captured and committed to the blockchain through a custom SDN Controller App Module where it was cryptographically signed and sealed in a block.

In the event of a digital forensics investigation the events on the network could be played back to support the investigation. As the data is timestamped and cryptographically signed the data would hold up in court.

While my Masters was a security focused masters I got enough opportunity to research and apply my interests in blockchain. I got exposure to security, networks and blockchain.

While the cyber security and digital forensics learning will be useful in years to come the rapid pace of innovation in the blockchain space may mean a lot of what you would learn in a strictly blockchain course might be out of date in a few years. However if the course is good you may well land an opportunity with a team at the cutting edge of this rapid innovation and help shape that future change.

A Blockchain Masters course would certainly catch the eye of some recruiters but maybe better learning about distributed & networked systems or cryptography. I feel they would be much more valuable as both can be applied to the blockchain space and outside the blockchain space.

  • This sounds really cool! Could you link your Dissertation here? – Vignesh Karthikeyan Jun 5 '18 at 17:33
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    it is not public, I will look at publishing it online – Lismore Jun 5 '18 at 20:36
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There are several different types of master's degrees that I am aware of. There are

  • project-based degrees (e.g., at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam);
  • course-based degrees (e.g., at Stanford University); and
  • research-based degrees.

Some places offer more than one type and many don't have a pure research- or course-based degree but, instead, offer a blend. Getting any one of these may improve your employability in the blockchain space, but given the newness of the field, I don't know how many jobs would require a master's or offer better pay for one.

Thus, any net financial benefit would come from any practical benefits you would obtain in terms of knowledge (which could help with your versatility or skillset) that you can leverage for promotions or building your own successful company. So... what sorts of benefits might you get for each of the above?

The rest of this answer is purely opinion-based.

Master's courses

I personally don't see enrolling in and completing university courses as providing more value from a learning standpoint that could not be obtained in other ways (e.g., by reading or doing applied work), though your learning style may mean you prefer to have material delivered to you by a person. Then I would assume you would want to select your place of study on the people teaching the courses and thus your question is too broad to be of use to your specific case.

Master's projects

From my conversations with people from around the world that have are working on project-based master's, they seem to work largely independently of their supervisors. They may receive mentorship but I think the bulk of the benefit is derived from working with peers who are working on the same larger project or on similar projects. This sounds an awful lot like gaining the benefits of having a job. If you work for a small enough company (or start your own project), you might be able to work on aspects of a large project that interest you and provides you with versatility. Otherwise, if you're focusing on a specific aspect of blockchain at a company, you can gain depth, if that's your desire.

Master's research

If you want to do research, I think a university is a good place to do so: you have a lot of academic freedom since you can find a place that is doing the sort of research you're interested in and select a supervisor with whom you would like to work. You'll probably get to go to conferences (though my sample population for determining "probably" is very biased); conferences allow for a lot of idea cross-pollination and a chance meet other people in the field. The research itself from many (but not all) computer science conferences is available for free on-line.

Summary

What constitutes a "Master's degree" varies greatly, but from an employment standpoint, a master's degree is probably irrelevant at this time. The only type of blockchain-related master's potentially worth pursuing at this time, IMHO, is a research-based master's.

Disclosure: I have a course- and research-based master's degree, but not related to blockchain.

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Offhand, a Blockchain Master's Degree seems overfocused. I would prefer a Computer Science Degree with a speciality or interest in Blockchain technology.

Is there a certificate program for Blockchain available? That would be much faster and not as expensive.

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