"Business in the Metaverse Economy" is a six-week program at Wharton developed in collaboration with Prysm Group, a firm specializing in the economics of blockchain, digital assets and the metaverse. It will be asynchronous and online, with the cost of enrollment set at $4,500. The first iteration of the program will run from Sept. 12 to Nov. 6, with registration opening Tuesday.
Designed for professionals in the business and technology industries, the program will touch on the economics of the metaverse and how individuals and businesses can leverage it as it continues to develop. Kevin Werbach, the program's academic director, said that as the metaverse continues to garner widespread attention, there's a void of credible, professional education on the topic.
"This is something that people are hearing about a lot — it's on the cover of Time Magazine — but there's still lots of confusion, skepticism if this is something real," said Werbach, who is also a professor at Wharton. "It's pretty clear if you take this topic, the ratio of the level of interest to the level of quality, robust information is way out of whack."
Considered the digital realm of the future, incorporating technologies like augmented and virtual reality, the concept of the metaverse is difficult to pin down. In fact, Werbach said each of the key faculty members in the program will give their own definition to kick off the course. Bloomberg projects the metaverse market to grow to $800 billion by 2024 and Citigroup estimates it could be as large as $13 trillion by 2030.
The Wharton curriculum will include cryptocurrencies, NFTs, blockchain and other digital tools in addition to augmented reality and virtual reality. It will include lectures from industry leaders, case studies and "firsthand use of metaverse technology." All of it will be oriented to the current business world, Werbach said, touching on strategies within the metaverse from marketing to consumer experience to metaverse-focused business models.
Guido Molinari, managing partner at Prysm Group, said that the company conducted a thorough search for similar programs in the U.S. but expects this to be the first of its kind. Other universities have programs that use metaverse technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality, but this would be the first certification program focused on the content and information of the broader metaverse, he said.
Werbach said the metaverse is "an incredibly broad phenomenon" and the course will look to provide participants with the framework to apply the emerging technologies in their respective careers. He said the course comes at a time where many companies are beginning to invest heavily in the metaverse.
"We're still fairly early on, but we're far enough along where this isn't science fiction," Werbach said. "There's still some uncertainty about what it is, but that means there's room for education like this."
Wharton has leaned into the digital economy and been a higher education leader in the space. It became the first U.S. business school to accept digital currency as a form of tuition payment when it rolled out its Economics of Blockchain and Digital Assets course last fall. Cryptocurrency payments will again be accepted for this program. The metaverse course largely grew from the blockchain program, as Werbach said those participants overwhelmingly chose the metaverse as an emerging phenomenon they were most interested in.