Digital Certificates

An incubation project by the Media Lab Learning Initiative and Learning Machine that builds an ecosystem for creating, sharing, and verifying blockchain-based educational certificates. Digital certificates are registered on the Bitcoin blockchain, cryptographically signed, and tamper proof. All code is open-source and we invite feedback, contributions, and general discussion.

Research Team: Juliana Nazaré and Kim Hamilton
PI: Philipp Schmidt

Code and Docs

Getting Started: There are three parts of the digital certificate codebase. We recommend getting started with the cert-viewer repo and going through the "quick start" installation. This installs the certificate viewer and pre-populates it with example certificates that you can view and verify. Once you are ready to issue your own certificates, check out the cert-schema repo to create a certificate and the cert-issuer repo to issue it on the Bitcoin blockchain.

More details about the codebase:

  1. Cert-schema: Cert-schema details how to make a digital certificate. A digital certificate is essentially a JSON file with the necessary fields needed for our cert-issuer code to place it on the blockchain. We tried to keep the schema as close to the Mozilla Open Badges specifications as possible.
  2. Cert-issuer: Cert-issuer is used to take these JSON certificates and issue them by creating a transaction from the issuing institution to the recipient on the Bitcoin blockchain that includes the hash of the certificate itself.
  3. Cert-viewer: Cert-viewer is used to display and verify these certificates after they have been issued and to allow learners to request a certificate and generate their own Bitcoin identity needed for the certificate creation process.

All of our code is open-source and available on Github.

Example Deployments

The Media Lab issued digital certificates (nicknamed "coins") to Media Lab alumni who attended the Lab's 30th anniversary in October 2015. Check out the certificates here.

Learning Machine issued digital certificates to all of its employees. Check out two example certificates here and here.

MIT's Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp issued digital certificates to the students that attended their workshop in Seoul, South Korea in March 2016. Check out the certificates here.

The Laboratorio para la Ciudad issued digital certificates to participants of a week-long workshop in Mexico City in September 2016. Check out the certificates here.

Have you made a project using the digital certificate architecture? Please let us know.


Want to learn more about the project? Check out our posts "What we learned from designing an academic certificates system on the blockchain" and "Certificates, Reputation, and the Blockchain" on Medium.


Curious for more information? For specific questions or ideas on how to collaborate, please get in touch with us by email ( If you want to follow our progress, please sign up to receive our updates via email. (We send very few emails.)