Online Degrees in International Business

Globalization presents huge opportunities, but also many challenges. In today's growing global market, countries and national economies are becoming more and more interdependent. As a result, the ability to work effectively across various countries is a requirement that many businesses depend on. Corporations need employees who have the political, technological, financial and cultural knowledge to work across borders. However, companies are not the only ones who benefit as the exposure to different international markets and cultures can also be an eye-opening and life-changing experience for individuals.

An international business degree -- sometimes called a global management degree -- combines the principles of business with an understanding of diverse cultures in order to teach students how to apply business practices and strategies to an international setting. Earning an online business degree program in international business can give students not only a respect for diverse populations but also the knowledge to successfully navigate and positively impact businesses at home and afar.

Choosing The Right Online International Business Degree

Associate Degree in International Business: An associate program in international business takes approximately two years of full-time study to complete. During this time, students learn the practical knowledge and basic understanding of how business is conducted in a global environment. Generally, students will be exposed to various international business contexts in order to learn how to work and communicate effectively in cross-cultural situations, analyze problems and provide businesses with actionable strategies. Coursework is often introductory and covers topics such as principles of economics, business ethics, accounting, finance and intercultural management. After completing an associate degree program, graduates can pursue entry-level positions or can choose to further their education by earning a bachelor's degree in international business/global management or a related field.

Bachelor's Degree in International Business: A bachelor's program in international business, or a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration/specialization in international business,offers a more in-depth education. Students typically gain a solid, well-rounded understanding of business fundamentals as well as knowledge and skills to face the unique and complex challenges of the global market. By learning both theoretical and practical concepts, students develop the skills to make business decisions that are ethical and effective, both domestically and internationally.

Core coursework typically covers the key aspects of business and includes classes such as accounting, management, organizational behavior, economics and finance. International business students can combine their expertise with a particular interest by taking specialized coursework in topics such as international marketing/branding, international trade and finance and international law and ethics. A bachelor's degree can prepare graduates for entry-level jobs such as international sales manager, import/export sales representative, international business development manager or foreign affairs manager.

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Master's Degree in International Business: A master's program in international business, or an MBA with a concentration in international business, offers a more focused education, enabling students to become global business experts. At the graduate-level, coursework is more defined and generally aims to further enhance leadership, interpersonal and communication skills as well as one's knowledge of key aspects of international business management. Example coursework would include global management strategy, global communications, negotiations, international business operations and international entrepreneurship. Graduates may consider positions such as international market research analyst, international financier, government trade specialist, global marketing director or international management consultant.

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Doctoral Degrees in International Business: A Ph.D. in international business, or a doctorate of business administration with an international business concentration,aims to prepare students for careers in academia or executive-level positions. Typically, curriculum in an international business doctorate program is self-directed and emphasizes theory and quantitative research methods as well as key international business concepts. With a strong analytical and research background, a graduate usually goes on to pursue employment as a professor or lecturer at institutions of higher education, but some may find employment opportunities in fields such as global business management and consulting, enterprise architecture or international policy.

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Career Opportunities for Graduates of International Business Programs

The word "international" implies that opportunities may be borderless. There is no typical career path and depending on the level of education one wishes to pursue, a degree in international business or global management can open the doors to careers in many different industries such as marketing, finance, accounting and management. For instance, employment opportunities can be found at multinational corporations, market research groups, consulting firms, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Knowledge of a foreign language is likely to give one a competitive edge.

An online degree in international business can open the door to a world of possibilities. With sound business skills and knowledge of diverse landscapes, international business graduates have the potential to impact businesses on a global scale. For more details, request information from one of the online colleges below to speak with an admissions counselor about available degree options.

Average Salary
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Operations Research Analysts104,200$88,35027.4%
Management Analysts684,470$94,39012%
Purchasing Managers69,490$125,6305.6%
Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

As organizations expand cross-border relations within the global marketplace, the demand for professionals -- with both business acumen and understanding of cultural variance -- continues to grow. Online bachelor degree programs in international business help instill foundational business skills, while broadening awareness of influential factors associated with other countries. Core curriculum emphasizes fundamental business practices such as finance, accounting, and supply chain management, and many online colleges offer the degree as a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in international business or global management.

What Does a Bachelor's Degree Program in International Business Entail?

For full-time students, a bachelor's in international business typically takes four years to complete. Much of the curriculum covers business strategies in a universal capacity; however, students will also gain heavy exposure to the practices used in and by other countries. Coursework aims to help students apply basic business principles to assess and strategize culturally-sensitive ventures and transactions. Examples of topics include:

  • International Marketing: This course highlights concepts for the successful production and distribution of goods and services in foreign markets. Students explore and analyze the needs and wants of consumers in different nations, assessing the feasibility of entering a new market for a particular product. Many instructors also incorporate case studies into the curriculum. For example, students may find themselves studying the global expansion of McDonald's, scrutinizing the different tactics used to gain popularity in each distinct region. McDonald's in India, for instance, will not serve burgers with beef or pork, as the majority of the population does not eat such products.
  • International Entrepreneurship: In this class, students identify and evaluate potential business opportunities in the international market. Emphasis is usually placed on the high-level analysis of foreign ventures, including methods to evaluate technological obstacles as well as ways to work with political sanctions. Classwork may incorporate hands-on exercises where students develop a business proposal to enter or expand into a foreign country. Instructors may create controlled environments with preset rules and regulations, and ask students to construct profitable business plans within the given constraints.
  • International Organizational Development: This course focuses on the strategic aspects of building or expanding a firm or organization in a foreign country. Curriculum aims to raise awareness of potential cultural challenges within multinational businesses. Students study the complexities of different countries' professional hierarchy as well as trends in the recruiting and hiring processes of employees.

Bachelor's programs also require fulfillment of general education courses, such as math, writing, and science, as well as electives, which are usually chosen by the students themselves. Students may select elective courses that appeal to their interests -- for example, those who want a better understanding of social factors that can affect a product's international marketability can enroll in sociology or psychology classes. It's also important to note that some online bachelor degree programs in international business may mandate language requirements to demonstrate that one can communicate effectively across regions. Check with an admissions counselor for specifics.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Bachelor's Degree Programs International Business

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), globalization, as well as the increased expansion of local businesses into the international market, will add to the growing demand for various analyst positions. Domestic organizations looking to venture abroad require management analysts to strategize and plan for the additional workload of offshore infrastructure and employees. International business graduates may also pursue market research analyst positions. These professionals evaluate foreign markets to determine what products people want, as well as the specific demographics to target. The BLS projects that, between 2010 and 2020, management analyst positions are expected to grow 22 percent, and market analysts should see a large growth of 41 percent. A bachelor's degree in international business helps prepare graduates for entry-level positions in other industries as well, including careers as foreign service managers and cultural advisers or consultants.

The marketplace for goods and services is becoming increasingly global in today's world, and companies need professionals who are trained to conduct business across many borders. A master's in international business helps impart an understanding of trade, investment, financial, and marketing strategies that work best in multinational firms. Students in this program will also study the political, cultural, and commercial environments of foreign markets. The degree is also offered as a master's of business administration (MBA) with a concentration in international business and global management.

What Does a Master's Degree Program in International Business Entail?

A master's degree can typically be completed in one to two years of full-time study. Cultural sensitivity, written and oral communication, and leadership skills are areas of focus for this online degree. Some examples of courses include:

  • International Management: Students learn about the theories and applications of organizational leadership in global business settings. Concepts deal with the challenges facing managers on three levels: multicultural employees in the U.S., international assignment valuations, and global working environments. Students may learn that management styles that work in the U.S. do not necessarily translate well in other countries. For example, a consensus-based managerial approach that works in the U.S. may not accommodate a foreign branch within the same company, where employees are more accustomed to top-down supervisory procedures.
  • Law in International Business: This course examines the necessity and impact of import, export, and tariff policies between the U.S. and partnering countries. Coursework also examines regulatory issues facing businesses trying to enter the international marketplace. Topics involving trade, licensing, and foreign investment through mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures are covered. For companies expanding into foreign markets, a complete understanding of tax regulations, for example, can help businesses maximize profits.
  • Technology for Global Competition: Students learn about innovations that help shape corporate strategy for global competition. Students study new technologies that can improve both internal and external production, as well as information gathering and dissemination processes. Coursework uncovers how information technology is being used to shape the 21st century, multinational work environment. Students also learn about managing global supply chains that stretch across different geographies. Technologies help professionals monitor their inventory, communicate where it needs to be moved, and allocate resources to transfer it.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Master's Degree Programs in International Business

According to the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, companies usually transition employees for work in international markets by first giving them in-house training. This is to ensure they are familiar with domestic operations. Once those training programs are over, these employees can be ready to represent the business abroad.

Current financial analysts in a U.S.-based firm may wish to pursue a master's in international business to venture into a foreign branch of the company. Professionals can combine their knowledge of domestic financial and business models with the master's degree to help their company expand overseas. Some financial analysts are asked to specialize in a specific country or region of the world. They will need to be able to understand and handle the different culture, business environment, and political conditions of the area they are in charge of overseeing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this position to grow by 23 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020.

Doing business in a global world requires the ability to adapt to constantly shifting international markets, supply chain constraints, and diverse legislative environments. A doctoral degree in international business immerses students in the implications of global trade and how it affects financial markets and investment opportunities. The degree can be earned in two different ways: as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in international business; or as a Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) with a concentration in international business. Individuals typically choose the specific degree option based on career pursuits.

What Does a Doctoral Degree Program in International Business Entail?

Graduate programs in international business usually take anywhere from three to seven years to complete. Most schools require that prospective students have a master's degree in business or a related field before applying for a Ph.D. or D.B.A. program. Though curriculum varies from program to program and school to school, concepts from both types of degree programs often overlap.

A Ph.D. in international business is preferred for students seeking positions as researchers or university educators. Ph.D. students are trained in the theories and practices of econometrics, which help extract meaningful associations between different subsets of economic data. Another area of focus may be in multivariate data analysis. Students learn to use statistical software packages to read complex data that can help them find solutions to common business problems. Students also study regression analysis, hypothesis testing, and model building as research methods. By studying both national and international data, Ph.D. students may be able to expand on current theories in order to examine and explain the correlation between foreign and domestic business practices.

A D.B.A. with a concentration in international business, on the other hand, is typically the choice for individuals who plan to employ their knowledge and skills in corporate leadership positions. This concentration includes courses on the different environments for business in foreign regions and how they may affect a company's expansion into that region. The implications of international law and how it can impact multinational businesses is discussed as well. Advanced marketing strategies are covered, as different regions of the world will need unique marketing campaigns for the maximum chance of success.

Students in an international business doctoral program generally choose to specialize in a particular area such as finance, human resources, supply chain management or international marketing. In most programs, students take certain core courses in these concentrated topics in addition to advanced work in their major. Nearly all programs also require students to take courses in research method and analysis.

Both types of doctorates require students to work on, submit, and defend a dissertation -- based on original study and analysis -- before completion of the program. A panel of faculty members chosen by the doctoral candidate and the department chair reviews the information and conclusions formed.

There may also be residency requirements depending on the school. Students should contact academic advisors to receive information about all possible requirements for completion of the degree program.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Doctoral Degree Programs in International Business

Career paths diverge depending on the doctoral degree that is earned. Individuals who earn a Ph.D. may be qualified to become a postsecondary teacher in the field of business administration and international business. Graduates of Ph.D. programs may also want to use their degree in order to conduct research in a non-academic setting, including positions in government or larger corporate institutions.

Graduates of international business D.B.A. programs may better qualify to transition into senior management positions within their current company. Expansion into global markets is becoming more commonplace, and senior managers need to be able to understand the benefits and risks of conducting business abroad. Managers must ably navigate the risks associated with international trade and foreign financial markets in order to maximize the benefits of global expansion.

"Career Opportunities in International Business," Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, http://sipa.columbia.edu/resources_services/career_services/current_students/career_resources/opportunities/CareerOpp_InternationalBusiness.pdf
"Financial Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm
"Management Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
"Market Research Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm

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