International Business Degree Program Summaries

Oct 20, 2019

Expanding world trade is a continuing trend among businesses and non-governmental organizations. Those who want a career taking advantage of this growth have multiple education options.

Essential Information

Hundreds of schools offer international business programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Lectures, field studies, and seminars may be required as part of the curriculum. Career outcomes may include administrative support personnel, administrative services managers, business professors and international business consultants.

Bachelor's Degree in International Business

A bachelor's degree in international business covers fundamental concepts in accounting, economic theory, management and marketing, and students learn how companies transact business across national boundaries. Students also study the effect of local regulations on the conduct of business, develop familiarity and fluency in different cultures, and learn to assess the monetary value of domestic and foreign businesses. Internships and field studies abroad provide opportunities for cultural immersion. The degree takes about four years to complete.

A GED or high school diploma is required for admission into a bachelor's degree program. Schools may also require high school-level courses in a foreign language and mathematics.

The courses in a bachelor's degree program generally include a liberal arts requirement. Core courses in business writing, communications, microeconomics and macroeconomics are likely to be part of an international business program, in addition to the following topics:

  • Multinational organizational behavior
  • International economics
  • International marketing
  • International business law and regulations
  • Foreign cultures and business

Master's Degree in International Business

Master's degree programs in international business prepare degree candidates to assume leadership positions in companies that operate on a regional or global scale. Over the course of 2-3 years, program content explores the complexities of investing, securing financing, administering business operations, allocating resources, and marketing products or services internationally. Some offer specializations in information systems, entrepreneurship, operations management and real estate. Students may have the opportunity to travel overseas and observe business practices in an emerging economy.

Admission to a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree, preferably in business, accounting or economics. Applicants need to have maintained a 3.0 grade point average or better in their major.

The curriculum of an international business program might consist of foundational courses in business, core courses in business and a broad set of electives. Degree candidates may have the option to write a thesis or complete a case study of a company or industry.

  • International accounting
  • Transnational operations management
  • International human resource management
  • Global finance
  • Emerging markets analysis

Doctoral Degree in International Business

A doctoral program in international business emphasizes research, analysis and theory in the study of global business operations. Program content integrates concepts from economics, business administration, psychology, sociology and geography. Degree candidates examine topics ranging from global movements of capital and business expertise to the challenges businesses face adapting to a multinational marketplace. Some programs allow students to specialize in marketing, management, finance or accounting.

Applicants to a doctoral program need at least a bachelor's degree, and schools prefer candidates with substantial coursework in accounting, business, finance or economics. Doctoral candidates lacking a business background may be required to take graduate-level supplementary courses.

Completion of a doctoral program typically requires 4-5 years. The first two years of a Ph.D. program are devoted to courses and seminars, and the remaining years to researching and writing a dissertation. Possible course topics and titles include:

  • Business research and statistical analysis
  • Global business and trade policy
  • International production seminar
  • Theory of international finance
  • International tax policies

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions domestically or overseas. Possible areas of employment include:

  • General administrative support
  • Distribution
  • Marketing
  • Sales

People who earn a doctoral degree are prepared to seek academic and public service careers. The following are among the employment options for degree holders:

  • Business professor
  • World Bank or UN researcher
  • International business consultant
  • Federal economic policy advisor

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of a master's degree program in international business are qualified to seek middle- and upper-level positions as administrative services managers or provide consulting services as management analysts. Possible employers include multinational corporations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and law firms. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that over the years 2018-2028, employment of administrative services managers will increase 7%, and employment of management analysts will go up 14%. As of May 2018, the median yearly salary of administrative services managers was $96,180, while that of management analysts was $83,610 .

Continuing Education Information

Bachelor's degree holders have stronger career prospects if they earn a master's degree or a doctorate. Master's programs are best for people who want direct involvement in the conduct of business, while doctoral programs are tailored for those moving in an academic direction.

Business professionals who want to transition their careers into research and policy-making should consider earning a doctoral degree. Dozens of universities now host doctorate programs in international business.

International business is complex, and relevant careers require higher education. A bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree can open the door to employment opportunities in the field, though graduate degrees may increase job qualifications.

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