Master's in International Business Vs. MBA

Jul 29, 2019

The Master's in International Business and the MBA degree both explore business management theory and concepts, yet in slightly different contexts. Learn more about how these two degrees are similar and how they are different.

The Master's in International Business degree and the Master of Business Administration degree are similar degrees in terms of their overall subject focus on business, yet there are subtle differences between them. Below, we will explore these two degree programs in terms of their program requirements, coursework, and what kind of careers they will prepare you for, noting where they differ.

Master of Science in International Business vs. Master of Business Administration

Master's in International Business

First, the master degree programs in international business will usually earn you a Master of Science (MS) degree. These degree programs will usually require around 30 credits and can take anywhere from 1-2 years to complete, depending on the specific program and if you attend full- or part-time. Some programs will also give you the option of attending online; however, some are on-campus programs only.

The coursework for an MS in international business program will mainly focus on studying different business topics and concepts within an international framework. You could take classes that center on global economics, international marketing, globalization, global supply chains, and multicultural management. Some programs will further the international focus of the curriculum by offering study-abroad opportunities that give you real-world experience in international business. An MS in international business can prepare you for a career as an international consultant, a global marketing manager, or a multinational business developer.


The number of credits required to earn an MBA varies significantly by program. Some are similar to the master's in international business, requiring 30-36 credits; however, others can require 50-plus credits. The length of your program will also depend on whether you attend full- or part-time, but you will generally be able to finish in 2 years, regardless of the number of credits the school requires. There are also accelerated MBA programs that can be completed in only 1 year. MBA programs also have different formats with online, on-campus, and hybrid options available. An MBA will prepare you for a range of different careers, including as a marketing manager, an entrepreneur, or a sales manager.

During the course of your MBA program, you will be required to take core business classes that might covers such topics as strategic marketing, accounting, leadership concepts and skills, ethics in business, and economics. Some MBA programs will also allow you to choose a concentration, which you will fulfill with electives. Some possible concentrations include finance, accounting, HR management, and even international business. The main difference between an MS in international business and an MBA is the coursework. In an MBA program, you will take more general business classes as well as electives in your chosen concentration, while the MS focuses its coursework primarily on international business topics.

Entrance Requirements for Graduate Business Programs

Whether you've chosen to pursue a master's in international business or an MBA, you will need to meet certain entrance requirements, including holding a bachelor's degree. When applying, you must submit your transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or essay, and a resume. The MS in international business and most MBA programs will also require GRE or GMAT scores. Some MBA programs do provide GRE/GMAT waivers if you meet certain criteria, including if you have professional experience or already have a graduate degree.

The master's in international business and MBA degree are somewhat similar in terms of program length and admissions, but can vary in the number of credits required. The master's in international business has more focused coursework on the international perspective when it comes to business subjects, whereas students in the MBA program would need to specialize in international business in order to go beyond the MBA's broad-based curriculum.

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