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International Business Degrees and Programs: What You'll Study


There are many of international business degrees available for those hoping to enter this popular field, but which one is essential to your success?

Well, as an undergraduate, you can earn a bachelor's degree in international business, but most upper-level international management positions require an MBA or master's degree.

The Master of International Management (MIM) includes language and culture classes in addition to business course work and generally tries to present a cross-cultural perspective. MBA students can specialize in international business and management. PhDs are available for those more interested in academic careers. Read on to learn more about degree types and how they can further your career in international business.

What international business degrees are available?

Associate's Degree Programs

An associate's degree will be the first step in your journey toward the specialized bachelor and master degrees of international business. If you're already enrolled in a general associate's degree, take the opportunity if possible to complete business-related electives. Any classes focusing on management principles, technology and information systems will be valuable. And because international business has much to do with personal relations, courses in psychology, communication and public speaking will also add to your overall skill set.

Many schools offer concentrations in specific areas of business administration. Some—such as Berkeley  College, through their Mid-Atlantic schools and online—offer degrees like Berkeley's International Business Associate in Applied Science Degree (AAS).

Through career-oriented courses, these programs help students build the skills and industry background information to qualify them for entry-level jobs in their specialty field.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in International Business

Three popular types of bachelor degrees for international business are:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Prepares for work in international business, trade and finance
  • Bachelor of Science in International Business (BSIB): Teaches import/export policies, trade controls and banking in foreign markets
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA): Focuses on global differences and cultural diversity issues in communications, management, marketing and international business law

As with a typical bachelor's degree in business administration, these degrees you will qualify for an array of leadership positions and other advanced roles in private, public and nonprofit organizations. You will be ready to work across industries as a business analyst, human resources generalist, operations manager or marketing specialist. Some business administration graduates also venture into entrepreneurship, creating their own successful businesses from the ground up.

All of this applies to international business. In general, course work for a bachelor of business administration covers management principles and practices such as the following:

  • Organizational leadership
  • People management
  • Strategic planning
  • Business-oriented computer applications
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Information technology
  • Marketing

For preparation in working around the world, international business tracks will usually add studies in courses like:

  • International trade policies and practices
  • Micro and macroeconomics
  • Psychology
  • Public speaking

As an example of a typical course load in international business, let's look at Berkeley College's Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in International Business:

Examples of Core Courses   

  • International Business: Fosters global awareness by exploring the diverse environments, management concerns, financial issues and marketing questions faced by international business organizations.
  • International Trade Policies and Practices: Examines various international trade theories, policies, practices and current controversies regarding national trade policies.
  • International Marketing: Introduction to marketing concepts and the global issues that challenge marketers. Techniques for entering markets, and knowledge of cultural influences on marketing management and strategies.
  • International Management: Topics include the challenges of managing international organizations, the impact of culture on organizations, and management of cultural diversity at home and abroad.
  • International Banking and Finance: Covers the financial functions that multinational corporations, government agencies and other organizations use in their funding and investment activities.
  • Global Supply Chain Management and Logistics: Covers the organization, functions and processes of a global purchasing department. Examines various global sourcing and logistical management topics.
  • International Business Simulation: Students move beyond theory to the application of business principles when placed in a variety of challenging workplace scenarios. By analyzing financials, internal and external environments, strategies, and operations of global companies, students make decisions on which international markets to enter, strategies to grow the business, and how to combat global competitive pressure.
  • International Strategic Management: Integrates the concepts and practices of using the various functional areas of business to build and consolidate a sustainable competitive advantage in the global arena. Examines the framework needed for the successful formulation of a corporate mission and global corporate strategies. Analyzes strategic problems unique to global business.
  • Computer Applications in Business: An introduction to computer-based applications and simulations in business. Students will learn the concepts and software used by business organizations in order to simulate real-life problem solving.
  • Multimedia and Business Presentations: Focuses on enhancing business communications via the growing areas of electronic communication. Students learn to develop, design, and deliver oral presentations using multimedia and online data services. Practice sessions and videotape feedback provide additional insight into presentation style and effectiveness.

Master's Degree Programs in International Business

Many people choose to continue their business education by earning a Master in Business Administration (MBA), a highly respected advanced degree that indicates a commitment to leading in the field. Your MBA will usually take one to two years to obtain. This degree will give you skills that are transferable to other areas of business. If you want to specialize in global management or entirely on international business-related areas, the Master of Science in International Business (MIB) will give you the skillset to do just that.

Another advanced degree option is the Master in International Management (MIM), which focuses almost exclusively on issues related to international business. Many schools offer specialized master's degrees in international business. One example is Saint Mary's College of California's Trans-Global Executive MBA.

This unique program "provides working professionals with the skills to take on global leadership responsibilities while providing real, tangible assistance to organizations and governments around the world." It requires four days every month for fifteen months, plus two global immersion trips. Students will:

  • Receive hands-on experience solving global business problems
  • Travel to developed and emerging economies to learn about business in diverse regions.
  • Gain cultural and social insights that will prepare you to lead people and organizations located around the globe—with a focus on building sustainable and socially responsible organizations.
  • Learn management and entrepreneurial skills, with a focus on global business.
  • Champion corporate sustainability by protecting the world's environment and people while meeting profit goals.
  • Learn how to make holistic, strategic, and operational decisions focused on corporate sustainability, which balances profits with societal needs and the environment.
  • Explore complex global problems and business cases that force you to examine and define your values related to corporate ethics, corporate governance and social responsibility.
  • Increase your effectiveness as a global manager by developing your appreciation and understanding of diverse cultures by studying their art, history, politics, social norms and food.

Examples of Core Courses  

In Saint Mary's innovative MBA, curriculum is divided into 'Mindsets' like 'Responsible' and 'Analytical' using integrated and interrelated course sets. They're paired, but taken together they include courses such as:

  • Data Analysis and Research Methods in Global Business
  • Economic Analysis for Global Business
  • Ethical and Social Issues in Global Management and Interfaith Leadership
  • International Management: Doing Business in World Regions
  • Global Forecasting, Operations and Supply Chain Management
  • Managing Global Competition and Cooperation
  • Global Business Strategy
  • Global Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility
  • Doing Business in World Regions: The Regional Business Environment

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) Programs in International Business

A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) prepares graduates to lead, consult and teach in corporate and academic arenas. Typically designed for applicants with management experience, DBA degree programs build on skills acquired through master's-level studies. Like a PhD, a DBA equips professionals with expertise in leadership and management principles and a higher level of competence in conducting research.

Many options are available for DBAs that focus on international business, such as at Argosy University. Students can earn their DBA in three to six years, depending on whether they enroll in a full-time or part-time program.

DBA studies usually involve classes in research and analytical methods; core management subjects such as strategic planning, managing change and solutions-oriented leadership; and the student's choice of specialization. Examples of specializations include international business, management, marketing and information systems.

Additionally, candidates for a Doctor of Business Administration degree must write and defend a doctoral dissertation and pass a comprehensive exam as part of the requirements for their degree.

What certification will I need?

Though business administration professions are frequently determined by degree types, there are certificate programs available in business administration, mostly to help develop executive education skills. If you specialize in a subfield of business administration such as human resources, accounting, finance, marketing and information technology, you'll find a wealth of professional certificates designed to help you advance in your career—many of which are conveniently available in the online format.

What will I learn in my courses?

All core curricula for business courses will apply to international business courses. In addition to subjects like accounting, finance, information technology and marketing, course work for a bachelor's of business administration covers management principles and practices such as the following:

  • Organizational leadership
  • People management
  • Strategic planning
  • Business-oriented computer applications

Curriculum for an MBA program covers the following topics:

  • Advanced management concepts and best practices
  • Organizational behavior and design
  • Ethical leadership
  • Strategic planning

DBA studies usually involve classes in research and analytical methods; core management subjects such as strategic planning, managing change and solutions-oriented leadership; and the student's choice of specialization. Examples of specializations include international business, management, marketing and information systems.

You may want to learn a new language, and you'll definitely want to stay abreast of new and evolving technologies. Taking electives in these fields will provide you with an even better educational background as you begin your international business career.

How long will it take?

Depending upon your level of dedication, a business administration major can take the following time to complete:

  • Associate's degree programs, which provide entry-level opportunity, usually take two years
  • A bachelor's degree program takes four years
  • Master's degree programs and MBAs generally require one to two years
  • A DBA program generally takes three to six years to complete

Are online programs available?

Luckily, online programs in business administration with a focus on international business are readily available for all degree levels, including associates, bachelor's, MBA and DBA degree programs. Online programs include general business as well as almost every specialty area, including online programs in the following:

  • Computer Science
  • International Business
  • Finance
  • Human Resources Management
  • Health Care Management
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Entrepreneurship

How much will my education cost?

The cost of bachelor's degree programs varies depending upon the type of institution you attend. According to College Board's Trends in College Pricing 2020, the average annual cost* for a four-year, public institution runs around $10,560 for in-state tuition and $27,020 for out-of-state-tuition.

The average annual cost for a four-year private non-profit school is $37,650.

Master's degree program tuition at in-state public institutions costs an average of $30,000 for the program, and doctorate program tuition costs $10,830 per year at in-state public institutions.

Attending an accredited school may allow you to apply for financial aid, whether the school you select is a traditional classroom or an online program.