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Guide to Earning a Master's Degree in International Business

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A master's in international business is a graduate degree that emphasizes management in the global marketplace. The curriculum focuses on the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in leadership roles.

In this Article

What Is an MS in International Business?

A master's in international business combines the study of business and international affairs to prepare students to make sound decisions as leaders in global organizations. Students gain knowledge and skills in international business practices, along with an understanding of core factors—such as economics, law, and politics—that influence international commerce.

A master's in international business is a specialized degree that focuses on the knowledge necessary to conduct business in the global economy.

This master's degree differs from a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in international business in its emphasis on world affairs. The MBA focuses on the broad, core principles involved in leading any organization, with the addition of international elements. The master's in international business is a specialized degree that focuses on the knowledge necessary to conduct business in the global economy.

Why Get a Master's in International Business?

A master's in international business helps professionals understand how the world and business are interconnected. It provides a big-picture perspective of the global marketplace and an understanding of how individual economies and practices can differ around the world.

A master's also can help you advance to the top of your profession and increase your salary. You'll also be prepared to take the next step in your international business education if you decide to pursue a doctorate and enter the world of academia.

No matter, your master's can help you to pursue leadership roles in global organizations and succeed in positions such as:

A master's in international business can also help students keep up with an ever-changing global economy." Things are constantly changing," says Jagodka. "Cultures are evolving, business methods are evolving, and technology is changing the way we communicate. All these things are happening, so the key characteristic is adaptability."

Degree Prerequisites

Program prerequisites will vary by school. While work experience typically isn't required, you are likely to need some or all of the following for admission to a master's program:

  • Bachelor's degree in any field from an accredited school
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Professional resume
  • Two academic and/or professional references
  • Statement of purpose
  • Completion of admissions essay questions
  • Official transcripts from the institution that granted your bachelor's degree
  • GMAT standardized test score if missing work experience and/or minimum GPA


Here are some common courses for a master's in international business.

  • Business bootcamp presents a broad look at business functions across a company and then asks students to apply their learning in an immersive and challenging multi-stage business simulation.
  • Financial accounting presents basic concepts and methods used in financial reporting to understand the content, context, and related processes.
  • Managing global projects teaches students a set of best practices, tools, and frameworks for project management.
  • Selling to the customer helps students build their sales skills and gain an understanding of the fundamentals of sales.
  • Business process analysis looks at designing, assessing, and improving business administration and processes in product and service organizations.
  • International business operations surveys the institutions, activities, and problems involved in conducting international business.

Internship/Capstone Project

An internship or capstone project is a common requirement for a master's in international business degree. A capstone project involves applying what you've learned to solving a real-world problem, often with a company. If you take on an internship, you'll work in a specific area of business at a company, either learning skills or working on a project.

Getting this experience abroad is invaluable in learning about different cultures and networking on an international level.

"Sometimes the best way to get started is to travel to a country," says Ralph Jagodka, MBA, EdD, professor of business management at Mt. San Antonio College. "Traveling early helps you to make contacts and find out what you like."

Completing an internship or a capstone project abroad is invaluable in learning about different cultures and networking on an international level.

Program Length

The amount of time it takes to earn a master's in international business depends on your individual program. Some schools allow you to earn credit toward your degree based on prior experience or passing examinations that prove your knowledge. Taking advantage of these options can help you earn your degree faster.

Generally, though, it will take one year of full-time study to complete your degree and two or more years if you study part time.

Masters in International Business Online Programs

Earning a master's online may be ideal if you'll need to fit school in with family or work responsibilities. An online program may be the only choice for someone who doesn't live near a school.

Online degrees typically require little to no time on campus. Instead, you'll take courses online at your convenience while meeting preset deadlines for assignments and exams. While it's likely that you can earn most of your credits online, you may have to complete an internship or capstone project in person.


Professional certifications demonstrate that you have deep knowledge and expertise in a field or specialty. Most certifications are optional, but earning one can set you apart from your peers as a professional dedicated to your career and lifelong learning.

"It shows an employer that I've got some background in these areas," says Jagodka, who has extensive professional experience in international business management in the private sector. "On a specialized level, I know how to play nice in these functional areas on an international scale."

Common certifications for professionals with a master's in international business include:

Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP)

Who Grants It: NASBITE International

Who It's For: Students in a degree program and professionals working with trade assistance organizations, trade promotion agencies, and related educational institutions.

Requirements: Candidates must be working in international business or enrolled in a two- or four-year degree program.

Test Format: 165 multiple-choice questions

Prep Resources: NASBITE offers self-study resources, exam prep and review guides, practice exams, and a directory of NASBITE-accredited CGBP training programs.

Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)

Who Grants It: Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM)

Who It's For: Professionals who want to demonstrate mastery of the extended supply chain, from an organization's suppliers to its end customer. 

Requirements: Three years of related business experience, a bachelor's degree, or certification from the Association for Supply Chain Management.

Test Format: 3.5-hour exam that includes 150 questions

Prep Resources: GARP offers resources that include instructor-led classes, instructor-supported classes, and corporate/group preparation programs.

anna giorgi

Written and reported by:

Anna Giorgi

Contributing Writer

ralph jagodka

With professional insight from:

Ralph Jagodka, MBA, EdD

Professor of Business Management, Mt. San Antonio College

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