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Master of Business Administration (MBA) in International Business

A group of businesspeople on a tarmac arriving for a meeting
A group of businesspeople on a tarmac arriving for a meeting

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) in international business is a graduate degree designed for professionals who want to work in management positions in the global marketplace. The degree provides a broad curriculum that covers advanced business concepts and their practical application in the complex world of international commerce.

In this Article

An MBA is one of several degrees in international business. It differs from a master's in international business, which focuses on international affairs. An MBA in international business, in contrast, focuses on general business disciplines such as business administration, finance, accounting, and human resources at an advanced level.

An MBA in international business provides a broad curriculum that covers advanced business concepts and their practical application in the complex world of international commerce.

The international business portion of the MBA curriculum is usually offered as a concentration. This allows students to gain the foundational education that defines an MBA, plus specialized knowledge that imparts a global business perspective. Coursework emphasizes global trends, politics, economies, and cultures, and how to succeed in different markets.

Prerequisites

While program prerequisites vary by school, you are likely to need some or all of these requirements for admission to a program for an MBA in international business.

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited school, in some cases in a business field
  • Completion of prerequisite business courses not taken at the undergraduate level
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Professional resume demonstrating at least two years of work experience
  • Two professional references
  • Statement of purpose
  • Official transcripts from the institution that granted your bachelor's degree
  • GMAT standardized test score if missing work experience and/or minimum GPA

Curriculum


The curriculum for an MBA in international business varies by program, but some common courses include:

  • Business research methods focuses on identifying and analyzing business problems and preparing written and oral presentations.
  • Financial management teaches students to analyze and evaluate finances and apply contemporary theories of finance.
  • Financial statement analysis presents a deep look at accounting and the concepts and principles involved in analyzing financial statements.
  • Social, legal, and ethical aspects of business covers social, legal, and ethical issues that influence the management of business enterprises.
  • International logistics covers foreign freight forwarding, international transportation, and warehousing.
  • International management presents the issues, concepts, and activities associated with business administration and the management of international organizations.
  • Global macroeconomy introduces students to the global economic environment and significant international issues.
  • Global marketing presents marketing strategies often used to compete in the global economy.

Internship/Capstone Project

Internship or capstone project requirements vary by program. A capstone project requires you to put what you've learned into practice. This often involves analyzing a strategic business question and working with a company to resolve it.

The opportunity for this type of real-world experience, especially abroad, can be invaluable.

"Just getting abroad is a wonderful way to get started," says Ralph Jagodka, MBA, EdD, professor of business management at Mt. San Antonio College. "If there is any way that they can travel early in their career in any type of study abroad or work abroad program, students should definitely take advantage of it."

Program Length

The time it takes to complete an MBA can vary by program and your professional experience. Depending on your program's criteria, you may be able to apply work experience toward degree requirements to reduce the number of credits you need to graduate.

It generally takes two years of full-time study to earn an MBA in international business, and three years or more for part-time study.

Depending on your program's criteria, you may be able to apply work experience toward degree requirements to reduce the number of credits you need to graduate.

Online Degree Programs

If you have family responsibilities or plan to continue working while you're in school, you may benefit from taking an online program. Since an MBA program typically requires work experience, you'll find many that cater to the needs of working professionals.

Online programs can also be a good choice for students who have family responsibilities they'll need to juggle when they return to school.

Some MBA programs are offered fully online and others are hybrids that include a combination of online and onsite classwork.

Certifications

Professional certifications are optional credentials that demonstrate deep knowledge and expertise in your field and show a commitment to career growth and learning. "They can help candidates stand out," says Jagodka, who has extensive professional experience in international business management in the private sector.

Certifications can apply to skills and knowledge in international business or a specific area of business expertise, such as marketing or project management. Common certifications that may appeal to graduates with an MBA in international business include:

Certified International Trade Manager (CITM)

Who Grants It: International Trade Certification organization

Who It's For: Senior advanced trade professionals who can integrate and manage best practices in marketing, logistics, documentation, and financial aspects of the movement of goods and services to international customers. These professionals also demonstrate an appreciation for ethical and cultural concerns in international trade.

Requirements: Mastery of international trade marketing, logistics, documentation, and finances processes, including terminology and concepts. There are no education requirements.

Test Format: Six-hour proctored exam

Prep Resources: Enrollment in an approved training provider program or independent study.

Financial Risk Manager (FRM)

Who Grants It: Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP)

Who It's For: Risk managers who want to certify their command of risk-management concepts.

Requirements: Two years of relevant work experience, which must be submitted to GARP within five years of passing Part II of the FRM exam.

Test Format: Two-part exam. Part I includes 100 multiple-choice questions and Part 11 includes 80 multiple-choice questions.

Prep Resources: GARP provides study materials, practice exams, and information from approved, third-party exam preparation providers.

Why Earn an MBA in International Business?

This graduate degree can boost your salary and help you advance to the top tiers of a company in several roles, including: 

With an MBA in international business, you'll have a skill set that is transferrable across industries. This will allow you to take advantage of opportunities that arise as you gain experience and become more marketable to employers.

An MBA in international business can boost your salary and help you advance to the top tiers of management.

While these opportunities may occur in your current workplace, you may make valuable connections within your program and through internship experiences.

"I think there's extreme value to the MBA that specializes in international business," Jagodka says. "The networking, the alumni, and the recruiting are extremely important at the graduate degree level. I think that's the number one thing for the students."


Written and reported by:

Anna Giorgi
Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

Ralph Jagodka, MBA, EdD
Professor of Business Management, Mt. San Antonio College