Online degrees in international business
Thanks to the broad reach and wide availability of modern communications technology, national borders aren't the barriers to business and commerce that they once were. These new global corporate paradigms are sometimes a far cry from the regional and national models most companies are used to, and formal education in the ways and means of the global village can go a long way on the career market.
To that end, colleges and universities across the country have programs in place to help you earn a degree in international business. Here's a table of how many schools in various U.S. regions offer at least one international business degree, online or on campus, according to data published by the National Center for Education Statistics:
|Region||No. of schools offering international business degrees||No. of schools with at least one international business degree online|
|Far West (CA. OR, WA, NV, AK, HI)||76||6|
|Rocky Mountains (ID, MT, UT, WY, CO)||9||0|
|Southwest (AZ, NM, TX, OK)||54||9|
|Plains (MO, KS, IA, NE, MN, ND, SD)||57||8|
|Southeast (AR, LA, MS, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, TN, KY, VA, WV)||108||23|
|Great Lakes (IL, IN, OH, MI, WI)||107||12|
|Mideast (PA, NY, NJ, DE, MD, D.C.)||113||13|
|New England (CT, MA, RI, VT, NH, ME)||39||4|
|Total (all 50 states)||563||75|
Entry-level international business degrees
Students looking to earn a degree in international business can begin focusing their education before they even hit their bachelor's program. Check out these details of international business degrees available at the undergraduate level:
- Associate degrees - Associate degrees in international business give students a primer in the fundamental concepts of business and international markets. Core credit courses at this level include introduction to management, basics of international trade, business ethics, cross-cultural management ideas and foundational principles of economics, finance and accounting. Associate degree programs usually take about two years of full time study and are typically designed to help students transfer into bachelor's programs after graduating.
- Bachelor's degrees - Four-year programs in international business are primarily offered as Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees with international business as an elective specialization. Apart from the comprehensive business education that comes with a standard BBA program, international business students learn to apply the global lens to marketing, finance, supply chain management, business law, human resources and more. Some programs may also include extra courses in political science, geography or cultural studies.
- Non-degree study - If you're looking to add some international business knowledge to your professional skillset but don't have the time necessary for a full degree program, undergraduate certificates can fill you in on the essentials. Most certificate programs focus on international marketing, management and finance and allow you to choose from a list of electives that may include specific global regions, international law, economics, IT management or import-export basics.
If you're already employed and working full time, modifying your training to qualify for international business degree jobs may seem out of reach. Fortunately, the uneasiness that many employers once had about online degrees has all but evaporated. A recent survey by CareerBuilder shows that four out of five business executives understood an online degree to be exactly as credible as one earned in the traditional classroom, and most recruiters indicate that GPA, work experience and other more substantive factors matter far more than the method by which you earned your degree.
Advanced-degree international business programs
Even once you've earned an undergraduate international business degree, jobs in the upper tier of the profession may require additional education. Whether you're looking to move up the corporate ladder or serve the business community by educating the next generation of leaders, here's what you can expect from various graduate degrees in international business:
- Master's degree programs - Degrees at this level may be offered under various titles, including Master of International Business (MIB), Master of International Management (MIM), Master of Science (MS) in International Management and Master of Business Administration (MBA). The specific curriculum studied in these programs tends to vary from institution to institution, but most focus on international approaches to finance, trade and management and many include an internship section that provides guided real-world experience in the field.
- Doctorate programs - Students who hope to go on to careers in self-directed international business research or teaching at the highest levels of academia are typically expected to earn Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or other post-graduate degrees before applying to enter the field. Most doctoral programs contain a deepening and sharpening of concepts you've already learned in bachelor's or master's study and also focus on quantitative analysis, research methods and other skills necessary in your dissertation period and beyond.
- Graduate certificates - Students who already have an undergraduate business education but want to enhance their skills with some intensive international training might find that graduate certificate programs are exactly what they're looking for. These one- or two-semester programs cover economics, accounting, marketing, management, finance and human resources concepts from a global perspective and often provide an opportunity to zero in on Europe, Latin America, Asia or another specific region.
Earning a master's degree in international business online is increasingly common these days, thanks to greater availability of quality distance education programs and the growing importance of an advanced education at the top levels of the field. Doctoral programs are less frequently offered online, but programs do exist for students who do wish to pursue their terminal academic degree in the virtual classroom.
Q&A with experts
David James, founder of Australian firm Business Growth Digital Marketing
What would have been helpful to know when you were looking into your own education?
I gained my international business degree from Griffith University in 2005. The one thing that would have helped by far is learning how to sell and pitch.
Would you recommend that a student go straight into an MBA or other graduate program before entering the workforce, or is it better to gain a few years work experience before moving on to a master's degree?
From my experience, it is better to learn while you are doing your career so you can apply what you have learned to the job that you are doing.
What are some especially helpful subjects of academic study for students hoping to work in international business?
International marketing, international economics, international management, international corporate finance and international trade subjects were incredibly helpful to know how to engage in attracting clients, working with international teams and conducting international sales.
Ninh Tran, Co-founder and CMO at tech-recruiting startup HireTeamMate
Why would you encourage someone to consider a degree in international business?
An International business degree is a very comprehensive business degree that will help you gain an understanding of some critical business skills as well as the global perspective in business. It helps you become a new professional.
What are some popular entry-level careers in international business? How much education is typically necessary to get started?
A ton of marketing entry-level positions as well as sales entry-level positions are often very receptive to international business new graduates.
What's some advice you would have for students just starting out in their international business education?
Get it. Find something that you are passionate about and obtain skills in that field. If you are technical, get an international technical degree if you can. The jobs are there, but again pursue your passion and don't ever give up on your education.
Types of international business careers
The vast array of career titles available to an international business graduate can be pretty staggering, but there are a few general designations into which many of those titles are likely to fall. Here's a table that shows a few of those designations alongside average job growth, total employment and mean annual salary figures as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Occupation title||National mean annual salary
|Projected job growth
|Total U.S. employment
|Operations research analyst||$82,940||30 percent||91,300||Bachelor's degree|
|Management analyst||$90,860||14 percent||758,000||Bachelor's degree|
|Financial analyst||$92,250||12 percent||277,600||Bachelor's degree|
|Budget analyst||$73,940||3 percent||60,800||Bachelor's degree|
|Logistician||$76,830||2 percent||130,400||Bachelor's degree|
|Purchasing manager||$111,810||1 percent||73,000||Bachelor's degree|
Common misconceptions about international business degrees
International business isn't as much a separate discipline of the field as it is a sort of multidisciplinary perspective, and that can lead to some misunderstanding about the precise extent of its study and applications in the working world. Make sure you're not approaching your own study of international business with any of these misconceptions in mind:
Misconception: Degrees in international business are only good for goods importers and currency traders.
- Fact: Some of the most fertile markets in history are beginning to bubble up in locations far-flung from U.S. borders, and companies of all types are vying for a share. The right international business training might help you take a degree in computer programming to the global job market, for example, help you parlay an existing early childhood education degree into a position with a global education startup or even show you how your physical therapy degree or nursing training can be applied to a world health context.
Misconception: An international business degree guarantees jobs after graduation.
- Fact: However valuable an international business education may be, there's no academic training in the world that can guarantee you'll find employment when you're done. There are things you can do while in school to increase your hiring chances, though, so remember to investigate student-professional organizations, network with your classmates and make use of available academic advising and career counseling services.
Misconception: Earning a degree in international business online is a shortcut to an impressive resume.
- Fact: It's true that an international management or marketing degree can add some shine to your CV, but the virtual classroom is by no means a lazy person's route to that distinction. The amount of internal motivation required to maintain a rhythm of lecture attendance and independent study can be surprisingly strenuous, and students who begin their study with that reality in mind are much more likely to succeed.
How can I enroll in an online international business degree program?
Every school that offers a degree in international business maintains its own set of admissions standards and application requirements, but it's true pretty much across the board that reaching out to an admissions representative is a strong first step toward enrollment. Browse through our listings below, find the institutions that seem right for you and get in touch to find out how you're best served to move forward.
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- Employers on online education, CareerBuilder.com, Rachel Zupek, March 29, 2010, accessed February 19, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/03/29/cb.employers.online.education/index.html
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