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Online Master's Programs in International Business

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Updated on: 10/04/2018

Earning a master’s in international business online is an ideal option for current business professionals who want to climb the corporate ladder. Graduates with an international business degree often become top executives, financial managers, or sales managers. While the average American worker earns $37,690 per year, these professions earn median salaries of $104,700, $125,080, and $121,060 respectively.

These professionals significantly impact the global economy. They set trends, make important decisions, and become invaluable to their companies. Many students earn their master's in international business online within one year and advance their career in the field.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in International Business Program?

Master’s programs in international business help students develop cultural competencies and business skills to prepare to manage global companies. Courses often cover topics such as financial management, the global economy, trade agreements, and cross-cultural management. Students gain the communication, leadership, and critical-thinking skills they need to advance their careers. Graduates often find careers managing finances across cultural and legal barriers.

Degree completion time depends on the student's school, enrollment status, and educational background. However, most learners earn their master's in international business online in one to three years. Online learning is ideal for working professionals who want to continue at their current job while studying. However, on-campus students sometimes have access to more networking and career assistance opportunities.

What’s the Difference Between a Master’s in International Business and an MBA in International Business?

Students earning a master’s in international business online completely slightly different curricula than those pursuing an MBA with a concentration in international business. An MBA with a specialization in international business emphasizes the business aspects of the field and prepares students to work for single-country corporations. However, the master’s in international business focuses on cross-cultural issues in the industry. Both degrees provide leadership and analytical skills.

What Common Courses Are Offered in a Master’s in International Business Program?

Each program includes unique courses and specializations. Some schools offer electives in marketing, entrepreneurship, or project management. However, the courses below are common to most international business programs.

Financial Management

Students learn to handle the money that flows in and out of large corporations. Learners discover how to preserve shareholders' wealth and to grow the company through smart investments. The course may also cover financial goals of people from other cultures.

Global Economics

This course examines macro- and micro-level economics from an international perspective. Students learn about the forces that affect the global economy, such as trade agreements, inflation, GDP, and international laws. Students explore how these factors affect nations, companies, financial institutions, and individual consumers.

International Relations

The ways that governments interact with one another can severely impact businesses. Students in this course learn to navigate changing trade agreements, international disputes, and cultural trends. Learners gain the critical-thinking skills they need to successfully guide businesses through global turmoil and to take advantage of prosperous international relationships.

International Law

International business professionals must abide by laws within all the countries in which their companies operate. Multiple jurisdictions and employment laws can make global businesses complex. This course teaches students how to navigate various sets of laws and to identify the right time to involve attorneys.

Cross-Cultural Management

A sales strategy that is effective in one region could backfire in another. Likewise, employment practices and company cultures can vary widely between countries. This course teaches future business leaders to understand these differences and to integrate them into sales strategies. Students also learn to respond to cultural sensitivities.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Many master’s programs in international business require students to complete their own business plans. While completing these projects, students examine the needs of international businesses. Graduates can use this experience to bolster their resumes. Some programs instead require internships, which provide hands-on experience and allow learners to apply theoretical knowledge. Some universities require no capstone project, but students can typically pursue internships for credit.

What Elective Courses Are Available in a Master’s in an International Business Program?

While students in different international business programs take many of the same core classes, students can customize their degree through electives. While international business programs rarely offer concentrations, elective courses provide unique skills that students can apply to their careers. Below are elective courses commonly available in graduate international business programs.

Marketing

Students learn how to promote a company’s products or services in different cultures. Learners gain the skills they need to create campaigns with traditional and emerging media. The course may also cover methods for tracking the results of marketing and tailoring campaigns to a specific region.

Project Management

When several professionals work on different pieces of a project, businesses need project managers to oversee the whole process. This course teaches students to plan large projects, manage problems as they arise, and deliver results on time. Students may also learn how to procure contracts for projects.

Entrepreneurship

This elective is ideal for learners who want to go into business for themselves. Students learn how to create business plans, obtain financing, and launch successful startup companies. Students may examine business models that disrupt industries and learn to build socially conscious companies.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in International Business Degree?

After earning a master’s in international business online, graduates pursue international business-related careers in areas such as industrial production, administrative services, finances, and sales. Professionals with a master's degree often work toward management positions in the field. With additional experience, some graduates obtain top-level positions with major companies. These professionals may work as chief executives or financial, marketing, or operations officers. Some employers require applicants to have additional credentials, such as certifications.

Top Executives

These high-level executives drive the strategy and leadership of organizations. These professionals need the skills to manage thousands of employees. Top executives often work beyond typical business hours. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about half of these leaders work more than 40 hours per week. Top executives, particularly those with international companies, often travel a lot. A master’s degree in international business can help candidates demonstrate their abilities to company boards.

Industrial Production Managers

Companies that manufacture goods need managers to oversee their facilities. Industrial production managers ensure that plants meet manufacturing deadlines safely and within budget. They hire and train staff members to run facilities, allow overtime as necessary, and provide safe working conditions. These managers also analyze production data and produce reports for top executives to demonstrate the effectiveness of facilities. The BLS does not project growth in this career; earning a master's in international business online can provide a competitive edge for job seekers.

Administrative Services Managers

These high-level managers oversee the clerical and secretarial employees in their organization. Administrative services managers managers maintain the physical locations of their business; they may oversee filing, supplies, security, and cleanliness. These managers develop new systems to address issues within the business. A master’s degree provides the organizational and critical-thinking skills necessary for this position.

Financial Managers

Professionals in this growing career oversee all money moving into and out of their company. Financial managers analyze data to produce financial reports and forecasts for shareholders. They also ensure that companies do not break laws when moving their money and look for smart ways to save money. International companies often have complicated finances. A master’s degree in international business provides an understanding of global economics and investments, which these managers need to be effective.

Sales Managers

Whether companies sell services or goods, they need savvy sales managers to attract customers. These managers train and lead sales teams. They also analyze data about customers and their purchases to understand what drives consumers to their business and how to best cater to their needs. A master's in international business provides the cultural awareness and business knowledge sales managers need.

Students, recent graduates, and experienced business professionals can all benefit from joining professional organizations. These associations provide in-person and online networking opportunities. Many also provide opportunities to earn certifications, complete continuing education courses, and keep up with the latest research. Below are some of the most prominent organizations for international business professionals.

The International Executives Association

IEA comprises high-level managers and top executives from around the world. Membership benefits include discounts on business travel, networking opportunities, and exclusive leadership resources.

The International Chamber of Commerce

This organization offers global businesses the connections and resources they need to succeed. Members can connect with business owners from more than 100 countries and attend local meetings.

The Academy of International Business

This organization bills itself as the premier association for international business professionals. Individual membership includes a subscription to the Journal of International Business Studies, access to the annual conference, and career assistance.

The Academy of Management

International business professionals who want to hone their leadership skills can join this prestigious association. Members receive access to all of the academy’s journals, the online community, and networking events throughout the year.

The Project Management Institute

PMI has more than 500,000 members across 300 global chapters. Members can connect through in-person events or the online community. The organization also provides members with tools, templates, and resources.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in International Business?

A graduate degree in international business does not guarantee a specific salary. However, many graduates work in high-paying positions, including management and executive jobs. The chart below includes salaries of popular career paths for international business graduates. Several factors affect a professional's earning potential, including experience level and employer. For example, larger companies typically pay top managers higher salaries.

Job Title Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Top Executives Less than $68,110 $104,700 More than $208,000 +8%
Industrial Production Managers Less than $61,360 $100,580 More than $168,780 -1%
Administrative Services Managers Less than $52,750 $94,020 More than $163,480 +10%
Financial Managers Less than $66,480 $125,080 More than $208,000 +19%
Sales Managers Less than $57,590 $121,060 More than $208,000 +7%

Source: BLS 2018

The BLS projects growth for many of these careers, including a growth rate nearly three times the national average for financial managers. However, the need for industrial production managers may decline between 2016 and 2026. While lower employment rates should not discourage individuals who are passionate about industrial management, employment projections can help students decide between electives. Learners who want more stability and less competition for positions may consider studying business finance or administrative services.

Earning an advanced degree can help professionals increase their earning potential. According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, professionals with a bachelor’s degree in international business earn a median income of $60,000 per year, while professionals with a graduate degree in the field earn a median salary of $79,000 per year.

Online Master’s in International Business Program Accreditation

Students who want to earn graduate degrees in international business should only consider attending accredited schools. Without accreditation, learners cannot transfer credits to other schools or earn valuable certifications. Degrees from unaccredited institutions also do not garner the same respect as those from accredited universities. This is because third-party organizations ensure that accredited universities provide academic programs that are rigorous. These school-wide credentials come in two varieties: regional and national. While either is acceptable, regional accreditation tends to earn more respect and the credits are easier to transfer.

In addition to institutional accreditation, some programs may have programmatic credentials. This type of accreditation applies only to a degree within a school. For international business programs, the main accrediting body is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). This organization accredits the business programs that meet their high standards and give students the education they need to succeed.

How to Pay for a Master’s in International Business Degree

Earning a master’s degree in international business online requires a significant investment of time and finances. While the cost of tuition can be high, learners can fund their studies in a variety of ways. First, students should complete the FAFSA to determine whether they qualify for federal aid. Learners can also apply for private scholarships, tuition waivers, and institutional scholarships.

  • Federal Financial Aid

    Like undergraduate students, master’s students can complete the FAFSA online to gain access to many types of aid. The federal government uses information from the FAFSA to award grants and loans. Students may also need their completed FAFSA to apply for other types of aid.

  • Private Scholarships

    Nonprofit and professional organizations often award scholarships to students who demonstrate merit or need. Learners do not need to repay the money they receive from these organizations. International business students can apply for the Charleston Women in International Trade Scholarship.

  • Tuition Waivers

    Instead of collecting tuition and fees from an outside source, some schools simply waive the requirement for certain students. For example, the business school at the University of Texas at Austin provides the George Kozmetsky Tuition Waiver to students who show promise in entrepreneurship, corporate innovation, or technology transfers.

  • School Scholarships

    Universities often offer scholarships to students who demonstrate financial need or academic promise. For example, the University of Akron offers the Joyce Wortman Barnett Endowed International Business Scholarship to women studying international business. Like private scholarships, learners never repay these awards.