Ph.D. in International Business

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Who Gets a Ph.D. in International Business & What to Expect

As the global economy continues to grow and becomes even more connected, businesses value the knowledge and leadership of international business experts. With a Ph.D. in international business, you’ll be qualified for nearly any research or education-based career in the field. Businesses and universities are always looking for highly-educated individuals, and professionals with a Ph.D. has demonstrated abilities in leadership, analytical thinking, and self-motivation. A Ph.D., or philosophy doctorate, focuses on research, while a doctorate focuses on the broad field of international business.

Reasons to Pursue an Online Ph.D. in International Business

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in international business are motivated for different reasons. Some students are looking to move into a higher-paying position. Others may simply want to deepen their education. Other common reasons students return to school to earn a Ph.D. include:

  • Personal GoalsFor some students earning a Ph.D. is a personal goal. For others, earning the highest degree is a personal challenge.
  • Career AdvancementInternational business students may earn an online Ph.D. to advance in their current career. Researchers are needed by global organizations, and professionals with a Ph.D. are the most qualified for these positions.
  • Career ChangeMaybe you’ve spent enough time working in the private sector and would like to teach students. Earning a Ph.D. is the best way to become a professor of international business.
  • Increase EarningsTypically, higher education leads to higher wages. This depends entirely on the career you choose; however, and education doesn’t guarantee a certain level of pay.
  • Learn New SkillsThe best way to learn new international business skills, theories, and research methods is to return to school. Universities teach cutting-edge topics that are relevant today.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in International Business?

Since a Ph.D. or doctorate in international business is the highest level of education you can attain, nearly any related job should be within reach. Keep in mind that some positions also value experience; however, so you may not be immediately eligible for some positions. Also, pay attention to which degree gives you the best chance of finding the job you want. A Ph.D. is a research-intensive degree, and doctorates cover a broader range of information. Job titles can vary widely by business, and two positions with the same title could be entirely different roles.

Common Career Paths & Salaries

Individuals with an online Ph.D. in international business end up in a wide variety of roles. While these are some common positions for Ph.D. graduates, earning a Ph.D. doesn’t guarantee that you’ll end up in any of these positions.

  • Postsecondary Professor

    One of the main outcomes of a Ph.D. is becoming a professor. The potential salary you earn depends on the college or university.

    Average Annual Salary: $87,018

  • Senior Marketing Manager

    Senior marketing managers oversee other managers to plan and implement strategies. They find work at businesses around the world.

    Average Annual Salary: $98,321

  • Risk Management Consultant

    A risk management consultant looks at the finances of a company to find and eliminate risk. At least a master’s degree is required for most individuals in this position.

    Average Annual Salary: $74,214

  • Chief Executive Officer

    As the leader of an organization, the CEO oversees every part of the business. A graduate degree is required, as is experience in business.

    Average Annual Salary: $158,193

  • Senior Financial Analyst

    Senior financial analysts look at data and determine what the best route forward is for the business or organization. They typically work in large organization and need at least a master’s degree.

    Average Annual Salary: $79,659

International Business Ph.D. Program Requirements & Outcomes

Ph.D. programs differ, but students should expect to earn around 72 credits to complete the degree. Most students complete the program in four years, assuming they study year-round and stay on track with their university’s timeline.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in international business or a related field to be considered for admission. Many applicants also have a master’s degree in international business. Applicants must also submit GMAT/GRE scores, college transcripts, and meet a minimum GPA. Most programs require students to be interviewed and/or write a personal essay explaining why they want to pursue a Ph.D.

While some courses can be completed entirely online, Ph.D. programs often require a residency. A residency lasts one to two years, and students are generally required to live on or near campus to attend in-person courses and seminars. Most programs also require students to study full-time, too.

Common Courses

While international business is a broad field, some programs require common courses. Keep in mind that not all schools require the same courses, and if the program you choose allows for a specialization, the courses you take could be entirely different from those listed here.

Econometrics is heavy on statistics, an area in which all online Ph.D. in international business students must study. This course uses statistical data to create theories about economic systems. Students pursuing a research role may take multiple levels of this course.

A computer-based course, data mining is the process of collecting valuable information from large, complex data sets. Careers after a Ph.D. might require graduates to generate new international business theories based on large data sets.

Since the Ph.D. is research intensive, Ph.D. graduates often find positions in research for international organizations or large businesses. This course teaches students how to create theories based on the information collected during a survey. Anyone in a research-based role could benefit from this course.

Finances are important for international business students at the Ph.D. level. Management accounting combines accounting and research, teaching students to parse through financial data and find new ways to help an organization or business. Some private-sector jobs may require this skill.

Businesses and organizations must adhere to regulatory policies and build their strategy accordingly. Students cover how to create a strategic plan for various organizations in different countries. This is applicable to private-sector roles.

Other Requirements

Along with the required curriculum, schools typically have additional requirements for graduation. Requirements vary by school, but most Ph.D. programs require at least a dissertation. Online Ph.D. students with a specialization may be required to submit additional research or pass a specialization-specific exam.

Comprehensive Exam
Toward the end of the Ph.D. program, students are typically required to take and pass a comprehensive exam. If the program has a specialty, either the comprehensive exam covers the speciality or both the specialty and degree.

Research Paper
While not always required, some Ph.D. programs require a research paper. This paper is due after year two or at the end of the final year of study. If you have a concentration, the paper could be related to the concentration.

Most Ph.D. programs end with a dissertation. Dissertations take the entire four-year period to complete, and courses are often set aside for students to focus on their research. A dissertation could also be used to get published, ideal for someone looking for a research position.

Skills and Competencies

Regardless of the role you end up in, all international business professionals must exhibit certain skills and competencies. Some of these skills are learned during school while others are developed while working. Not all of these skills or competencies are required for every international business position.


For Ph.D. students, perhaps the most important skill to have is analytics. Analyzing data collected during research is critical for college courses, your dissertation, and likely a job after graduating.


Mathematics, specifically complex math and statistics, is necessary for any position you find. Private sector roles are generally math intensive.

Decision Making

Working for an organization or international business, it is important to know how to make decisions in difficult situations. Decision making is developed from a mix of strategy and experience.


Professionals must be able to communicate complex ideas for businesses and organizations to thrive.


International business professionals with a Ph.D. are likely to be in charge of a team. Part of your job is to ensure the team is on track and goals are being met.


Ph.D. graduates are experts in their field, and some go on to become leaders. Those that end up in executive positions must exhibit leadership qualities. These are learned in school and at work.

International Business Professional Organizations

While you aren’t required to join an organization, the benefits often exceed the cost. Organizations, particularly those for international business, have connections around the world, meaning you could find your next job through a professional organization. Most organizations also have job boards and professional certifications.

Hundreds of professional organizations for international business members exist. Below are some of the largest organizations that promise an extensive network of professionals, online education, and potential careers. Once you pick an organization, stay active to make the most of your membership. The more active you are, the more international business professionals you may meet.

The World Trade Organization

  • The WTO is among the world’s largest international trade organizations. Negotiators of international trade, the WTO is an excellent resource for global economic data. Some international business Ph.D.s may even find work with the WTO.

International Association of Business Communicators

  • With a vast network of global business leaders, IABC is a great resource for international business professionals that focus on communication. IABC also offers professional certification, publications, and industry data.

International Chamber of Commerce

  • With over 45 million members, ICC is one of the biggest international business organizations. Roughly one third of all private sector employees work for a business in the ICC network. You can find online learning and certifications through their website.

Federation of International Trade Associations

  • FITA is a one-stop-shop for all things international trade. With connections to over 8,000 international trade websites, you can get connected to businesses around the world. FITA also has its own job board.

International Executives Association

  • An organization for top executives, IEA connects executives with potential opportunities, valuable research, and confidential information. Over 3,000 firms are represented by IEA.

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