As we live in an increasingly globalized world, knowing how to manage companies that also operate outside of their home country is becoming vital. This makes the aspects of business administration more complex.
For example, how do you finance a company that has several branches across the world? It will, obviously, face different financial markets, banking systems, currencies, and, most of all, cultures. Will you know what parts to keep, change or discard? Let’s find out.
We live in a globalized world, and with every new technological advancement, we become more and more connected to people and businesses halfway across the globe. Gone are the days when business meant just one brick and mortar location around the corner. Now, companies are spread out all over the world, and face increased demands and considerations of international financial markets, banking, currency, and even cultures. It’s becoming more and more necessary for business professionals to be trained in this international space.
Business professionals interested in working on a global scale can enhance their expertise and skills by earning an international business MBA or master’s degree. As more and more companies build an international presence, these programs are increasingly relevant to equip professionals across a variety of sectors to be able to work on an international stage. Graduates of advanced international business programs are eligible for work in management, finance, and consulting.
Many students in these programs have earned a bachelor’s degree in business, with hopes of coupling their previously learned business knowledge with the additional layer of international relations. While the fundamentals of business remain the same, many professionals are looking to be better prepared for a more commercial and competitive market.
Top 10 Things You Learn with an International Business Degree Online
While earning a master’s or international business MBA online, students will learn important lessons to better equip them to work in an increasingly global society. These can vary from program to program, but key fundamentals of an international business degree online include:
- Fundamentals of International Business: Students will learn about cost behavior, overhead costs allocation, and the scope of operations for U.S. and non-U.S. international companies.
- Current Environment of International Business: Students will learn about major global players and the impact they have on the international business world.
- Cross-Cultural Communications: Students will learn how to compare, communicate, and understand cultural differences. They will focus on how to both work with and lead diverse groups within the marketplace.
- International Trade: Students will learn about trade policies, how trade impacts foreign policy, and how it is part of a country’s economic growth. Students will also learn about tariffs, quotas, nontariff barriers, and preferential trading arrangements.
- International Politics & Economics: Students will examine economic development and evaluate how policies and programs affect a country or region’s prosperity.
- Evaluating Business Data: Students will learn how to make strategic decisions based on data and marketplace trends.
- International Marketing: Students will learn how to incorporate cultural differences of global markets into effective business marketing strategies.
- Financial Operations: Students will learn advanced aspects of financial accounting and corporate finance.
- Regional Studies: Students will learn the differences—from a business perspective—of relations in Europe, Asia, Russia, and other countries.
- International Technology: Students will learn how technology plays a role in business and production of products and services, including supply chains and logistics.
A Master’s in International Business vs. an International Business MBA
When it comes to obtaining a master’s in international business or an international business MBA, students will find there are differences between the programs. Both provide quality coursework and training, but it’s important for each individual student to decide which program is the best fit.
First, most master’s programs do not require its students to have a set number of years of professional experience before they are accepted. MBA programs typically ask for at least three years work experience to be considered. When considering the student makeup of these programs, this difference means students in MBA programs are, on average, older than master’s candidates.
For those who obtain a master’s in international business, their focus of study has likely included more culturally-centered and language coursework. While an MBA program will still include cultural competencies and coursework, its focus will be more on broad, transferable business skills.
A master’s in international business sets students up for work in international marketing, financial controlling, business development, and international trade and customs, among other aspects of the industry. For MBA candidates, jobs are often related to financial services, cross-cultural management, and operations management.
What to Look for in an International Business Program
When considering international business programs, it’s important to look for essential characteristics that will make the degree worthwhile. Increased emphasis on a few key components of international business will better prepare the graduate for their eventual job.
- Language focus
- International business means graduates will often be expected to communicate and interact in a language other than their native tongue. Many programs require students to become fluent in a second language to enhance their communications skills regarding business around the globe.
- Cultural coursework
- Gaining cultural and social insights into the regions and countries you will be working with is critical in international business. Students should pick a program that places importance on how to best interact and work with diverse groups and cultures.
- Geopolitical studies
- With adequate study of the effects that geography has on international politics and relations, students will be able to fully understand the origins of and context for business dealings across the globe.
- Internship component
- Programs that include an internship opportunity, or at least provide students with connections and partnerships that can lead to an internship, will increase the student’s chances of being a more competitive and qualified candidate when it comes to getting a job or promotion after graduation.
- International business experts on staff
- Students won’t just be learning from textbooks and case studies, but also the professors instructing the classes and leading the lectures. It’s important that these instructors bring a wide-range of international business expertise and insight to both the teaching and mentoring of students.
A quality international business program will not only prepare students for a career on the global stage, but it will prime them for future studies in international business. Those interested in continuing their education to pursue opportunities in academia or senior-level international consulting can use their acquired master’s or MBA skills to obtain an international business doctoral degree.
Can I do an Internship Abroad?
An online master’s in international business will prepare you with the essentials you need to succeed in the industry. You’ll gain expertise from your coursework and professors, and can capitalize on all you learn during the program to build a successful career.
But there is also something to be said for closing the books and taking some time to test the waters in a real-life setting. Interning abroad will help you put those skills you have been learning to good use. The internship will also set you apart from your peers who may not have taken advantage of the opportunity. There are many additional benefits to interning abroad:
- Living and working in a different country prepares students for the international business experiences of learning to adapt to new situations.
- Internships abroad help you build international networks.
- If you are learning a different language, it’s a great way to immerse yourself and practice communicating.
- Students can gain hands-on experience working with different cultures and countries.
Interested in an internship abroad? Check out these host organizations:
Many scholarships and grants are also available for internship opportunities:
Job Outlook and Salaries for International Business
By earning your master’s of international business online, you are increasing your chances for advanced job placement and increased salary. Additionally, you are now more prepared to work on the worldwide stage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects business administration jobs across the board to grow by 8% through 2024, adding an estimated $632,400 jobs.
There are many types of concentrations and jobs within the international business field, with varying levels of salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, an individual in international financial management will earn an average salary of $115,320. An international marketing manager can earn around $123,450. Because individuals with an online master’s in international business graduate with the skills needed for higher-level jobs, their salaries are typically higher than those of business candidates with a bachelor’s degree.
Job Options for International Business
There are many job options for an individual who has received a master’s of international business online. International business professionals can find themselves working for foreign companies with locations in the United States. They can also work for government agencies like the U.S. State or Treasury Departments. They can work in government relations, international banks, multinational companies, or even nonprofit organizations. Those who graduate from an online international business MBA or master’s program might also find themselves working within the travel or hospitality industry, allowing them the opportunity to work with both international businesses and consumers. And, because international business leaders are more culturally aware, some go on to be cultural advisors, providing expertise on market research and strategy for companies to expand into international markets.
Day-to-day, job duties will vary, especially based on the type of international business or region of the individual. Common duties encompass international trade, industrial development, business operations, marketing, and negotiations.
Working in international business is about more than closing deals and speaking the language. Graduates of an online master’s in international business program should be prepared with certain skills to help them secure employment and be successful in their professional careers.
Skills Needed for an International Business Career
Successful international business professionals need to possess a solid reserve of both hard and soft skills, as this field combines the technical aspects of business with the more personal side of working with different cultures and countries. The following skills are expected of advanced business professionals:
- Cross-cultural communication skills: You aren’t in Kansas anymore. International business professionals will be working with a diverse group of people, possibly in a country that is not their home. Knowing how to navigate different cultural traditions and styles is important to build partnerships and also avoid offending your colleagues.
- Networking: You must be able to create relationships and collaborate with people all over the world.
- Adaptable: Especially when living abroad, it’s important to be able to easily adapt to unknown situations.
- Problem solving and analytical skills: When dealing with teams spread across countries and timezones, international business leaders will need to be able to think strategically and make effective decisions.
- Financial acumen: Individuals in this field should have a firm grasp on accounting fundamentals, quantitative skills, and financial management principles.
Working in a Foreign Country
Many students who obtain an international business degree online go on to work abroad. This is an exciting way to put your skills to use and share your expertise in another country. Opportunities in international business could take you anywhere, but in terms of international trade with the United States, the big guys are China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Germany.
There are many things to consider, though, before jumping into working abroad. Individuals should be fully prepared and also take the necessary steps to be eligible to make the transition.
First, make sure your work visa is taken care of. Your place of employment will likely coordinate this for you, but be ready to fill out all of the necessary paperwork. Be well aware of the exact stipulations of the visa. For instance, depending on what version you have, you may not be able to stay in the country if you quit your job or are terminated.
One to two months before you move, make sure to have all your vaccinations updated. You should also check with the Center for Disease Control’s travel department to see if you are moving to a country that will require additional vaccinations.
Before moving, and to obtain your visa, you may be asked to provide a "certificate of good conduct." And, while living abroad, you will pay taxes to your residing country. However, make sure to file your taxes with the United States to show that you have paid your taxes to your country of residence.
If you don’t speak the language in the new country, take steps to at least initially learn the basics. There are many translator apps that can help in sticky situations, and if your finances allow for it, you could consider hiring a translator for certain occasions.
When moving to a different country, register with the State Department by giving them your contact information. This will help them connect with you in the event of an emergency. If you lose your passport while abroad, get in immediate contact with the U.S. Embassy in your new country. You can also work with the Embassy should you become ill—they’ll provide you with a list of places to receive medical assistance.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of State offers a checklist for individuals preparing to move out of the country to make sure they have everything in order.