Online Master's Programs in International Business

Updated on: 12/13/2018

Working in international business allows individuals to learn about different cultures, interact with an array of professionals, and expand their business horizons. Regardless of whether a graduate of a master's in international business online program hopes to work in accounting, budget analysis, human resources, or management, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects these roles will continue expanding in the coming years.

As international trade and commerce continue to develop new streams of revenue — particularly online — individuals with this specialized knowledge will be in demand. For most master's in international business online programs, you must already possess a bachelor's degree. The following guide provides insight on common classes, career paths, and financial aid.

What to Know About Online Master's in International Business Coursework

Although master's in international business online programs can usually be completed in two years of full-time study, learners gain a wealth of skills and knowledge while enrolled. Rather than simply studying generic business topics, each course takes into consideration how the subject at hand translates within international business circles. This personalized education prepares learners to demonstrate an understanding of the field when applying to jobs. Most programs require 30-48 credits; part-time learners may need three to four years to graduate. Online and on-campus programs mirror one another in course content and learning outcomes.

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

Many students notice that both master's in international business online programs and MBA programs with a concentration in international business exist, leading them to question which meets their unique goals. While MBA programs with a concentration in international business largely focus on teaching traditional business skills with a few courses focused in international topics, a master's in international business provides a degree tailored to specific career goals. Both can be completed in approximately two years of full-time study and taken either in person or online.

What Common Courses are Offered in a Master's in International Business Program?

Since international business covers so many different topics, some schools may choose to focus on specific disciplines more than others. The courses reviewed below help students get a sense of common classes, but students should do independent research on prospective schools to learn about individual curricula.

Global Financial Strategies

Students enrolled in this course learn about the basic and advanced tenets related to international financial markets and how to manage corporations with multi-country presences. They also cover emerging financial strategies, the governing rules of international trade and regulations, and how to make informed decisions.

International Business Law

With a focus on how organizations with international footprints can ensure compliance across country lines, students in this class review some of the most common regulatory issues. They also discuss topics such as international investment law, regulating physical and digital transfers, and protecting intellectual property.

Marketing for International Companies

This is a great course for individuals who want to work in global advertising, PR, or marketing. In this class, students review common marketing tactics and discuss which translate to international markets and which do not. Special emphasis is given to the role marketing plays in international countries, how to use and tailor marketing plans in different countries, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns globally.

Managing Employees Internationally

Students in this class discuss management principles for effectively managing staff members from different social and cultural contexts. When covering common topics, such as communication, motivation, leadership, and strategic planning, each topic is explored through an international lens to help learners gain cultural competencies as leaders.

International Economics

With a focus on understanding the short- and long-term market shifts taking place both nationally and internationally, this course expands a students' knowledge of how to use economics to inform business decisions. Special emphasis is given to market forecasting tools, historical economic data, and how to look for fluctuations when assessing current conditions.

What Specializations are Available in a Master's in International Business Program?

While a master's in international business online program exposes degree seekers to different topics within the field, many learners decide they want to specialize their knowledge in a specific discipline — such as marketing, project management, or international law. Several schools offer specialization paths for those students; the following section offers a few examples of common concentrations.

Project Management

Whether working at a massive multinational organization, an entrepreneurial venture, or a nonprofit, project management skills helps graduates develop and plan projects, create organizational structures, secure talent and funding, and manage monetary, physical, and manpower resources throughout the lifespan of a project.

Entrepreneurship

Students who want to create their own ventures gravitate toward this specialization, which allows them to study topics such as social and business innovations, disrupting the traditional business model, and harnessing marketing to expand your business vision.

Finance

With a focus on building nuanced knowledge of international corporate finance, this specialization allows learners to take advanced courses in areas of behavioral finance, business analysis and valuation, entrepreneurial financial management, and international accounting.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

As students come to the end of coursework, they may wonder how the program culminates. While they should always check with individual programs to learn about specific requirements, many schools follow the same path. Most degree seekers complete a comprehensive project that integrates all that they have learned from the curriculum into an extensive case study, report, or creative portfolio.

A few programs may also allow learners to complete a thesis. This path primarily exists for individuals who want to focus efforts in research or move towards a doctoral degree in international business. Some programs may also allow or require students to participate in an internship or practicum to build hands-on skills and take part in networking before graduation.

How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master's in International Business Program?

When considering facets of a program, students should ensure they don't neglect accreditation, as going through this process guarantees the school adequately supports and prepares them for a professional role. Two types of accreditation exist: institutional and programmatic. When reviewing institutional accreditation, applicants should find schools with regional accreditation to ensure they receive the highest quality education. Individuals attending nationally accredited institutions may struggle to transfer credits or receive certification.

Programmatic accreditation exists to ensure the degree itself meets industry standards, covers relevant topics, and supports students along the way. The three main business accreditation agencies include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.

Some of the factors learners should look for when reviewing schools include a modern and comprehensive curriculum, average or above average graduation rates, and qualified and experienced faculty members.

Career Opportunities With a Master's in International Business Degree

International business master's programs offer graduates numerous career paths based on their specific interests and professional goals. While the training provided by these degrees prepares graduates for the positions outlined below, readers should remember that a degree does not automatically qualify them for employment. Some positions — and countries — may require additional training, professional development, or licensure and certification before candidates are considered. If students are unsure about specific requirements, they should research individual companies to learn about job specifications.

Economist

Working in tandem with other financial professionals, economists study fluctuations in the national and global economy, stay informed on factors affecting markets, research specific issues to better understand how they affect commerce, write articles about their findings, and provide consultation to governments and companies about how the changes could affect them in the short- and long-term.

Median Salary: $102,490 per year

Currently Employed: 21,300

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +6%

Financial Manager

Whether employed by a company, a government, or in a consulting capacity, financial managers monitor the financial stability of those they work with and implement changes based on strategic goals and organizational needs. Within international companies, they monitor individual offices and create financial forecasts and activity reports that take into account the market trends and company performance for each location.

Median Salary: $125,080 per year

Currently Employed: 580,400

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +19%

Human Resources Manager

These detailed professionals oversee the administrative and staffing needs of small and large companies alike. They interview, hire, arrange training, and fire staff. They also manage benefits, work closely with senior staff to ascertain needs, create professional development programs, deal with disciplinary issues, and ensure equal opportunity for all employees. Within an international role, they oversee proper ethics and legal requirements for international workers and ensure visas are in place before extending an official offer letter.

Median Salary: $110,120 per year

Currently Employed: 136,100

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +9%

Training & Development Manager

Training and development managers oversee continuing education and professional development initiatives at the companies that employ them. They work with other departments to assess talent gaps and create individualized training goals, develop and oversee training budgets, collect data to ascertain programmatic effectiveness, and work with vendors to find qualified training instructors based on departmental and company-wide needs. International training managers work to understand cultural and social differences in international locales and incorporate training on those topics for employees.

Median Salary: $108,250 per year

Currently Employed: 34,500

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +10%

Management Analyst

Analysts are frequently employed by large multinational corporations or in a consulting role. Management analysts observe issues within leadership and managerial teams and bring practical and actionable solutions. In addition to observing a company, these analysts interview various staff members, ask questions about processes, review financial data, and learn as much as they can about managerial methods. After completing analysis, they provide recommendations on how to solve issues or new procedures that should be put in place.

Median Salary: $82,450 per year

Currently Employed: 806,400

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +14%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

What's the Expected Job Growth for International Business Careers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial occupations are expected to grow by 10% between 2016 and 2026 — well above the national average of 7% for all occupations. These numbers may vary slightly within international circles, but roles should remain stable and in demand for the foreseeable future — especially for those with advanced degrees and specialized skill sets.

Professional Organizations for Careers in International Business

Professional organizations in the international business community allow leaders from across the world to connect and network on meaningful topics in their chosen industry. Many organizations also provide job listings and host annual conferences and chapter meetings to encourage collegial community.

  • International Women in Business

    IWIB supports women working both nationally and internationally by providing webinars, a frequently updated job board, interviews, and an active directory.

  • International Economic Association

    The IEA provides value to members by offering events throughout the world, roundtable discussions, publications, congresses, and news updates about the state of the industry.

  • International Chamber of Commerce

    Operating as the largest business organization in the world, ICC encourages international trade, ethical behavior, and thoughtful regulation to grow the global economy. The organization provides online learning, events, and other services.

  • International Association of Business Communicators

    Developed specifically for individuals working in international marketing and communications, IABC provides professional development opportunities, global events, podcasts, webinars, books, and case studies.

  • International Executives Association

    The IEA maintains chapters throughout the world, provides an annual conference, offers member discounts, and provides support resources and materials to help executives better their leadership skills.

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

As the cost of graduate education continues to rise each year, students must find ways to pay for their degrees. The following section highlights a few ways students can receive funding without taking on significant debt through student loans.

Federal Financial Aid

Students should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to being considered for any federal scholarships or grants, many schools use the information provided on these forms to award institutional grants, scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships.

Professional Organization Scholarships

Many international business associations offer scholarships to help students complete their educations. The Women in International Trade Trust provides scholarships of up to $1,500 to female applicants who demonstrate potential to be future global leaders within the world of international trade.

Institutional Scholarships

Students should fully research the scholarship opportunities of any school to which they apply, as many offer funding to help lower costs. Hult International Business School, for example, offers scholarships for individuals studying international marketing.

Student Fellowships and Assistantships

At the graduate level, numerous colleges and universities offer fellowships or assistantships to help cut costs. In exchange for grading papers and teaching a few undergraduate classes, students frequently receive free or discounted tuition and a stipend.